AS704 Vancouver YVR – Los Angeles LAX
2 May 2011
Scheduled ETD/ETA: 1345 – 1637
Actual Time of Departure/Arrival: 1402 – 1623
Check in was fast as usual with some self check in machines before the line. I had to pay C$21 for one piece of checked luggage, and it was the first time I paid for any checked luggage, so that was an additional fee. Luckily for me, I had stored another piece of luggage with my cousin in Los Angeles. Checking in with the agent in Vancouver was much faster than my previous experience with Westjet. But I was travelling alone as opposed to in a family of 5 the other day.
Security screening afterwards was also orderly and quick. There was a total of about 15 minutes lapse after getting the boarding pass to entering the departure terminal. The fast security line and immigration meant I was really early for a 1:45 pm flight and I had a lot of time to spare on the airport. I spent the time getting some Riesling ice wine which Canada is famous for before making the trek towards gate 83. It seems that gate 83 is an enclosed gate which could be converted for a transit gate similar to the one Cathay uses for its HKG-YVR-JFK route.
The plane hasn’t even yet arrived when I reached the gate and I used the time to browse some magazines at the adjacent Hudson News magazine store. There seems to be up to 5 empty first class seats and passengers could upgrade for an additional 50 Canadian dollars, with credit cards being accepted at the desk. I didn’t consider the upgrade since it was a short flight. Luckily I was early and thus able to reboot my iPad which has some problems when I switched it on. Very soon after I resetted my iPad, boarding commenced with families and needy passengers boarding first, before Alaskan elites and first class passengers.
Alaska’s dark cabin wasn’t to my taste though I think their first class seats seems more comfortable compared to American Airlines’ first class seats on their 737-800s. I proceeded to my sundown seat at 12A and was pleased to note there was still overhead space for my hand carried luggage. There was also no one occupying the middle seat and since I was one of the last few to board, it remained that way, allowing me to have ample space just like the intra-Europe business seats! The plane started its taxi to the runway by 1:52 pm and took off from YVR by 2:02 pm which was a bit way off schedule due to the need for the plane to make one full round across YVR to get to the runway. No views of the city at this takeoff and it was a cloudy and rainy day in Vancouver which meant cold and wet springtime weather. And this was after an amazing sunny weekend too!
Slight turbulence was encountered after takeoff due to the cloud cover and rainy weather but once we were above all that, it was a nice cruise southbound! A mixed snack pack was served around 40 minutes after take off and I was able to choose ginger ale for my beverage of choice, though I was disappointed in not getting the whole can. I do notice that on empty flights, one usually gets the whole can of beverage but not so when the flight is full. The second round of beverage service was conducted around 1 hour before arrival and it was also when we passed by snow-capped peaks of the mountain range somewhere in Oregon. In between this flight, I chose to entertain myself with the videos that I had pre-loaded on the VLC media player app. I was also able to make some small chat with the lady seated by the aisle. It seems she is travelling today with her family for a holiday in sunny and warm California.
Descent initiated by the captain at around 4:08 pm as suburbia LA came into view. The best part of the flight that day has got to be the views provided on descent as we pass through various neighborhood of Los Angeles including Beverly Hills, Westwood, and the skyscrapers of Downtown. The relatively long descent into LAX provided ample time to take in the extent of LA and I really enjoyed every moment of it! We finally landed at 4:23 into Los Angeles International and disembarked into old Terminal 3. One guy was so anxious to get off that he tried to open the overhead bin before the plane docked onto the gate that the stewardess had to ask him to sit down. Throughout the flight I found that the stewardess serving the flight wasn’t as friendly as the one on WestJet. While both offers similar kind of flight and inflight snacks and beverages, there was a lack of atmosphere in the Alaskan Airlines flight. For nearly a similar price, I thought WestJet provided the better service of the 2 and didn’t charge for the first checked in luggage as well. To top it off, the old Terminal 3 arrivals at LAX was a real disappointment to this flight especially coming from an excellent airport like Vancouver’s YVR.