AC565 San Francisco SFO – Vancouver YVR
16 Aug 2011
Embraer 190 C-FNAJ
Arriving early into the airport after returning my rental car, I headed to the empty Air Canada check-in desks. The check-in agent today was extremely friendly and I always enjoy the small talk while an agent conducts the check-in process. They were also very helpful with my check-in luggage which I appreciated. I got my boarding pass and headed towards security.
Again, there was no queues in security check and there wasn’t even the need to use the priority lane. I was walking along the shops airside in no time at all! For an international terminal, there was little to see in the shops and it was pretty quiet. Probably because the major flights are yet to start the check-in process.
I proceeded to the United Red Carpet Lounge and this was actually my first time entering a lounge operated by any North American airline, so it was disappointing what was on offer in the lounge. Having been used to excellent airport lounges, the United Red Carpet Club did not have much hot food to begin with, and it offers a measly selection of mix nuts and pretzels.
Like the rest of the terminal, the lounge was also very empty that day and the number of people inside could really be counted by both hands. I explored the lounge and noticed a small first class area that was not any different from the rest of the lounge. There was also a bar area where you had to pay for alcoholic drinks.
I picked a seat by the window and as I sat down to log into the internet, I realized I required a wifi code and thus went down to the reception desk on the lower floor to request for one.
Internet speed was pretty usable as I sat down to enjoy some crackers and drinks. Perhaps one of the best feature about the lounge was the window views of the United jets parked at the gates.
The gate I was to depart from was a short walk away from the lounge and I headed to the gate early hoping to catch some good shots of the Embraer jet, but the windows were plastered with some film with dots, and the sun didn’t make the shots turn out nice.
Beside our small jet, Air New Zealand’s jumbo was parked and the size difference was immediately obvious being seated in the smaller plane. The seats in the Embraer jets are in a 1-2 configuration, while economy class was a 2-2 configuration. I had the last row on the lone window seat which proved to be a downside to the whole experience as I will point out later.
Upon being seated, I was asked for my welcome drink and I chose orange juice. One thing I liked about Air Canada is that I find their inflight magazine is one of the best in the industry and I always enjoy browsing their magazines in flight. I wonder when they will make a free digital version.
Prior to take-off, the crew asked passengers if they wanted newspapers and I picked a copy of Canada’s Globe and Mail, again a pretty good national newspaper that I enjoy reading.
After take-off, I fiddled around with the entertainment system which is activated via touch screen. The whole system was pretty good and it was nice to have some entertainment even for this short flight up north. I should point out that Air Canada’s economy class have personal entertainment screens on every seat backs too!
The sunset views upon take-off was amazing and when one flies in the evening, it is always wonderful to catch the colours of the skies as it turns dark blue with an orange lining in the horizon! One of the most beautiful scenes on Earth!
The crew started the service with nuts and asked each passenger for their choice of beverages, and I went with Ginger ale this time round.
Shortly after, they took our dinner orders, but it turns out they ran out of most of the dinner choices and I am left with the vegetarian options. That is the drawback of being seated at the last row I guess. I am wondering why would airplanes stock up so much vegetarian options anyway, since I think they should be a special order meal. Fortunately the crew mentioned I could perhaps choose from a sandwich or a pizza from their inflight menu, and I went with a sandwich instead.
Overall it was a pretty good meal since the salad and chocolate cake was tasty enough to make me forget that I was served sandwich on the Executive Class. I had the meal while watching Wallace & Gromit, so it can said this was an enjoyable flight.
The beautiful sunset scene continued all the way until we passed Washington state and into Canada. Flying under good weather and with nice entertainment and a tasty meal was all it takes to create a great flight on this short flight along the west coast.