Having spent a lot of time over the summer in Vancouver, I decided to head east of Calgary for the first time. I went about searching for tickets to Toronto for the long Labour Day weekend over the end of August. Due to Air Canada’s status as a near monopoly, they have one of the best schedules and prices for continental travel within Canada. And the cheapest tickets that was available has a transit in Calgary, with the first leg of the route onboard the Embraer jet which I found very comfortable to sit in from my last ride on the jet between Los Angeles and Vancouver.
AC208 Vancouver YVR – Calgary YYC
Friday 31 Aug 2012
Embraer 190 C-FMZD
Check-in for Air Canada is pretty chaotic on the Friday morning with a lot of people on the baggage check-in line. In addition, the process was very archaic, even though there was a lot of self check-in machines, passengers need to queue for the baggage tags and once more for baggage check-in. This resulted in a lot of confusion for many passengers.
After checking in my luggage, I took a walk around the domestic terminal in YVR since I have never travelled domestically within Canada. There are a lot of shops landside for travellers before passing security, though after security check, there was not much to do, and I proceeded to wait by the gate until boarding time.
The flight to Calgary was not that full and I had an empty seat beside me which made for a nice and short flight to Calgary. Even during the short flight, the crew at Air Canada still managed to serve complimentary beverages and a packet of crackers.
Aside from the beverage service, the wonderful weather on the way provided great views of the Rockies as well as upon descent into Calgary.
AC128 Calgary YYC – Toronto YYZ
Friday 31 Aug 2012
Airbus A320-200 C-FDCA
Arriving early into Calgary meant I had some time to buy some lunch before boarding my next flight to Toronto. This was my first time to YYC though I have been to Calgary a few years back on a road trip. It was definitely not as nice as YVR but there are ample seats and a good variety of choices for food. I ended up with a Jugo Juice and one of their wrap, enjoying the wonderful summer sun, though it is just too bad there is no patio for outdoor dining.
After I finished my wrap, I had time to snap some photos of the Airbus A320 parked by the boarding gate. This is one of the Air Canada Jetz, one of the A320s that could be reconfigured for all-premium seating charter services. Though my guess is that for the summer, Air Canada sets this to fly the East-West corridor.
Boarding the Airbus A320, one immediately feels the sense of space compared to the Embraer jet, though the flight was quite full and the row I was seated at was wholly occupied. Besides having a personal TV screen on every seat, the plane’s interior was also clean and it was not as bad seated beside the window.
Even though I had some lunch at the airport, I ordered one of the classic pepperoni pizzas from the menu. It was pretty good since it was served warm and I think it was also the first time I had pizzas on the plane. Like always beverages are still complimentary on Air Canada though they never seem to give the whole can to passengers. It was basic service but maybe I was in a good mood or excited about visiting a new city, so the flight was relatively nice in my opinion.
Perhaps the clear weather and the sunset during the descent made it much nicer being seated by the window. The 3 hours in the plane passed by easily as well when passengers are occupied, as I was able to watch ‘Goldeneye’ on the inflight entertainment system. Thus even though we departed behind schedule by more than 40 minutes, we still arrived in Toronto in time to catch the sunset.
Arriving at Toronto’s Pearson Airport which is also Air Canada’s hub was really nice especially since Air Canada has their own terminal which is relatively new. The new terminal is definitely one of the largest and most spacious in Canada. There are also more shops and eateries by the boarding gates, and more crowds walking around the terminal. Just goes to show how much more people there are in Toronto compared to Vancouver or Calgary.
This flight to Toronto, while requiring me to transit in Calgary reminds me once again of why I enjoy flying. The views on descent at both Calgary and Toronto are beautiful and the wonderful summer weather does not hamper my mood even when seated at the back with minimal service. Now if only Air Canada brings inflight service Asian style to the skies once again, that will make the value of the flight much more worth it. As it stands right now, the cost of flights even in Economy is just slightly expensive considering the lacklustre onboard service.