Welcome, dear reader, to the seventh and final stage of a little adventure I’m calling “Around the World in 80 Hours.” This flight report is the seventh in a series that will take your humble flight-reporter around the world over the course of roughly 3.5 days.
If I felt compelled to apologize for “mailing it in” on the flight-report from Beijing to Vancouver, I must really apologize for this one. Having reported in the past on a business class flight between Vancouver and Toronto, and being likely to do so again in the future, I took it pretty easy on the notetaking and observation here. Also, I was pretty tired, and “vegging out” seemed like a great idea on this flight. Still, I hope it gives you some feel for the experience.
We start with a new wrinkle. Having arrived airside in the domestic terminal ay YVR with a little over an hour to go before boarding, heading to the nearby Air Canada domestic Maple Leaf Lounge would have been the obvious decision. But in keeping with the spirit of adventures and new experiences, I decided to go a bit of a different way.
A short — maybe five-minute — walk from Air Canada’s part of the domestic terminal in Vancouver is the “everyone else” domestic terminal in Vancouver, largely populated by WestJet. It’s also home to a fairly new Plaza Premium Lounge, one which I have yet to take the time to check out. Time to correct that oversight.
Like its Air Canada counterpart, this lounge has an impressive entrance, although in a different spirt that the Maple Leaf Lounge. Rather than keeping with YVR’s native-inspired accents, this lounge has a modern and fancy entrance, with a spiral staircase up to the mezzanine level, where the lounge proper is located. With a quick scan of my Priority Plus card, I’m bid welcome and headed upstairs to see what the deal is.
The deal is a very nice lounge by Canadian domestic lounge standards, a lounge that clearly blows away the Plaza Premium lounges at home in Toronto, and everywhere else I’ve seen them in Canada. It’s fairly large, with a discrete bar area, although it seems deserted at this hour.
There’s also a large hall with comfrotable chairs, and power outlets just about everywhere. Why is that detail so frequently overlooked in lounges? To me, power outlets are perhaps even more important than buffet. (Of course, were I hungry, my response would likely be in the other direction.
There are also some cubiels for those who want to get some work in with a little privacy.
And there’s a buffet. A pretty good one, at that. So it’s not like the food or power plugs thing is an either-or choice. There’s some good hot dishes, some soups, a nice variety of drinks including an espresso machine, a fairly impressive antipasto and appetizers selection, and perhaps best of all, a handful of made-on-request dishes. Although I’m not exactly starving after a pretty good “breakfast” at the early afternoon conclusion of my flight to Vancouver, I can’t resist a little sampling. I pour myself a cup of a very tasty Thai curry and coconut with rice soup, and order a grilled cheese and bacon panini. Because it sounds just that good. I retreat to a seat and enjoy my soup.
Shortly enough, the cook behind the buffet is calling out for a cheese and bacon panini. Okay, so it’s not exactly delivered straight to me, but that’s okay. The sandwich comes, and it’s about everything one could expect from the description, making this a thoroughly satisfying, and heavier than expected, light snack.
I think I have a new favourite Canadian lounge. Definitely worth the time to visit if you can access it. As with most Canadian Plaza Premium lounges, it’s not overly crowded, and a lot of those who are in attendance are flight crew, giving it kind of a “staff lounge” feel, although not quite as much as, say, the domestic PPL in Toronto, which in the morning breakfast rush can be pretty full of flight crews from AC and especially from AC-contracted regional carriers.
As usual for Canadian PPLs in airport with free public WiFi, they “piggyback” off the public signal, which is just fine in this case. There are showers on offer, although I don’t check them out. Another time, perhaps.
I’m bid a fond farewell on my way out of the lounge, and make the short walk over to the AC part of the terminal, where my ride for the final leg of this trip — one of AC’s initial crop of A320s — awaits me, although somewhat hidden by its jetway.
There’s a bit of confusion at the gate — it seems that both this flight, which is about to start boarding, is right next door to another flight to Toronto, slated to leave a little under an hour later.
Once it’s sorted out who belongs to which flight, the final eUpgrades are processed, and boarding begins. For this flight, I’m seated in 3A, a port window seat in the second or third row of the AC A320, depending on your perspective. There’s no 1A or 1C, just 1D and 1F, as a closet takes up the space that would otherwise be home to 1A and 1C. Odd choice for AC, which otherwise seems to be concerned with shoehorning as many bodies into a plane as possible. Perhaps a relic of a bygone day.
It’s a standard AC narrowbody business class seat on the Airbus fleet, and legroom is about what you expect.
There’s also seatback IFE… ummm… or at least there should be. Assuming they ever power the system up. They have to do that, right?
Meanwhile, out my window, the 788 that brought my from Beijing to Vancouver is pushing back, presumably on its way back to Asia somewhere.
Service begins with the usual choice for domestic business — water or orange juice. I go with orange juice in this instance.
Menus are distributed, and then orders are taken. I swear the service director on this flight — a young-ish French Canadian gentleman — was also the service director on another recent instance of this flight — the one I chronicled my last time around. The only difference is that these day’s rocking a mustache. Perhaps he’s doing Movember this year? If so, good on him.
The menu is a new one, and I’m liking what I’m seeing. I request the lamb — because I love lamb — and look forward to the salad as well. And, having just eaten “breakfast” on my flight in, and a hearty “snack” in the lounge, for the first time I take advantage of that “flexible meal option” and request that dinner be served much closer to arrival into Toronto, at which time I will likely be much more interested in a meal.
We push back right on time, with this friendly fellow seeing us off to Toronto.
After a short roll, we’re off and into the air on our way home for the final leg of this flight. I’m pretty tired at this point, and looking forward to being home.
Shortly after takeoff, the IFE is finally activated. I put on my favourite headphones, and relax with the movie Vacation. It’s not great, but it’s a fairly enjoyable on-the-plane film. Except for beginning with a very obvious avgeek continuity error, as our hero a “regional pilot” who’s portrayed as operating a schlub job to Des Moines Iowa or something like that is shown at the helm of a Boeing 777. I’m not aware of many tourist routes in the midwest that are rocking a widebody. Other than that, it’s an enjoyable if mindless film.
I spend much of the rest of the flight chilling out, relaxing, and watching the film. So much so that I completely fail to capture pictures of my very exciting glass of water and mixed cashews and almonds. Ooopa. I’m sure you can imagine what they looked like.
With the movie over, I put on a documentary on the life and times of Frank Sinatra. It’s quite well done. About halfway through it, and a little over an hour of Toronto, the service director tells me he’s starting to prepare my dinner. That’s just fine for me. I’m not exactly starving, but definitely ready for dinner at this point.
A few minutes later, he brings around my tray, with the salad, and another glass of water.
As I’d hoped, the salad is a pretty interesting one, with some fennel, artichokes, a bit of hummus and some chickpeas. It’s still served with the omnipresent balsamic and olive oil dressing, which I use sparingly. I quite enjoy it.
Shortly after that, my main is brought around. It’s a little light on vegetable matter, but it is really, really good. The lamb is nicely done, and the tomato sauce and olives work well with it. the couscous is a nice alternative to the usual rice or potatoes. All in all, this is a great main course and I really home to run into it again on my in-flight adventures.
Dinner concludes, as all AC premium domestic/transborder longhauls should, with a cookie and ice cream for dessert. In this case, it’s perhaps not as “fresh-baked” as it is sometimes, but it’s still a fine dessert, especially acccompanied by a cup of coffee.
My table is cleared just in time for descent to begin, and soon enough, we break through the clouds and into the midnight skies above Toronto before landing at Pearson, which is pretty hard to capture at this late hour.
It’s not exactly a busy time, so after a short taxi, we pull in next to our twin, the seatbelt sign comes off, and this round-the-world adventure is officially over.
One last look at my ride for this last leg.
Unfortunately, it ends on a bit of a sour note. As soon as passengers are cleared to turn on their cell phones and connect to the Internet, rumours of the Paris terror attacks start to circulate through the cabin, introducing a somber note.
The service director — who also hadn’t heard the news until he overhead talkin the cabin — wishes us a good night and safe journeys onwards, should we have them. And we’re released into the wild of the domestic part of T1 at Pearson. Before we part, one last look at the last plane for this trip in the small hours of the morning at YYZ.
I settle into a seat and watch a bit of the CBC Newsworld coverage of the attacks in Paris, arriving just in time to hear the prime minister offer his thoughts and prayers to the people of France.
But soon, my ride has arrived outside, I’m headed out through the terminal, and this particular Aeroplan adventure is over.
Thanks for joining me for this one. That’s it for now… until the next one, as I continue to burn through miles over the next few months.
Until then….. happy travels!
Plaza Premium Lounge - 3
Vancouver - YVR
Toronto - YYZ
Another totally average AC flight between YVR and YYZ. I'd much prefer a widebody, and they're readily available on this route, but neither timing nor Aeroplan availability worked in my favour this time around.
I'm now a fan of the flexible meal option. It came in quite handy on this particular trip.
Glad to be home for a bit. Now to start chronicling December's adventures!
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