Welcome, dear reader, to another Around the World adventure with your humble flight-reporter!
Coming just a few weeks after an epic but mad-dash RTW in (mostly, thanks to irrops) First Class, this one has a lot to live up to, and while it’s not quite as exciting as that one, there is one segment that is. This one was cobbled together between a revenue ticket and three different rewards in a patchwork around one specific segment which will absolutely be “the main event” of this trip.
As is my habit for such RTW trips, I’ll unveil the routing as we go.
AC153 YYZ-YVR 4/18/2016 - You are here ???? - Coming soon
This will probably be one of the shorter segments, as I’ve reported on a number of YYZ-YVR segments on Air Canada widebody J in the past, but I do tend to believe in completeness on these things. So here we go.
I arrived at Pearson at about 6:00, an hour and fifteen minutes prior to boarding. After a couple of weeks in business trip in which I fought snowstorms to make it to Pearson, this morning, it’s much nicer — finally time to leave my jacket behind! I get dropped off right outside the premium check-in, which in turn is right in front of domestic security.
Things are pretty quiet in the swanky new domestic/international premium pax check-in area this morning. I already have mobile boarding passes on my phone for my first two flights, so no need to stop here this time around, although when the agent guarding access asks where I’m off to, my response gets an “Ohhh.” Somewhat surprising — I’d expect she sees a fair number of people heading out on long hauls every day.
They continue to work on this area — a couple of little seating areas like this are new since last I came through these parts.
A nice model of the future of AC’s narrowbody fleet on display between check-in and the concierge office.
Just beyond this is security. I go through the Nexus security line, and am through in just a few minutes. This subtly-signed elevator leads to AC’s domestic Maple Leaf Lounge.
A quick ride, and I’m into the lounge. My boarding pass is scanned, and I’m inside.
The domestic MLL is a fairly large lounge. Most of it is one large “room,” divided into a window-side area and an elevated area. Seating is pretty generic lounge seating fare.
Airside views aren’t exactly fantastic from this lounge, because it’s set back a bit from the apron.
A fair variety of reading materials are prominently displayed along the main hallway into the lounge.
Down the “far end” of this lounge is a cellphone free zone, with some nice comfy chairs facing outwards towards airside.
I think these beanbag-type chair are new. I don’t remember them, at least.
A few other areas in this lounge, including this mini-business centre. It used to be more fully a business centre with some cubicles, but the cubes were taken out a year or two ago and replaced by more seating.
There’s also this small TV lounge behind the business centre and the buffet area.
The buffet area is quite packed at this hour, but let’s see what’s on offer.
Bread and toast, as well as the bar (the draught taps and liquor behind the frosted glass) although the latter is still locked down at this hour. Thanks, Ontario liquor laws!
Water and juices are also available.
Some cold cereals at the far end of this side of the buffet. There are a couple of coffee machines between the juice and cereal, but we’ll see the exact same things on the other side.
The “main” side of the buffet starts with the omnipresent MLL oatmeal and all the fixin’s.
Various cold options including hard-boiled eggs, fruit, and yogurt.
And some hot options.
Cheesy scrambled eggs.
Sausages and hash browns.
And the aforementioned coffee machines.
There are also some pastries, which somehow evaded my camera on this occasion.
Back at my seat with a few smack items. The eggs and hash browns are nothing special, but the sausage is quite tasty, a little bit crispy outside. This is the first time I’ve taken advantage of the espresso-based machine instead of the more mainstream coffee machine — it’s a pleasant upgrade.
With breakfast part one done, I have a few minutes to surf around before heading to the gate. WiFi is fast and free, and fairly easy to connect — just one button to press and away we go.
I head out about 20 minutes before boarding is supposed to start, heading downstairs and then down the hall towards the end of the pier and gate D39. Arriving there, I find boarding already well underway, into Zone 3. My boarding pass is scanned once again, and my passport checked because I’m connecting onwards internationally. I do manage to grab a quick snap of our ride over to Vancouver on the way to the jetway.
Flight: AC153 From: Toronto Pearson (YYZ) To: Vancouver (YVR) Date: 4/18/2016 Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER Registration: C-FIUR Seat: 11A ATD (STD): 08:26 (08:00) ATA (STA): 09:40 (09:55)
On board, I’m pointed towards 11A, the final window seat in the aft business class cabin, located between the second doors. As expected from the seat map of 40 seats instead of 42, it’s one of the refurbed 77Ws, featuring the new business cabin, dubbed by many the Dreamcabin because it was introduced to the fleet with the 787.
The seat is equipped with a decent blanket, and a very nice pillow, standard AC issue. There are also el cheapo earbud headphones (sold for $3 in the back!) in the little cubby with the IFE remote control. Also in the cubby: USB port, headphone connector, and a power port.
And a look into the footwell, which is adequate. The bulkhead window seats offer a bit more than this one does
The screen is big and beautiful, and the IFE is the latest generation, quick and responsive.
I plug in my own ear buds (the only type of headphone allowed by AC below 10,000 feet), and select The Hateful Eight for my first movie. To my surprise, the movie starts up straight away — no pre-roll commercials. Is Air Canada improving here?
Seat controls are located below the aforementioned cubby — most of them are touchscreen. A quick look around.
Ambience menu — kind of empty on the 777s, since the 787s also have window controls here.
Seat controls are simple but functional. The “relax” position is a great lounging and watching IFE posture — very comfortable, and quite private as you’re pretty much behind the side wall of the pod once recline.
Comfort menu — the seat is an air mattress type of affair and can be “pumped up” or down for greater firmness or softness.
A look across the aisle as boarding continues. Privacy in this cabin is pretty good.
Out the window, our little cousin, an A321, is getting ready to go.
A choice of orange juice or water is offered as a pre-departure beverage. I go with water.
A menu is offered shortly afterwards, and orders are taken — because I’ve already had some breakfast, and because there’s lots of eating to come this week, I go with the “healthy option”.
As boarding wraps up, here’s a look over the port wing on a beautiful Monday morning.
The safety video rolls as boarding wraps up, and we push back.
It’s a little bit of a hike up to the northernmost runway, with a fair lineup following behind us at something of a distance.
It’s a powerful roll, and we’re up and away into the air.
A clear view all the way to the western end of Lake Ontario out the window on our climb.
Just a beautiful day.
The IFE remote is a nice touchscreen model that can multitask a little bit — you can keep it on the IFE controls, or pull up the moving map view if you want to keep abreast of your flight’s progress during your movie.
Once the seatbelt signs are released, I head forward towards the lavs by door(s) two. It’s a bit of a wait as there are a few passengers already in line here, but eventually I’m in. Since it’s huddled up against the outside of the fuselage, it’s nothing special. But there is a nice view out the window, so that’s something.
The aisle-side wall is decorated with AC’s nice maple leaf motif.
Canadian-made soap and lotion — nothing special but a nice touch.
Back at my seat, the service has begun in my absence, with an oshibori awaiting me. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly piping hot by the time I get it.
Next up, noise-cancelling earphones are distributed. AC’s headphones are quite good for business class product — but they’re distributed too late and collected too early, in my opinion.
Quickly, breakfast is presented all at once.
This is the first time I’ve had the healthy option and the oatmeal has been offered with milk, poured on by a flight attendant. A nice touch, although the in-flight oatmeal is still pretty lackluster, especially when compared with the much-better oatmeal on offer in MLLs. The rest of breakfast is pretty good, light and simple.
It’s accompanied by a black coffee and some orange juice.
Here’s the aft mini-cabin of J during meal service — with only three rows on the outsides and four in the middle, it’s a nice small cabin with an intimate feel. If it weren’t for everyone on the plane filing past during boarding, it would be truly ideal.
After breakfast, I put the seat back into the relax position — which I love — and chill out for the rest of my movie — all three hours and two minutes of it. Tarantino is nothing if not long-running. The flight is pretty smooth, but there’s a brief moment of very very light turbulence, and the captain leaves the seat belt light on for almost an hour. I suspect he forgot it was lit.
There’s a little less than two hours left in the flight at this point, and that fits nicely with the 1:46 running time of Joy, a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence as a determined would-be businesswomen surrounded by rivals, enemies, friends and families who almost all deserve a good punch in the face. I think it tries a little too hard to make you root for the plucky underdog, but other than that, it’s a perfectly acceptable film.
One last look at our progress towards Vancouver before the movie begins.
Shortly after the movie starts, the service director comes around with warmed cashews, and takes drink orders. Caesar time, naturally.
And with about an hour left, the snack basket comes around, accompanied by another round of drinks. My take.
Soon we’re obviously making progress towards the west, judging by the decidedly more rugged terrain below. We’re also obviously starting our descent.
So it’s time for one last get up and stretch my legs. Here’s a look at the galley area at the entrance by door two.
Like the 787s, the refurbed 777s are rocking new steam ovens. This should help with drying out entrées. Hopefully.
Back at my seat, and we’re well into final descent into the Vancouver area. Some lovely sights out the window, as usual.
From there, we line up, and it’s into short final.
We touch down a few minutes ahead of schedule, and it’s a short taxi into the swing gates where AC usually parks its inbound-to-YVR 77Ws that are heading out on international journeys on the flip side. This plane, as fate would have it, is on its way to Beijing after this flight.
The jetway connects to door two, and we’re soon enough on our way out — the jetway affords a nice view of the nose of this bird.
And then one last look at C-FIUR before I head back into the terminal.
Where AC spits you out into the domestic terminal is literally steps from this checkpoint, which separates the domestic and international portions of the terminal. And it’s from this point that I’ll pick up the narrative on the next part of this trip.
Thanks for joining me for this journey.
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Domestic
Toronto - YYZ
Vancouver - YVR
A bog-standard AC domestic widebody business class flight. Service was decent, but certainly not outstanding or in personalized — it seemed a bit robotic actually. Catering was the usual AC premium long-haul breakfast, which is not bad, but nothing too exciting, as there’s very little variety in AC breakfast menus. Still, much nicer to have the Dreamcabin for this ride across the country instead of the usual narrowbody recliners. In the end, this flight — and even the one after it — was a means to an end, getting me closer to the “main event” of this adventure. And in that sense, it did its job admirably.
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