This series covers a weeklong family vacation to the Canadian Rockies; therefore a trip to YYC. For a detailed background see Part 1. As a reminder, the routing is:
Part 1 – LAX-YYC [AC 553, Airbus A320, Economy] – Here Part 2 – YYC-LAX [AC 578, Airbus A320, Economy] – You are here
This report will cover the flight from YYC to LAX. There will be an extensive bonus of Calgary and the Canadian Rockies at the end that will be worth your time to look at.
Sitting at the Calgary Stampeders game the night before, I quickly checked in 24-hours to departure in order to pick my seat for the flight since AC does not provide complimentary seat selection. The Calgary Stampeders came back from the grave to beat the BC Lions in OT, a very special first taste of the CFL.
After spending the next day in downtown Calgary, I drove to the airport after a late lunch with my parents. I arrived at around 4:00pm and returned my rental car.
The terminal is pretty old looking, but it is well adorned with flowers.
I spotted a HU tail poking up in the distance, so I walked over to take a picture of the HU A332 getting backed up for service to PEK.
Inside the terminal, I used a kiosk to get my boarding pass and print off my luggage tag. I dropped my bag off and the agent pointed me in the direction of the trans-border gates. They are easy to spot with the giant American flags hanging from the ceiling.
Across from the immigration entrance, there were customs declaration forms for entry to the US. Entering immigration, there was no one in sight. I tried to us the Global Entry kiosk, but both were broken. I used the normal line since there was no one in line, when I told the CBP officer about the broken Global Entry machines, he just rolled his eyes. He told me they run off the airport’s Ethernet and reminded me that since we were in Canada, they probably wouldn’t get fixed until Monday since it was the weekend. A nice subtle jab at Canadians and then a big “Welcome Home” as he stamped my passport and waved me through.
FIDS as a I enter quarantined trans-border area.
The trans-border area had about 4 gates glassed off and only a handful of shops and restaurants. YYC is not a big gateway into the US, so maybe this small area is sufficient for their passenger demands. The obvious downfall is that you can’t get to the AC Maple Leaf Lounge since it is on the Canadian side of the airport.
Sign declaring this area as quarantined. My gate was supposed to be on the other side so I had to wait in the quarantine zone until they could clear our gate.
I tried my best to wander around in my little cage. Found a TS A332 and a UA ERJ-170.
YYC is pretty dumpy looking and is in need of the make-over they are promoting.
I eventually take a seat and watch some movies on some empty seats I found.
Suddenly, I hear a bunch of loud bangs from above. Everyone around me suddenly looks up at the ceiling, out of nowhere, golf ball sized hail and torrential downpours start. It was the most bizarre thing since it was sunny and 15C just 30 minutes earlier.
The white specs are hail on the tarmac.
A WS B737 comes limping back to the gate after just being pushed back. It looked like they needed to check all the planes for hail damage before sending them out.
Travel alert from the airport is issued. No announcement about my flight is made, and the FIDS still showed on-time.
Still stuck in the quarantine zone, you can see the people on the Canadian side eagerly waiting for the airport to re-open.
Meanwhile, all of the shops and stores close in the quarantine zone, so now we are without any food. It was 19:00 and our listed boarding time, but still no announcements on our flight.
I looked outside and saw no plane at our gate. There was a bunch of WS B737s waiting out the storm as the sun began to crack through the clouds on the horizon.
At 19:33, 3 minutes after our departure time, the FIDS finally updated our flight to a 20:00 departure. There was still no announcement made by the gate agents. I checked online and it showed our inbound plane from YUL was diverted to GTF. Why the gate agents don’t announce the fact that we have no airplane, no idea.
CA B77W lifting off for FRA.
At 20:15, still no announcements, but I see our crew sitting and talking.
Finally at 20:30, they update the FIDS to show our flight departing at 21:35.
At 20:45, the gate agents finally make an announcement, their first one. They say that we are waiting on an inbound aircraft from YYZ and expect to depart at 21:35 and tell passengers to stay in the area. As if we have anywhere else to go in this little quarantine area… All of the restaurants have been closed for over 2 hours now, we only have access to vending machines and the bathrooms.
The crew finally gets up and heads to the gate.
I say goodbye to the AC CRJ-900 getting backed up and follow them.
On the horizon, I see our AC A320 arriving from YYZ.
My boarding documents.
Air Canada, AC 578 Equipment: Airbus A320 [C-FDSN, delivered November 1990] Departure: 19:30 (ATD: 22:12) Arrival: 21:45 (ATA: 00:03) Flight time: 2:51
The angry masses.
Boarding was chaotic, I try and get through to do priority boarding and the agent stops me saying that I’m only *S. I show the TK *G card and he apologizes and tells me I need to call TK and make sure that they correctly show my status, I’m losing valuable miles since I’m only getting miles for *S and not *G. What??? I just roll my eyes and walk away; I’m not even in the mood to respond to a nonsensical statement like that.
The cabin on this prehistoric A320.
Seat pitch is of course good in my exit row seat.
The biggest pro of AC over WS is the IFE, which has a good selection.
Seatback contents for August still packaged, even though it is still July.
WS B737 next door.
I turn on the IFE and I notice that they are showing YYZ instead of YYC and the times are way off. I check the moving map, and it is “unavailable.” All of the other IFE content was also not working, so there goes the one pro for flying AC over WS.
Lifting up over YYC.
Shortly after leveling off, the drink and BOB service started up. This time, pretzels were handed out. I took a cup of water. The FAs offered a second pack of pretzels when the cabin was being cleaned up, but I declined.
Since the IFE was broken and I couldn’t watch the moving map, I just slept until arrival. Landing over LA.
We touched down at midnight and taxied by a MU B77W parked at TBIT.
UA B789 with its engine cowlings open.
We pulled up to Terminal 2 and just sat on the taxiway behind an AV A321. The captain came on and announced that we don’t have a gate and are waiting for another AC plane to get pushed back to make room for us. We waited on the tarmac for almost 50 minutes until this AC B763 finally got pushed out of a gate.
We then pulled into our gate at Terminal 2 next to our twin.
Well after 1am, we finally deplane.
Since US immigration is done in Canada, we head straight out and down into the baggage claim.
It was another 45 minute wait for the bags to show up.
At 1:50am (2:50am YYC time), I finally head to pick up my car and drive home. What a draining flight back.
The Saddledome and the Calgary skyline.
The Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames.
Fort Calgary, former home of the Mounties.
Calgary Tower and the Fairmont Palliser.
Stephen Avenue and downtown Calgary on a Saturday afternoon.
Home of the 1988 Olympics.
Lake Louise and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
The hike up to see the glaciers on Mount Lefroy, which sits on the border of British Colombia and Alberta.
Calgary - YYC
Los Angeles - LAX
An average flight on AC that was marred by weather delays, poor ground services in YYC, and broken IFE. Weather delays happen, but not properly informing passengers of delays is unacceptable. YYC is a really dumpy airport and needs a makeover, but their employees are friendly. Overall, AC is just an average carrier and does nothing to really distinguish itself with its neighbors south of the border.
Cabin comfort: Prehistoric A320, even older than on the previous leg. The cabin was old and creaky and the exit row door rained on me as the ice thawed. The cabin was clean even after a short turnaround.
Crew: Normal crew, did their jobs functionally. They proposed a second snack when they saw that I finished the pretzels, so are at least observant and take some initiative.
Meal and catering: Basic drinks and that's it. At least they offered pretzels on this flight since there was no food on the previous leg.
Entertainment: No newspapers offered and standard seatback literature. Personal IFE was broken.
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