This is Part II of my report involving my trip to Winnipeg with my dad in February 2016, which will cover WS 475 from Toronto to Winnipeg, starting with our connection at YYZ.
Connecting at YYZ, take I: Arrival at YYZ was annoying. We taxied all the way to very end of the transborder area next to some other CRJs, and we couldn’t park right away because there was another flight still there. We finally got off, and then proceeded down a maze of corridors, up two escalators to the top floor of YYZ’s Terminal 3, and then walked a long way to the escalators down to immigration and customs. I did get some good views of the tarmac from there though, despite having to walk a long way to get there. Way longer than any airport I’ve been through! Anyway, once we got to immigration, we were directed to some automated passport control kiosks for US and Canadian nationals. My dad had experienced the new ones at IAD a couple times, so this wasn’t anything new for him. You just scan the picture page of your passport, answer some questions presented to you on the monitor, and insert the declaration form into the machine, and it gives you a receipt. After we did that, we presented the receipt to the CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) officer, and she sent us to another line to face an actual immigration officer. This line moved a lot slower, as the officers at the desk were taking their time asking questions. When we got to the front, we got a female officer who seemed like she didn’t want to be there. She just asked my dad about what he’d be doing at the museum in Winnipeg, and she was satisfied with the answers he gave. Since we didn’t check any baggage for our DCA-YYZ flight, we breezed through the baggage claim, and began to make our way to our next gate.
Entrance to the maze of YYZ immigration and customs
Lots of American metal here north of the border
LY 763, sitting idle until heading back to Israel later that night
After getting out of the customs hall, we went through the bag drop area, and there was a WS agent there. She asked us if we were connecting on WS, to which we said yes, and she suggested that we check the bags that we had carried on for our flight to YYZ, because the plane would be full to YWG. We did, and we went back upstairs into the check-in area of Terminal 3. There wasn’t much action there that time of the day, so the wait at security was not very long. Usually, we drive when we go to Canada, so it had been a while since we experienced CATSA security screening, but these people were a lot more professional than the TSA people back home. After that, we were basically back in the same terminal we arrived at, so we had basically walked a thousand miles just to come back to the same terminal we arrived at. Anyway, we had some lunch at Tim Hortons and before we knew it, it was time to go board WS 475 to YWG.
Great Hall of T3 not looking that great
So many warm destinations, yet my dad and I are headed to YWG…
This would be the first of many trips to Tim Hortons for us while in Canada
Boarding: After lunch, we made our way to gate B2a, which we had trouble finding at first. Eventually, we realized we had to take an underground walkway to this satellite terminal, which we did. The walkway was really deep and really long, but luckily we had some moving walkways to help us. Once we got there, there was already a crowd gathered, waiting to board. Boarding was called in zones, but on our pre-printed boarding passes, there was no zone assigned, so we just boarded with zone 3, and the gate agent had no issue with that. Our seats were 12E and F, so naturally I moved into the window seat. Once the rest of the passengers boarded, the captain made an announcement about the weather conditions in Winnipeg and whatnot. He mentioned that the 738 we were on wasn’t equipped with WestJet Connect, so we should read books and talk to the people around us, which the woman in 12D was doing the entire flight. It was Super Bowl Sunday, and the captain alluded to that during his pre-takeoff announcement, and there was much talk about that amongst the passengers as well. Anyway, after the bilingual safety demo and a long taxi, we finally took off at 1:48 PM.
As soon as we got into the air, I listened to the latest edition of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!” the NPR News Quiz and looked out the window. That ate up the first 45 minutes or so of the flight, which was completely full, as promised back at YYZ. During that, the FAs came around the cabin to do a drink and super light snack service, with other snack items available for purchase. I know WS is more of a low-cost airline than AC, and our flight was just over two hours, but they give you starvation rations there. I honestly wasn’t expecting much on a Canadian domestic flight, but on some of WS’ flights to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, the one drink service and very light snack may not be enough. Anyway, I had coffee and two Biscoff cookies the size of my thumb. After “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!” was over, I looked through the seat pocket at some of the stuff there, and took the magazine with me.
Before I knew it, we began our descent into YWG. We dipped through the clouds, and once we broke through, the prairies were super white. I knew it was going to snow that day, but it was a very pretty view from up in the sky, and we crossed over the Red River just north of Winnipeg as we descended. Everyone was glued to their respective windows as we descended and eventually touched down at 2:51, almost half an hour ahead of schedule. It was quite an extraordinary landing in the snow, something I’d never experienced before. My hat goes off to the folks who were working the ramp that day, because the snow did not let up!
Our bags came rather quickly, and soon we were in a taxi into downtown Winnipeg, where we'd spend the next three days.
Toronto - YYZ
Winnipeg - YWG
YYZ is not the best place to connect, and if you're flying out of T3 (especially the domestic/transborder area), there isn't much in terms of food/beverage options. WS did their job of getting us to YWG safely, and we just happened to be unlucky enough to get on one of their few planes without Wifi. While we didn't get much in terms of food, the crew made up for it by being very friendly, and WS had a nice inflight magazine as well. And a big shout-out to the captain for landing that plane in the middle of a snowstorm too.
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