This series covers another quick weekend trip; this time to Vancouver. This trip was booked since Ms. NGO85 was going to be up there for work Wednesday-Thursday; so we decided to make it a long weekend afterwards with me flying up Thursday evening and then returning together on Sunday night. Not a lot of options heading up to YVR since the route is dominated by AC and WS with a small DL presence. I booked my round-trip ticket for $240 about 2 weeks ahead of time. AC was the cheapest airline and despite my lackluster experience this summer heading up to YYC, I decided to give AC another go. The routing will be:
Part 1 – LAX-YVR [AC 557, Airbus A320, Economy] – You are here Part 2 – YVR-LAX [AC 556, Airbus A320, Economy] – Here
This report will cover the flight from LAX to YVR and the AC Maple Leaf Lounge at T2. The bonus for this report will be spotting at LAX before the flight. The bonus for Part 2 will be of Vancouver.
I did OLCI the night before to pick an aisle seat for this flight. As I mentioned in my previous AC series, AC charges for advanced seat selection but it can be done for free at OLCI.
On the day of departure, I left work in the early afternoon to head to LAX. After parking my car and taking the shuttle to the terminal, I am in front of the AC check-in area at T2.
The check-in lines were empty when I showed up. No agents were at the priority lines and I had to wait about 5 minutes for an agent to finally walk over and help me. He asked for my passport, which he promptly dropped on the ground, picked up with an audible “sigh,” and then tossed back onto the counter like a piece of trash. I appreciate his respect for my personal property… Without any words spoken, he hands me a boarding pass and takes my bag away.
FIDS at T2.
Security was light. So empty, that they apparently decided to close the TSA PreCheck lane and the priority lane. What’s the point of PreCheck lanes if they aren’t going to be manned. Getting to the metal detector, they let me leave my shoes on and bypass the body scanner, but it doesn’t expedite me at all since my belongings were still stuck on the conveyer belt behind everyone else’s. All around, poor job by LAX.
T2 is small and is mainly used by flights to Canada/Mexico and some other obscure flights like QR, VS, and AV. Upstairs are the Virgin Clubhouse and the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge.
Inside, I immediately get scanned in and inquire about a shower. I’m ushered into the room after signing the log book indicating my name and flight number. The room is fairly spartan and the cleanliness is definitely lacking. There was shampoo leaking down the side of the shower and the towels are in very poor condition.
After the shower, I went into the lounge to take a seat by the window and grab a bite to eat. The buffet is very minimal: soups, salad, chips and salsa, cookies, and a bean salad. The drinks are far more abundant than US carrier lounges with 4 beers on tap.
My rendezvous corner with Numero_2, which provides a good angle for spotting as planes roll out of TBIT and head to the runways.
HA A332 with an AF A380 in the background.
My AC A320 arriving from YVR, which is my queue to head down to the gate.
Reaching the gate, I noticed that the departure time was changed to 17:50. Passengers were deplaning so I did a quick loop to see what there was to spot.
My AC A320 lurking in the background.
Air Canada, AC 557 Equipment: Airbus A320 [C-FFWN, delivered January 1991] Departure: 17:40 (ATD: 18:05) Arrival: 20:32 (ATA: 20:20) Flight time: 2:15
My boarding documents as I was waiting for boarding to start.
Boarding started at 17:30 and I boarded with Groups 1/2. Handing my documents over, the agent greeted me in French, which caught me off guard. She made a guess based on my name, I am not a Francophone, but acknowledge her for making the effort to try and address passengers in their respective language. I mumbled a “merci” as I took my documents back and headed into the plane where an FA welcomed me aboard.
The cabin on this A320.
Seat pitch is pretty good on AC, around 32”.
Seat details. I find the cabins to be clean, but very bland looking. The seats are old and cushiony, but the lack of an adjustable headrest makes comfort only average.
These planes have IFE. There are also power and USB ports, but only the A, B, D, and E seats have power outlets. The C and F seats do not get this amenity.
Older Airbus for sure.
The seatback contents.
enRoute, which highlights new service from YVR into NGO^^
The safety card for this A320.
Since my row mates weren’t there yet, I slid over to take a picture of the winglet details and the Theme Building. The load was close to 95% on this flight and both seats next to me were occupied.
We closed the front door at 17:50 and immediately pushed back. They managed to board the plane in less than 20 minutes, kudos to AC for that. US carriers need to take notes. The safety video played as we pushed back and taxied out for departure.
Heading north towards YVR, the IFE turned on and the FAs came through to sell headphones (not complimentary). The IFE is decent size and quality, but slow to react when using the touch screen. The content is very good and the air show works well. IFE is the big advantage for taking AC over its competitors, the rest of the AC soft product is very poor.
The lavatories before the in-flight service starts.
The cabin exiting the lavatory.
The service is painfully slow with only 1 FA doing the BOB and 1 FA doing the drink cart. By the time they reach my row, we are already into Washington. I ask for a cup of coffee. The FA looks at me and says, “We don’t have any water. You can only get juices or canned drinks.” WTF? How did they not load any water onto the plane? An OJ without ice for me… No pretzels or any other snack item were handed out.
We were here when the drink cart was at my row.
The cabin was quickly cleaned and immigration cards were handed out. The guy in the middle seat was asleep and missed the forms. He pressed the call button. No one came to see him. In fact, 2 FAs walked right past our row without even stopping. I eventually flagged an FA down for him so that he could get an immigration form. AC crews have not impressed me at all in my last 2 trips and this crew was just as poor.
Diving into YVR to land from the west.
We touched down early due to tail winds and were quickly deplaning.
YVR joins PDX/SEA in the ugly green carpet club. The signage to arrivals is well marked. US passport holders can use the kiosks for faster immigration and I was out fast. By the time I got to baggage claim, the priority bags were already off. I grabbed my suitcase and headed out towards the exit where Ms. NGO85 was waiting to meet me. You’ll notice the abundance of Chinese signage at YVR, which is very reflective of the demographics of Vancouver as a city.
I'll leave of this series here while I begin my long weekend in Vancouver.
***BONUS***: Spotting at LAX from the parking gargage.
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge
Los Angeles - LAX
Vancouver - YVR
AC is a very 'meh' airline on intra-North American routes. Their planes are old, their crews aren't friendly, and their in-flight services (minus IFE) are terrible.
Cabin comfort: AC's fleet of 25 year old A320s need to get replaced badly. The seat pitch is really good for Y, but the seats aren't the most comfortable in the world to sit on since I could start to feel some discomfort at the end of a 2 hour flight.
Crew: They seem to lack any sort of personality. First, the agent checking me in was completely rude in the way he treated my passport. Secondly, the attentiveness of the FAs in flight is poor: very slow in-flight service and ignored my seatmates call button for more than 5 minutes before I almost had to tug the arm of a passing FA.
Meal and catering: How do you not load water onto a plane? Basic drinks and that's it (not even ice thanks to the water incident). Don't even offer a salty/sweet snack with the drink service like the US carriers do. Basically a LCC.
Entertainment: Standard seatback literature. The IFE screen had a good size and excellent variety. Only knock is the resolution of the IFE and the lack of responsiveness of the touch screen. 3 minutes of ads is excessive, but you can fastforward through it.
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