Vancouver airport is centrally located, so we used the transfer time to get ice cream and authentic Vietnamese food in the city. We left our luggage at CDS Baggage next to international arrival while we were out.
Came back 3 hours prior to departure time and found the check-in counters to be very crowded. Waited about 20 min before we got our boarding pass and then lined up again for security. Seems international departure didn't have enough security lanes, so by the time everything was done we had about 1 hour to spend at the lounge.
There were some trouble at security. I had my passport and boarding pass inside a bin but when it came out of the x-ray machine, the boarding pass was gone. This was a hassle as China Airline's policy for lost boarding pass states I must wait for everyone else to board to make sure I was not simply trying to claim another person's seat, before they can reissue. I didn't understand the logic as they can verify my name using my passport and also passport is required when boarding. Anyways the lesson for me is not to put boarding passes through the x-ray machine in the future.
Plaza premium lounges seems to be the theme of our trip, and Vancouver airport has several of them. They have 2 for domestic, 1 for USA, and 1 for international. It was a bit crowded when we visited as there were several long haul flights departing at night and premium passengers of a few airlines also used this lounge. Nicely renovated Skyteam lounge opened up since our visit in 2017 so the situation should be different now.
First order of business was booking a time for shower, they put our names on a list and called us when it was our turn. There was a full time shower attendant who replaced the towel and toiletries in between.
The lounge didn't have a cook to order menu like ones in Taiwan. What they have is a bar serving alcohol, coffee/tea, and pastries. Also had hot food stations with vegetables and Chinese buns, and one noodle station that was serving laksa at that time. The laksa was not as heavy on coconut milk compared the ones in Asia. It was more spicy than expected though.
Even though the lounge was crowded. There were still enough dining seats and couches for every one to sit. Plaza premium brands lounges are generally new and comfortable and this one lives up to the standard.
The seats on this new plane follow the new trend of trading thick paddings for more leg room. The seat back pocket is now placed right below the screen, giving passengers just a bit more room to move around. The tray table folds out in two stages so it's not right in the chest if you only have a snack. The arm rest also reduced in size, all appears to be part of an effort to give more personal space in ever increasing density airline cabins. Similar to cabin of B787s, mood lighting was used during the flight. Instead of being fully on or fully off, the color and intensity gradually fades in and out depending on phase of the flight, which is suppose to help passenger sleep and wake up. It's hard to tell whether it works but it certainly looked nice. The lavatory stayed clean through out the flight and it was well stocked with toiletries.
Dinner and breakfast were served onboard this flight with comparable quality to other major asian airlines. There's also the option of beer and wine, although I found the wine to be too mild for my taste. The IFE is the newer style Panasonic system that has a USB port for charging phones. You can also chat up your neighbors using the built in message function although I am not sure who would use it…
Of the 2 plaza premium lounges in terminal 1, Zone D is 24 hours and Zone C operates from 6AM-10PM. As our flight landed at 5 AM, we started out in Zone D first. Although the priority pass site does not officially show it has shower, the lounge reserved a couple of shower rooms in the public "Airport Experiences Zone" transfer lounge beside it. They also provided towel and toiletries. In terms of food, it had hot food stations and cooked to order small dishes. I'd say the quality are comparable to a hotel buffet breakfast.
When it was almost time for lunch, we moved over to the lounge in Zone C to see if it was any different. Zone C lounge felt like a more spacious version of Zone D. Although this may just be due to the small crowd present at this lounge. The menu is the same between the 2 lounges. They are different in the picture as it was noon time and they switched the lunch menu. I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking…
The new plane with refreshed cabin certainly made even economy class more enjoyable.