Review of Air Saint Pierre flight Halifax Saint-Pierre in Economy

Airline Air Saint Pierre
Flight PJ1122
Class Economy
Seat 4A
Aircraft ATR 42-500
Flight time 03:15
Take-off 21 Jan 19, 14:00
Arrival at 21 Jan 19, 16:15
PJ 6 reviews
wop
By SILVER 679
Published on 27th July 2019

Hi,

Let's continue this journey to an exotic overseas French island. It is not in the Caribbean nor in the Indian Ocean, but in the North Atlantic: we are going to Saint-Pierre and Miquelon islands! Located between Canadian Nova-Scotia and Newfoundland, these two tiny islands are part of France, and count as low as 5000 inhabitants on Saint-Pierre and 500 on Miquelon.

The easy option to reach this destination from Europe would be waiting for the summer, during which ASL Airlines operates a 737 once a week from Paris-CDG. But we won't do that. We'll go there right in the middle of winter, when wind blows and snow falls heavily. The first objective is then to reach Montreal, Halifax or St. John's which are the only airports with flights to Saint-Pierre between October and May (1, 4 and 3 flights a week, respectively). All these are operated with a single ATR42-500 by Air Saint-Pierre, the local airline which also flies daily between Saint-Pierre and Miquelon with a small Cessna F406, an 10 minutes flight that we'll try to catch as well.

All Montreal - Saint-Pierre flights were already fully booked a few months in advance, so we are going to stop in Toronto and Halifax while going there, while using the "direct" Montreal route for the return. The routing is supposed to look like this:


photo routing


It is finally time to let you discover what the small Air Saint-Pierre airline (aka PJ) offers, as part of a journey that already began more than 24 hours ago.

The airline has two planes:
- a Cessna F406 (F-OSPJ) carrying 8 passengers and 1 pilot,
- and an ATR 42-500 (F-OFSP), that replaced a 42-320 in 2009, and will be itself replaced by a brand new -600 in 2020. Since it is able to land with crosswinds up to 45 knots, it is the ideal plane considering the local winds, as strong as changing.
The crew for this fleet is made of 2 captains for the Cessna, and 3 captains, 3 FOs and 3 stewards for the ATR.

Three types of flights are operated:
- "Short-haul" between Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, operated daily with the Cessna: two return trips in the morning, two in the evening. A 10 minutes flight each way… weather permitting! With snow, icing, fog and strong winds, the flight programme needs to be very dynamically adjusted!
- "Medium-haul" to the near Canada: 3 times a week to St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador and times to Halifax (both are a 1-hour flight with a snack served). Additional summer flights operate to the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. There used to be flights to Moncton and Sydney… the one in Nova-Scotia and not in Australia (a booking mistake could be terrible I guess)
- The Montréal, allowing a connection to/from the Air France flight servicing Paris. 2 to 3 hours of flight depending on the direction and jet stream, that may require a technical stop to add some fuel. On board an ATR, it begins to feel like a long-haul flight, with two meals served on board. But this is for a later report.

I left you a few hours earlier, during a winter storm, somewhere near the luggage belt in Halifax airport, and around 3 in the morning.


photo dsc_1156

It is now a little more than 8 and time to wake up. With the jet lag, these 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep are good to take. Anyway we need to free the room at 11, which fits with the aircraft departure scheduled at 14.00.

Except that… a glimpse at the airport website let us see that the departure is now scheduled at 17.28. Sharp. Déjà vu… There is not much more information available, but Saint-Pierre and Miquelon weather office indicates that there is a very strong crosswind, and icing conditions. Anyway, the hotel is in the middle of a forest, so we head to the airport to know a little more about the delay.

11.30, departures hall. Check-in desks, a few shops and the way to the boarding area in the background.


photo dsc_1158

Have you found Air Saint-Pierre desks?


photo dsc_1157-82943

Here it is. No crowd and three agents waiting for us. They confirm that the flight is delayed due to the weather in Saint-Pierre, where the plane has not departed yet.


photo dsc_1159r

The desk seems to be frequently used by Air Saint-Pierre according to the posters.


photo dsc_1162r

Check-in is done partly on the computer, and partly on paper. You can see a cabin map where seats are marked as they are allocated. I deduce that for now, only 5 or 6 people checked-in.


photo dsc_1161r

It takes a little time, especially as the computer refuses to release a seat that is free according to the paper seatmap. While waiting, let's see what we can find at the counter: tourist guides listing all the shops and activities, and collector luggage tags.


photo dsc_1163r

The tags:


photo dsc_1507

Le boarding pass finally accepts to be printed. I could get a window seat. The new departure time is indicated, and the boarding is expected 45 minutes before.


photo dsc_1165r

You then have to go behind the desk to drop your bags on a belt. Notice the airline logo on the screen.


photo dsc_1164r

The airport has a panoramic viewing platform before the controls, but it is currently closed due to construction works. We head towards the security checks, before which there cannabis box is located.


photo dsc_1166

After this exhausting first flights, I forgot to empty a water bottle, and was very nicely invited to empty it in the fountain next to the cannabis box, and then to use the priority lane. A very nice touch, the security agent was almost sorry for me.

We are now in the boarding area, five hours early. Towards the East, gates 1 to 9 for regional departures. Then, a dozen of gates with jetbridges. At the West end, 4 gates for regional jets to the US. Seats face large windows.


photo dsc_1167

There isn't much to be besides waiting, eating a bit and watching the planes. I fast-forward the wait, you'll notice that there is less and less light outside, as this United Embraer is painted in neon green…


photo dsc_1169r

…and this Korean Air 777 Freighter lands between Air Canada mowers.


photo dsc_1170r

But things are becoming more precise! The ATR took off from Saint-Pierre a little before 15.00 and is now approaching:


photo screenshot_20190121-163927

16.40, here is is, landing with all lights on.


photo dsc_1172rphoto dsc_1173photo dsc_1174r

It is time to get closer to the gate. There is somebody at the gate below PJ logo, but he is just passing by.


photo dsc_1175

…and nothing happens. At 17.32, the counter is still empty. I am even wondering if I would not have missed the flight, but all the bags with orange "Bagage cabine Air Saint-Pierre" around are a good clue. Nobody seem to worry.


photo dsc_1176

17.55, the ladies from the checkin arrive and wave some passengers on their way. The flight is no more on the screen…


photo dsc_1177

…and comes back, announcing a 18.15 departure. It is 18.05, boarding is called. No priority, there is only an economy class and Air Saint-Pierre has no loyalty programme (nor partnership).


photo dsc_1178r-61455

After the gate and down an escalator, we reach this long room with access to planes by foot all along. Our "gate" is number 3.


photo dsc_1179r

…and here it is. There isn't long to walk, but I'm happy that it is not snowing.


photo dsc_1180

Here is the famous and long waited F-OFSP, shining and and lighted, red on the left wing, green on the other one.


photo dsc_1182resized

The seats design reveal that the aircraft is a few years old, but the cabin is nevertheless clean and in good shape.


photo dsc_1183

The ceiling looks even modern, which contrasts with the seats.
No suprise, it is an ATR, with limited space, but not excessively tight.
Anyway, there is no doubt possible, we are in the correct plane.


photo dsc_1184photo dsc_1206

Outside, the boarding continues. The propeller is strapped, I wonder if it is common or only done in severe weather.


photo dsc_1185

18.10, we are all on board, 30 passengers or so. The right engine is started in hotel mode (with the prop blocked), the cabin gets quickly very warm. The stewardess announces a 1h14 flight at 21000 ft.

18.25, pushback and taxi to the de-icing pad.


photo dsc_1187

Whoooooooosh…


photo dsc_1192photo dsc_1195photo dsc_1191

The operation end at 18.50. "Notre départ vers Saint-Pierre est maintenant imminent, veuillez réajuster votre ceinture". Announcements are only made in French, we are invited to fasten our seatbelt again in preparation for take-off.


photo dsc_1190

A last blast of anti-icing fluid, and our plane takes-off towards the North. It is 19.00, and already 20.00 in Saint-Pierre.


photo dsc_1196

There isn't much to see outside, so let's see what is in the seat pocket. The famous SPM guide, quite useful to get the phone numbers of the 4 restaurants, where it is advisable to book if you want to be sure to have a table.

You can also see the orange "bagage cabine" that I mentioned earlier. The allowance is a small 5kg bag, but it is not strictly enforced.


photo dsc_1197

Safety card.


photo dsc_1198photo dsc_1199

The service quickly begins. A full bar is available for free, with large strong alcohol bottles and the usual (wide) choice of soft drinks. All served with a muffin.


photo dsc_1200

And… I apparently completely forgot to photograph it. You'll get photos for sure during the return trip.

So let's have a look at the cabin.


photo dsc_1202

The crew area at the rear, and the small door used to load the rear hold (on the right).


photo dsc_1204

The stairs-door on the other side.


photo dsc_1205

And toilets, in good condition, except that there is no water in the sink, but an antibacterial gel instead. Maybe due to difficulties to keep water liquid in the freezing cold temperatures?


photo dsc_1203

Back in the front, I take a free seat on the right side to get a better view of the arrival.
At 20.05, we hear the captain for the first time. He announces a landing in 15 minutes and a cloudy weather.
Watch adjustment, it is now 21.05 in UTC-3, the same time zone as Guyana, Greenland, Argentina and part of Brazil.


photo dsc_1207

21.15, we dive below the clouds and a few lights appear: Saint-Pierre city.


photo dsc_1211

21.16, landed.


photo dsc_1213

21.20 at gate, 21h21 doors at opened. Everybody can't wait to be home.


photo dsc_1214

21.26, passports controls is quick as most passengers have a French passport, and the luggage belt starts moving.


photo dsc_1215-47177

21.29 we are outside. The 4 flights to Miquelon have been cancelled, the weather was probably very bad earlier.


photo dsc_1216photo dsc_1216-1r

Air Saint-Pierre was also announcing our delayed arrival on its hi-tech flight information system.


photo fbkfp

And after a 40 hours door-to-door journey, we finally reach a comfortable bed at our hotel for two weeks. Here is a first glimpse at the city, and I'll go to bed.


photo dsc_1232photo dsc_1218

I give you a rendez-vous for the next flights: we'll try to go to Miquelon, then to come back to Paris using Air Saint-Pierre longest flight. There will be more photos, and a surprise stopover ! ✈️

See more

Verdict

Air Saint Pierre

7.9/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Meal/catering8.0

Halifax - YHZ

8.2/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.5

Saint-Pierre - FSP

7.9/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.0
Services6.5
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

A long-waited for flight, both in the days and the hours before. The job is done, and the service appropriate considering the duration of the flight. More information on the delay would have been nice, but everybody seemed to be used to have to cope with the weather. I have no doubt that I would have had detailed information if I asked for in Halifax or on-board.

Halifax airport is very nice with a large choice to eat, and St-Pierre is as expected: no crowd (of course) and quite easy to reach since it is 2 km from the city center.

Related

3 Comments

  • Comment 513323 by
    ThomasDutch GOLD 413 Comments

    Well that's an airline I never heard of and neither did I know France had some islands over there. Thanks for sharing this report!

    • Comment 513382 by
      wop SILVER AUTHOR 240 Comments

      Thank you! Actually, considering its limited fleet and network, it is quite unlikely for anybody to know this airline. I did however thanks to the special announcement made before landing in Air France morning CDG-YUL flight to invite "passengers connecting on the Air Saint-Pierre flight" to proceed directly to the gate after immigration.

  • Comment 515260 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5100 Comments

    Very exotic! Great to see a report on Air Saint Pierre that I've always been curious about. Great night shots of your ATR! Funny to see all that snow now that we're in the heat of summer...it was "cool" to see 😁

    Thanks for sharing!

Login to post a comment.