After a late arrival in YVR, I booked a room at the Westin Wall Center YVR Airport where I had a good night sleep. The hotel is relatively close to the airport and the room had a modern and minimalist feel.
Lobby was small but service was very attentive.
The following morning I visited the fitness center and had a good workout, followed by a simple and healthy breakfast @ the hotel's Apron restaurant. Pastries were served warm but I hardly touched them.
I then walked around the neighborhood a little bit and returned to the hotel where I relaxed in the swimming pool watching AC planes land before heading to the airport.
I arrived at YVR completely relaxed and went straight to the LH counter to check in. There are several self service kiosks but I opted to wait at the J line. Once I was at the front, the agent working at the F counter waived me to go to her and greeted me cheerfully. I asked if J was full and she said that it wasn't and the seat next to me was still vacant, but she couldn't guarantee that suggesting me to check at the gate. Fair enough and I thanked her for checking.
A KLM still life scene taken while the hotel shuttle was dropping me off at the terminal.
I received my boarding passes along with a sticker on the YVR-MUC one inviting me to the AC Maple Leaf lounge.
Since I still had plenty of time I paid a visit to the observation deck to do some plane spotting. The area is located one floor up of a food court located in the domestic terminal.
I then proceeded through security and was directed to a priority line. The agents were professional and tried to get everybody through as quickly as possible. Once inside I walked through the spacious and green terminal. I really enjoy this airport and its city, both acting as worthy ambassadors of the majestic Pacific Northwest surroundings.
High end stores
Homage to Canada by Godiva
At the gate area I looked for the AC Maple Leaf lounge and was informed that it was located at the beginning right after passing security. I then walked all the way back and finally found it hidden in a corner.
I was welcomed by the desk agent and settled in a quiet corner at one end of the room. The lounge was not that big and there were different stations with self serving liquors and refrigerators containing soft drinks and juices. There was a table with several terminals offering access to the internet as well as a color printer in the business center.
I noticed that there were several mugs that were stained or chipped.
The food offerings consisted of different salads, two hot soup choices and some dumplings. The dumplings were hard and dry on the top, an indication of having been left for too long on the heating tray.
Later on the hot buffet table was replenished with a pasta dish, some sweet and sour chicken and noodles. A guy looked at the choices with contempt letting out a sigh while looking at me and he left. I decided not to sample any of this Italian/Chinese gastronomic feast preferring to save room for the delights awaiting for me at the J cabin on LH.
Spotting was decent at the lounge with a Condor and ANA flight leaving.
The WC at the lounge was disgracefully unkept with debris and torn paper towels.
I left the lounge and went to the gate. In the meantime, I took the opportunity to take some pictures of planes parked at the gate.
The gate area was not full at all giving the impression that the flight was very open. Moments later the crew arrived and did a quick meeting before the flight. I really like how LH crews look so sharp and professional all the time.
I checked with the agent to see how full the flight was and she confirmed that there was not anyone sitting next to me, advising that she couldn't guarantee that the seat would remain open but that she would try her best not to assign it to anyone. As it turned out, the 3 seat pairs in the back each had an empty seat which was great.
Boarding started at 30 min. before dept. with priority given to the elderly and passengers who needed extra assistance. Then it was F followed by J passengers.
Walking down the gate, there were two doors opened - one for F/J and the other for Y passengers. I like how LH makes an effort to provide separate boarding to premium passengers.
A purser welcomed me with a warm smile at the entrance and pointed me to the left side aisle. The cabin looked neat with the new seats and the colors and patterns added a cheerful note. I certainly prefer the neutral tones of the new seats to the somber dark blue of the previous ones.
I finally arrived at my seat and it looked good. Each seat had a pillow and blanket that was wrapped in a plastic bag.
A bottle of water and an amenity kit were already placed in a compartment.
Contents of the amenity kit.
The flight seemed promising but unfortunately appearances are deceitful. A series of disappointments will soon follow starting with the dirty napkin in my seat pocket.
While getting the magazine pouch, I found a dirty issue buried deep down inside the seat pocket. At this point I got some disinfectant towels from my bag and wiped the whole pocket along with seat controls and table. Utterly disgusting!
When the purser passed by my seat I showed him my pocket findings. He was mortified and apologized while retrieving the dirty items. I told him that it was not his fault but to please have LH follow up with YVR cleaning crew to do a better job.
Pouch magazines and seat entertainment controls with cursor like feature.
At this point pre-departure drinks were distributed consisting of water, orange juice or champagne.
Is it me or is the foot stool on the window seat narrower than the one on the aisle?
Window foot stool
Aisle foot stool
Soon the doors were closed and the cabin was ready for take off. I took some shots of the beautiful surroundings while taxing to the runway.
Once we leveled off, service started at around 1925 with the distribution of menus followed by hot towels.
I decided to make myself comfortable by taking my shoes off and took the blanket out to cover my legs and feet. I then felt like a hole in the middle and when I looked it was indeed a big hole.
At this point I noticed that the passenger sitting in 15D was having problems with his entertainment system and after the purser tested it, he was moved to one of the middle seats - 16G. His neighbor who had all his belonging spread out had to gather his things and stow them on his seat.
The beverage cart was rolled out and I asked for a mango-passonfruit juice with sparkling water. The FA approved by saying that it was a good idea. My drink was accompanied by a bag of cashews. In this regard, I like how AA serves you a hot ramekin of nuts instead of a bag which looks a bit cheap. Breads were offered from a basket and I took a slice of rye bread.
The appetizer was next and by the time the cart reach my seat, only the chicken and beet carpaccio were left. I chose the beet and it was tasteless. Come to think of it, the beet also tasted raw and not grilled as stated on the menu. The few drops of what appears to be Pesto sauce was the only redeeming quality. The salad only had one type of dressing which was sundried tomato. It was robust and complemented the salad nicely. Bread was offered again and the nice flight attendant asked for my drink choice and I ordered a glass of water and Riesling. I love Riesling wine.
Are these the newly anticipated salt/pepper shakers? How premium!
Silverware are nicely branded with the crane logo.
The dishes were cleared and the cart with the main dishes was rolled out. I wanted to try the salmon but it run out by the time it reached me. So it was the vegetarian pasta or the Chinese option. As someone with a Chinese background who hails from a culinary mecca like SFO, I am not about to order reheated Chinese food from a plane so it was the pasta. However, this choice turned out to be mediocre at best and I only ate the vegetables leaving most of the pasta on the plate. I felt that this dish was not up to the standards of a premium cabin due to its relative simplicity and low cost.
Service through the entire dinner was efficient, friendly and very professional. I was addressed by name and with plenty of smiles. When the main dish was cleared, the purser came by to drop me a small bowl of chocolates and told me that they were from F with a wink. A very nice touch.
Later the dessert cart came and I requested the cheese plate along with the mango raspberry cake which was delicious. This was perhaps the best item of the entire dinner service. A bread basket was offered to accompany the cheese course and to my horror the only crackers available were saltines. Wouldn't the saltiness hinder the appreciation of the cheeses? Of course I refused the crackers and opted for a piece of bread instead. A small box of chocolates was offered to round off the meal service which is always a nice touch.
At the conclusion of the meal service the FA wished me good night which was a gesture that I appreciated. I made a trip to the WC and was surprised that it had a window. As I discovered later, only the WC on the right side had this feature. The one on the left side was just an average one.
Rigth side WC
There were snacks and drinks in the galley after the meal service but FA's also walked around with trays frequently. They consisted of cashews, Toblerone chocolates and drinks.
I watched part of a film and tried to sleep but couldn't at the end. I noticed that the control panel on my seat was not lit while the one next to me was. Perhaps another electrical glitch.
Soon it was daylight and the breakfast service began with hot towels. The menu stated that there was a choice between cold cuts with cheese OR omelette with bacon and mushrooms, but in reality both were presented on the tray and the omelette was minuscule in size.
I ordered a cup of green tea but the FA did not have it on his cart, so he apologized and asked his co-worker to get one from the galley. I told him that I could take any other tea and that it didn't matter to me, but he insisted that he will get the right one for me.
After the breakfast service, I lined up for the WC. In the meantime, FA's were excusing themselves while passing me since they were getting the cabin ready for landing. The passenger in the aisle bulkhead said to me excuse me, what are you waiting for? I said that I was lining up for the WC and he pointed at the sign above showing that the WC was available. I replied to him that it showed occupied at the door and it was being used. Here was another electrical glitch. While the sign above showed one thing, the door with the red strip showing occupied was indeed being used by another passenger. I asked a FA if there was indeed someone and she confirmed that. The guy at the bulkhead just shut up and stayed miffed. One of the FA tried to diffuse the situation and asked me to wait in the galley instead since they made room for me to wait there. Finally the guy exits and I made a quick run. The guy in the bulkhead was proved wrong.
We landed in MUC 13 min. late which is not that bad. I then had a connection on TK to SAW at T1 which was a recent change. Previously TK used T2 along with LH but that changed as of a few days ago.
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, International
Vancouver - YVR
Munich - MUC
What was perceived as a promising start with a nice check-in experience at the airport and the opportunity to fly a new J product turned into a series of disappointments. Garbage left behind from a previous flight and a blanket with a big hole are unacceptable, especially in a premium cabin. The inconsistencies in the design (like a bigger WC with window on the right side and foot stools that are narrower on the window seats) are somewhat annoying. Electrical glitches are frustrating and can easily tarnish the overall flight experience.
The food was hardly edible except for the dessert course and portions were tiny on some dishes. On this particular flight I did not feel that LH spends enough money on catering to match the quality of the meals to the caliber of the cabin flown. Most ingredients were average and not associated with high end items. For example, the pasta dish could have easily been an economical class meal.
The only saving grace of this trip was the excellent crew who were always efficient, professional and friendly.
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