It turns out that I really prefer travelling on the holiday rather than the day before. The roads and the airport were quiet this morning and the plane is only a third full, meaning we started boarding 15 minutes late and still pushed back early. No complaints there at all.
Today is my first trip ever (or at least in a long time, but I’m pretty sure ever) on Air Canada: Newark – Calgary – Yellowknife. The first flight is 4:18 on an Embraer E190. I’m a huge fan of the aircraft type – generally quite comfortable – but the only food in coach is BoB, so I decided to raid the lounges in the airport for breakfast supplies instead.
Due to some rather poor planning on my part I needed to stop by the Continental Presidents Club in Newark as well as the United Airlines Red Carpet Club. They’re in different security areas in the A terminal which means I got to clear security twice today. At least no Nude-o-Scopes in service in these terminals yet. On the plus side, it slowed me down enough that I got to se the awesome sunrise rather than already being holed up in a lounge.
It also means I got to pick up my favorite breakfast supplies from both clubs rather than having to choose. A lot of folks are pretty die-hard about whether they like the snack options at one lounge or the other better. For me, however, a solid airport breakfast is a combination from the two: yogurt from the RCC and a granola bar (or three) from the PClub. Yummeh!
I suppose now is as good a time as any to offer up a brief review of the Air Canada product, at least first impressions. When the plane is only a third full it is easy to feel like it is incredibly comfortable. Plenty of room for bags, easy boarding and plenty of space on board as well. I think it would be the same even if the plane was full based on my experience on other E190s though overhead space would be a bit harder, particularly with all the heavy coats headed north this morning. Even with the light load, however, the crew was pretty phenomenal. A flight attendant passed through the aisle every 20-30 minutes offering water throughout the flight; a nice touch.
The IFE system – enRoute – is pretty slick. A roughly 10 inch touch screen in the seat back offering movies, TV, music and games on demand is always a good thing. Sadly, the map feature was not working this morning but the other stuff seems to be pretty solid. The XM music appears to be a recorded loop, not the live feed but there are also about 100 CDs available to choose from. The movie selection was pretty current (Salt and Inception were both options on this morning’s flight) and there are a few older films on offer as well. The Classics were a bit older than I was hoping for but a solid representation of the era. A few dozen TV episodes available, too. Truly, if you cannot find something to pass an hour or two of the flight on the AVOD system you’re probably doing it wrong.
Finally, the seats. They’re pretty nice. My only (small) complaint is the lack of an adjustable headrest on the seats.When I’m sitting upright the bottom of the headrest is in my shoulder blades rather than supporting my head and neck. But I don’t sit up all that often so not the end of the world.
Overall a rather comfortable way to fly. I’m now pretty confident that I’ll be quite comfortable on my trip to Munich and Salzburg with Air Canada in January.
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Nice to see an American take on our Canadian airline. Over the last few years I have taken every opportunity to fly AC whenever possible – great in flight entertainment, comfy seats, pleasant service and pretty good on time performance.
I checked out their website – under “About Air Canada” they have a whole list of awards, including Skytrax Best Airline in North America. I guess this is why.
I’ve flown on Air Canada to several cities in the USA for business and pleasure and have always had a very positive experience with the service at the airport and onboard the planes. I read the blog and honestly could have also written these compliments myself many times! Kudos to Air Canada!
I think I’d skip free lounge food if it meant an extra trip through security. Granola bars are something I often have in my travel backpack anyway (admittedly sometimes from a previous trip to a lounge, though I don’t take more than 2 or 3).
What’s up there in Yellowknife?
I have my first E190 trip coming up tomorrow (LH), have been looking forward to finally trying out a decent regional jet after all those CR200 trips.
The Maple Leaf Lounge in YYC would have some decent snacks as well, nothing too impressive.
Glad you had it to YZF – it’s an interesting spot although quite a bit colder than EWR this time of year. Not too many folks head up this way around now.
I have a feeling you where in front of me at YYC security…was going to comment on the FlyerTalk “Priority” tags on your carry-on (along with the many many other tags) but, if it was you, you got selected for a bag check by CATSA…I was behind you in security and had a flight to YVR to catch.
Yeah, Jay, that was me. All those bag tags and a CATSA secondary sounds about par for the course. Just be happy you weren’t behind me in YYZ on Monday morning. That search took about 10 minutes for no apparent reason.
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