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AC208 Vancouver Intl (YVR) - Calgary Intl (YYC)
 
Date: 2 October 2004
Departure (scheduled): 11:00
Arrival (scheduled): 13:20
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Cabin: Economy
Seat: 23E

One week into the two week holiday and we had to get to Calgary to meet our incoming friend who was arriving on the Thomas Cook charter from Gatwick (poor thing ). The easiest way to do this was, of course, to fly, although my friend had initially been keen to drive there. As we would be driving back, we decided to fly over and got a great fare with Air Canada (AC).

We arrived at the airport at about 9:30am and dropped the rental car off at the Alamo desk. Then we proceeded to the domestic departure check-in area. As a Star Alliance Gold card holder (United Airlines Premier Executive) , I was allowed to use the Business class check-in with a guest on AC. Although the economy lines were very short, we walked to the far right of the departure hall where the business class check-in desks were located. There were no queues there and check-in took a couple of minutes.

Following check-in, we had a little look around the shops and then proceeded through security. We chose not to go into the AC lounge and to be honest, I couldn't find a sign for it anyway! It must be there somewhere, but with only 15 mins to go to boarding, we decided to get a Starbucks and just sit by the gate.

Boarding commenced about 20 mins before departure and was done with priority (BA take note please - priority boarding for short haul!!!). We were amongst the first to enter the cabin and took our sets 23E and F. These were window seats located just behind the wing. AC have a bizarre numbering system. The first 3-4 rows are 2-2 abreast business class, with proper business class seats, not the convertible crap that most European carriers use. Then the economy cabin starts at row 12 or something bizarre like that. Don't know what they've got against rows 5-11 !!!

One thing that you immediately notice about AC is that there are telephones in the back of every middle seat, for any of the 3 pax to use. This was my fifth flight with AC and I've never seen them used, ever! The flight was proving to be very full, in particular there was a party of about 30 Japanese, who must have just arrived on an incoming international flight and were en route to the Rockies. As we were to find out over the next week, the Rockies are a very popular destination for coach loads of Japanese and Chinese tourists.

Soon the plane was full and we pushed back and went through the safety demo. Then we proceeded to the runway (I don't remember which one) and took off to the west. A big left turn (we needed to head east of course) and we were flying back over Vancouver and over the mountains. A drinks round was served, but due to the position of our seats, we were among the last to be served. Alcohol was only available at a cost IIRC so I just went for some coke and a little bag of pretzels.

There was in-flight entertainment, even on this short sector (BA again take note) which consisted of the TV news on the drop down screens and a selection of radio channels. However, I was much more interested in the view out of the window as we flew over the beautiful Rockies. I managed to get several photos, although not all of them came out that well.

Soon we were approaching YYC. Descent was fairly rapid and, in contrast to many flights into LHR, there was no queue. We over flew Calgary downtown at a fairly high speed with no sign of flaps or air brakes. These were eventually deployed on finals and we landed at what I would consider to be quite a high speed, followed by a long rollout.

We taxied to the gate and deplaned in no time. Overall this was a basic, but well conducted flight by AC. I have only ever flown on short 1 hour sectors with them (LGA-YYZ-YUL-YYZ-LGA were my other flights), I don't know what it would be like to do YVR-YYZ or something similar, I would assume they have enhanced service on these longer sectors (i.e. food and a film or something). Overall though very competent.