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AC20/19 Singapore to Vancouver Nonstop on Air Canada, and a Solar Eclipse in Montreal

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  • #61
    Eventually, I left the lounge and headed to the gate, where Air Canada 777-300ER rego C-FKAU was being readied for departure as AC311 YUL-YVR.

    This 7 year old aircraft was still wearing the old light blue AC livery...

    The flight looked to be 100% full, and the smallish boarding area was crammed with multiple lines of pax. Boarding was by zone, and because of the congested space, it took a while for pax to organise themselves for boarding. But in typical laid back Canadian manner, no voices were raised and everything remained civilised, even if boarding took a fairly long time.

    Thankfully, I boarded in zone 2, and so spent most of the long boarding process already seated in the Premium Economy cabin...

    The PEY cabin on this 77W was laid out in 3 rows of 2-4-2.

    The seats themselves were wide and comfortable, and looked to have a different headrest design from my earlier A330 PEY seat. Also, unlike the A330 seat, there were no calf rests on these seats.

    There was ample legroom in the bulkhead row, which meant that I could get up from my first row window seat to get to the bathroom without interfering much with my aisle-seat neighbour.

    From my seat, the familiar loud booming startup sequence from the GE90 engines as they came to life. It had been a while since I flew on a 77W, so this was music to my ears...

    A view of Montreal's terminal building and control tower as we taxi'ed out.

    Take off on Runway 24R...

    A nice view of the terminal building as we climbed out...

    Last edited by yflyer; 29 April 2024, 11:29 AM.


    • #62
      We were soon above the clouds.

      The IFE on this flight was the same familiar and full featured system that I had encountered on my previous AC sectors.

      There was A/C power, as well as USB. The IFE controller was mounted on the side of the armrest, but I hardly used it as the screen was a touchscreen.

      Pax in the PEY cabin were free to use the bathroom located just ahead of the PEY cabin, in between J and PEY.

      Last edited by yflyer; 29 April 2024, 11:30 AM.


      • #63
        Cabin service began with hot towels...

        Next, drink service.

        My Bloody Mary, made with spicy clamato and vodka, really hit the spot...

        As meal service began, I asked for a glass of white wine.

        What I found nice was that if you asked for wine, the cabin crew would take the time to tell you what different wines were available, and even offer you a taste, before you made your selection...

        There was a choice of 2 mains on this flight, a chicken and rice dish or pasta. I had previously pre-ordered the chicken and this was confirmed for me prior to take-off, when the cabin crew came round to take meal orders.

        The meal was served on real ceramic plates, with metal cutlery and proper glassware.

        The bowl of salad was crisp, and came with separate dressing in a small bottle.

        My main was delicious as well, tender chicken and moist rice.

        Chocolate cake for dessert.

        Once again, as on my previous YVR-YUL domestic PEY sector, I felt as if I was in domestic business class, not PEY.

        I asked for another glass of red, and this was quickly brought to my seat.

        On this flight in PEY, there was not a single plastic or paper cup in sight, only proper glassware. Thumbs up!

        Last edited by yflyer; 27 April 2024, 01:36 PM.


        • #64
          On this 5 hour day-time flight, I really enjoyed the views out the window.

          About mid-way through the flight, I spotted an airport on the ground far below.

          On the airshow map, it showed that this was near the town of Gimil, a name that rang a bell.

          Was this where the "Gimli Glider" landed? Yes it was!

          The "Gimli Glider" was an Air Canada 767, operating AC143 from Montreal to Edmonton in 1983, which ran out of fuel while in cruise, and made a successful emergency landing at Gimli. More on the incident here.

          I spent a lot of time on this flight looking down at the landscape passing slowly by...

          What a vast country this was...

          Last edited by yflyer; 27 April 2024, 07:50 PM.


          • #65
            I took a stroll through the aircraft. The economy cabin was laid out in 10-abreast 3-4-3, not my favourite config. 9-abreast 3-3-3 on a 777 was a very comfortable configuration, but adding an extra seat to 10 abreast turned the Y cabin from pleasant to mildly nightmarish, especially on long, full flights.

            I headed back to PEY, which felt spacious by comparison.

            The cabin crew came round with midflight snacks...

            I thought the Miss Vickies potato crisps were excellent.

            Another round of drinks was served. I couldn't resist another G&T.

            I was very impressed with the AC cabin crew on my PEY domestic sectors. They were young, eager to please, and really on the ball, delivering very warm and customer-focused cabin service.

            On this flight, I rewatched the old James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me, with Roger Moore as Bond.

            On the AC IFE system, older movies were still shown in 4:3 format, which was a bummer, but once the movie started, the form factor was forgotten and I was totally absorbed by the movie -- what a classic.

            There were good views of the Canadian Rockies as we neared Vancouver...

            Final approach into Vancouver Airport...

            ...for landing on Runway 08L.

            We landed 3 minutes ahead of schedule at 8.20pm, and we were at the gate of off the plane just after 8.30pm.

            Overall, I was really impressed by Air Canada's Premium Economy product. For a 5 hour flight, this was as comfortable as PEY could get. I was particularly impressed by the catering, and the superb cabin crew.
            Last edited by yflyer; 27 April 2024, 07:55 PM.


            • #66
              Off the plane at YVR, there was no need to reclear security.

              I was through to the international departure area for my flight back to Singapore without any delay...

              Last edited by yflyer; 28 April 2024, 08:23 AM.


              • #67
                I headed to the Maple Leaf Lounge in the international terminal.

                This was Star Alliance Gold Lounge, and as Krisflyer Gold, I was eligible to enter.

                I noticed signage at the door which sad "Air Canada Signature Suite". On the upper level of this lounge, there was the Signature Suite, offering a full sit-down dining experience. This was only for Signature Class i.e. Business Class, and I was not able to use this section of the lounge, so I remained in the main lounge at ground level.

                This was a beautiful lounge...

                It appeared to be a cut above the Maple Leaf Lounges I had experienced in other cities, includiing Frankfurt and London.

                There was a full service manned bar.

                The seating area, with good airside views.

                Individual loungers by the windows.

                Beautiful solid wood high tables...

                I would love to have a table like this at home...

                After putting my bags by one of the loungers and settling down, I headed to the bar for a drink.

                The cocktail selection was vast.

                The wine list looked decent too.

                "May I have a lychee martini, please?"

                Last edited by yflyer; 27 April 2024, 02:56 PM.


                • #68
                  There was a beautifully styled dining area, with both buffet and cooked-to-order items.

                  The buffet counter...

                  ...with salads...

                  ...and hot sides...

                  Forest mushroom soup...

                  Main courses, prepared to order.

                  I ordered the chicken vol-au-vent...

                  There was also plain congee and a selection of garnishes...


                  • #69
                    This lounge had shower rooms, complete with WC (The domestic AC Lounges I visited had in-lounge restrooms, but none had showers).

                    My flight, AC19 YVR-SIN, was a 12.05am departure, so I had about 3 hours in the lounge between connections.

                    The lounge was not busy, as there did not appear to be too many international flights departing at that hour.

                    Some of the other folks in the lounge were on AC35 YVR-BNE, whch was an 11.15pm departure that evening. AC35 was also operated by a 787-9, and the aircraft operating that flight, C-FNOG, could be seen from the lounge.

                    Time in the lounge passed quickly. I enjoyed the food and especially the drinks, all the while heeding the friendly notice placed prominently on the bar counter...

                    Last edited by yflyer; 28 April 2024, 08:25 AM.


                    • #70
                      The International Terminal at VYR had a stunning design, with lots of open space and a very high ceiling...

                      Arriving international pax walked to immigration along a raised walkway above departing pax.

                      Unlike the cramped gate area I experienced on my previous domestic sector, the gate area for AC19 YVR-SIN was huge, with ample space for different lines for each boarding zone.

                      Last edited by yflyer; 29 April 2024, 11:33 AM.


                      • #71
                        This evening's flight AC19 YVR-SIN was lightly loaded, with an especially light Y cabin, so boarding was very smooth and quick.

                        Today's flight was operated by Boeing Dreamliner 787-9 rego C-FVND, a 5 year old aircraft.

                        My seat was 12K, in the first row of Premium Economy.

                        By the time I boarded, there were other pax in the PEY cabin, and it was a challenge to take pics in the crowded cabin, so here are some pics of the same cabin, taken on my outbound AC20 a week earlier.

                        The seats were laid out 2-3-2, and felt fairly spacious and comfortable.

                        Except for the bulkheadrow, the seats in the 2nd and 3rd PEY rows had footrests. None of the PEY seats had calf rests though.

                        There was good legroom in the bulkhead row.

                        An amenity kit and bottle of water were provided for each PEY pax.

                        Small drink tray in the front of the armrest.

                        Each seat came with a blanket, and a smallish pillow covered in that weird disposable material (Why not a real pillow cover, AC?).

                        IFE controller...

                        A/C power...

                        Touchscreen with USB charging port...

                        The screen was not very large, but the picture quality and resolution were good.

                        Disposable headsets were distributed...

                        These were not great, and were best ignored in favour of BYO headphones or earbuds...

                        Last edited by yflyer; 10 May 2024, 05:41 PM.


                        • #72
                          The amenity kit was very practical...

                          It expanded into a large carrier bag. Very useful!

                          The contents of the kit were what you would expect...socks, eyeshades, toothbrush and foam earplugs...

                          Prior to boarding the cabin crew came round the PEY cabin with orange juice in plastics cups.


                          • #73
                            Take-off on Runway 08R...

                            Today's flight time to Singapore was about 16 hours...

                            Cabin service began with hot towels...

                            The cabin crew came round for drink service. I asked for G&T, and it came perfectly prepared in a proper glass, with lemon slice.

                            I decided to sign up for inflight wifi.

                            Wifi with unlimited data for the full flight was available for CAD$30 (i.e. SGD$30).

                            Internet performance for most of the flight was very good. Some of the fastest wifi I have experienced on any aircraft.

                            Amazingly there was an even faster option, called "Ultimate" for CAD$39!

                            I did not try the Ultimate Pass, but I was impressed that AC was so confident about its internet performance that they were willing to offer this premium plan. In practice, the regular internet plan worked very well for me on this flight.

                            I couldn't help but compare and contrast this with my past experiences with internet options on other airlines, which, truth be told, should really have been named "Slow", "Really Slow" or "Excruciatingly Slow" options. And any airline which still offers internet by the megabyte has lost the plot.
                            Last edited by yflyer; 28 April 2024, 08:33 AM.


                            • #74
                              After drink service, a full dinner was served.

                              This was served on a single tray, with ceramic plates, proper glasses, and metal cutlery. Very nice!

                              I had pre-ordered the beef with potatoes for my main, which I paired with a glass of red wine.

                              The starter was a tangy salad, similar to coleslaw, with a couple of cherry tomatoes. I found this to be a very refreshing start to the meal.

                              My main was tasty, with a generous portion of beef slices, which were not overcooked.

                              Dessert was cheesecake...

                              A very satisfying dinner!

                              After that, it was time to rest....
                              Last edited by yflyer; 29 April 2024, 11:34 AM.


                              • #75
                                Our routing that evening took us over the Pacific Ocean, passing close to Japan, and then over the Philippines later in the flight.

                                7 hours into the flight, the cabin crew came round with drinks and snacks...

                                Pax were offered sandwiches and small bites. These were also laid out in the galley in case anyone got hungry during the flight.

                                Sandwiches were not enough for me, so I had brought onboard my own cup noodles, purchased in Montreal the day before.

                                Cup noodles in hand, I strolled to the galley in the rear of the aircraft and asked the cabin crew for hot water. They were happy to oblige, and also giving me a set of disposable cutlery to use.

                                The noodles really hit the spot!

                                Special mention for the AC disposable cutlery. This looked to be made of very hard bamboo or some other wooden material. This cutlery was very strong and usable. It did not break the way some plastic cutlery did. I am pretty sure this cutlery would work well even for roti prata, which was almost guaranteed to break regular plastic cutlery.
                                Last edited by yflyer; 29 April 2024, 11:36 AM.