Air New Zealand’s “Pleased to Seat You” truck on display in Terry Fox Square in Vancouver
Air New Zealand is in the midst of refurbishing its Boeing 777-200ER fleet, and is showcasing the planes’ new Premium Economy and Economy Skycouch seats during a North American “Pleased to Seat You” tour.
The seats are on display in a 26 foot, 5 ton, glass-walled truck that will cover more than 7,000 miles, giving the public a chance to see and sit in the -200’s new seats. The airline introduced the innovative Skycouch in its Boeing 777-300s – the footrest in a row of three seats can be positioned at the same height as the seat cushions, giving a flexible space for passengers.
With the update of the -200s, all of the long-haul aircraft in Air New Zealand’s fleet will include the Skycouch, along with the new Premium Economy seats also found in its Boeing 787-9s.
YVR’s new 2014 baggage carts, now rolling in an airport near you…if you live in Vancouver! Image: YVR
Our friend in Vancouver, Chris, is usually running around YVR airport’s terminals, ramp, and grounds. With his smartphone in hand, he tweets, blogs, posts, and helps to keep YVR’s social media presence timely and responsive. He’s often the “voice” behind the airport’s Twitter account, @yvrairport.
A couple of weeks ago, Chris did stay still for a while, long enough to put together a nifty video announcing the arrival of YVR’s 3,000 new baggage carts. At most airports, I don’t think that new carts would warrant even a press release, much less a video. But at YVR, it’s a big deal in a very tongue-in-cheek kind of way. And remember, when you travel through Vancouver’s multi-award-winning airport, you can use the carts for free.
A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER preparing for a Test flight at Boeing’s Everett Factory. Image: Mal Muir.
If you need to travel between New York and the Canadian west coast, there are just a few choices. Your main options are Air Canada or WestJet, which both operate direct flights between New York and Vancouver. Another option is flying a US-based airline (like United or American) via one of their hub cities. But what if you have a nice chunk of points to burn and want to get the best bang for your buck? Sure, you could redeem for Air Canada business, but that would just be like flying any other US airline in the front cabin. What if you could get a truly unique experience for the same amount of points as any other redemption? Well you can, with an unexpected airline.
Cathay Pacific Airlines (CX), based in Hong Kong, operates four daily flights between New York’s JFK Airport and Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok Airport. However, one of those flights has a layover in Vancouver. The last flight of the day (CX889) makes a stop along the way and Cathay Pacific has “Fifth Freedom” rights between New York and Vancouver.
What is a Fifth Freedom flight? It’s where an airline is allowed to sell tickets on a flight between two foreign countries as part of a service connecting their own country. Confusing, right? In layman’s terms it means that if, for instance, the airline needs to make a fuel stop mid-route or something similar, then it can sell a ticket from that stopping point to the end destination.
Cathay Pacific’s flight from New York to Vancouver is unique in that those in premium cabins get all the standard international service items, despite the fact that it’s only a five-hour flight. So even though I was flying a transcontinental flight JFK-YVR, I still got the multiple-course meal, amenity kit, and even pajamas. All the standard items you would get as though you were flying Cathay Pacific for a 14-hour flight.
Helijet Sikorsky S-76 & Harbour Air DHC-3 Turbine Otter
In the early 2000s I lived in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, about as far west in Canada as you can be without falling into the Pacific Ocean. Victoria is at the most southern tip of 460 km (290 mile) long Vancouver Island, about even with Whidbey Island, Washington. Business would take me to downtown Vancouver regularly, a straight-line distance of about 110 km (70 miles). I could drive to the ferry terminal, wait, have a nice 90 minute ferry ride, then drive in traffic to downtown Vancouver. Total trip time? 3 hours, if traffic was light. Cost? About CA$70 each way. But I could also fly harbour to harbour in about 30 minutes. As a fellow AvGeek, which one do you think I enjoyed more??
There are 2 regular airline services flying between Victoria’s and Vancouver’s harbours. Both harbours are Transport Canada certified airports, with designated water “runways”. You can fly fixed-wing on Harbour Air’s 14 passenger DeHavilland Canada DHC-3 Turbine Otters or 18-seat DHC-6 Twin Otters. Or you can take a helicopter – Helijet flies 12-seat, twin-engine, Sikorsky S-76s or 4-seat Bell 206L LongRangers. Which way to go? Let’s have a look at the two airlines.