Browsing Tag: Air Canada

Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG)

Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG)
Photo: Gerry Kopelow

Dear YWG,

Somehow, missed the opening of your new terminal in October, 2011. We must have been busy with the 787, A380, airline mergers and stuff like that. But we still want to talk about you.

And by the way, we do know that your full name is “Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport”, but frankly, that’s a lot to type over and over. So we’ll just call you YWG. Hope you’re OK with that.


Howard at

OK, everyone, let’s review what we know about YWG and Winnipeg, the capital city of the province of Manitoba, Canada.


Airline: Air Canada
Aircraft: Embraer 190
Departed: Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
Arrived: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: Executive Class
Seat: 3F (window)
Length: 5.5 hours

Cheers: Cookies made fresh on the plane served with ice cream — double cool.
Jeers: Wish there were more options with the in-flight entertainment and OMG that lavatory is unreal.
Overall: I was impressed with my first Air Canada and E-190 flight.

Oh here is my Air Canada E-190 leaving Toronto. You true airline geeks will know that is a lie. This is actually an Air Canada E-190 I caught while in Montreal -- there were no good shots of mine at Toronto.

Oh here is my Air Canada E-190 leaving Toronto. You true airline geeks will know that is a lie. This is actually an Air Canada E-190 I caught while in Montreal -- there were no good shots of mine at Toronto, so I am kind of cheating here.


Anytime I have an opportunity to fly on an new airline or new aircraft type, I get excited. So, the fact I was flying on a new airline AND new aircraft type made me a bit giddy. I was able to  fly from Toronto (YYZ) to Seattle (SEA) non-stop on an Air Canada Embraer E-190 in Executive Class and of course I wanted to write up a review. (disclaimer: The cost of the flight was covered by a TV production studio, for work not related to Air Canada or Embraer).

Since I had a premium ticket, I decided to head to the airport early to try out the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. The lounge was very spacious, had the amenities that one would expect (including showers) and offered a comfortable atmosphere. The choices of food was a bit skimpy, but holy smokes I have never had such delicious broccoli soup.

Where the food might have been a bit lacking, it was made up for in drink choices. The Maple Leaf lounge had a nice array of hard liquor, beer and coffee choices. It was probably the most impressive drink set up I have seen in a lounge without actually having a full bar.

Air Canada's E-190 has a 2:1 layout in Executive Class. As an extra bonus, I had no one sitting next to me.

Air Canada's E-190 has a 2:1 layout in Executive Class. As an extra bonus, I had no one sitting next to me.

When it came time to board, the process went very smoothly, mostly because the flight was not very full. I was a little worried how small the E-190 overhead bins might be and since I was able to check a bag for free with my Executive ticket, I just decided to check my bag. I found it wasn’t really needed and would have had no problem putting it in the bin — oh well.

The Air Canada E-190 has a 1-2 layout in Executive class and 2-2 in economy. I was wondering how a premium seat would feel in such a small aircraft and I was actually pretty surprised. I was hoping to try sitting on the side with only one seat, but I ended up in 3F, which was a window on the 2 side. It worked out since I had no one sitting next to me.

I had plenty of leg room and seat width — even if there would had been someone next to me. I was quite impressed with the size and shape of the windows of the E-190. Height-wise they are perfectly located for my 6’1″ frame and their width makes it easy to look out.

The salad. I probably should have waited for my bread (which did some shortly), but I was too hungry so I took the photo and ate.

The salad. I probably should have waited for my bread (which did come shortly), but I was too hungry so I took the photo and ate.

Upon boarding I was greeted by my last name — before they even noticed I was in Executive Class. Prior to the door being closed, we were given menus to choose between chicken, salmon and veggies — I decided to go for the chicken. We left a bit late, due to the flight arriving late, but we had a short taxi and took off quickly due to having a light load. Shortly after take off, it was time to dine.

After my salad I was served pan-seared chicken in Parmesan cream sauce with seasoned mixed rice, carrots and edamame (yea I kept the menu as a souvenir). The food was decent and filling, but the best part was desert. There was a choice of oatmeal raisin or dark chocolate chip cookies that were made on board the aircraft and served with vanilla ice cream. Fresh baked cookies and ice cream while cruising at 35,000 feet is always a nice treat.

Another nice touch were the swizzle sticks served with the drinks (see last photo). It is more than just serving the sticks, but the fact that they have the maple leaf up top. This is really a lost art that one does not see much anymore. Sure, it is not a huge deal, but little details like this makes you think that the airline cares about the little details.

I wish there were a few more options with the entertainment system.

I wish there were a few more options with the entertainment system.

I test the room of a seat by being able to have a drink, a snack, writing on my laptop and being able to watch a movie. Of course having an empty seat next to me really helps, but even with a seatmate I would have been able to do everything successfully.

If you do not fly much and are only taking one long flight, the in-flight entertainment would probably work out alright. However,  if you are looking for plenty of options, this one will most likely disappoint you. There were some nice selections that kept me entertained, but if I would be flying back to Toronto, I would have probably run out of things that would interest me.

I was also not too fond of the front lavatory. Well, that is probably putting it too lightly — that lavatory was the worst one I have ever been in. It had nothing to do with the upkeep, but the size. Not to go into too much detail, but for me to use the restroom I had to bend my head down and contort to make things work. If it were turbulent, I think I might have had some real issues.

Swizzle sticks totally rock. So do cookies and ice cream.

Swizzle sticks totally rock. So do cookies and ice cream.

I kept wanting to think of the flight as a domestic one, even though it was technically international. Looking at the E-190 as a shorter route domestic aircraft, it does pretty well. However, it did seem a bit out of place for such a long flight and really Toronto to Seattle is about the limit that the E-190 can operate.

For a shorter, domestic flight, this was a nice product and high-end experience. As an international experience, it comes up a little short. But in all honesty, this route and product should be seen as domestic. My Air Canada experience back to Seattle was leaps and bounds better than the economy red eye I took to Toronto where I had to change planes in Chicago.


There is a lot of airline hatred out there and one thing I try to do on this blog is remind folks that even though things can and will go wrong in the airline business, it is still made up of wonderful people who should not suffer because too many people feel the need to share negative stories versus postive. When I wrote a story on giving the airlines some love, I got emails from quite a few people sharing their positive stories. Instead of just enjoying themself, I wanted to share. This story comes from Robert who lives in Ontario, Canada. Here is his story in his own words:

Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER

Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER

We recently took a packaged vacation throughout Britain and Ireland. To get to London and home, we specified Air Canada flights 848 on September 16th and 849 on October 2nd respectively. Ostensibly these were requested for their departure and arrival times, allowing us the most practical time in London. But, honestly, I chose them to ensure we would ride on the Boeing 777-300ER equipment; 18.5-inch seats and 32-inch pitch – more than the rest of the fleet.

Was everything perfect? No. It can never be, but those flights came close to being as good as possible.
Things started off with the check-in process at PIA, which to our delight, and using the self-serve kiosks, was almost effortless. Right after I figured out how to get the machines to read our passports that is; a bit better signage might be in order there.

Our air-venture progressed to the gate personnel who did their level best to actually load the aircraft by row number, politely but firmly turning folks away when they tried to barge through. Most of the “airport vultures” were indeed held at bay. And this same effort happened at Heathrow inbound too.
Outbound, we backed out more or less on time and arrived within 10-minutes of sked. Inbound, Heathrow ground traffic raised its all-too-normal ugly head, and we were nearly an hour off the published pushback time – not AC’s fault.

Both flights were packed to the gills. I expect that the captains were able to declare themselves as Air Canada “very heavy” to ATC during the departure processes.
On-board service, both ways, was totally contrary to, in our experience, the undeserved reputation of Air Canada staff. They were, to a person friendly, prompt, helpful and more-than-willing to assist.
Food was okay. Wine or other beverages were readily available. And the AVOD system worked all the way, both ways; including my favourite “where the heck are we” channel. Would someone with some authority officially say thank you for us?

The guys at the front-end were informative, good humoured, and when those timing issues arose in London, honest and forthright. That, plus keeping a firm hand on 375-tons of thoroughbred aircraft to produce the rides we got, deserves a nice note from the higher-ups as well, we think.

The only complaint we have, and it really falls more into a firm request is, please, please enforce, manage, and have passengers observe the carry-on size and quantity rules. Right at check-in. Luckily the triple-sevens have relatively large overhead luggage bays; otherwise some of the extraneous nonsense being hauled into the cabins might have had to be bungee corded to the wings.

Lastly, we were almost an hour from deplaning to receiving our luggage. The GTAA folks really need to build in some staffing contingencies when through no fault by the airlines, planes arrive later than planned. Air Canada is big tenant there; they should feel free to exercise their rights as hub customers.

If you have a positive story about an airline, please send it to me: [email protected] I would love to share it on a future #AirlineLove story.

Photo by Patcard

Air Canada Boeing 767-300

Air Canada Boeing 767-300

Who needs all these body scanners and security. One Canadian man found all he needed was a credit card and Costco membership card for an international flight. Doug Tiedeman, 21, who has cerebral palsy and the mental capacity of a 12-year-old took an Air Canada flight from Calgary to London on April 27th on his own. Understandably his parents are quite upset that the airline would allow him to fly. According to Transport Canada rules, adults need government-issued ID such as a driver’s license or passport to board a passenger plane.

Doug took a taxi from his home to the airport and bought a ticket using only a credit card and Costco card. When his mother noticed he was missing she hit redial on the phone, which called Air Canada’s reservation center. When she tried to confirm if her son had purchased a ticket or was on a flight, the airline was not able to tell them due to privacy concerns. Doug was trying to meet a woman in London who he was chatting on Facebook with. When he arrived in London he was quite overwhelmed and after he phoned the girl he was to meet (who had no idea he was coming), she told him to call his parents.

Working with an airport employee, Doug purchased a ticket home, but had to spend the night at a local hotel. He was able to return safely home and doesn’t feel the need to fly anytime soon.

Air Canada states they are currently investigating how Doug could flight without proper identification.

Source: Image: Caribb

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