Westjet Encore Bombardier Q400 C-FENY at North Peace Regional Airport (YXJ) in Ft. St. John BC, under a beautiful blue sky. Photo: Howard Slutsken | AirlineReporter.com
This was going to be a great day for AirlineReporter.com’s Canadian “Senior Contributor.” That would be me!
I was flying with a new Canadian airline in a brand new Canadian-built plane, traveling from a major Canadian airport over some stunning Canadian landscape, and visiting the headquarters of one of “Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures,” which happens to be a major Canadian airline. The Flight Attendants might have made it even more Canadian by greeting me at the plane’s door with a Timmy’s “Double-Double” and a hockey stick. That didn’t happen.
Translation? I’m flying with WestJet Encore on a Bombardier Q400 from Vancouver (YVR) over the Canadian Coast Range and Rocky Mountains, and visiting Westjet’s base in Calgary (YYC). I’ll leave it to you to find out about Timmy’s.
WestJet Encore began flying in late June with two 78-seat Bombardier Q400 NextGen turboprops. Since then, five of their initial order of 20 Q400s have been delivered, and they have options on another 25 planes. WestJet Encore augments WestJet’s Boeing 737-based route structure with regional flights of distances up to 700 miles. That’s about a two hour flight time for the Q400, but most destinations are 60 to 90 minutes apart. Having the Q400 in the fleet will give WestJet the flexibility to fly to new destinations, add additional frequencies to current destinations, or “right size” the service throughout their network by swapping 737s with Q400s. The Q400s are pretty quick, with flight times within 10-20 minutes of a 737 over these short distances.
The first destinations included Nanaimo, BC in the west, and as far east as Saskatoon, SK. As more planes come into the fleet, Encore is adding destinations and continuing their expansion eastwards. Encore brought WestJet service back to Brandon, MB in September, a destination that previously couldn’t support WS 737 service. This YYC-YBR flight is currently Encore’s longest, at a bit under 2 hours. In addition to adding direct regional flights to the WestJet schedule, Encore will look to keep travellers “in the family” by providing connections to mainline WS flights, and those operated by codeshare partners. Encore is also part of the “WestJet Rewards” frequent-flier program, and shares facilities with WS at common destinations.
British Airways Boeing 747-400 at Seattle
Although I know many readers of this site are more interested about the flight itself, I tend to be more intrigued with what goes one between searching for a ticket and stepping on to the plane. Odd for some, I know, but I wanted to share my own insight.
My most recent adventure started when I decided to go to Paris (CDG) from Seattle (SEA) for vacation. After some work, I narrowed my dates to flying out on a Thursday so that I could have a full weekend in-country. Last year, I made the same trip on Icelandair and chose that airline mostly on having the lowest fare. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with the lowest fare this time; I was also interested in the experience, so I decided to start my ticket hunt early. This all resulted with me flying on a British Airways Boeing 747-400 out of Seattle.
People picking up their bags. Photo by Andrew Vane.
This Story was Written by Andrew Vane for AirlineReporter.com:
Although not filled with the glory of a wide-body international flight typically experienced by others, any opportunity to fly commercially always brings a smile to my face. Getting to fly, no matter the distance or aircraft, is what being an #AvGeek is all about! To quote a childrens book titled ’œRailroad Toad’ by Susan Schade and John Buller (that I used to read to my children): ’œGive me a ticket to anywhere, the farther the better I don’t care!’
Well, that opportunity rolled around again for me. This time, I got to fly for business from my home city of Charlotte, North Carolina to the capital of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. Up one afternoon and back the next is all I had time for with this trip.
To give you some background on Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT), in 2012 it was the eighth-busiest airport in the US and had more domestic flights than New York’s LaGuardia and Kennedy combined. As a major hub to US Airways (soon to become American Airlines), the airport has grown from three small crisscrossing runways in the 1960’s to four long runways capable of handling an A340-600 or Boeing 777. CLT officials are also planning to give the longest runway a 2,000 foot extension at some point in the future. Hmmmm. My last fortune cookie said ’œI see big things in your future’ so perhaps someday an A380 will grace CLT.