Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER at JFK – Photo: David Montiverdi | Flickr CC
Recently, I needed to get from New York (JFK) to Vancouver (YVR) and, surprisingly, it was not easy to find a flight that didn’t include a crazy set of layovers and several hours of travel time. I was not expecting to find a non-stop Cathay Pacific 777-300ER option — done!
Preparing for the flight out of New York in Cathay business class – Photo: Katka Lapelosová
The flight is special, since it is a transcontinental, but is operated as an international flight, since the stop in Vancouver is part of a longer hop to Hong Kong. Because of this, the flight lands in YVR at 1am, which means you should do some planning on getting to your final destination, since options will be limited.
It’s not a long flight – only about five-and-a-half hours – but it doesn’t mean one can’t enjoy the premium experience.
Air France’s inaugural Paris to Vancouver flight touches down on YVR’s Rwy 08L, just after noon on a rainy Sunday
C’est magnifique! Air France’s first flight to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) touched down in a huge spray of water on a soggy Sunday afternoon. The Boeing 777-200ER landed on YVR’s Runway 08L, after a nearly ten-hour flight from Paris ’“ Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).
This inaugural flight ran a bit late, arriving at 12:04 PM. The normal schedule has Flight AF374 departing CDG at 10:35 AM, arriving YVR at 11:50 AM, the same day. The return flight, Flight AF379, leaves YVR at 1:55 PM, and arrives CDG at 8:35 AM the following morning.
Flags flying from the cockpit, AF374 taxiies to the gate at YVR
After touchdown, the 777 received a special escort by YVR’s emergency services along Taxiway Mike, before having the traditional “new airline water cannon salute” from two fire trucks. Mind you, with the monsoon-like rain, it was tough to see the water arch!
Then, with Canadian and French flags flying from the cockpit windows, AF374 taxiied to Gate 65 at YVR’s International Terminal.
A Philippines Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER
I’ve long said that New York is one of those cities that almost every long-haul airline in the world would like to serve. Maybe it’s because New York is home to the United Nations, or because nearly every nationality and ethnicity is represented along the eastern seaboard. Or maybe it is just the prestige of flying to the “greatest city in the world.” Whatever the reason, it benefits both AvGeeks and travelers with a wide variety of airlines flying to a huge number of destinations, both near and far.
Almost every major long-haul airline in Europe serves either John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). JFK also sees several South American airlines, a few of which have added long-haul aircraft specifically to serve New York. All of the major Middle Eastern carriers fly to JFK, in some cases several times a day. And while JFK has long had flights from a few airlines in East Asia, recent years have seen several new airlines begin service, while a few existing carriers have added additional flights.
On Monday, March 18th, Philippine Airlines (PAL) became the latest Asian airline to begin flying to New York. Or, should I say, resume flying to New York.
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.
Air Canada rouge’s inaugural YVR-LAS Airbus A319 flight at the gate on a rainy Vancouver morning
You may have read the recent commentary and analysis by AirlineReporter’s Bernie Leighton, “You Get What You Pay For Rant: Why Economy Class Is What It Is.” I certainly did. It seemed fitting, then, that just a couple of days later, I was invited to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) for Air Canada rouge‘s first Western Canada flight.
Air Canada rouge is an “airline within an airline”, and is part of the Air Canada Leisure Group along with inclusive-tour operator, Air Canada Vacations. The airline is positioned as Air Canada’s “Leisure” carrier, intended to get passengers to their vacation destinations. Air Canada rouge launched last July 1st with flights from Toronto (YYZ) and Montreal (YUL) to Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the U.S. In addition to specific vacation travel, Air Canada is hoping to make its unprofitable routes financially viable by a transfer to Air Canada rouge, which has lower operating costs. Bernie talked all about that, and CASMs and RASMs, in his rant.
By the end of 2014, Air Canada will have transferred 47 routes to rouge. Another seven routes new to the AC network will be operated exclusively by rouge. The just-announced Western Canada routes include YVR to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, and seasonal service to Anchorage. From Calgary, flights will go to Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
The Air Canada rouge fleet is made up of Airbus A319s and Boeing 767-300ERs, transferred from Air Canada’s mainline fleet. As of the end of April, there were 15 A319s and four 767s flying for the leisure carrier. Ultimately, rouge may have up to 30 A319s and 20 767s, with the 767s coming into the fleet as Air Canada receives its new 787 Dreamliners.