REVIEW – Star Alliance Lounge, LAX – TBITFebruary 25, 2018
REVIEW – Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Vancouver (YVR)April 13, 2018
Air Canada (AC)
- Flight: AC557
- Class: Business Class
- Seat: 3C
- From: Los Angeles (LAX)
- To: Vancouver (YVR)
- Duration: 3h00
- Aircraft: Airbus A320
- Status during flight: Star Alliance Gold (Avianca Amigo Gold)
- Cost: £657.37 for CPH-ZRH-LAX-YVR-LHR in Business Class
Intro, or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the IRROPS
After spending several wonderful hours eating Pho, drinking espresso martinis and watching airplanes on the sunny terrace of the LAX Star Alliance lounge, I gathered my belongings and made my way through the airside tunnel to United’s Terminal 7.
Since my entire trip was ostensibly to Seattle, I had to first fly to there on United and then connect onto an AC Rouge flight to Vancouver, before finally taking my flight home to London on the AC Dreamliner.
The contrast between the Tom Bradley International Terminal and United’s sad little hovel was very stark indeed. The overall aesthetic was quite similar to the brutalism of 1980’s Portsmouth, where I grew up. Still I was impressed when I saw United’s system with the 5 boarding groups. BA has only just started trialling this type of system in the last couple of months!
As boarding time approached, people started to become concerned about the fact that nothing was happening. With around 20 minutes to go until our scheduled departure we were told that the flight would be delayed due to delayed arrival of the inbound aircraft.
Another half hour passed with no further information offered. Just as I was heading over to ask one of the agents what was happening, an announcement was made:
The flight to Seattle would be cancelled as the crew had now passed their legally permitted working hours.
Now I’m sure that most people would be mightily pissed off upon hearing this news but I only had one goal in mind, I was going to make this work in my favour as much as was humanly possible. I don’t know about you guys but I actively wish for IRROPS and always hope it will result in me ending up on Emirates or Air France First…. one day 😀
As I was already on my way to the desk I was first in line to ask the agents for an alternative routing. Whilst the very helpful lady at the counter started searching, I did the same on Google Flights. She offered me a direct flight to London, getting me home much earlier than my previous routing and avoiding all the unnecessary connections.
I thanked her for coming up with a result so quickly but explained that I had come all this way in order to fly the Air Canada Dreamliner and I thought I could still make it on the direct AC flight from LAX to YVR, departing in a little under 2 hours.
She looked at me like I was slightly deranged, which is fair enough. She typed some more and confirmed me on the direct flight, sending me on my way to the AC terminal to pick up my new ticket.
Unfortunately as AC were based in Terminal 2, this meant going landside again, catching a public bus around the terminals and making it to the AC ticket counter with around 90 minutes to go.
The lady at the AC ticket desk told me that United hadn’t actually done anything to re-ticket me but she would do all she could to get me on the flight to YVR. She made a phone call to UA who told her to ticket me in Economy since I had a single segment in Economy on my itinerary.
I told her that I had a Business Class fare, with business ticketed on every segment that sold Business Class seats. She agreed with my reasoning and pushed back on UA to agree to ticket me in Business. She spent around 30 minutes on hold, during which time we chatted about my trip and the general lack of regard that United seems to show their customers.
I was finally handed a business class ticket to YVR with less than 1 hour to go until wheels up. I headed upstairs to departures only to see that the pre-check lane was closed. I joined an enormous line for business class travellers and made it to the gate just in time for boarding.
Once you get used to passing through North American security with your belt and shoes on, liquids and laptops inside your bag and no real lines to speak of, even “fast track” security seems like one of the lower circles of hell.
Still, I managed to make it to the gate just as business class boarding was called.
As somebody who is used the atrocious products offered on European short-haul business class, the retro business class A320 cabin offered by Air Canada actually seemed pretty good!
Trippy colour scheme on the upholstery but very comfortable padding and the adjustable leather headrests were particularly good.
I was surprised to even see seat back entertainment and USB power!
Not the biggest screen and not exactly hi-res but a welcome distraction if you’re stuck in an aisle seat and don’t have your own electronic device.
Before take off, pre-departure beverages were offered in plastic cups but these were limited to orange juice or water.
Menus were also distributed at this time but these only described the food offering, not the drinks.
Once we were airborne there were two rounds of drinks before the dinner service. The first came with cold cashews in a small dish, the second with packets of cashews.
Maybe I’m just easily impressed after years of flying BA but I thought that the presentation of my G&T showed that a degree of care had gone into its preparation and it even had full sized ice cubes.
I always thought that warm nuts in a ramekin was standard practice for North American carriers but I guess the cold temperatures in Canada also carry across to their snack foods!
Tiramisu aside, I was pleasantly surprised by how healthy and delicious the meal was. The salad had a decent amount of variety in its ingredients and was served with the dressing on the side. The slow cooked lentils and chicken were beautifully tender and packed with flavour. The sooner airlines realise that stews, soups and slow cooking result in improved in-flight meals, the better!
I enjoyed a very drinkable Ribera del Duero wine with my dinner. An order which initially caused some confusion as there were no drinks names on the menu and the FA was certain that he had only two red wines “an Italian and a Dominican”…
The seat was large and comfortable and featured both power and entertainment.
The crew were polite, friendly and efficient (if a little lacking in oenological knowledge).
The food was plentiful, healthy and delicious with a decent selection of drinks to accompany it.
If BA Club Europe was anything like this, I wouldn’t hesitate to pay the premium every time I fly!
- Part 1:
- Park Inn Copenhagen Airport CPH
- Part 2:
- SAS : Business Class Lounge – Copenhagen CPH
- Part 3:
- SWISS : Business Class – A321 – Copenhagen to Zurich
- Part 4:
- SWISS : Senator Lounge – Zurich E Gates
- Part 5:
- SWISS : Business Class – B777 – Zurich to Los Angeles
- Part 6:
- Hyatt Regency Long Beach : Harbor Suite
- Part 7:
- Star Alliance Lounge – Los Angeles LAX
- Part 8:
- Air Canada : Business Class – A321 – Los Angeles to Vancouver
- Part 9:
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – Vancouver
- Part 10:
- Plaza Premium Lounge – Vancouver
- Part 11:
- Air Canada : Business Class – B789 – Vancouver to London Heathrow