Sunday, January 15, 2012

Delta Connection - First Class on the CRJ900

A lot of the larger CRJ's flying around the USA these days are fitted with First Class cabins. This includes the Delta Connection (operated by Skywest) CRJ900. I had never flown on a CRJ900 but on a recent trip to the USA I had my chance and I took it! Today's flight is from Salt Lake City to Vancouver.

My CRJ900 parked at gate B2 in Salt Lake City
Airline: Delta Airlines (operated by Skywest)
Flight: DL4710 Salt Lake City - Vancouver
Aircraft: Bombardier CRJ-900
Seat: 3D - First Class

Scheduled Departure: 11.00
Actual Departure: 10.53

Scheduled Arrival: 12.22
Actual Arrival: 11.57

my CRJ900 parked at the jetbridge
 I had arrived off a flight from Las Vegas with a pretty tight connection so I made my way immediately to gate B02. There was no time to visit any lounge. I was originally booked in economy but had been on the upgrade list due to my Flying Blue platinum status and I noticed my name was on the board as a confirmed upgrade. I made my way to the gate agent and picked up my new boarding pass for 3C. I enquired as to whether I might have a window seat and the agent informed me that 3D was empty anyway so I could have both seats. Bonus!

 Boarding was called nice and early and I headed down the jetbridge. This was my first time seeing an aircraft parked at a jetbridge that also had fold out stairs. A small metal ramp is used to connect the jetway to the aircraft whilst the stairs sit underneath, unused.

The Captain doing his pre flight routine
 I was welcome aboard by one of the two cabin crew working on the flight. The aircraft is fitted with 64 economy seats in a 2x2 configuration, and 12 first class seats in a 1x2 configuration. The overhead locker is removed on one side in first class for additional head space. There was a bottle of water already waiting at each first class seat and I sat down in 3D and got comfortable. As you can see below, there is one missing window in this row.

Seat 3D
The load in First was just 7 passengers with economy class looking only about two thirds full. Whilst boarding was underway the very friendly female flight attendant came around to each passenger in First taking pre departure drink orders. I had a coke.

Due to the light load boarding was completed early and we pushed back some 7 minutes ahead of schedule.... the rear engines starting up could only be faintly heard from up in row 3.

Preparing for departure

plenty of leg room

My pre departure coke

Lift off!
 Soon after takeoff drink orders were taken, I had a vodka with ginger ale. Proper glassware was used, and immigration forms for Canada were also handed out.

Canada immigration form

There was no hot meal on this flight however the flight attendant came around with a basket of goodies including chips, chocolate bars and the like. I had some chips and a twix.

inflight first class 'meal'
 The flight attendant serving First was pretty good with drink topups and I ordered another vodka along with some peanuts. She came back with 2 packets of Delta nuts.



Whilst I was snacking I sat back and read my book and as we headed north and towards Canada I noticed a few snow capped mountains. I decided to have a Baileys on ice before the descent.

Baileys

First Class

Overhead controls 
We were soon on descent into Vancouver and the scenery was pretty nice with lots of snowy mountains. Weather in Vancouver was pretty cloudy but I did manage a view of the city whilst on approach.

Vancouver
 Landing was routine and we parked at another jetway in Vancouver. That end of the airport was very quiet but by the time I got to immigration queues were quite a bit longer with a few arrivals from Asia coming in. The immigration officer had a few questions to ask about why I was in Canada such a short time but he seemed satisfied with my answers of being a 'flying freak' and I was soon landside and awaiting the Hilton shuttle bus!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Short Hop on Air Canada Express from Vancouver to Seattle

On a recent trip to the USA and Canada I was looking for a good deal for a flight from Vancouver to Las Vegas. United.com happened to spit out a routing which appealed to the aviation geek in me! Vancouver-Seattle-San Francisco-Las Vegas. With rides on Dash 8-300, Bombardier CRJ700 and Airbus A320-200. I snapped it up in an instant! I would get to add both a new carrier and TWO new types to my log. 

Airline:  Air Canada
Flight:  AC8099 Vancouver - Seattle
Aircraft:  DeHavilland Dash 8 - 300 C-GETA (delivered in 1989, 22 years young)
Seat: 8A (Economy Class)

Scheduled Departure:  17.50
Actual Departure:  18.08

Scheduled Arrival:  18.39
Actual Arrival:  18.48 (9 mins late)

I took the hotel shuttle from the Hilton Vancouver Airport (Richmond) and arrived almost 2 hours before departure time. A quick check of the departures board reveals 2 direct flights to Las Vegas leaving within 10 minutes of my flight to Seattle. Well, why fly direct when you can connect.... right? So say the aviation geeks anyway.




Departures Display at Vancouver
I proceeded to the Air Canada check-in counters where the check-in lady could not work out why on earth I was travelling such a difficult routing to Las Vegas but soon had a laugh when I explained myself. Boarding passes were issued for all 3 sectors and I made my way through to the USA departures area where we would pass through US immigration in Canada and arrive into the USA basically as a domestic flight.


Once through immigration I made my way to the Air Canada maple leaf lounge. It was pretty basic with very limited food options but nice big windows with views over the ramp.

Maple Leaf Lounge

Snacks and drinks in the Maple Leaf lounge

Views from Maple lounge - 2 x Westjet 737's

A Delta connection ERJ-170 pushes back
 It was quite a long walk to my departure gate through a fairly deserted terminal and managed to take a snap of the aircraft operating my flight today. There was another Dash 8 just to its left which was operating a delayed service to Portland.

C-GETA, my Dash 8 ride to Seattle still in Jazz colours
 Boarding was being called as I arrived and I made my way down the stairs and across the tarmac before settling into seat 8A. The aircraft was really showing its age and needed a new paint job. The windows were scratched and the inside very tatty. Still, it's about what I was expecting.

One of the pilots does his walkaround

Looking forward you can see our sole male flight attendant

leg room - sufficient for 40 minute flight

Seat back contents
 The DHC8-300 seats 50 passengers and has one cabin crew member. Today we were served by a male flight attendant, who seemed only vaguely interested. Announcements were made in both english and french. There was a bit of a delay on the ground waiting for some late arriving passengers and we eventually departed about 18 minutes behind schedule. I had a tight connection so I was anxious that we got moving! Passenger load was approx 35 out of 50.

I do love the sound of those turboprop engines and from my seat I had a great view of the landing gear.

Wheels up!

Climb out
 I actually did not expect any inflight service for a flight of just 30 minutes in the air but soon after takeoff the flight attendant did bring around some pretzels and a choice of juice or water.

inflight service
 Just as soon as we were up, we were coming down again.

on descent
 The sun was beginning to set but it stayed just light enough for our landing in the scenic Seattle area. I must visit this city again sometime! My first and only visit was as a 16 year old back in 1997.

short finals
 Less than 30 minutes after lifting off in Vancouver we were wheels down in Seattle. Fortunately for me we parked at the United satellite that my next flight was departing from, meaning just a short stroll to the next gate. I had plenty of time!
My seat!

The Dash 8 gets ready to head back to Vancouver
All in all a good and enjoyable turboprop flight. I was impressed that a drink service was offered on a flight of such short length. Looking forward to planning some more turboprop sectors soon!