Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Visiting Vancouver - 1: getting there

It is 10.18am Vancouver time, Monday 22 June. I have a break and internet connection, so I thought that I would take the time to record some initial perceptions. Sort of a somewhat eclectic travel diary. Photos will have to wait until I get back.

We finally got off the ground a bit after 2pm Australian time, Friday June 19. Because of D's broken wrist, we had used frequent flyer points to upgrade to business class. We were flying on a QANTAS A380.

This is one huge aircraft, the biggest in the world. Two decked, the upstairs deck is of itself as large as a conventional aircraft. The plane itself is not pretty. It looks as it is, a big bus of the skies.

For someone generally flew business class and sometimes even first class, limitations in time and cash in recent years had wrapped the whole experience in increasing nostalgia. So how did business class measure up?

Not bad, actually, although the increased size of the business class area meant some reduction in personal service. Still, after the rush of getting away it was nice just to sit down in a comfortable seat. I whiled away the hours watching films, drinking Cointreau and coffee.

We arrived at Los Angeles LAX to catch our connecting Air Canada flight a few hours before we actually left Sydney! I had not been to LAX for a number of years, and was struck by just how run down the place appeared to be. There was re-construction work going on in several places, but it just did not feel like a modern airport of the type Australians are used to.

Even though we were just transitting, we still had to go through full immigration procedures because we actually had to go onto US soil to get from one terminal to the other. The immigration procedures were interesting; compulsory finger-printing, among other things, something that I greatly disliked. Still, the procedure was actually less cumbersome than on my first trip to the US.

We worked our way through to Terminal Two and found the Air Canada lounge. This was a tiny little place; even the toilets were outside on the other side of this wing of the terminal. However, one Australian remarked that at least the drinks were free; apparently this is not the case now in at least some other lounges!

Mind you, after Cointreau, coffee and limited sleep, my only interest lay in water. Oddly, there was no mineral water. However, ordinary water from a dispenser was just fine. Because of our past work, both D. and have an interest in aviation and aerospace, so we parked ourselves near the window and watched the planes.

The Air Canada flight was a slightly odd experience. The service just felt somewhat run down. Air Canada has had somewhat chequered experience since the airline was privatised, and is reportedly in a degree of trouble again.

To Australians or New Zealanders with their experience of their own flag carriers, somehow Air Canada does not feel quite like a national flag carrier. This may be unfair, but I get no sense that Canadians feel about the airline in the way Australians or New Zealanders still feel about the flying Kiwi/Kangaroo. I think that this still holds, notwithstanding the commercial games played by both carriers.

After LAX, Vancouver airport was open and modern.

To be continued. My wife wants coffee!

Other posts in this series:

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