Thursday, December 3, 2009

I Fly Calgary to Los Angeles: Fog, Smog, and a Snowstorm

I have not had a chance to write a trip report for a while so here is a quick review of my travels to go to the FFP-ARAC conference in Huntington Beach.

I arrived to YYC fairly early for my 8am direct flight on Air Canada to Los Angeles. Having checked in the night before and travelling only with carry on luggage I went straight to U.S. customs which had a small line up with about a 20 minute wait. Glad I arrived when I did though as the just before being called up by the agent I looked back and the line had more then doubled from when I arrived into the line at about 6am. Once through customs and security it was now past 6:30 and I pondered pulling out my Priority Pass and using the Rocky Mountain Lounge but I figured the $28 or so dollars for one hour use was not really worth it especially since YYC has free wi-fi. Got myself my JugoJuice and sat down at the gate to check email etc. One look out the window and you couldn't even see from the B/C Concourse to the A Concourse due to thick fog that blanketed the ground, a little odd for Calgary especially since it did not dissipate until after noon sometime.

Our plane this day was an Embraer E-190 and it ended up being close to full, I only saw 2 or 3 empty seats. Once all the passengers were onboard the pilot announced a slight delay as we waited for one passenger's luggage to get to the plane. That delay ended up being close to half an hour and we ended up departing off runway 16 sometime after 8:30 (scheduled departure time was 8am). The flight itself was quite uneventful with only some little turbulence out of Calgary and cloud cover below us for most of the flight. The plane was not able to make up any time from the delay from Calgary and other then arriving late into smoggy LAX the arrival was painless.

After a quick 50 or so hours in Huntington Beach I was back at LAX for my flight home via Vancouver . I get to LAX around 4pm and the Flight Information Display System (FIDS) shows that the my flight to YVR is scheduled to depart on time. After getting through security I go to the gate area for our flight and decide to check if the flight is still on time even though it says so on the screen. Low and behold I am told the incoming flight from Vancouver went mechanical so it is 2 hours late. Darn! That means I would miss my connection in YVR to Calgary which happened to be the last flight of the day between YVR and YYC. The direct flight to Calgary is long gone so I whip out my laptop and the signal strength from the Air France KLM lounge is just strong enough that I can get online to look up alternatives. I call up Air Canada IROPS to see if they can get me to SFO or DEN on United or PHX on US Airways where connections to Calgary were available that evening. Unfortunatly no dice even though all the connecting flights are fine, the flights out of LAX are all full. So AC IROPS protects me on the 6am YVR-YYC flight as I needed to get into Calgary early as I promised my girls I would be at their ballet. I hang out at LAX for a few more hours and our E-190 shows up and the LAX crew did a great job of turning the plane around super quick and soon we were in the air to YVR. Due to the delay AC offered the first alcoholic beverage for free, which I did not partake in this time. We get into YVR around 11pm and an AC agent is waiting for those who missed their connections right at the gate. I am handed my boarding pass for the morning and a voucher for a room at the Fairmont YVR along with $10 for breakfast. As I am walking to Canada customs I look at my boarding pass and it shows the 7am YVR-YYC flight not the 6am that I thought I would be on, another call to IROPS lets me know that the 6am flight has now been canceled. Great! Not sure if I will make it to Calgary in time now for my girls ballet on Saturday morning. A quick 5 hour sleep in the Fairmont hotel and I am back in the terminal clearing security for my 7am flight.

The flight on a CRJ-700 was uneventful and practically empty, no wonder they canceled the 6am, it probably had even less people then the 7am flight. I get into Calgary around 9:20 or so and am out of the airport at my car in Park n Jet by 9:35. The big problem though is we are getting dumped on with snow! So normally what would be a 20-25 minute drive to the far Northwest now took 45 mins of driving through snow, slush and ice (and my car wasn't going into the shop for another 5 days to get my winter tires put on). But in the end I made it to see my girls do their ballet routine and they were really excited to see me as they thought I would not make it in time.

All in all I have no complaints as everything turned out fine with the trip, Air Canada provided good flights, service and took great care of me when things went awry with the delayed and canceled flights.

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