Trip Report – 2013 Winter Trip + Return (AC and EK)
Part 1 – Heading to Dubai
Hey folks, welcome to another trip report of my trip to Dubai and back.
1st Leg – YOW – YYZ
It was that time of the year again when it started to snow, the exams were done for the semester and a much awaited break finally came upon university students. Like last year, I decided to visit my folks in Dubai. I did fly in winter last year but sadly Canada didn’t get much snow. The only piece of winter ops I experienced was the de-icing of my Emirates Airbus A380 at Toronto (Link: 2012 Winter trip- Part 1 – opens in a new tab). This year however, the great white north was truly worthy of its name.
I arrived at the Ottawa’s McDonald Cartier international airport (YOW) three hours before the scheduled time. The terminal was surprisingly crowded, there was a long queue at the WestJet and Porter airlines check-in counters. After about 15mins, the procedures were complete and I explored the terminal to see what’s new since I last travelled.
23 December 2013
Boeing 737-700 C-FWBW
Boarding time 0910 Gate 22
I completed the security formalities and proceeded to the gates. My ride to Toronto (YYZ), a Boeing 737-700 (reg: C-FWBW) was already at the gate. I took a stroll around the terminal to see what was happening around.
Soon, the Ground staff at my gate announced that the aircraft was ready for boarding.
Taxi and Take-off
I settled down in my seat and starting taking pictures around me before my ‘seat-neighbour’ arrived. I look out and spotted my bag being loaded by the ground staff. I pity the poor souls that work in this blistering cold. We were delayed at the gate during which I spot a Sunwing Boeing 737 (most probably a lease from a TUI group airline) taxing by, a Canadian North Boeing 737-200 Combi taxing by, and a Nav Canada CRJ taxing by.
We eventually push back and taxi to the De-icing facility. I was looking forward to the de-icing as I had never had an opportunity to film/photograph it before. At the de-icing facility, the airplane was sprayed with the Type 1 fluid (for more information on De-icing fluids, check out my Article on De-icing – link opens in a new tab).
Video of the de-icing: Click Here (opens in a new tab)
After the de-icing, it was a short taxi to the runway.
Video of the take-off: Click Here (opens in a new tab)
Once we took off, we climbed above the gloomy weather and were greeted by sunshine. The flight attendants commenced the beverage service. Being a short hop, passengers were served a complementary drink and a bag of nuts, crisps or wafers. I opted to have coffee and wafers. Of course, other snacks could be bought on board as part of the BOB service.
Descent and Landing
The captain updated us on the flight and informed us that we would be commencing our descent soon. Well back into the gloomy weather again.
Video of the landing: Click Here (opens in a new tab)
It was a long taxi to the gate which was in Terminal 3. I last flew WestJet back in 2010 (Link: 2010 Summer Trip Part 1 – opens in a new tab), I sadly didn’t take pictures of terminal 3 and of the train ride to terminal 1. Well I made up for that in this trip.
2nd leg – YYZ – DXB
After I collected my bag at the baggage carousel in Terminal 3, I made my way to the train station to catch the train that connects Terminal 3, (Westjet’s terminal) to Terminal 1, where I could check-in for my Emirates flight to DXB.
Having made it to YYZ a few hours before the check-in counters opened for the EK flight, I decided to rest at the Q lounge. The Q lounge was an open lounge at aisle Q. It’s usually used by passengers who have a long wait and more frequently by airport staff who take a break for lunch or snacks. Of course I didn’t bee-line to the Q lounge, I took a nice leisurely stroll and photographed some interesting temporary exhibits at the terminal.
The time couldn’t have passed slower, I tried reading a book on world history I had in hand but was ultimately distracted by social media. Spotting from the Q lounge is actually hard as the lounge faces the remote bay and the runways on either side are too far to spot anything.
Well, 10minutes before the check-in counters officially open, I head to the designated aisle to avoid the long queue. (Let’s not forget an A380 carries close to 500 passengers). Even then, there were a lot of early birds. I checked-in, finished all the formalities and made my way to the gates. Boy was I in for a surprise!
It was a totally new airport compared to the one I flew out of last year. To start with there were more shops, restaurants and seating areas. The seating areas were equipped with iPad’s which passengers were free to use. The iPad’s could also be used to place orders at the restaurants or juice bars in the terminal. As always, I took a stroll around the terminal and saw the other airlines (actually most were Air Canada), the destinations and the general ‘action’ at the gates.
Seeing that the seating area at my designated gate was full, I sat down at the adjoining gate that was preparing an Air Canada flight to South America. Soon at my designated gate, the ground staff made an announcement welcoming passengers. As with all Emirates flights, boarding was done zone-wise.
23 December 2013
Airbus A380-800 A6-EDN
Boarding time 2140
Seat 23K (Business Class)
As I was flying Business Class, we were one of the first passengers invited for boarding. At the aircraft we were welcomed by a female flight attendant who directed me to my seat. At my seat, a flight attendant of Indian origin introduced herself and we got into a brief conversation about our native land. She offered to give me a tour of the onboard product in case I wasn’t familiar with it. Having flown business class with EK many times before, I declined and thanked her.
I had flown ‘Delta November’ before, but the cabin seemed to be slightly different. The windows had blinds that could be opened or shut with a remote control. Around the windows and other ‘previously-white-surfaces’ appeared to have a ‘wooden’ finish to it. I was busy photographing these new features/changes in the cabin by the which, the flight attendant had completed the hot towel service and offered me my welcome drink (champagne for me, please!).
Taxi and Take-off
By now the sun had set and my camera was not giving me good results for low light photography. In addition, I was beginning to feel tired and wanted to sleep. In order to not skip dinner, I decided to just enjoy the take-off, have dinner and doze off for the remainder of the flight.
I was out-cold for most of the flight. I woke up once or twice to visit the washroom and then I was back at my seat and asleep again. I finally woke up when we were flying over Saudi Arabia, as the crew had started a snack service.
It was once again dark when we reached the U.A.E., which meant (much to my disappointment) no pictures during descent and landing 😦 . We approached the U.A.E. coastline from the North, flew inwards and turned around 180 to line up with Runway 30L. It was a short taxi to the gate and much to my excitement we docked at the new terminal (Concourse A).
After deplaning, I proceeded to the train station to head to Terminal 3 (Concourse B) to complete the immigration formalities and collect my bag from the carousel. My mom had come to receive me at the airport and we proceeded to the Dubai Metro station for a ride home.
Part 2 – Return to Ottawa
1st Leg – DXB – YYZ
I arrive at the airport a little over three hours before my flight. Although I was flying Economy class, I checked in through the First and Business Check in area.
Having visited the brand new terminal (Concourse A) during my last trip, I had the immense fortune of flying out of Concourse A this time. After a quick look at a ‘populated’ terminal (In case you didn’t get that, check out my 2012 Winter Trip Report Part 2 – opens in a new tab), and a stroll around the Dubai Duty Free Boutiques, I proceeded to my gate. My ride an Airbus A380-800 (A6-EDD) was getting prepped for her long flight to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
03 January 2014
Airbus A380-800 A6-EDD
Boarding Time 0955
Seat 68K (Zone D)
Although my seat was technically a window seat, I didn’t have a window per say. To be precise, I was between two windows which made photography a challenge. I did however managed to take a few pictures during the flight.
2nd Leg – YYZ – YOW
Check-in and a looooong wait!
I booked the Westjet flight between Toronto’s Pearson Internation Airport (YYZ) and Ottawa’s McDonald Cartier Airport (YOW), a while after I landed at YYZ to accommodate any delays. Nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead.
After collecting my bag from the baggage carousel, I made my way out of Terminal 1’s arrival hall and took the elevator up to the train station to catch the train to Terminal 3. Terminal 3 was much smaller terminal predominantly serving WestJet. Other airlines that operate out of Terminal 3 include British Airways, KLM and Saudia. As you enter the terminal, there’s a row of check-in counters (just one long row). Beside the counters, there are duty free shops and a food court. After check-in you proceed through the security checkpoint, after which you enter the departures area (or the gates + lounges).
I proceeded to the check-in counters and the formalities were completed quickly. I sat down at the departure lounge and started to unwind while a Westjet employee announced that due to the horrible weather conditions, flights to Ottawa, Kelowna and Thunder Bay were delayed. This meant a longer wait at the gate for me.
The atmosphere at the airport was rather tensed. Passengers were getting annoyed and I overheard passengers passive aggressively cursing the weather, and even the airline. Well after about 2 hours of waiting, I watched the ground crew prepare the Westjet flight to Kelowna followed by the preparation of the Westjet flight to Thunder Bay. Finally, they announced that passengers flying to Ottawa could board the aircraft.
03 January 2014
Boarding time 2225 (although we took off at 0100)
Seat 12C (emergency exit)
Passengers were relieved that we were finally going somewhere, but the atmosphere during boarding was still tensed. I got to my seat, an aisle seat on the emergency exit row (this means no photography on this leg 😦 + my camera battery had died). Beside me, there was a female student heading back to Ottawa for the winter term. After ‘all’ passengers had boarded the aircraft, the first officer got on the PA system and announced that we were further delayed as we were expecting about 10-15 passengers from a connecting flight from Cancun… In addition the Captain himself was dealyed on his previous flight and had not arrived YYZ yet. The first officer did promise to complete the cockpit procedures as fast as he could so that when the captain did arrive, we would leave with minimal delay. After about 15 minutes, the passengers and the captain board the aircraft. At this point, some of the passengers were fast asleep.
The flight was uneventful. Due ot the delay, the buy on board (BOB) was called off and everything ala carte was complimentary. We landed at YOW at about 2AM. As I entered the terminal, apart from a security guard and the passengers arriving on my flight, there were no one else at the airport. All stores, restaurants were closed and the lights were dimmed. This was something I wanted to photograph but since my camera was out of juice, I missed this oppurtunity. (Aaaargh 😦 ).
This trip, like the 2012 trip was a much needed break from university work. After a few negative experiences with Air Canada, it was a refreshing change to fly Westjet this time. I had last flown Westjet back in 2011 and I missed out on photographing a lot of things like the train ride to Terminal 1 at YYZ, the complimentary beverage service and the seating arrangement. I managed to do all that this time 🙂 Mission accomplished.
As for service, my bags flew with me on both legs and that made me a happy customer. I felt that the ground staff were very customer-centric and their friendly attitude really went a long way. Onboard, the crew were professional yet maintained a very friendly and informal atmosphere. The BOB menu had a wide range of snacks and drinks on sale, and the prices were fair. In conclusion, Westjet delivers a good product overall and is a strong competitor for Air Canada. I absolutely enjoyed my trips with Westjet and I would definitely fly them again if I get a chance to.