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Springtime travel YVR-LAX and LAS-YVR, with the latter on a widebody

Springtime travel YVR-LAX and LAS-YVR, with the latter on a widebody

Old Apr 5, 11, 1:55 am
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Springtime travel YVR-LAX and LAS-YVR, with the latter on a widebody

WS1696 Vancouver International YVR - Los Angeles International LAX
14 Feb 2011
B737-700 C-FIWJ
Scheduled ETD/ETA: 0830-1114
Actual Time of Departure/Arrival: 0846-1125
Seat No: 7D

Check In at YVR

Los Angeles looks like a nice place to escape the dreariness of Vancouver in winter and it was where our family of 5 decided to spend spring break in. Opting for an early morning departure so that we may have an extra day in Los Angeles proved somewhat challenging as we needed to wake up real early to head to the airport. Upon reaching Vancouver International in this rainy morning, my brother and I dropped off our parents and my sister before leaving the car at the long term parking lot, and taking the shuttle back to the terminal. The Westjet counter was easy to find under the US departures area and signs were clear on forms to fill and what to do on checking in. There was also no queues here and we were served promptly by this great guy on the counter. It was my first time travelling to the States by air ever since 9/11 and so it was new to me on the horror stories of airport security. The check-in took a while and was perhaps the longest in a few years for me. I am not sure what was lacking or maybe it was the need to check in for 5 persons, all of which requires a US Visa which we had in out passport. We even took the trouble to head to Point Roberts a day earlier to get the white form attached for visitors to the USA.

Boarding Time

Our WestJet flight to LAX

With US Departures in YVR, the baggage drop was located behind the row of check-in counters where a video shows the person dropping off the baggage on the conveyor. This was why it was important that the person responsible for the baggage places it on the conveyor, even for the 5 of us who were bringing 3 baggage. Security screening followed soon after the baggage drop which was uneventful and fortunately no need for the x-ray screening since those machines didn't seem to be operated for this morning flight. The problem lies with passport control where we were quizzed on the amount of money brought into the States and it took a while, where we were asked to proceed into the separate room to fill in an additional clearance form. It was close to our required boarding time by the time we completed the security clearance and since it was an early morning departure little of the shops at YVR were open and with WestJet, no lounge as well - not that we had time ayway. Looks like sparing 2 hours for the check-in, security and passport control is really tight for what is a casual flight out of Vancouver to Los Angeles.

WestJet Winglet and Fairmont YVR Airport

WestJet Logo in the Cabin

When we arrived at the boarding gate at 08:00, boarding has already commenced, and it was an orderly and clear boarding. Suprisingly we were still early and amongst the first to board as we took our pre-selected seats on rows 7 and 8. With a 3-3 abreast seating, it was on a plane I was familiar with since Garuda's main fleet utilizes 737s as well. I didn't like the dark and sombre leather of WestJet but the whole plane was clean though not that bright unlike the crisp and clear 737-800 cabins of Garuda Indonesia. Row 8 on the WestJet also does not seem to have any window and since we had the aisle and the middle seat on that row, it was alright, though not a pleasant place to be for the passenger on 8F. Seat pitch was decent and the seat was comfortable while the pilot interestingly broadcasted his call to the control tower as we pullback at 08:27 and headed towards the runway. The rainy weather overnight persisted with an overcast sky this morning though I got to observe that YVR is made up of a combination of large widebody jets like the 777 and 747 of Cathay, JAL and Korean Air in addition to various small jets like the Embraers of Air Canada and the Dash-8s of Air Canada's Jazz division. The earlier spring break in Vancouver meant families on vacation makes a large portion of passengers on this flight and it made for a noisy take-off as the children gets excited of the take-off which occured at 08:46. Passengers had a nice view of Richmond and the Olympic Oval during take off as we steadily gained altitude before disappearing into the cloud cover.

Inflight Magazine of WestJet and Safety Card

Looking out of the Cabin into WestJet territory

Air Canada Jazz

Richmond and Olympic Oval view upon Take Off

Once we reached cruising altitude, the steward of the flight started offering headphones for sale, as WestJet has a variety of movies and channels on a pay-per-view basis on the small albeit personal inflight entertainment system on the seat. Buy-on-board snacks were also offered before the drinks tray came last as complimentary pop or juice were offered to passengers, as well as a choice of nibblers or cookies. I went with a cup of orange juice and a packet of mixed nibblers was given along with the juice. Overall the service provided by the crew was friendly and there was a kind of relaxed atmosphere throughout the flight. Fortunately the commotion made by the young ones during take off died down during the flight and I started on my own version of inflight entertainment on my MacBook Air. With the early morning departure though, I fell asleep shortly and managed a short nap of around an hour or so before I got woken up by my Mum as they started a second round of beverage service.

In-flight Map on the personal TV screen

Complimentary Snacks and Juices

Flight Cabin onboard WestJet's 737

Personal IFEs on every seat

That was to be the last service of the flight as moments later, the plane started its descent and passengers on the window got to have a clear view of the arid landscape surrounding Los Angeles. The clear blue skies made the difference here I think and gave way to excitement as the passengers seemed to be happy to be here from the gloomy weather at Vancouver that morning. Being my first ride with WestJet, I thought they offered a nice service throughout the flight which was comfortable enough at the price point. Their positioning seems close to that of a Legacy carrier though they allowed free check in of bags and included complimentary snacks and drinks onboard. Both of which truly matters to the traveller and makes the difference indeed!

Pacific Coast and Hills of Los Angeles

Freeways of Los Angeles

Thanks for the ride, WestJet!
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Old Apr 5, 11, 2:05 am
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Photos from my stay in LA and Las Vegas

Atrium of the Hyatt Regency Orange County

Cruising Pacific Coast Highway in California

Huntington State Beach

Sandstorm along the way across Mojave National Preserve

Mike O'Callaghan Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge by Hoover Dam

Bellagio Las Vegas

Suite at Venetian with Double Beds

Las Vegas Strip at Night
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Old Apr 5, 11, 2:07 am
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LAS-YVR on a widebody

PR107 Las Vegas McCarran International LAS - Vancouver International YVR
19 Feb 2011
A340-300 RP-C3430
Scheduled ETD/ETA: 1730-2025
Actual Time of Departure/Arrival: 1727-1939
Seat No: 64G

Check-in Counter for Philippine Airlines

With the spring holiday break spent in Los Angeles, where we rented a Chrysler 300C, we drove all the way to Las Vegas, dropping off the car at the rental agency before waiting for the shuttle bus. The wait took around 3 minutes as most of the arriving buses head towards the domestic terminals of United, American and Delta but the international terminal shuttle eventually arrived and the journey took around 6-7 minutes before we were dropped off in front of the door for Philippine Airlines. I got to know of this flight through the new nifty app called Hipmunk which one can download onto Google's new Chrome web browser. This app allows users to compare prices, connection and schedules of flights on a particular date between 2 points and this app is definitely a keeper and great way to search for flights!

Aircraft Models on display at McCarran

There was only a short queue in the Philippines Airlines counter and we were served shortly in the Mabuhay Class counter. Initially the computer spewed out crappy seats for the 5 of us travelling together but the really helpful agent helped to re-assign our seats and even showed us a seat chart for the Airbus widebody that we will be taking today. This was really great service from an airline check-in agent! Kudos to the agent!

Philippine Airlines Airbus A340

Best Buy Mobile Kiosk

With our baggage checked-in for the flight, we headed towards security screening and on the way passed this cupboard filled with aircraft models throughout the years. Nice touch in an airport, though the rest of the airport was really plain and nothing to speak of. It was also eerily quiet which meant a short queue for security screening and I was somehow unlucky enough to be directed for the millimeter screening. Instead I opted for a pat down which took much longer since I had to wait for the TSA agent. By the time everything was done, it was close to boarding time and fortunately for us, the boarding gate was just next to the security screening area. There was still some time for some of us to head to the washroom as I discovered a Best Buy vending machine selling new electronic gadgets ranging from iPods to GPS Navigation systems.

Economy Class Cabin

At 17:02, we were the last of the few to board the plane and we passed through the business class section before arriving at the economy section. The business section reminds me of those in China Eastern and the seats were in 2-2-2 configuration in Business and 2-4-2 in economy. Loads were low that day at about 55% in economy and less than 40% in business. Maybe more passengers are taking the Vancouver-Manila leg of this flight. Shortly after boarding, the ground crew made final checks before pulling back and a short taxi to the runway. The taxi provided opportunities for passengers on the right side of the plane to gaze at the landmark hotels and resorts of the Strip including the Stratosphere, Wynn and Venetian. I had tried to move to an empty window seat but to no avail as the stewardess didn't allow it until after take-off, which we did at 17:27.

Inflight Magazine and Duty-free Shopping

View of the Wynn Resort

Inflight Map on the Projector

Legroom in the economy class seat was great for this short flight which also featured a footrest, though there aren't any personal IFE screen on the seat back as the safety demonstration is shown on the projector screen. Other than the lack of a personal IFE, the cabin was pleasantly clean and comfortable enough. Considering there was not much passengers on this leg, I got to occupy a whole row of 4 aisle seats and was able to relax myself as the flight attendants start serving out the snack service which consisted of a sandwich, a small pack of crackers and choice of beverages with a cup of tea or coffee. The sandwich provided was not bad, so was the crackers, and I was still feasting on Godiva chocolates after the snack service while watching my unwatched episodes of 'How I Met Your Mother' which I had downloaded onto my hard disk drive.

Chasing the sunset across Nevada

Inflight Meal by Philippines

My own version of Inflight Entertainment

Economy Class Seat Pitch

Time seems to fly when one is having fun on the flight as we soon began our descent and the plane landed early at 19:39, more than 40 minutes earlier than scheduled. I guess the calm weather throughout the flight helped and it was also a painless stroll across immigration in Vancouver as we all managed to collect all our luggages by 20:04. Another very efficient baggage service by Vancouver International Airport, and this really made a difference to the whole flight experience. I was quite pleased at my first experience on taking Philippines Airlines and for the short flight, it was quite comfortable on economy. For their very competitive rates to Asia, their seat pitch on economy class is something worth considering if one can get past the fact that it has no personal entertainment system.

Philippine Airlines A340-300 at Vancouver

Waterfall and Native Art in what is my favourite airport in N. America
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Old Apr 5, 11, 5:56 am
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Thanks for this nicely written and photographed trip report. I've always wanted to fly that Philippine A340 to or from Vancouver - maybe later this year... ^
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Old Apr 6, 11, 3:16 pm
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Thank you for the compliments Seat 2A, my photos are nothing compared to the amazing shots of CX first in your trip report!
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Old Apr 6, 11, 6:33 pm
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Excellent photographs and writing! Can I ask what equipment you use?

And I can't tell you how fascinated I was to learn that PR operated LAS-YVR. Now that IS exotic!
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Old Apr 17, 11, 10:52 pm
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Originally Posted by afterDawn View Post
Excellent photographs and writing! Can I ask what equipment you use?
Thanks! I bring along with me a Nikon D90 with 16-85mm lens as the main equipment. I have an additional 35mm lens for more creative shots.

And yeah I think the LAS-YVR trip on PR is worth noting for travellers visiting USA/Canada since it is a great way to take perhaps PR's best plane in their fleet. The price is pretty reasonable too!
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