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Family trip to Kenora Lake of the Woods, Ontario via Air Canada Business Class (AC J)

Family trip to Kenora Lake of the Woods, Ontario via Air Canada Business Class (AC J)

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Old Aug 15, 14, 3:39 pm
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Family trip to Kenora Lake of the Woods, Ontario via Air Canada Business Class (AC J)

Family trip to Kenora Lake of the Woods Ontario via Air Canada Business Class (AC J)

YVR-YWG-YVR




Introduction:


MrsWT73 is from “all over”, but her good cousin lives in Kenora, Ontario. The shores of Lake of the Woods Ontario are two and a half hours drive east of Winnipeg on the Trans Canada Highway. Even as a Canadian, I initially had no idea where it was. MrsWT73’s cousin decided to get married which meant an Ontario wedding and of course a visit to rural Ontario.

There weren’t many ways to get to Kenora. The easiest route for us from the West Coast was on Air Canada flying into Winnipeg. Airfare in Canada is expensive as it will ever be. Our business class upgradeable economy ticket was $780 – a shocking 0.33 cents a mile for travel in the middle of the summer. From Winnipeg it was a rental car with Avis for a 3 hour drive eastward on the Trans Canada highway. The other alternative is the lesser known Bearskin airlines which offers air service from Winnipeg.


In this report :

Maple Leaf Lounge Domestic, Vancouver International Airport
Air Canada Business Class, Vancouver - Winnipeg.
Four Points Sheraton - Winnipeg International Airport
Kenora, Lake of the Woods, Ontario
Best Western Lakeside Inn, Kenora, Ontario
Maple Leaf Lounge Domestic - Winnipeg Airport
Air Canada Business Class - Winnipeg International - Vancouver




Links to my previous trip reports:

Cathay Pacific First Class to New York, a sombre visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum & 4 days of eating in NYC. (CX F). May 2014
The Khors of Oman - via Japan, Poland, & the UAE. RTW in Biz (NH J 787, OZ J, TG J, EY J, TK J, LH J). April 2014
South Africa, Safari in Maasai Mara Kenya, & Mauritius (UA J, SA J, XAK, LX J, AC J) Nov 2013
A family trip to Westin Playa Conchal, Liberia Costa Rica, Aug 2013
Buried Treasure: UAE Empty Quarter and Beyond to Huvadhoo Atoll, Maldives (UA Y, EY J/Y, Q2 Y), Nov 2012
The Time Share Presentation, F RTW, Spain, China, Thailand, (OZ F, TG F, LH F) May 2012.
A visit to Macchu Picchu and Valle Nevado, Peru and Chile. (AC J) Sept 2011
Travel after the Revolution of January 25, 2011. Egypt. May 2011
A Step Back in Time: The Twilight of Burma, a visit to Myanmar Sept 2010

Last edited by worldtraveller73; Sep 1, 14 at 11:38 am
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Old Aug 15, 14, 3:44 pm
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Maple Leaf Lounge Domestic, Vancouver International Airport


Tonight’s flight started after a work day. A quick Aerocar car service from the house to the airport served our transportation needs. Today they sent a GMC Yukon instead of the usual Lincoln Towncar. Take that James Cameron against all your efforts of global warning!



It's a beautiful August day at the Vancouver Domestic Departure Hall.







Check in was handled at the deserted Air Canada Priority Check In on the far right hand side of the domestic terminal. No waits in line and we checked two bags full of gifts and accessories to Winnipeg. Boarding passes issued on the usual Air Canada stock with a YVR Fast Track sticker for non Nexus Holders.









Leaf frogging ahead of Fast Track, Nexus cards got us to the front of the line with the security screening checkpoint, but with only two screening lanes open, and the Nexus line depositing us at the front of a regular screening lane, it took a bit of time to get through.

Great sculptures around Vancouver International Airport, the rushing traveler greeting us headed down toward Concourse C.





We headed for the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in the Domestic Departures hall of the Vancouver International Airport. The entrance to the lounge is immediately after Security at access point C.



The Domestic Maple Leaf Lounge has seen several evolutions over the years. The seating has gotten more high density in the last few years as some loungers were replaced with tables and chairs.

The lounge offers a lounged seated area along with the usual bistro tables and chairs.













The lounge itself is usually crowded in the morning. On today’s visit, it was pretty empty, We must have arrived at the tail end of the rush. The place was full of half empty beer glasses, crushed crackers on the floor, and spots on the ground. I think my work cafeteria was actually cleaner.





Sadly, the place was really showing signs of wear and tear. If I recall correctly, the lounge was last partially updated with new carpets just prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.



Although many spots on the floor, the view is certainly unique with wide body aircraft with the mountains in the background.







Another area where the lounge gains some ground amonst other North American offerings is with the drink selection. Despite some mediocre wines, they are far better than the domestic offerings at the United Club. Add some reasonable spirits, draft beer and you’ve got an ample drink selection for a purely domestic lounge.



The lounge was accessorized with a bizarre candle arbre wine tree similar to an accessory that you see at a furniture store.



The food offering at 5 PM has gone slightly upscale. Couscous salads and mixed corn offerings kept things interesting. The usual celery sticks were also available for those feeling more conservative.





Computer carrels were also available. Thankfully, computers continue to be a standard feature of the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges.



Overall, the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge offers a reasonable lounge experience. Despite some shabby conditions affecting this lounge, this is one area that they haven’t completely cut costs- except maybe in the carpet and cleaning refurbishments.
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Old Aug 15, 14, 3:52 pm
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Air Canada
YVR-YWG (Vancouver International Airport – Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport)
AC 298 – Business Class (R).
6:25 PM – 11:06 PM
August 7, 2014
Booked: Embruaer 190
Flown: Embruaer 190.
Seat 1F



Our round trip flights were purchased in Flex Fare and upgraded using Top Tier credits that cleared and confirmed in advance at the 10 day window thanks to the Air Canada Top Tier summer promotion.

At about T-30 minutes, we headed immediately across the concourse to Gate C29. Most of the older gates at Vancouver have minimal seating areas, constrained by building design from the seventies. The boarding had already started on arrival, and we snuck on board thanks to the Priority Boarding lane.



On board, we settled into the Embrauer 190 Air Canada Business Class Product. We were in the bulkhead today, seats 1D/1F.











MrsWT73, as usual, had her opinions. “Oh my gawd, this is like flying cargo.”

Indeed, the space and hard product was nothing like our last trans-contiental flight on Cathay Pacific First Class. The size and space between the two can not be compared in any form, other than it was plainly obvious that the Embrauer had a much MUCH smaller footprint. Flight load today was 9/9 over 3 rows.

A pre-departure beverage was offered of orange juice or water.



Air Canada offers printed menus in domestic business class. The menu was dropped off. The menu offers food information only, with no wine list.

Regulars will likely agree that Air Canada offers the same menu items over and over again with the sides rotating on a semi monthly basis. For example, chicken will be served with rice, then next rotation the fish will have the rice. At least it makes for a predictable eating experience but it's probably not appealing for the Super Elites 100K's that are always on the go.





The attractive En Route in flight magazine. Enroute has taken to featuring an airport code on the cover for the past few years. I think it’s a neat feature as you can see familiar places and new ones that you might not have been to. Unfortunately, most of the articles are limited to places served by the Air Canada network.





The AVOD system was offering a very limited selection of movies, slimmed down from their wide body aircraft. Either they are saving money on movie licences, or they are attempting to speed up the performance of the system that was initially plagued with issues when it was installed in 2008. At any rate, the AVOD was working much faster than when it was first introduced. The system only featured about 11 hollywood movies- just enough to get through a three hour flight.



The moving map had it in its mind that we were headed to Calgary today.



As we got underway, a cocktail beverage and heated almond service was offered. I stuck with Australian Chardonnay of an unidentified variety.





As it came time to menu ordering, orders were taken by status. We were last even though MrsWT73 is an AC E50k, and I was a AC E25K. Being a dinner flight, demand was high and both the salmon and the chicken were out of stock by the time they got around to us. I ended up with the last choice cannelloni. It was okay, but not even as good as Boston Pizza’s which is saying something about the tastiness of the catering.





I settled into the movie “District 9” for the remainder of the flight.

As always, when headed east, we approached and landed in Winnipeg in darkness.





Getting off the plane, we entered the new Winnipeg John Richardson International Airport. The baggage hall is pretty cool, and has some bluey circles on the ceiling.





Our bags came out somewhere mid stream along with the other bags, despite the Priority Tags on them.

Air Canada really aims to position itself as the best business class in North America. Its passengers are constantly reminded that Air Canada have won Best North American airline by Skytrax 5 years in a row. The problem is that many of the other North American carriers don’t offer a great domestic business class product. The catering is often a little bit worse than what you get on Air Canada. The service on Air Canada, while sometimes outstanding, is usually pretty casual. It still doesn’t compare to many other international business classes. As a result, it’s hard to get super excited about my flights with Air Canada.
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Old Aug 15, 14, 6:22 pm
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Great report!

Having never flown the Embraer 190 in J, how does it compare to Y?
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Old Aug 15, 14, 7:56 pm
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Nice. Notice BA, NH and LH out some if their oldest birds on the flights out if YVR it appears. At least the folks in f on the BA flight would get 50k for the same.
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Old Aug 16, 14, 8:20 am
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Great report so far.

Originally Posted by worldtraveller73 View Post
MrsWT73, as usual, had her opinions. “Oh my gawd, this is like flying cargo.”
LOL. Sounds exactly like Mrs. SFO. Admittedly, CX First is a pretty tough act to follow. You should gave heard her yesterday when she found out that we were flying F9 from DEN-SNA.
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Old Aug 16, 14, 9:08 am
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I'm very much looking forward to this. YWG was my home airport growing up. That new airport is far nicer than the run down, 1960s era terminal it replaced a couple of years ago, but still lacks amenities on the transborder side. I have yet to fly out of the domestic side (and honestly probably never will).

My family used to have a house on the lake near Kenora, you'd actually have driven past our access road about 30 minutes before Kenora. I spent many summers out there as a kid. This might be the perfect time of year out there.
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Old Aug 16, 14, 11:27 am
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Interesting. I'll be heading out to Kenora in two weeks time (though from Ottawa) for a wedding also. Most of my wife's family lives there.
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Old Aug 16, 14, 4:33 pm
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Great report so far. I'm excited for your Kenora portions. My grandfather was born and raised in Kenora. Haven't been since I was a small child, so it will be nice to see it again.
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Old Aug 17, 14, 10:42 am
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Never been to Canada, so maybe I shoud have, thanks and waiting for next parts.
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Old Aug 19, 14, 8:49 pm
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Originally Posted by Orcair View Post
Great report!

Having never flown the Embraer 190 in J, how does it compare to Y?
Orcair - having been an AC Elite for almost 8 years now, admittedly it's been awhile since I've been in the far back of an Embraer. I've usually been fortunate to sit near the front of economy.

Air Canada uses the E190 on it's SEA-YYZ routes which I've flown regularly. It's an okay aircraft, but I personally don't find it super comfortable for really long flights over 4 hrs. It doesn't handle the bumps anything like wide body aircraft.

Originally Posted by mkjr View Post
Nice. Notice BA, NH and LH out some if their oldest birds on the flights out if YVR it appears. At least the folks in f on the BA flight would get 50k for the same.
mkjr - Vancouver seems to be stuck with a lot of the second generation product. Barcalounger business seats on ANA, the old BA F. Even Lufthansa is discontinuing first class entirely to Vancouver. The only One World product which is new that turns up is the new Cathay F.

Originally Posted by SFO777 View Post
Great report so far.
LOL. Sounds exactly like Mrs. SFO. Admittedly, CX First is a pretty tough act to follow. You should gave heard her yesterday when she found out that we were flying F9 from DEN-SNA.
SFO777 - thanks for your comments and a great fan of your trip reports. I think anything after CX First is going to be hard to follow. The difference is twice as noticeable going from a First Class Suite to the business product on a regional jet.

Originally Posted by krazykanuck View Post
I'm very much looking forward to this. YWG was my home airport growing up. That new airport is far nicer than the run down, 1960s era terminal it replaced a couple of years ago, but still lacks amenities on the transborder side. I have yet to fly out of the domestic side (and honestly probably never will).

My family used to have a house on the lake near Kenora, you'd actually have driven past our access road about 30 minutes before Kenora. I spent many summers out there as a kid. This might be the perfect time of year out there.
krazykanuck - ahh the old Winnipeg airport. Thankfully that place is not around any more. I did have the opportunity to pass through there several times. It did have quite some longevity to it, considering it was running until about 2012.

Originally Posted by jcamp028 View Post
Interesting. I'll be heading out to Kenora in two weeks time (though from Ottawa) for a wedding also. Most of my wife's family lives there.
jcamp028 - it was a nice venue for a summer wedding. If you get the opportunity, see if you can fit some time in for a lake tour.

Originally Posted by kevinjohnson1 View Post
Great report so far. I'm excited for your Kenora portions. My grandfather was born and raised in Kenora. Haven't been since I was a small child, so it will be nice to see it again.
Thanks kevinjohnson1 - I'm sure the town has grown up quite a bit, while some parts stay the same.

Originally Posted by AhogZ View Post
Never been to Canada, so maybe I shoud have, thanks and waiting for next parts.
Thanks AhogZ - the next part is coming up right now.
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Old Aug 19, 14, 8:54 pm
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Four Points Sheraton
Winnipeg International Airport
Traditional – Non Smoking.


The Four Points Sheraton used to be the only airport hotel that is immediately on the property of the Winnipeg Airport. The hotel has now been joined by a small Courtyard Marriott and an independent “Hotel Grand”. The Four Points Sheraton used to be immediately across the street in front of the old terminal, but that old terminal has now been completely demolished. It’s a short roll through the underground parkade which is much more pleasant in August, than it was in freezing February the last time I was here. A combination of old and new pictures.



In the lobby, our check in was handled promptly. As SPG Golds, we were offered a late check out without any prompting. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed on arrival. After check in, we ended up walking back to the terminal for a late night snack from Tim Horton’s.









No real SPG Gold upgrade provided tonight, although we did get an airside view. Our assigned room this time around was not as nice as on our last visit.













Room was a little contemporary brown but surely sufficient and convenient for a night. It was a relief to have the free water.



The airside view from the room. The passage way here used to connect to the old Winnipeg airport.



Despite being an airport hotel, the sleep experience was really good. The bed was nice and comfortable and quiet unlike most airport hotels. There was minimal aircraft noise, which is great for an airport hotel. There was also reasonably good soundproofing, with most aircraft visiting here being quieter narrow body aircraft and a runway situated far away from the hotel.

Overall, you can’t beat the convenience of this property. I like the fact that you can walk to it without waiting for a shuttle van and the fact that it’s only 5 minutes from the door of the arrivals hall. This means no waiting. Ever. The rooms seem to be a bit of a mixed bag, with some floors offering newer fixtures and fittings compared to others. It’s a bit of luck of the draw to get the newer rooms. The prices are also reasonable.
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Old Aug 19, 14, 9:06 pm
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Getting to Kenora, Ontario.

The next day, we picked up our Avis Car Rental at the airport. There was a small wait of 15 minutes today thanks to only one counter attendant working. After declining the double upsell to the Dodge Challenger, and then the single upsell to the Dodge Charger, we had the keys to a new Hyundai Elantra “mid size” in hand.

We headed off down the Trans Canada through some exceptionally flat countryside for the 2.5 hour drive to Kenora, Ontario. As many Canadians will know, there is a certain rite of passage to drive across Canada. It's something that's usually only done once- most make the return trip through the northern United States since the price of gas is so much cheaper. Part of this trek is through some really flat terrain. Fortunately, the drive from Winnipeg to Kenora has some of the more interesting "flat" terrain.

Pictures taken courtesy of MrsWT73 at 120km/h. Some beautiful road trip skylines as we headed eastward.









The scenery gets a bit more treed as we made our way to the Ontario border, and the home of Lake of the Woods, Ontario.



This is the crossing of the provincial border (state line) and the arrival into Kenora, Ontario.







Before we knew it, we were pulling into town.


Last edited by worldtraveller73; Aug 19, 14 at 9:16 pm
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Old Aug 20, 14, 4:13 am
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A great trip report worldtraveller73! Looking forward to further installments.

I have many happy memories of competitive sailing events at RLWYC which I travelled to from Toronto when I lived there.
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Old Aug 20, 14, 5:36 pm
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Originally Posted by worldtraveller73 View Post
Orcair - having been an AC Elite for almost 8 years now, admittedly it's been awhile since I've been in the far back of an Embraer. I've usually been fortunate to sit near the front of economy.

Air Canada uses the E190 on it's SEA-YYZ routes which I've flown regularly. It's an okay aircraft, but I personally don't find it super comfortable for really long flights over 4 hrs. It doesn't handle the bumps anything like wide body aircraft.



mkjr - Vancouver seems to be stuck with a lot of the second generation product. Barcalounger business seats on ANA, the old BA F. Even Lufthansa is discontinuing first class entirely to Vancouver. The only One World product which is new that turns up is the new Cathay F.



SFO777 - thanks for your comments and a great fan of your trip reports. I think anything after CX First is going to be hard to follow. The difference is twice as noticeable going from a First Class Suite to the business product on a regional jet.



krazykanuck - ahh the old Winnipeg airport. Thankfully that place is not around any more. I did have the opportunity to pass through there several times. It did have quite some longevity to it, considering it was running until about 2012.



jcamp028 - it was a nice venue for a summer wedding. If you get the opportunity, see if you can fit some time in for a lake tour.



Thanks kevinjohnson1 - I'm sure the town has grown up quite a bit, while some parts stay the same.



Thanks AhogZ - the next part is coming up right now.
I think they actually have a Lake of the Woods cruise set up. MS Kenora perhaps??
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