Friday, June 3, 2011

Transiting YVR: Nice Concept - Flawed Operation

We're sitting in a Maple Leaf Lounge after a fine flight on Air Canada from LHR. We were in the very first bulkhead row of Economy with only two seats. We had so much room that we brought down one of our roll-aboards and used it as a footrest. The flight landed about 30 minutes late due to the late arrival of the plane at LHR but our layover was sufficient that it wasn't a nail-biter, despite the queues we describe below.

Based on the food (complimentary wine, a choice of chicken or pasta with salad and a large cookie, a service of ice cream and drinks later, and finally a hot wrap with a choice of Italian beef or Thai chicken), service, and the hard product itself, this is probably among the very best international flights in Economy that we've ever experienced. It might even be the very best.

We were pleased to be transiting directly to US Immigration rather than having to formally enter Canada. It was backed up today and we and others in the queue let others through in front of us who probably missed their flights, unless the plane was held.

First we lined up for the CATSA screening. For some reason this was glacially slow. Our impression was that the employees were operating at half-speed. After we finally got through that, we had to show our boarding passes to another CATSA employee who was able to show people their checked luggage on a video screen for whatever reason. That's marvelous technology but we were traveling with carry-on so it meant nothing to us.

We then had to stand in line for US Immigration. It was our impression that the officers at this check point were more suspicious than usual simply because people were transiting. Some passengers were getting grilled and at least one was referred to secondary. Once we finally made it to an inspector, we were through in less than two minutes.

We're enjoying relaxing in the MLL but we'll leave shortly as it's at least a ten-minute hike from her to the gate at one of another concourse where the teeny-tiny planes leave from.

It was a great flight, we're feeling okay, and we must admit it's nice to be home again, despite lineup hassles along the way.

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