Today’s trip report covers Air Transat flight TS951 from Calgary (YYC) to Vancouver (YVR). This flight is the second half of a stopover, as the Airbus A330 arrived from London Gatwick. Normally only a 90-minute flight served by smaller Embraer regional jets, Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s, this is perhaps the only opportunity to fly a widebody aircraft between the two cities.
Getting to the gate
Getting to the gate was an easy and simple process. Right in the middle of a holiday weekend, the airport was surprisingly quiet and there was zero wait at airport security. Getting through took less than three minutes.
My travel companion and I made our way to the Chinook lounge (that will be reviewed later!) and waited for the flight. Shortly after settling in to the lounge we could see on the flight information screens that there was a delay with our flight. This meant an extra 80 minutes waiting for our flight.
The plane met us at Gate B37. An Airbus A330, the aircraft had just come from London Gatwick. I believe all passengers must disembark and go through customs. Some passengers disembark in Calgary and those continuing on to Vancouver must go through customs and immigration before getting back on the plane (someone correct me if I’m wrong!).
What this means is that, for travelers like us, we have the opportunity to catch some empty seats on the Calgary to Vancouver part of the journey and enjoy the comfort of a widebody aircraft on a very short-haul flight.
As mentioned above, the plane had a late arrival, due to a late departure from London. Looking at the aircraft’s history, it seems to have an unfortunate history of delays…
In addition to flying passengers from London to both Calgary and Vancouver, this seems like a re-positioning opportunity as the plane later flew a Vancouver to Paris flight. Also notice the continuous issue of delays.
Boarding the aircraft
Boarding was straightforward and is done by groups/zones. We were Group 5 but it was called quite shortly after the boarding process started.
As you can see, economy class is a 3-3-3 configuration. Seats are a vinyl/leather and are quite modern and slim.
Being a widebody plane, overhead baggage space was ample. However, since the flight had some transatlantic passengers on it, there were some larger suitcases to fit in as well.
The in-flight entertainment system was fantastic; much better than on an old Air France A330. With Air Transat being a leisure carrier, they seem to fit somewhere between a legacy carrier and a budget airline. What that means here is a great entertainment system but you have to buy your own earphones – or bring some yourself.
The flight itself
The aircraft windows were quite dirty so unfortunately getting a nice shot of the Rocky Mountain range was a little more challenging. Near the back of the plane the seating narrows down to a 2-3-2 configuration which makes it ideal for couples or anyone who wants a window seat but doesn’t want to climb over two people to get to the lavatory.
Seating and legroom was fantastic and I had no problems at all stretching out and making myself comfortable, even at six feet tall.
I don’t know if the runway approach changes with time of day or shifts with the wind, but we definitely missed out on a great view of Calgary being on the left side of the plane. People on the right side had the best views the whole way through – even seeing the city of Vancouver. We definitely missed out being on the left side.
Food and beverage
I was caught off guard by beverage service on the flight. No snacks were handed out, but passengers could choose from juices and soft drinks as well as coffee and tea. For food there was an in-flight menu in the seatback pocket which allowed passengers to pay for food. Thinking about my Air Transat flight from Glasgow to Vancouver, I recall meals are provided for international flights.
There were some great views of the rugged Canadian landscape. Again, if you’re flying from east to west I would highly recommend getting yourself a seat on the right side of the aircraft. The Rockies are much better on that side.
Overall the flight itself was pleasant. Again, it’s a real treat to fly a widebody aircraft on a route that’s pretty much exclusively narrowbody aircraft. With the larger aircraft comes more leg room, more toilets, and overall more space. On this route, Westjet uses their fleet of 737s while Air Canada has a mix of Embraer regional jets and Airbus A320s.
Flight attendants were pleasant to deal with and having beverage service was nice, even if not totally necessary for such a short flight.
However, a delay of over 80 minutes kind of ruined our day/evening. Some passengers had onward flights with Harbour Air to Vancouver Island and had to miss them without compensation. If that piece could just be fixed then the flight would be a 10/10!