Starting on May 1, 2018, Air Canada began a new non-stop service from Edmonton to San Francisco. As part of the schedule announcement, there was a seat sale, so we purchased some business class tickets for the first weekend in May – which just happened to coincide with my birthday.
As the flight left in the afternoon, I went to work for half a day, then came home at 1:30 pm to get ready to head to the airport around 2:15 pm. As we had to pre-clear U.S. customs, we needed some extra time for that. But as we were just taking carry-on, and we have Nexus cards, we didn’t anticipate much of an issue there. However, our main concern was that on the previous day a new shopping outlet complex opened up right next to the Edmonton Airport. As no new exit was created from the highway to this new outlet mall, all the mall traffic would be using the airport exit. We didn’t know how crazy the traffic would be, so wanted to give ourselves lots of time. However, once we got to the airport, the traffic was fine, so we were plenty early for our flight. Especially since the inbound plane was delayed 45 minutes.
We had plenty of time and stopped by to chat with the Edmonton Air Canada concierges for a bit. My husband travels a lot, and has gotten to know Akemi, Colleen and Jessica quite well. Because we were quite early, the concierges wondered if we could go through domestic security to access the Maple Leaf Lounge (there is no Maple Leaf Lounge in the U.S. departures terminal). One of the concierges walked us to security, but we were told that because we had a U.S. destination on our boarding pass, we couldn’t go in. So, we just walked back to U.S. departures to head to our gate.
Even though there was hardly anyone in line for security, it took forever as the security agents felt compelled to examine each and every tray that my husband put through the scanner. I got through without any issue. After that, we used our Nexus cards to use the Global Entry kiosks, and then continued on to the departure gates.
As the San Francisco flight had only started up a couple days ago, one of the concierges thought that we might only get a cheese plate as our meal on the flight. Since we had time, we grabbed a drink and some chocolate croissants from Starbucks to tide us over.
The flight was originally supposed to depart at 4:20pm, but due to the delayed inbound plane, we didn’t start boarding until 5:00pm.
The CRJ-900 is a narrow body aircraft. Business class has 12 seats across 4 rows in a 1-2 configuration. These are your standard domestic recliner seats with a width of 21 inches and a pitch of 37 inches. There was actually quite a lot of leg room.
Economy class has 64 seats in a 2-2 configuration. As this is a small plane, the economy seats are a little narrower (17 inches) than a typical domestic seat (at 18 inches). However, they have the same pitch at 31 inches. All seats have inflight entertainment built into the seat backs, along with a USB port. There was also an AC power outlet next to the seatback entertainment system. There is one lavatory at the front of the plane for business class, and one at the back of the plane for economy.
On the armrests between the seats was a spot for beverages.
On the other arm rest was the headphone jack and a button to recline the seats. Above the seat was an individual light and an air nozzle.
The tray table folded out from the arm rest. The tray can be folded in half or used in its full width.
The seat backs had the inflight entertainment system, along with a USB and AC power outlet. The entertainment system had a decent selection of movies and TV shows. I ended up watching the movie “Black Panther”.
Boarding the plane was a little on the slow side, as the overhead bins on the CRJ-900 are too small to fit most roller bags, so many people were confused as to where to store their bags. After most of the passengers were boarded, the flight attendant came around offering small bottles of water. Shortly after that, we were offered complimentary earbud headsets – which we declined as we had our own.
The captain made an announcement that maintenance personnel had arrived to fix an issue with one of the lavatories. But, apparently they didn’t fix it, because later on there was an announcement that only working lavatory for the flight would be the one at the front of the plane. I was worried that there would be a lot of traffic going past our seat, but it actually wasn’t that bad. I didn’t use the lavatory myself, but my husband said it was quite teeny.
They finally closed the door at 5:23pm, and pushed back shortly after. We sat on the tarmac for a bit while the safety video played. During that time, the flight attendant came around with the meal menus – so it was nice to see that we were going to get more than just a cheese plate.
For those in economy class, food and alcoholic drinks are available for purchase through Air Canada Bistro.
At 5:33pm, we were in the air.
About half an hour after taking off, the flight attendant came by to take our meal orders. I ordered the chicken piri piri, and my husband ordered the cheese tortellini.
Shortly after that, the flight attendant came around with the hot towels, and then 10 minutes later he brought out the drink cart. I ordered a vodka and cranberry juice. The flight attendant gave me two bottles of vodka and the entire can of cranberry juice. I guess I looked like someone that would be wanting a second drink! A package of almonds was served with the drink.
At 6:30 pm the meal was served with the salad, main course and dessert all on one tray. The chicken meal seemed to be served first. After everyone was served, the flight attendant came around with bread basket, offering white or whole wheat buns.
The food was actually fairly good. About half an hour later, the trays were cleared. Then about 15 minutes after that, the flight attendant came around with a snack basket containing chips and chocolate bars. I helped myself to a KitKat.
After that, we had about an hour left on our flight to San Francisco. We landed in San Francisco at 7:12 pm local time. It was a quick taxi to the gate, and we were off the plane before we knew it.
Other than the flight delay, it was a very pleasant flight. It seemed to take a while for the drink and meal service to get started, but once it did, it went by quite quickly. The CRJ-900 was a comfortable plane, and I would definitely fly it again.