Review: Air Canada Domestic Business Class Vancouver to Edmonton


Our flight from Taipei arrived at 11:10am, and we were one of the first few people off the plane. We headed to Canada Customs, and with our Nexus pass we were through customs and immigration within minutes. We continued to our domestic flight – having to go through security again. I’m not sure why this has to be the case at the Vancouver airportg, as we are in a sterile corridor after leaving customs.

I had noticed that there was a 12:40pm flight to Edmonton, so when we got to the domestic Maple Leaf Lounge, we checked to see if we could get on the earlier flight (as we didn’t have any checked luggage). However, there was only 1 seat available in business class, and as we had paid for business class tickets, we didn’t want to have one of us stuck in economy.  So, we just hung out in the lounge until our 2:00pm flight.

We headed to the gate at 1:20pm. Our gate (Gate 30) was literally just across from the lounge, so we didn’t have far to go. The inbound flight had come in late, and passengers were still deplaning when we got here. However, they did a quick turn around, and started boarding at 1:30pm.

Air Canada 242
Vancouver (YVR) – Edmonton (YEG)
Sunday, April 8, 2018
Depart: 2:00pm
Arrive: 4:29pm
Duration: 1hr32
Aircraft: A319-100
Seats: 3A & 3C (Business Class)

 

The business class cabin has a total of 14 seats in a 2-2 configuration – which is the same as the A320-200 plane we flew from Edmonton to Vancouver.  The seats are your standard domestic business class seats with a 38 inch pitch.  The difference between the A320-200 and the A319-100 is that the A319 has 106 standard economy seats (with no preferred seating section).

The plane was completely full.  In fact, it was oversold and they were asking for volunteers to take a later flight.  As it had been a long day of travel, we were not interested in giving up our seats.  We did make sure to be one of the first people on so that we could fit our roller bags in the bin.

Due to the short turnaround, the flight attendants did not have the bottled water already at the seats when we boarded.  Instead, once most of the passengers had boarded, they came around with the bottled water, earbud headphones and newspapers.

Pre-departure bottled water

We pushed back from the gate just before 2:00pm, and were in the air 10 minutes later.  Like the flight from Edmonton to Vancouver, wifi was available on this flight as well.  But again, since it was such a short flight (and as I was quite tired), I didn’t bother trying to connect.

We were in the air about 20 minutes when the flight attendants came around with hot towels.  There was no menu on this flight.  Instead, the food and beverage cart was rolled out 5 minutes later, and we were given a cold plate of smoked salmon, blinis and packaged almonds.  As the flight was in the middle of the afternoon, I understand why they just provided a snack, instead of a hot meal.

Smoked salmon plate

I like smoked salmon, but I wasn’t that hungry, so I gave my plate to my husband.  It seemed to be good, as he ate all my smoked salmon along with his.  I ate the almonds though.

Flying back to Edmonton

With the 1.5 hour flight, I looked for a movie that was short enough to watch.  I picked “Coco”, which is a cute movie, but I was about 10 minutes from the end of the movie when we landed in Edmonton at 4:18pm.  I guess I’ll never know the ending (although, I could probably guess).

The flight was quick and uneventful, which is pretty much all I ask for out of most of my flights.  As we only had carry-on, we were off the plane and on our way home in no time.

Review: Air Canada International Business Class Taipei to Vancouver


Even though we were not checking any luggage, upon arrival at the airport we went to the Air Canada priority check-in to have them perform a travel document check. We were met by the Air Canada concierge – Daisy – who then proceeded to walk us through security and exit immigration. There is no fast lane for security/immigration for business class passengers at Taipei Taoyuan Airport, but luckily it didn’t take too long to get through.

Daisy then walked us to the Singapore Air lounge. It is a fairly small lounge, but we did manage to find some seats near the lounge entrance.  The lounge is long and narrow – with most of the seats being along the one side.  The windows looked out onto a bus parking lot and a taxi queue, so the view wasn’t all that exciting.

Singapore Air lounge

There were also some high-top tables at the back near the food.

Singapore Air lounge

There was a fairly large selection of hot and cold food spread out over 2 counters.

Example of food in Singapore Air lounge

As we had lunch prior to heading to the airport, we didn’t end up having any food in the lounge.  We hung out in the lounge for a bit, and then since we could also access the EVA lounge, we decided to head over there to check It out.

The EVA lounge is split up into 2 different lounges – the Star lounge and the Infinity lounge.  We were directed to the Infinity lounge, which has a very futuristic design.

EVA Infinity Lounge

This lounge was bigger, but it was also more crowded and noisier.  I had started to take pictures, but there was a sign saying that photos were not allowed (to respect people’s privacy).  The photo above is one I took before seeing the sign.  The lounge was mostly one big room, with some different sections of seating.  It had windows looking out into the interior of the terminal, so it was a slightly nicer view than the Singapore Air lounge.  Their food area was larger than the Singapore Air lounge, and included hot dogs and Haagen Dazs ice cream. Daisy said that the food in the Singapore Air lounge was better – but as we didn’t have food in either lounge (other than the ice cream), I will have to take her word for it.

We left the lounge at about 3:00pm to head to Gate C2. It was a good 10 minute walk from the lounge, so a person needs to give themselves plenty of time to get to the gates.

When we arrived at the gate, we found out that boarding was delayed until 3:45pm due to the fact that the incoming flight was late.  But at least we had a view of our plane while waiting.

Air Canada 787-900 to Vancouver

Air Canada 18
Taipei (TPE) – Vancouver (YVR)
Sunday, April 8, 2018
Depart: 3:55pm
Arrive: 11:45am (same day)
Duration: 10hr50
Aircraft: 787-900
Seats: 6K & 7K (International Business Class)

 

For this flight, we were sitting on the K side of the plane (we had been sitting in the A seats on the way to Taipei).  Since we were boarding more then half an hour late, the flight attendants seemed to still be rushing around getting things ready when the passengers started boarding.  For example, during the boarding process they were handing out slippers and menus – which normally are already at the seat.

Welcome screen

We were offered a pre-departure drink of water, orange juice or champagne. I chose champagne, while my husband took some orange juice and champagne to make a mimosa.

Pre-departure champagne

Before departure, they came around to take our meal orders for dinner.  I ordered the stuffed chicken breast, while my husband ordered the beef tenderloin.

Meal menu

Wine list

They managed to get everyone boarded fairly quickly and we pushed back from gate around 4:15pm (only 20 minutes later than original departure time).  We took a few minutes to taxi to the runway, and were in the air 10 minutes later.

About 15 minutes after take off, the flight attendants came around with hot towels, and then 10 minutes later, they brought out the cart to serve drinks and mixed nuts.  I ordered my usual vodka and cranberry juice to go with the nuts.

Pre-meal drink and nuts

During the service, one of the flight attendants (Shawn) mentioned that I looked familiar to her.  I thought she looked familiar as well.  After further discussion, we realized that she had been a flight attendant on a flight we had taken to Tokyo in 2016.  The reason why she remembered us was because for that trip, we were travelling with my husband’s parents for their 50th anniversary, and we had brought cake on board and had a big celebration.

Shawn was very personable and funny, and I had great service from her throughout the flight.

As Air Canada only changes their entertainment selection on a monthly basis, we had the same movies and TV shows as on the flight out.  Before and during the meal, I ended up watching the movie “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”.  It was a rather depressing movie.  Good acting, but depressing.

About half an hour after the drink service, the flight attendants came around with the table cloths.  Five minutes later the food/drink cart came out to serve appetizers and additional drinks.  The appetizer was prawn, scallop, smoked salmon and mango salsa.  It was quite tasty.  The side salad was mixed greens, cherry tomato and artichoke.  It was okay – but nothing special.

Appetizer of prawn, scallop and smoked salmon

The main course was served 20 minutes after the appetizer.  The meals were decent – definitely better than the meals on the flight to Taipei.

Chicken breast filled with asparagus and ricotta

Beef tenderloin

About 25 minutes after the main course was served, the flight attendants came around with the cheese and fruit trolley.  I didn’t feel like any cheese, so they made up a fruit plate for me.  They also offered me some port, but I declined.

Fruit plate

 

 

 

 

Then 15 minutes later, they came around with another trolley, offering a cherry chocolate brownie, ice cream, tea and coffee.  I decided to go with the cherry chocolate brownie.  The meal service was completed about 2 hours after taking off.

Cherry chocolate brownie

Approximately half an hour after dessert was served, I noticed that the snack baskets had been set out.  So, I went and snagged myself a KitKat.

I settled in to try to get some sleep.  I think I ended up sleeping for a total of 3 hours.  I woke up with 2.5 hours left in the flight.  I decided to watch “All the Money in the World” – which was also rather depressing.  So, for the rest of the flight, I watched some comedy TV shows to lighten things up.

About 1.5 hours before arrival, the flight attendants came around with hot towels, and then a few minutes later came by with a selection of water, orange juice or cranberry juice.  I chose a cranberry juice.

Breakfast was served 25 minutes later.  Instead of taking orders for the breakfast options, they just came by with a trolley with the breakfast selections to choose from.  On the menu, there had been 3 hot items for breakfast – omelette & sausage, congee or assorted dumplings.  When the trolley got to us, there was only the omelette/sausage or congee available.  Which was sad, as I wanted to try the dumplings.  So, I went with the omelette and sausage.

With breakfast they offered a choice of a croissant or a chocolate Danish (which looked more like a chocolate croissant to me).  I was in the mood for some carbs, so I went with both.

Breakfast

I wasn’t really in the mood for omelette and sausage, so I just ended up eating the croissant, Danish and fruit.

Breakfast was cleared, and before we knew it, we were descending into Vancouver.  Even though we left Taipei behind schedule, we ended up arriving into Vancouver at 11:10am (35 minutes early).  The flight from Taipei was about 2 hours shorter than the flight we took to Taipei.  Which is good in that you get back sooner, but does make it harder to get in some quality sleep on the flight.

But overall, it was a good flight.  The food was fairly good, and the service was great.

Review: Taipei Marriott Hotel


The Taipei Marriott Hotel is located in the ZhongShan District – which is north of the Keelung River from central Taipei.  The quickest way to get to the hotel from the airport is to take a taxi.  On a Sunday afternoon, it should’ve taken about half an hour to get to the hotel from the airport.  However, our taxi driver seemed to have taken the wrong exit and took a long time getting back to the right direction, and even seemed to circle our hotel a few times before finally finding it.

There is also a high speed train from Taoyun International Airport to the Taipei Main station, which takes about 25 minutes.  However, to get to the Marriott from Taipei Main station, a person would then have to take 2 different metro lines – which would take another 20 minutes or so.

The Taipei Marriott was the first Marriott to open in Taiwan (in 2015), so the building still feels quite new.  Just 2 blocks away is a Carrefour store, and the Miramar shopping/entertainment center (which even has a Ferris Wheel).  So, there is a good selection of shops and restaurants nearby.

When the taxi driver finally figured out where the hotel was, we drove up to a modern, black glass building.

Taipei Marriott Hotel building

We were greeted as soon as our taxi arrived, and escorted to the reception desk.

Taipei Marriott reception area

The check in went quickly, and we were informed that we had been upgraded to a suite.  The elevators were just around the corner, in behind the reception desk.  We were on the 11th floor, and given a corner suite.

Living area of suite

Living area and entrance to suite

From the living area, there was a hallway to the bedroom, with the bathroom on the right and closets on the left.

As my husband is a Platinum Premier Elite member, there was a welcome plate of sweets waiting for us in the room.

Welcome sweets

The bathroom had sliding doors at the entrance, with 2 sinks to the left and a tub to the right.  The toilet and shower were separated from the rest of the bathroom with glass doors.

Bathroom

Separate shower

The toilet was a Japanese style toilet with the built-in bidet.  The lid automatically lifted when you approached it, and the toilet automatically flushed and lowered the lid when you walked away.  Very handy – I want one like this at home!

Separate toilet area

Controls for toilet

In the bathroom were Thann shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and shower gel.  In the shower, there was a wall-mounted dispenser of shower gel as well.  A bar of soap was provided for washing your hands, but only liquid soap was available for the shower.  Fortunately, we had brought an extra bar of soap from our night at the Edmonton Airport Renaissance hotel.

There was also a drawer in the bathroom with other amenities.

The bedroom was quite large and had one of the largest king-sized beds I’ve ever slept in.  It doesn’t look that large in this picture – but that’s because the pillows on the bed are very wide.

Bedroom

There was a long counter with the TV and a desk area in the bedroom.

TV and desk in bedroom

The room also came with a smart phone that you could use while staying at the hotel.  As we had already purchased SIM cards for our phones to use in Taiwan, we didn’t need to use this smartphone.  But it would definitely be handy for other travellers.

In the living area was a closet with a fridge, bottled water and a kettle for making coffee or tea.

Closet with fridge and coffee/tea

The hotel has a number of dining options available.  On the main floor is a lobby lounge and the Garden Kitchen – which is open for breakfast lunch and dinner.  The main floor also has a large open marketplace area, with shops, a deli, a bistro, chocolate counter, and Hutong restaurant.  There is also an ATM machine just outside the Marketplace area.

Marriott Lobby Lounge

Marketplace at Marriott

Marketplace at Marriott

Marketplace bistro at Marriott

Hutong Restaurant

Marketplace deli

Marketplace Deli

Marketplace chocolate shop

There is also Mark’s Teppanyaki, the Dining Place (serving Cantonese food), and Inge’s restaurant on the 20th floor that had gorgeous views.

We actually didn’t eat at any of the hotel restaurants during our stay, as we had access to the executive lounge – which was quite amazing.

The executive lounge is open 7:00am to 10:00pm.  Breakfast is served from 7:00am to 10:30am.  Beverages such as soft drinks and beer are available throughout the day, along with small snacks such as granola bars.  Happy Hour runs from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.  At this time, alcohol and wine are available, along with a fair selection of hot hors d’oeuvres, fruit and dessert.

Marriott Executive Lounge

Wine selection during Happy Hour

Examples of Happy Hour appetizers

Happy Hour desserts

The Marriott has a fitness center that is open 6:00am to 10:00pm, and a heated rooftop pool that is open 6:30am to 10:00pm.  Both are on the 19th floor – which is the same floor as the executive lounge.  To use either the fitness centre or the pool, you must check in with your room number at the spa entrance.

Marriott Fitness Centre

Amenities at fitness centre

The pool area isn’t overly large, but it is fairly protected by glass walls, and has a great view of the nearby Ferris Wheel.  There is also a shaded area with tables.  Towels, bottled water and flotation noodles are available.

Marriott Pool

Lounge chairs at Marriott pool

Sitting area at Marriott pool

The staff at the Marriott were really amazing.  Any time you went to go into or out of the hotel, someone would open the door for you.  When we came back to the hotel, several staff would say “Welcome back” to us.  Housekeeping did an amazing job keeping our room clean, and they provided a nightly turndown service.  Any staff member we encountered were helpful and friendly.

The staff in the executive lounge were also incredible.  By our second morning, they already knew who we were and our room number (you have to provide your room number and name to enter the lounge).  The breakfast in the lounge was the best Marriott lounge breakfast spread I’ve ever seen.

There were common items that were there every day – such as bacon, sausages, smoked salmon, breads, pastries and fresh fruit.  However, there was a chef’s station where you could order made-to-order eggs or omelettes, and there were about 5 different main hot dishes each morning.  We stayed there for a week, and every morning had completely different main dishes.

When you entered the lounge for breakfast, one of the staff would ask you if you wanted a tea or coffee – and they would then make it and bring it to your table.  And as you finished a plate or a beverage, they would be over almost immediately to whisk it away.

Here are some photos of the breakfast spread:

Bacon and sausages

Example of main dishes available for breakfast

Chef’s station with made-to-order eggs/omelettes

Breakfast bread and pastries

With the deluxe breakfast and the Happy Hour appetizers and drinks, this lounge was definitely a great perk for anyone with Marriott status.

The hotel in general was clean and beautiful.  There are a number of restaurants and shops within a 2-3 block radius of the hotel that are reasonably priced. The river is just a couple blocks away, and there is a lovely riverside park with a number of running/biking trails.  The area itself is a fairly new area, and is actually quite nice just to wander around in.  The only downside of the hotel is that it is away from most of the attractions.  There is a metro station just a short walk away, and so you can take the metro to most of the major attractions within 20-30 minutes.

But overall, I loved the hotel and the staff and highly recommend it to anyone travelling to Taipei.   If I came back to Taipei, this is definitely where I would want to stay.