By request of a friend, here is my blog on my ten hour Air Canada flight to Japan; and the food service I had on it.
Learning the lesson of my partner, who arrived too late for his flight; I was sure to come more than the required hour before check in. He unfortunately was 10 minutes too late and was refused entry onto his flight. He was given the option of flying without his luggage, but how can you last a week without personal supplies and an exchange of clothes, let alone his intended three? So he missed a day and incurred a fee for needing a new ticket issued. Lesson learned.
However early my trip to the check in counter wasn’t any easier. I was very close to facing the same dilemma. A mistake was made when we purchased our round trip tickets from “bookit.com”. A mistype had my name coming up incorrectly, and it not aligning with my passport. My middle name was showing up as my last name, and this was not enough to get me through. As a result nothing came up when it scanned and I was not allowed entry. Luckily I was here early and had the time to spend it lining up to have this corrected. Very helpful staff lead me from point to point and walked me through this buracratic process. I was even consoled when I began facing a mild panic attack, over the fear of missing my flight and not being able to get a hold of my partner who booked the original richer. This was my first time flying alone and I have always relied on him. Life lesson: learn your shit, don’t reply on anyone.
Long story short a ticket was reissued without the need to go back through “bookit.com”, which would have been the proper process. And I was checked in on the spot, all in order to get me through the gates before cut off time. I was delighted, grateful, and in shock. This was the pinnacle of service. I could only image the heart ache and stress I would face having to delay my flight and do this all again a day after. Luckily it never came to that as I strolled to my gate in time to board with my fellow zone mates. The staff at Air Canada saved my trip and put a simple back on my face.
I have only been on a handful of planes and this was the nicest one so far. Newer. They really considered the need for additional comfort when facing an eight hour flight. The flight was not to capacity, it allowed for space in between guests. Empty seats that gave two arm rests per person and the ability to spread yourself out. I was very happy with my window seat, despite it being on the wing. It came with out a shutter, but the very high tech ability to tint the window. Each cloth seat with padded head rest also came with a small head pillow and a wrapped up thin blanket covering. I made myself comfy. Pillow at back, blanket on lap, cord plugged in, and phone charging. I took a nap and caught up on my blogging. But a television touch screen and complimentary ear buds would kept you entertained. On it were television shows, movies, audio books, shopping, and even a moving map telling you where the plane was over at each exact moment.
Our first food break came an hour into the flight. The noise of carts on carpet, bottles shaking from their movement, and the smell of food woke me up. Beef or chicken were your options. Both came heated in plastic containers and wrapped with golden foil. Similarly the other elements and sides were also wrapped and sealed for hygiene. The plastic tray was made to fit on the drop down table in front of you, with enough give for a drink and your cutlery.
Majority of this meal was cold. It made sense given the need to keep everything fresh for our extended travel. And I wasn’t sure if there were refrigeration units built on to the plane.
The little bottle of water was darling. A cup’s worth with the airline’s branding and unique ridges for a comfortable hold. I would save this for later as a drink cart followed the food cart and I was given drink options. Pop, juice, warn beverages, or ones with alcohol at a cost. I selected Japanese tea to set the mood for my impending destination, and for the need of something warm to take with this cold meal.
Cold bread is not fun to eat, but even less fun to cut into and attempt to spread butter over. Biting into solid chunks of butter before you got to the bread was unavoidable. Though the bun itself was very fresh, still spongy, and just a little sweet.
The side salad was a green bean, tomato, and cabbage slaw. A tangy and zesty mix marinated with a mild vinaigrette and dried herbs. Each bite was crunch after crunch that balanced out the softness of the entree.
My expectations were so low for the entree that I was actually pleasantly surprised. “Yakiniku beef with onion, corn, red peppers, green beans, and steamed rice”. It was evenly warmed and easy on the eyes. The meat was prepared flavourful in a simple teriyaki stir fry. I strategically choose the more forgiving beef over chicken, successfully avoiding dry chicken breast. The beef was balled up in a bunch, it required a tug to break down into bite sized portions. Presented sitting on top of white rice, its sauce dripped down keeping the rice moist as well as giving it some flavour. I could have done without the excess onion, and would have liked more than two chunks of red pepper and two segments green bean. Though the corn was a nice addition in sweetness, colour, and texture.
If I wanted the chicken it would have been a “honey pepper chicken served with pasta and mixed vegetables”. As told by the interactive television screen in front of me.
Chocolate brownie for dessert. It was nice to have dessert and to have something sweet to end our meal be considered. The brownie was an easy win. Who doesn’t like a semi sweet chocolate cake? Moist and springy, I quickly gobbled up my four bites of it.
When enough time had elapsed for an average eating pace the flight crew came back around to collect the waste. Those not done were given more time to finish, as others were offered more beverages.
As for the dining experience, it is familiar to anyone who has flown. It was a little clumsy eating off a tiny tray positioned at lap level. To avoid a potential spill, with no way to clean it, I brought the food to me instead of hunching over it. The individual container for each element was perfect for this. That aside, the most enjoyable thing about late lunch on this flight was the silence. All those flying with me today were quite. Not a word was spoken, as we all ate with the occasional sounds of plastic ruffling, plastic knife against plastic fork, and tin foil creasing.
I found the button to call for help useful when I didn’t want to get up or didn’t want to bother the passenger seated by the isle. Though it didn’t work out well when she woke him up anyways. I had asked for tissue pointing to my nose. She returned within cocktail napkins. When I explained in a whisper that it was for my nose she declared that it was all she had. This exchange sadly was enough to wake my row mate. She did however returned with a box of tissues for me to keep. Tissues I knew they had when I visited the lavatory and saw them in plain sight. Who calls napkins tissues? And who enjoys blowing their nose to with them?
We were told we would also be given snacks closer to when we were expected to land. However five hours after our small meal and three hours before we landed I got really hungry, there was nothing I could do to silence my grumbling belly. I wished I clean my entire serving. I regret not pocketing the bun, and the bottle of water was long gone. How hungry would I be before I would be willing to pay for overpriced peanuts? Eventually I couldn’t wait any longer and pushed the button for service, asking for food. Good thing as they were planning on distributing them in 45 minutes to everyone, and I just couldn’t wait that long.
I was given Air Canada branded salted pretzel sticks and bran crunch biscuits. Only to learn this was always available in their galley for me to help myself to at any time. I wonder if your tickets cost more cause everything possible was branded with the Air Canada red and white maple leaf logo. The packaged cutlery, the square napkins, the paper cups for warm beverages and their stir sticks, and the placemats on each trays.
The pre-arrival light meal was served an hour before landing. It started with a small portion of seasonal sliced fruit. Two chunks of pineapple, half a segment of orange, a chunk of cantaloupe, a cube of honey dew, and a simple grape. I can imagine the guy who had to organize each serving this evenly. It was a pretty standard, but a nice break from the salty snacks before.
The options were once again between chicken or beef. “Baked chicken with onion, yu choy, seaweed, and steamed rice”. And I once again I went with the beef, more because I wanted pasta the second time around. “Beef with pasta in a tomato mushroom sauce”. They called it a penne, but the noodles more closely resembled a jumbo elbow of macaroni. With mushy noodles, a runny sauce and no actual chunks of meat it reminded be of pasta from a can of chef Boyardee, specifically beefaroni. The melted cheese on top was a nice touch. And I was able to find use in the bun by dipping it in to excess sauce. Like the course before this too was served cold with even colder butter. Still hungry from before, I practically licked the dish clean. Sadly no dessert this time. Though I would have been totally happy with another of the same brownie.
Tinted windows under the command of the flight staff helped to darken the room and allow for rest. It was amazing how much light they shielded you from. I actually thought it was night.
Overall I had a fantastic experience. I would not change a thing. I made a mistake, I did not check my ticket 24 hours in advance, and yet I was helped. It was corrected quickly and efficiently without a penalty or cost to me. I boarded my comfortable plane on time and scored a window seat. All the passengers were respectful and fairly quite, even the one baby on board kept his crying to a bearable minimum. The staff were accommodating and attentive. Drinks were offered regularly, garbage taken away often, and anything you needed was only a push of a button away. The food was satisfying and nourishing. It was much better than any of the packaged and processed foods I have been eating lately. This was a start of a good trip to come.