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Yesterday, I did a quick travel segment for NewsNation (video embedded below) and then boogied to LAX for my Air Canada flight to YYZ. I was expecting the airport to be a madhouse since the FAA predicted it to be the busiest day of the year, but it wasn’t, not even the entrance at 10am. It took us 13 minutes to get from the entrance to Terminal 6, which, by LAX standards, wasn’t bad. RELATED: 14 Tips and Tricks For Avoiding Holiday Travel Headaches

YouTube video
There was no line at check-in for Air Canada. Since I don’t have status with them or any Star Alliance airline, I had to pay for baggage.

Air Canada charges $30 for the first bag and $50 for the second bag. We had three bags so to save money, I put a bag under each of our names to get the first bag price. I did it in advance online but could have done it at the airport. One of our bags weighed 51.7 lbs, which was over the 50 lb limit but they let us slide.

There was no line at TSA Pre. Ironically, the only line I saw was for CLEAR.

A sign calling TSA PreCheck Pre TSA.

Everyone was friendly, even the TSA agent who flagged my kids’ backpacks to inspect their noodles. 

My wife always packs the kids food for the plane because they’re always hungry and my son has food allergies so it’s safer that way. 

This is the first time in a long time that I brought my own food from home. I stopped by Trader Joe’s the day before and grabbed one of their tasty Turkey Gobbler Wraps ($4.99) to enjoy on the plane.

The gate areas were all busy so we found a quiet spot above the stairs and escalators to baggage claim in Terminal 6.

For those who are hungry, Terminal 6 and the other LAX terminals do a good job with some semi local foods including Wahoos and The Habit Burger Grill. Here’s a directory and map of T6.

As I mentioned in Monday’s newsletter, I was monitoring our flight, AC788, and it had canceled four times in the past nine days so it obviously made me nervous. It turns out it was one specific 787 plane (C-GHPX) that was having problems and that aircraft wasn’t assigned to us. In this case, ignorance is bliss because my wife didn’t need the added stress. But it did force me to have a solid back-up plan.

Boarding was a zoo and I do mean a zoo. There were four dogs just in our small area so who knows how many were on the plane. But I heard two most of the flight.

Boarding was delayed for about 10 minutes because the jet bridge broke so that only added to the madness. Air Canada first boards Zones 1 and 2 and the queue was huge (like half the plane).

Zones 3 and 6 were supposed to line up on the opposite side but once Zone 2 boarded, they flipped the sign so it was the same line.

Although I have no status, we had Zone 3 because I paid extra for the bulkhead row, Row 18 on the 787-800, the preferred seats. I paid $91.50 apiece but I noticed while checking in that they were charging $150 USD.
The coach cabin is configured 3x3x3 and the armrests in Row 18 don’t go up. When I booked the flights, I couldn’t get four seats together so I booked 18A (window) and the whole middle row (18DEF). This trip, my wife sat next to the window for most of the flight, then I switched with her and I can confirm the window is much colder so dress warm or be sure to bring this travel blanket that my wife never travels without. She said she was so warm and cozy with it. Best of all, at the time of this publication, it’s 43% off with an additional 10% off coupon.

Row 18 is great. It has plenty of legroom, way more than Premium Economy, which was the cabin in front of us. Here’s my review of our Premium Economy experience between LAX and Toronto in April and our trip to Europe in June.

Fortunately, the overhead bins were wide open above our seats so we had no problem storing our bags. In the bulkhead, you can’t even have your purse in your lap for takeoff and landing so even small bags must be stowed.

The flight attendants (FA) were very friendly and working a turn, meaning they had just flown in from Toronto and were going back without spending the night. One of the FAs went around to all of the kids on the plane and handed them mini coloring books and crayons, which was a nice touch.

During the safety announcement, the FA next to us overheard my son ask me for a wipe to clean his hands with because he was eating Cheetos. Our wipes were in the overhead bin so I asked him to wait until after takeoff. The flight attendant went to the bathroom, wet a paper towel and handed it to him saying, “We can’t have Cheetos hands, now can we?” Not too many flight attendants would do that. Well, maybe this one

Speaking of the safety video, I like Air Canada’s. It’s really relaxing except I think it’s ridiculous that they do it in both in English and French at the same time. They should make them two separate videos back-to-back instead of one long one video that no one pays attention to.

We were delayed again because an Alaska Airlines plane was blocking us from pushing back. It was also a long taxi to takeoff because they changed the direction (we took off towards the east because of bad weather).

Our 11:55am flight officially pushed back at 12:18pm and we took off at 12:56pm. Flight time was only 4:05 but our gate wasn’t ready so we didn’t get to the gate until 8:16pm (we landed at 7:51pm).

The couple seated between my wife and I and the flight attendant all commented on how well behaved our kids are on the plane. That’s because our kids aren’t allowed to use their iPads at home so when we travel, it’s a real treat for them to watch their favorite movies and TV shows, and play their favorite games. It definitely keeps them happily (and quietly) entertained.

I worked the whole flight thanks to the electrical outlets under each seat.

Air Canada’s WiFi costs $10.25 CAD for an hour or $18 CAD for the whole flight. If you’re an Aeroplan member (free to join) you can get free texting.

Toronto’s Terminal 1 is beautiful (T3 not so much), which makes the first part of the long (and I mean long) walk to immigration enjoyable.

There was no line at NEXUS. They have new machines and we just scanned our passports, took a photo and retrieved our printed ticket. 

Our bags came out surprisingly quickly at 8:50pm. For Air Canada, 45 minutes is half the time it took last time.

The airport did a nice job decorating for Christmas and they have a fun, Instagrammable YYZ sign.

We took Uber XL so we just had to take an escalator downstairs to Door Q. The problem is the app showed a four-minute wait but when I booked the ride, it then said eight minutes. Then when the driver called me to find out where we were going, he canceled. Fortunately, the next driver didn’t cancel but it took a good 15 minutes before we got in the van. Next time, I will pay extra for Uber Black or Blacklane.

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