After having Christmas lunch at the Pacific Dining Car, we drove over to Los Angeles Union Station where we parked our car in the underground long term parking garage located on Ceasar Chavez Blvd. I took a snapshot of our parking level with my iPhone X before grabbing our belongings and heading up the elevator to the entrance to the east portal of Los Angeles Union Station. Once inside the main station, we headed up the escalator to the bus bay where the FlyAway Bus arrives and departs from. We were on time to get on the 2:30 PM bus to LAX which would be departing in about 15 minutes.My dad went over to the ticket booth and bought the FlyAway Bus tickets and our luggage was tagged by one of the FlyAway Bus employees for terminal 6. After a short wait, the door to the bus opened and boarding began commenced. Our bus departed from the bus bay on time and shortly after leaving the Pasasauraus Transit Center, we were on the 101 freeway heading towards the 110 freeway. Once we got onto the 110 freeway, traffic was light and we made the journey to LAX in about 20 minutes after departing Union Station.
Our FlyAway Bus dropped us off right in front of Air Canada’s check in area. We went inside and walked directly up to the counter via the dedicated business class line. Two agents were working when we arrived and both tried to check us in. I think both agents were bored and really wanted to do something. The agent that helped us, checked our passports, tagged our bags, and also double checked our Global Entry numbers in the system before printing our boarding passes.
The check-in agent handed us our boarding passes and we headed over to Terminal 6 security which had the TSAPre line open. There was no line at document check for TSAPre but as usual, we encountered people at the X-ray and metal detector who were being stupid.
My parents and I were through security within 5 minutes of entering the line, afterwards we were walking down the concourse to find the Maple Leaf Lounge. We missed the elevator that we were supposed to take and after asking one of the employees in the terminal, we walked back from where we just came from, and we found the elevator up to the Maple Leaf Lounge. At the entrance to the Maple Leaf Lounge, the lounge agent at the desk scanned our boarding passes and then welcomed us in. My parents and I found ourselves seating by the window before exploring the lounge further.If I had to describe the Maple Leaf Lounge in one word, then that work would be SMALL. At the time we visited the LAX Maple Leaf Lounge, the lounge was not crowded but I can see overcrowding being a big problem here. Between business class passengers, star alliance gold passengers and passengers with paid membership, I’m not exactly sure how the lounge can handle everyone. Food and beverage selections were ok but nothing special. Two types of soups and three salads were on offer when we visited. Assorted beers were available in a bucket of ice, just not sure why they could not have invested in a refrigerator for all of their chilled beverages. Other beverages such as water and juices were also chilled in ice in what looks like a kitchen sink in the middle of the counter top. Cookies were available for dessert as well as chips and dips for snacking. Assorted wine were available but I did not partake. A variety of liquor were available for self service but the brands being served wasn’t that premium. After taking a few pictures around the lounge, my parents and I decided to head over to the United Club at terminal 7 instead of sticking around in the Maple Leaf Lounge. We walked between terminal 6 and 7 via the connecting corridor which is located right after passing through security. The corridor leads you right to the entrance of the United Club in terminal 7. At the check-in desk, we had our boarding passes scanned before proceeding up the escalators to the main United Club. I immediately noticed that the club was full of families with kids this evening. While the United Club was busy, the Club still had plenty of open seating so my parents and I found ourselves a table near the buffet. United sent me an email couple of months back saying that special holiday items would be available on Christmas Day in the United Clubs. The buffet area had been changed around a bit by adding jars of motzerella cheese and salami, assorted cookies, assorted breads, pumpkin soup, and a hot chocolate bar with whipped cream and toppings. The food and ambience here at the United Club was 100 times better than at the Maple Leaf Lounge we were at earlier. My mom also mentioned how much she liked the United Club better than the small Maple Leaf Lounge at terminal 6. Since boarding is scheduled for 5:20PM, we left the United Club and headed back over to terminal 6 around 5PM. By the time we arrived, it was boarding time and even the FID at the gate was flashing “boarding.” One of the two gate agents that were working the counter came up to the line and screamed at everyone who got in line to “MOVE” because boarding wasn’t going on yet. I yelled back “FIX YOUR DAMN BOARD.” The rude agent walked away and the other agent came by and said that the flight information display board could not be changed.
Boarding was eventually called which turned out to be a total cluster fuck event. There were people from Group 2 in the line so we had to walk around them to board with Group 1. The rude agent again screamed at the line for the Group 2 people to get out of line. Long story short, Air Canada has some messed up system at LAX with gate agents who really need an attitude adjustment and without the ability to change anything on the flight information display board.At the aircraft door, we were greeted by a flight attendant who turned out to be in charge of all announcements in French aboard our flight, AC 557. The purser, Ryan did all of the announcements in English and worked the business class cabin. The three of us were seated in 2A, 2C, 2D. I wasn’t given a choice when I booked via United, but couple of days after booking, I saw that we were automatically assigned the three seats mentioned above which was totally fine with me. No pre departure beverages were offered except bottled water after boarding had completed. A very multi-cultural and politically correct safety demonstration which pretty much featured every group in Canada except the First Nation people was shown on the individual monitors before pushback from the gate. While we were still at the gate, menu’s for dinner were distributed by the French language flight attendant.
LAX wasn’t very busy at this time of the day and probably also because it was Christmas Day. We had a quick taxi to the southern runways and we were on the active runway and taking off for Vancouver. Unlike United Airlines and American Airlines, the seat belt signs were turned off shortly after the flight attendants were released from their jump seats. Ryan, the purser on todays flight, made his announcements and then closed the curtain to the business class gallery and went to work preparing for dinner service in business class.
The other flight attendant who was in charge of French announcements came by and took dinner order. She addressed me as Mr. Seat38A what would you like to have for dinner. My parents and I all chose the General Tsoi’s Chicken option for our inflight Christmas Dinner. After taking the dinner orders, the French speaking flight attendant went back to work in the coach cabin.After about 15 min had passed since our orders for dinner were taken, Ryan came out of the galley with hot towels which he distributed and then collected. Next, Ryan came back with a fully stocked drink trolley. My mom and I were given warmed nuts in ramekins first, before asking us what we wanted for our pre dinner drink. I ordered a gin and tonic and my mom ordered water. On United Airlines, they serve Bombay Sapphire Gin but on today’s flight, the cheaper and not so great Tanqueray Gin was served. The more and more I fly, the more I’m realizing that there really is nothing wrong with United Airlines. It maybe a love hate relationship, but so far I have to say it is solid relationship. Once drink service was completed, Ryan rolled the drink cart back behind the curtains into the business class galley, and came back shortly afterwards with the trolley which contained the meal trays. The foil on the main course was removed before the tray was put down on my tray table. The bread basket with a choice of white or wheat rolls was also offered before moving on to the next row.
The main course was actually pretty good! The salad was fresh and went well with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. For dessert, tiramisu cake was offered which was already plated and on the tray. All in all the food wasn’t bad at all. I’m not sure if I would wan’t to eat this same thing regularly but as someone who is flying Air Canada for the first time, I thought our business class dinner was pretty good.
Meal trays were cleared away once I was done with my dinner. While my mom and I waited for coffee and tea service, non was offered so we just gave up on it. A short while after the meal service had concluded, Ryan disappeared to the rear galley and did not return until it was time for landing. I’m not sure if he would have returned if someone had pushed the call button, but no one tried. I had couple of question for him regarding immigration and custom forms which I waited until he returned to clean up and prepare the galley for landing.
Landing was uneventful and we taxied directly to our gate. Once the doors were opened, my parents and I were 2,3 and 4 off the plane behind the guy in 1D. We quick stepped it directly to immigration where the machine could not take me and my mom’s pictures but had no issues with my dad. We were directed to the line for non Canadian’s to see a immigration officer and after about 10 minutes of waiting, our turn came up. The immigration officer asked us a few question such as how long we were staying, where we were staying, do we have friends and family in Canada before letting us through.
I checked the information board for our baggage carrousel and headed over to collect our bags. On our way to our designated carrousel, we passed by the secondary immigration check holding area which was VERY BUSY. Obviously the people in the holding room did not answer the questions to the immigration officers satisfaction during the initial screening process. Outside of the secondary immigration hold area were carts stacked with luggages and boxes which from what I could tell belonged to the people waiting in secondary immigration. Coming into Canada with 7+ full sized suitcases and claiming to be visiting, probably did not go down very well with the first immigration officer.
Once the belt started, our bags were one of the first 10 to come out. We collected our three suitcases and headed out to the exit area, where we handed over our immigration slips from the machine at immigration and headed out to the arrival meeting hall. I followed the sign out to the station for the Canada Line train to take us into Downtown Vancouver.