I initially planned to do this flight in Business as the price difference between Y and J was minimal ($300+ vs $400+). However, price for Tango dropped significantly and I bought the tickets at $191 (excluding seat selection and baggage fee) while the price of Business Class remained at about $460. One month before travel, I tried my luck with a bid of $120 USD per person for upgrade but as expected the bid failed. I wasn’t too hard up for the upgrade especially after my experience on AC 307 (this flight was operated on Airbus A319). It has the exact hard product as the A320 (which wasn’t great).
I arrived in Calgary International Airport later than expected as I missed my earlier bus out of Lake Louise. Thankfully, Calgary International at 530pm was not busy (unlike Pearson in early morning). I managed to my boarding pass printing, baggage drop (automated), security screening and USA pre-clearance in less than 30 minutes. This is despite my boarding pass being given the special SSSS treatment.
A special mention on SSSS. Apparently (according the personnel) people get randomly selected for this special treatment at all times. With the SSSS, one gets screened more thoroughly. The carry-on baggage gets checked for chemical trace as well. Thankfully, there was no strip searching and extensive interview (or going through my phone or ipad). One Mile At A Time has an article explaining more on what the SSSS entails.
Once cleared, we went straight to the Aspire Lounge. We accessed the Aspire Lounge via Priority Pass. This lounge also serves the Business Class passengers traveling on Air Canada (there was no Maple Leaf Lounge in the Transborder area). The lounge wasn’t too shabby for a Priority Pass Lounge but unfortunately it closes at 7pm! Food selection wasn’t great but the butter chicken served was pretty good (with cream of broccoli). Alcoholic beverages are available too.
The lounge wasn’t big but it was pretty bright with lots of windows. There is a dining area and sofas with charging port. Shower facility is also available. Aspire make a great Priority Pass Lounge, other than the very early closing time.
Unlike AC 307, boarding procedure for this flight seemed to be haphazard. It didn’t help that the crew did not guide the passengers on how they should stow their carry-on resulting in the overhead compartment being used inefficiently. After some chaos and grumbling from passengers, the crew stepped in to rearrange the overhead compartment. This resulted in some oversized carry-ons ending up in the plane’s belly. Once order was restored, everyone took their seat and the door was closed. We left the gate late as a result of the earlier chaos.
The flight was otherwise uneventful. Being in North America Economy Class, the only thing provided was water (despite this being a 3 hour flight). Food is only available for purchase. Service was minimal (it felt pretty much like Transat). The seat was pretty standard for Economy Class with the TV screen being the same size as that of Business Class. Seat design and material looked similar to those in Business (except for the width and pitch).
The seat pitch is pretty standard (i.e. small!)
After 1 ½ movies, the plane finally approached LAX (the flight was late by about 20 minutes) and we landed in LAX Terminal 6 smoothly. As we have cleared the US Customs, we arrived as a domestic flight. After collecting our luggage, we head on to the hotel shuttle pick up area to wait for our bus to bring us to LAX Crowne Plaza for our overnight stay before our flight to Tokyo the next morning.