Canadian Wanderer

Travel plans, thoughts & lessons

Month: December 2017

Aircraft Tour: Lufthansa 747 Jumbo Jet

While U.S.-based  Delta Airlines and United are bidding goodbye to their beloved Boeing 747 “Jumbo Jets” Germany’s Lufthansa is hanging on to their stalwarts of the skies which I walked through on a recent tour at Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

The familiar air frame of the Boeing 747-400 model appeared behind the Plexiglas windows with its distinctive second deck bubble housing a comfortable business class and a far less spacious cockpit I’d soon get to visit.

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Lufthansa staff on hand hinted the 747-400 would be flying the Vancouver – Frankfurt route for the next 1 – 2 years before eventually being replaced either with the newest generation Jumbo Jet, the 747-800, already operating on Frankfurt routes from major U.S. gateways or the Airbus A350 which the airline took delivery of its first aircraft in December 2016 and operates on mainly Asian and Indian routes.

There are the a main deck business class seats at the nose of the aircraft that offer the coveted row 1 with its generous legroom and a quiet location for those wanting some solid sleep on overnight flights.

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The Lufthansa business class seats aren’t quite the personal pods found on many airlines but rather a side-by-side seat that transforms into an almost 2-metre-long, fully flat bed.

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The stairs at back of the main deck business class lead to the exclusive upper deck business class cabin.

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One of the perks of these upper deck seats I’ve always appreciated is a storage space below the window that’s handy for hiding smaller items like books, iPod’s or cameras.

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Lufthansa has ended its trolley food service in business class in favor of a what it calls restaurant service with personal choice ordered from a menu, setting tables with ceramic crockery, and serving meals directly from the galley.

The Premium Economy seats feature up to 50 per cent more space than in economy altogether on all sides, two complimentary checked bags, a dedicated menu and meals served on fine china tableware.

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Premium Economy guests can also access the Lufthansa Business Lounge for a small fee.

Ahead of the upper deck business class cabin is a  space where the pilots operate this Jumbo Jet and I was able to shoehorn myself into this small space for a photo-op.

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Open a 360-degree view of the Lufthansa 747-400 cockpit by clicking the picture below.

There are some cockpit insights from a Lufthansa captain flying the Boeing 747-400 here.

An excellent video walk-through of the Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 cabins is available in the following video which starts on the upper deck and works its way down and through the different classes of service.

The Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 is a familiar friend flying the skies between  Canada and Germany and I want to thank the airline staff who were present to share their insights and lets us walk through an aircraft being groomed during a short 45 minute turn-around at Vancouver International.

Vancouver vistas

For a prairie boy who grew up without proximity to any appreciable bodies of water save for the North Saskatchewan River I’ve found in adult life I’m drawn to the ocean by some invisible force so wasn’t surprised a few spare hours during a recent business trip top Vancouver found me wandering the waterfront  walkways around Canada Place stopping to watch a float plane take off or land at the Coal Harbour with Stanley Park in the background.

 

To Vancouverites these views must be very commonplace and to some degree taken for granted or at least not viewed with quite the same awe as someone from out-of-town but they still are enough to get me to watch all day long were I able.

Everything is relative I suppose as  I remember one Autumn day a few years ago when some young interns from the Hawaiian Tourism Bureau visited Edmonton as a stop one a western Canadian trade show tour and marvelled at the vibrant valley colours which they’d never seen before but to me was just a normal seasonal cycle. Seeing our cityscapes through a visitors eye helps us appreciate how amazing our hometowns really are regardless of whether they are on the coast or inland.

Aircraft tour: Air Canada Boeing 787 “Dreamliner”

I was fortunate to have toured Air Canada’s newest aircraft, the 787 “Dreamliner“, in between flights recently at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and was impressed by the comfort and features of this advanced aircraft.

When the Dreamliner concept was announced in 2003 it was a radical departure both from Boeing’s 747 Jumbo Jet design and rival Airbus A380 “Super Jumbo” as it was a smaller, midsize twinjet aircraft with innovative design elements such as the extensive use of composite materials such as layered carbon fibre in the wings which help deliver a 20% fuel reduction over Boeing older 767 model. A smaller midsize aircraft that would allow airlines to open up point-to-point routes instead of relying on the “hub-and-spoke” model has, it turns out, been proven correct in the last 15 years as the future of the A380 is uncertain according to recent news articles such as this one in Forbes as  demand for really big airplanes plummets.

Incorporated into the pioneering design of the Dreamliner is passenger-friendly features such as larger windows, less cabin pressurization and higher cabin humidity which help reduce the effects of jetlag.

The Air Canada aircraft I toured is a Boeing 787-900 model deliver to the airline in May 2017 and painted in the newest livery with a more black, white and red colour scheme in contrast to the more minty green colour of the Boeing 777 in the background.

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While far from spacious the cockpit of the Dreamliner is by comparison larger than the Boeing 747 cockpit I’ve visited on a few occasions.

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Air Canada has configured the 787 with 247 seats in Economy, 21 in Premium Economy and 30 in International Business Class.

The Executive Pods feature an 18-inch touch-screen, large stowaway tray table, power ports for electronic devices and lie-flat bed that stretches out to 6 feet 7 inches in length.

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Premium Economy is in its own separate cabin behind International Business Class and offering passengers an upgraded flying experience with wider seats by 2 inches,  greater seat pitch (the distance between rows of seats) by 8 inches and an extra 2 inches in seat recline than Economy seats.  Other Premium Economy perks include an 11-inch touchscreen TV, power ports for portable devices in each seat, amenity kits and boarding in Zone 2 ahead Economy passengers. Depending upon airfares at times the upgrade in price to Premium Economy is relatively small making it a great value for the extra in-flight creature comforts.


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Take in the Dreamliner economy cabin in 360 degree view but note it only works in newer browsers such as Google Chrome.

All windows on the Dreamliner are 40% larger than the average aircraft window and don’t have the normal plastic window shades but are instead dimmed electronically using a button below the window.

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One advantage of these high-tech windows is the flight attendants can control the dimming leaving the cabin dark during overnight flights and preventing any  one passenger from affecting others by leaving their window shade up allowing light to flood in.

For those more interested in the engineering of the Dreamliner and other aircraft windows there’s an excellent video by Real Engineering.

Those of us on the tour stepped around groomers who were readying the plane for its next overseas flight and so I stepped out onto the catering truck to snap this picture of the Dreamliner’s “shark fin” tail with the familiar Air Canada red  Rondelle logo.

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The Air Canada sponsored tour of the Dreamliner was very much appreciated as I was able to try out the hard product like seats but also peek into areas normally off limits to the flying public like the cockpit and pilot rest cabin and see this aircraft from many different angles.

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Hotel Review: Fairmont Vancouver Airport

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport offers 386 well appointed and fully soundproofed accommodations spread over 14 floors that is a short walk away from airport gates as it is the only hotel located within Vancouver International Airport. It is also among my most favorite hotels, airport or otherwise, for its exceptional service that perfectly compliments its understated luxury rooms and quality amenities.

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I was reminded of that high level of service upon check-in when the staff member welcomed me back and noted the date of my last visit which had been several years earlier.

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I was assigned room 818, a 400-sq. ft. Fairmont Room with one king bed, an easy chair by the window and a desk with enough plus-ins for a number of devices. The desk proved quite useful in working from a laptop with the complimentary in-room Wi-Fi.

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The room boasts a large bathroom enclosed with two sliding doors, one at the room door with another near the bed and a big vanity with no drawers but enough counter space for toiletries. A wall hook for hanging a toiletries bag would be handy but probably somewhat out of place in a luxury hotel bathroom.

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A deep soaker tub which had to measure seven feet long filled quickly with good water pressure and ample hot water for a soak after a long day of travelling.

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There is also a large shower stall with big rainfall shower head should you not have enough time to linger with a long bath. The Le Labo bath amenities completed the bathroom features.

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There is an in-room safe but it’s mounted on a side wall of the closet and is a wide but shallow shape which may not fit all sizes of laptops.

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Views from the room are over the hotel’s terminal entrance, Canada Line Sky Train metro rail line to the downtown and south runway.

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Rooms on the north side of the Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel offer North Shore Mountain and airport terminal views.

Higher floors house Deluxe and Signature rooms while Fairmont  Gold occupies the 14th and top floor and comes with a host of extra perks such as private lounge with continental breakfast and snacks during the day, free North American calling and a dedicated concierge.

With a soaring wall of window the Jetside Bar offers a scenic space to relax with a cocktail and features live entertainment nightly so it’s common to walk back into the hotel lobby in the evening and hear some the crowd singing along to the performers.

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The Globe @YVR offers a more formal dining option with its signature Pacific Northwest cuisine.

All hotel guests have access to an on-site fitness facility within the Health Club which and also includes a sauna, whirlpool, children’s wading pool and lap pool for swimmers to swim against an adjustable current.

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The Absolute Spa offers over 130 treatments including facials, massage, manicures and pedicures.

There are virtual tours of the hotel rooms and public spaces here and a hotel fact sheet here.

Sadly my stays at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport are all too short and infrequent but when I am able to enjoy its warm hospitality and stare out at the scenic views from its rooms I appreciate every moment. This isn’t just a great airport hotel, this is a great hotel. Period.

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