As much as I won't mind a few extra hours of sleep...
December 29, 2009 7:37 PM   Subscribe

I am flying from Vancouver to Toronto tomorrow morning. Can someone clarify what the flight experience will be like?

I'm a bit stymied by all of the conflicting information that is going around about flights from Canadian airports in the wake of the latest terrorist incident. Most of what I have read says the new restrictions apply to flights into the United States, but I've also encountered some hearsay that flights within Canada are facing some restrictions as well. I was hoping somebody can help me cut through the noise.

1) My flight is on Air Canada at 8am. How early do I need to be at the airport for a domestic flight from YVR?

2) What, exactly, are the carry-on baggage restrictions? Will I be okay with my backpack, containing a laptop, an iPod (with headphones), and some books?

3) Will I still be able to watch the in-flight movies and such? (I was told by a friend that because this display includes the on-screen map, it may be disabled, especially if the flight goes over/near American airspace)

4) Is the "nothing on/near your lap for the last hour" rule in effect?

5) Anything else I need to know that I am forgetting?

I want to get on the plane and to my destination with minimal fuss and stress, and being prepared before I head out so early in the morning will make a big difference.
posted by synecdoche to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I flew today from Ottawa (YOW) to Toronto (YTZ), but through the City Centre Airport and not Pearson (on Porter) and this was my experience to answer your questions.

1) 2 hours was more than enough time for me to get through YOW (where security checks are divided between two separate areas: US only and Canada/international flights. This was at 12 noon with my flight leaving at 2. YMMV, since YVR is so close to the US border but it's not like YOW is a po' dunk middle of nowhere airport either.

2) Yes, you will be ok with a backpack as a carry on since you are not going in the US. In my carry-on there was a laptop, iPhone (and headphones) and a few books. These all fall under the TSA guidelines with the new restrictions (exemptions are made for medical equipment/baby stuff/laptops and a few other things).

3) You should be able to watch movies in-flight. Porter doesn't have such a service, but when I have flown soon after other security incidents, the GPS map was only disabled and not whole service.

4) Again, only when entering the US, which you are not doing.

5) Take a deep breath and enjoy your flight tomorrow. You'll have to take off your shoes at security for customs agents to screen them, so wear something you can slip on/off easily. Domestic flights don't require such restrictions in Canada.

Again, Air Canada is different than Porter - but based on my experience today and previously, you're going to be fine. You can also check out their website directly if you want the final word. Or, the YVR site for updates.
posted by carabiner at 7:56 PM on December 29, 2009

This may or may not be helpful, but as I'm also flying within Canada and then onward to Europe tomorrow, I called Air Canada today. I was told the restrictions on carry-on luggage, etc. are for flights to the US only. But unfortunately, no firsthand experience to draw on here.
posted by nicoleincanada at 9:16 PM on December 29, 2009

Note that I haven't flown domestic nor Air Canada in a long time. My flights are almost all international. But I do also fly out of YVR if that matters at all.

1) 6am would be a good time to get there. Definitely enough time to get through with a good amount of extra time for "just in case". I often do 2 hours ahead for international flights, and still have more than enough time.

2) Yes, you will be ok with your backpack of fun. You are also allowed another small bag, eg a purse or important-documents-pouch, if you choose to use one.

3) As long as the airline offers movie service, there should be no problem getting them. As far as I know they have not cut off the on-screen map either. My most recent flights were YVR-Vegas a month ago, and YVR-LAX-Peru two months ago, and those flights all had tv/movies and on-screen maps.

4) During take-off and landing, for approx 30 mins - 1hr, the attendants will be going around making sure your "seat backs are upright and tables stowed". If you have anything on your lap, they will also ask you to put that under the seat in front of you or to put it in the overhead bins. They will also ask you to turn off any electronic devices and to fasten your seatbelt.

I often get cold on planes, and many airlines don't provide blankets anymore. So I find it always helps to dress in layers for the plane. They don't always provide pillows either, so I will roll up one of my extra layers and put it behind me for a bit of back support.

I always take my shoes off during flights. On longer trips, by the end of the flight, when I put my shoes back on, my feet are always a bit bigger (because of lighter air pressure? i don't know) so my shoes are tighter, sometimes quite a bit tighter. Not a big deal, but I used to find this kinda disconcerting.

If you're not asleep, get up and walk around once or twice during the flight. I also enjoy standing by the emergency exit (more room) and do a few stretches.

Enjoy your trip.
posted by cheemee at 9:45 PM on December 29, 2009

Oh, and once you're past security and just sitting in the waiting area before boarding, you don't have a lot of options for breakfast. I think it's just Burger King and Timmy Ho's at that time of the morning?
posted by cheemee at 9:57 PM on December 29, 2009

I was in YVR yesterday, arriving from the US. It was a f*ing madhouse. Lines hours and hours long. I would guess an hour or two to check in and an hour to get through security. They were telling everyone basically no carry-ons except for purse/laptop/whatever personal items.
posted by charlesv at 9:59 PM on December 29, 2009

Do me a favour and update this post after you fly, since I'm flying YYZ to YVR in two days on Air Canada and have been wondering the same things.

By the way I don't know if you fly out of YVR very often, but for an 8am flight you could show up at 7am and be totally fine under typical conditions, so I'd guess two hours would be plenty. And if you take the skytrain there (recommended), you can check in and print your boarding pass from the station before you even get on the train, look for the little kiosks.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:08 PM on December 29, 2009

Just flew AC from YYZ to YVR on Saturday with no problems, after new restrictions imposed but before the carry-on scaleback. Many earlier flights to the US were cancelled, so many international passengers were rerouted through Canadian cities instead and our flight was bumped up to a 777. I did hear on the bus today that a girl flying the same route one day later but over American airspace was subject to personal entertainment restrictions, which I hear have been rescinded. We had no problems and no additional delays, but YMMV, especially now that I've heard that security lineups are a fucking madhouse.
posted by avocet at 11:41 PM on December 29, 2009

posted by avocet at 11:47 PM on December 29, 2009

Response by poster: I just got through security. We arrived at the airport at about 6:45 (for a 7:25 boarding time) and coasted right through. No delays at all; if anything, it was faster than most of the times I've flown. Thanks for the advice everyone. Not sure what the in-flight experience will be like yet, but it looks like most of the restrictions are affecting the US-bound flights and not so much the Canadian ones.
posted by synecdoche at 7:08 AM on December 30, 2009

As a data point, I flew YVR to IAH (Houston) yesterday morning. Early flight so little chance for queues to build up, but I can see it would have been difficult as security backed up.

No hand luggage allowed so we packed our hand luggage and hand carried the laptops etc. We had a cat in a carrier in the cabin and we had no difficulty with that aspect. We did see people with handbags on the flight so I think it's just large laptop bags etc. and YMMV depending on the check-in agent and security personnel. Security took longer than usual as they were being more thorough than previously.

In flight - no mention made of 1 hr rule or keeping laps clear, people were getting up to washroom and having coats & blankets out. Looks like sanity is swiftly returning.
posted by arcticseal at 7:53 AM on December 31, 2009

YYZ to YVR was normal the whole way, evidently none of the restrictions affect domestic flights.
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:15 PM on December 31, 2009

Response by poster: Just popping back to say that the in-flight experience was the same as every other time I've flown Air Canada from YVR to Toronto.
posted by synecdoche at 4:44 PM on January 1, 2010

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