Back in August my wife, our two kids and I planned a trip to Palm Springs which we ended up cancelling because our cat, Cirrus, took a turn for the worse with her fight with melanoma. We knew we didn’t have much time with her so we didn’t even question cancelling the trip. It helped that we booked with WestJet as they are the only ones who serve PSP directly from YYC and the cancellations only cost us $50 a ticket. Fast forward to mid-November with a sizable credit sitting in my WestJet travel bank and our beloved Cirrus no longer with us (we had to put her down on September 1st) we decided that we needed to get out of YYC for some sun, relaxing and decent shopping. I found flights that worked for us leaving December 1st, returning the 5th and tried to book them online using the travel bank credit but as the credit was in my name it wouldn’t let me apply it to everyone in the family (apparently a security feature WestJet employs so that credits can’t be misused). I had to call the sales center to make the booking and it was an easy process having the credit applied for the bookings over the phone. The agent also helped in the seat selection option as we had prepaid our seats initially in August which was never refunded to us after cancelling, so she just applied it to this booking.
Fast forward to November 30 and we do our online check-in from home. No problems for my wife or kids but for me I get the message that I had to get my boarding pass at the airport. Great! I had been randomly chosen for a more detailed search at security. We arrived at YYC for the 10:35am flight with time to spare at 7am with the anticipation that U.S. customs and security could take us awhile as we had experienced in the past. Check in was relatively quick and low and behold for the first time I had the “SSSS” notation on my boarding pass. For a quick second I was actually excited as I had never been singled out for a more detailed search but of course that faded as fast as it came as it just meant more time to be spent in security. The family was hungry since we skipped breakfast as we planned on filling up in the Rocky Mountain lounge after security but now with the extra search and the waits we had experienced before we were thinking we may not be lounging it (happened to the family on our annual Maui trip earlier in the year!)
That being said, customs wasn’t as bad as we have seen before around 7am and even with the extra security check we were through by 8am. A quick right turn after security and up the stairs to the Rocky Mountain Lounge. Our Diners Club MasterCards got us in for free and there were only two other people in the lounge when we entered. The breakfast spread is primarily continental breakfast style but overall it was a good selection. They also had sandwiches and other snacks nicely plastic wrapped should we want to grab some for our flight. The next two hours were spent relaxing in the peace and quiet of the lounge, and in the case of my nine year old, reading the newspaper?!??
|Reading the comics of course!|
Of course the flight was technically late now as the 10:35 scheduled departure time was well eclipsed by the 15 minute on time rule. According to Flight Aware our actual wheels up time was 11:46. This included about a 4-5 plane wait at Runway 28 for arriving flights and one departing flight ahead of us. The flight was on one of WestJet's newest 737-800s, fin # 817 which has the new seats and no inflight entertainment. They did announce at the gate that the plane had no TV's and you could tell a few people were unhappy about that. To me, while I do enjoy in-flight entertainment it wasn't that big of deal, we had reading material, iPods and activities for the kids but I must admit without the IFE or even moving map display the flight felt longer than it should have (see later for actual flying time which was actually quite good). The flight wasn't very full so the four of us took up all six seats on both sides of the aisle. This set up provided us with ample space and with none of us coming close to being six feet tall, the leg room was fine. The inflight service was OK but nothing spectacular, the flight attendants were so-so with their attitude, not the bubbly joking type seen on WestJet in the past but not evil dragon lady either. Our scheduled arrival time into Palm Springs was 12:36 but of course with our delayed departure we actually arrived into PSP at 13:39. Flying time was just under three hours.