Currently I’m typing the final part of this travelog from my den after having successfully travelled to the UK this week on business. Let me fill you in on what happened after I arrived at London Heathrow Airport. I was waiting to see what gate my flight was at and it was located on a board like this:
Now flights at London Heathrow tend to be posted roughly 1 hour before departure and they typically start boarding 15 minutes after being posted. That’s one reason why you should be at the airport three hours before your flight. You’ll also note the Time Planner in the center of the screen. London Heathrow is a massive airport and it can sometimes take up to 20 minutes to get to your gate on foot. So, besides making sure to wear comfortable shoes, you should plan accordingly. In my case, I was at gate B39 which was a 15 minute walk from my location.
Once I got there, I was in for a bit of a surprise. Though you can’t see it very well in this picture, Air Canada was going to fly me back on their newest and coolest plane. The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner:
The reason why this plane is a big deal for Air Canada is that it will enable Air Canada to fly to more routes, carry more people than a 767 (250 versus 190 for the 767), and save a ton on their fuel bill. Plus they will be able to do all that while providing a level of service that has not been seen in an airplane before.
Now the plane was late to board (but for the record, it left on time) so I leveraged that time to charge my iPhone 5s with my Belkin Travel Power Pack 9000 and I left it attached to my iPhone 5s for the duration of the flight. Now people have asked me how I keep my gadgets charged when I travel. The answer is that I only take my iPhone 5S with me and I plug it into my MacBook Pro via USB overnight to charge it. Doing it that way means that I only have to bring a USB to Lightning cable with me and I don’t have worry about bringing an AC charger.
Now once I boarded the 787-8 Dreamliner, I noticed a number of things about the plane that caught my eye:
They have a new version of their in flight entertainment system. You’ll note the headphone jack at the bottom left (which by the way my Sennheiser MM 301 headset worked perfectly in unlike every other Air Canada aircraft I’ve been in), and the USB port to provide power to your phones and tablets.
The user interface is very tablet like where swipe and click gestures are the order of the day. It’s also very quick. Previous Air Canada infotainment systems were incredibly laggy. This one for the most part wasn’t. It also had features like the ability to customize a playlist of songs that they had on tap as well as movies or TV shows.
Speaking of power, you get these power outlets at your feet which while hard to get to, it puts the power adapter out of the way.
The lighting was very soft and pleasing. Seeing as I was going to be on this plane for up to 7 hours, I appreciated that. The lighting is LED based and designed to help your body adjust as you cross time zones. I should also note that there’s a lot of headroom in the aisles as the ceiling is huge.
Another thing I appreciated was the window. Instead of having a window shade, it has a circle below the window that allows you to darken or lighten the window as the window is electrochroamatic.
One thing that I did note was the fact that there was humidity in the air. Typically, passenger jets don’t have any humidity which means that my skin typically feels horrible after a long flight and my contacts often dry out requiring me to use eyedrops to make them bearable. This isn’t the case in the 787-8. Another thing that I noted is that even though the cruising altitude was 40,000 feet, the cabin pressure did not feel like it was set that high. That’s because Boeing has figured out how to set the cabin pressure 2000 feet below whatever altitude you’re at. Finally, this jet is quiet. I was right over the wing which means I should have had to put up with a ton of engine noise. But it was way more quiet than I am used to in a jet. The net result of all of this was that I actually felt somewhat human when I landed which isn’t typical when I fly overseas. If it wasn’t for the kid behind me kicking my chair, or the kid beside me who would not stop crying in the last two hours of the flight, it would have been perfect. But if you take those out of the equation, Air Canada has a game changer with the 787-8 Dreamliner. The next time I take a flight, I’ll see if I can get myself onto one because it more than makes up for the fact that Air Canada was late getting me to the UK. I do have one suggestion for Air Canada. On board WiFi. I’ve flown other airlines on overseas flights and they have WiFi access which helps me to get work done before I land. I am sure that I along with many other frequent travelers would appreciate having WiFi on their 787-8 Dreamliners.
So, how did I pass the time on the flight? I typically don’t sleep well on flights. So the most that I do close my eyes and have music playing from my iPhone 5s. I have dozens of playlists that last anywhere from 60 to 80 minutes to choose from. So I am never at a loss for music.
So, after a not so quick trip through Canada Customs (they had multiple long haul flights land at the same time) and a not so quick trip through baggage claim, I hit the TTC Airport Express bus to get me home. It’s honestly the best way to get to and from the airport as long as you can get yourself to Kipling Subway Station. I live near it so that’s a no brainer for me.
So, that’s my trip to the UK. I’ve hope you’ve picked up some handy tips and tricks along the way. If you have any questions, drop me a note and I’ll be happy to answer them for you. I got a lot of great response to this six part series, so look for me to do it again as I’ll be traveling to the Asia Pacific region next year.