Hotel Review: Hotel St. Paul
Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) – La Guardia Airport (LGA )
STD: 6:20 PM ATD: 8:49 PM
STA: 8:09 PM ATA: 10:33 PM
Aircraft: Bombardier CRJ-900 (N299PQ)
Flight Date: October 30, 2016
Class of Service: Domestic First
Seat Type: Recliner
Seat Pitch: 37 inches
Seat Width: 19.6 inches
Meals: Snacks and Alcohol is complimentary in in First Class.
In-Seat Outlets: Yes
WiFi: Yes (Gogo air)
After a couple of days in Montreal with some friends, it was time to head home via a quick one hour flight. Or well, so we thought.Looking for a Snapshot of the trip? Jump to the Takeaway
We got to the airport at about 4:40 PM and approached the SkyPriority counter so I could check a bag. I don’t typically check luggage when traveling, but we wanted to bring back some Ice Wine and weren’t sure if we’d be able to find it at the airport.
“Where are you traveling to?” the agent asked.
“New York,” I said as I pulled out my passport
“Um. The last flight is boarding right now.”
My heart skipped a beat and I pulled out my phone to show her the screen on my app.
“Wait, see I have it on my app, the flight departs at 6:20,” I said, showing her the screen.
“No, the flight to JFK is boarding right now, is that the American Airlines app?”
On a side note – no it wasn’t the American Airlines app, but since I was flying into La Guardia, it turns out my flight hadn’t boarded yet and I hadn’t missed boarding at all (thankfully).
Needless to say, this was a pretty rough check in experience, and the agent could not care less about anyone’s status or if you had a good flight – though at this point I was happy to have a flight at all.
At the Montreal Airport, all flights headed to the United States depart from the same terminal. Since many of these flights are fairly short, it came as no surprise that the terminal was quite small. After the desk agent tagged my luggage, I had to walk over to another section to turn it in to an airport agent for screening and eventual loading on to the plane. A bit of a contrast from most airports, where the you leave your luggage with the check in agent after it’s been tagged.
Once we all had our tickets, we made our way through security and eventually through immigration. Since this was my first visit to Canada, I didn’t realize there wasn’t exit immigration (aka emigration I know I know, it just feels weird to say), but instead, travelers go through US customs in Canada. The lines weren’t too long, but there were also Global Entry kiosks, so I was able to quickly print out my slip and present it to the immigration officer before being waved on through.
On a side note – we did find some ice wine for sale at the duty free section of the airport, so no need to trouble yourself with checking a bag. I did notice the prices were somewhat inflated (as can be expected), but if you’re keen on only bringing a carry-on (or forget to buy some before leaving), this is a good option.
In the United States Departure area, the only lounge at the Montreal airport was the Air Canada Lounge. While the Air Canada lounges in the US are typically part of the Priority Pass program, the ones in Canada do not seem to be. We didn’t have much time to spend at a lounge anyway, so we headed over to the gate to wait for boarding to start.
Boarding for the flight started timely, at approximately 5:55. We were right on schedule for a 6:20 departure. As expected, the flight was boarded in the standard order – those who need more time to board, then by class of service, status, and zones.
Delta flies a Bombardier CJ900 on this flight, which offers a 1-2 configuration in First Class with 4 rows and a 2-2 configuration in Premium Economy and the Main Cabin.
I was seated in Seat 2A, which is both a window seat and has direct aisle access (my favorite). Since this the aircraft used on this route is comparable to those used on short-haul domestic flights, the seats are recliner seats, that come with a small pillow and thin blanker for the quick trip (no Westin Heavenly Comforter and pillow here, unfortunately). Seats in the First Class cabin have a 37 inch pitch and are 19.6 inches wide, which is average for this type of aircraft.
There was a small bottle of water waiting for me at my seat which was appreciated after the day I’d had (more on that another time).
While the window and direct aisle access benefit is a major plus with the seats in the ‘A’ line in First Class, the downside lies with the very small and narrow overhead compartment. I wouldn’t expect to be able to store any large carry on items in this, even if it fits within Delta’s standard size restrictions. Fortunately, I didn’t need to store anything in this, but I suspect anything more than a purse would be too bulky to fit in here.
If you’re traveling with a companion in the first class cabin, you may want to select seats in the C and D line of seats in order to be seated together. If traveling alone it can be bothersome to crawl over your neighbor if you have to get up, but on a short flight like this one, I can’t imagine this happens all too frequently.
The one benefit with sitting in the B and C line however is the larger and deeper overhead compartment.
On this flight, the seats do not come with personal TVs, however, Delta Studio can be accessed once at cruising altitude through your smartphone, laptop, or tablet device at no charge. Delta’s website offers listings of content that is available, though content may vary when you’re up in the air.
First Class Seats come with an outlet – mine was located in the front left side of the seat on the side of the window, facing the seat in front of me.
At around 6:20, the cabin doors were closed and we pushed back from the gate. We were taxiing on the runway, the cabin lights were dim, and I assumed we were just about ready to take off, when suddenly the captain’s voice came on the speaker.
Uh, folks, some news from the flight deck…
Oh no. I knew it had been raining in New York all day, but I was hoping it would clear up by the time we were ready to land. I was wrong. Planes were not allowed to take off or land at LGA. It would be another HOUR before we’d hear back about our take off time.
My heart sank as the bad news was delivered. While I understand safety first, it didn’t make me less anxious about waiting on the runway, watching as all the other planes took off.
The fasten seatbelt sign was turned off and we were allowed to get up and move about the cabin. The flight attendants were very kind and attentive during this time – they came by with the drink cart once and the snack tray twice during the hour. I’ll admit I was surprised they had anything more than pretzels on the flight – considering this was meant to be a 1 hour trip, they (thankfully!) came prepared. They offered pretzels, peanuts, biscotti, bananas, and some chips. They served some water before the captain came back on with an update at around 7:30 pm – not only were we given a landing time of 10pm, we also had to turn back to the gate due to the Department of Transportation’s tarmac delay rule, which requires airlines to allow passengers to deplane after 3 hours of being stuck on the tarmac. Once we were at the gate and given the option to deplane, this “reset” the clock on our time on the tarmac.
Back at the gate, the crew came by with a tray of Oreo packets and more beverages. Several passengers got off the plane, but I was far too nervous to get off. Come 8:30 the captain came back on the speaker to let us know we were getting ready to push back soon and passengers who had deplaned were being called to board. Ten minutes later, the cabin doors were closed and we were finally on our way!
While we were up in the air, it was business as usual – the standard service one might expect on a brief flight like this. A beverage and snack service began about 15 minutes into the flight. I had my fourth bag of pretzels for the day with a glass of sparkling water.
We took off at about 9:05 PM, more than 2.5 hours later than scheduled. We landed in La Guardia Airport at 10:03 PM, and while I was more than ready to go home (and we had thankfully already gone trough immigration in Canada), the adventure wasn’t over just yet. Due to the delay, our spot was occupied by another plane. We did not pull into our spot until 10:30 PM, where we deplaned using stairs and were whisked off by bus to the terminal.
A few weeks ago, Delta announced passengers would be able to live-track their checked luggage on the Delta app, so I decided to look up where my checked luggage was when we pulled in to our spot.
As I was getting off the bus at the Delta terminal in LGA, I checked the app again and was pleased to find it had been delivered to Claim Area 4 at 10:39. By the time I got to the carousel, I found my bag waiting for me to be picked up (at least one thing went right on this trip).
So although our flight was extremely delayed (to the tune of 2.5 hours!), it wasn’t Delta’s fault, and I do think the crew did everything they could to make us comfortable. Hat tip to the crew who remained in high spirits during the entire ordeal, and to the captain, who, gauging from the sound of his voice, was almost as upset about the delay as I felt.
Check in: 4/10 – Agent at Check In was not knowledgeable about their flight schedule at all, when I showed her the Delta iPhone app, she asked me if that was American Airlines’ app.
Lounge: N/A – No Delta lounge in YUL
Boarding: 9/10 – Standard, quick boarding process.
Food: 9/10 – Just pretzels, nuts, and chips, but was very impressed they came by so often to offer everyone food.
Seat: 9/10 – As expected for this type of flight, extra points for a seat with both window and aisle access.
Cleanliness of aircraft: 9/10 – Clean upon boarding
Crew: 9/10 – Friendly, plus remained service oriented despite the delay
IFE: 8/10 – No personal TVs on this flight, but points for the availability of Delta Studio to stream on your personal device for free
Elite recognition: 6/10 – Points for the gate agent thanking me for being a loyal medallion, but points off to the agent at the check in counter who not only didn’t care about status, she also didn’t know about their flight schedule.
Flight Timeliness: 5/10 – Sorry Delta, I know this one isn’t your fault, but it would have actually been fast to drive home from Montreal than take this flight.
Overall Rating: 68/90 (75%) ★★★★★
So the 75% feels low, especially because the crew was so pleasant, and once we were airborne, the flight was a good one. But major points off on two ends – the timeliness (which wasn’t their fault), and the agent at check in who gave me a near heart attack about the flight. I know that this is operated by their regional airline Delta Connection, but I’d like to think there should be some bare bones training of knowing which flights are departing for whoever is operating the check in counter.
Even so, I wouldn’t mind flying Delta again on this route. I’ll just avoid checking in at the airport and hope for no rain.