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Montréal and New Orleans

Montréal and New Orleans
The long way via Cathay Pacific First Class
January 2017
How far will I go to avoid Air Canada's crappy A320 and service?  LOL.
 
I'm off to Montreal this afternoon for meetings and a quick family visit, then to New Orleans for SFO777Jr's significant round number birthday.
Mrs. SFO777 is flying solo to NOLA and I'll meet her there Saturday afternoon.  Getting to Montreal from the west coast by lunch time is impossible without a redeye the night before. Resigned to a redeye, my options narrowed since JetBlue, DL and AA all wanted an arm and a leg for lie flats to New York.  Then I remembered Cathay Pacific's YVR-JFK 77W and the best North American transcon flight. Mileage seats were indeed available on my date and I used some orphaned AsiaMiles to seal the deal.
 
I used Amex Pay with Points and the 50% rebate for my LAX-SEA-YVR First Class flights at a net cost of less then 10,000 Amex miles.  And with these flights, I requalified for Flying Blue Silver into 2018.   Not a lot of traffic this morning and I made it to LAX in just over an hour.
 

Since we're returning on Sunday on AA, I parked in the T4 garage. 

And a couple minutes later was at T5.

With 30 minutes to spare, I headed to the Sky Club which was really quite nice.

And a food spread that puts the Admirals Clubs and United Clubs to shame.

At T-45, I headed to the gate where, despite the On Time note, the delayed LAX-JFK 767 was still occupying our gate.

Delta 1232
B717
1:00p-3:50p (sked)
1:20p-3:45p (actual)
January 11, 2017
Lunch
 

Pleasant SLC-based crew today and the usual DL pre-departure beverages.

For lunch today, a choice of BBQ chicken sliders or chicken quinoa, both with tomato bisque soup.  Think I should have gone with the sliders as this salad was pretty tasteless.

As always, Dancing Deer is the best part of any DL meal.

Despite the late departure, we arrived pretty much on time at SEA.

I headed for the A1 Sky Club.  Wow, for a domestic lounge, this one is very nice.  And again much better food offerings than AA or UA clubs.

Then there was this guy.  Oy, back and forth and back and forth yapping on the phone.  Jeez, just sit in one place so we know where to go to escape you.

I headed to the adjacent gate at T-30.

Delta 4540
CR7
5:10p-6:20p (sked)
6:30p-7:20p (actual)
January 11, 2017
 
Boarding today first for those that need extra time, then passengers with smaller children and then Priority.
 

Only about 27 minutes in the air today and we pulled into Gate 90, a long, long, long way from customs.

I didn't even notice that I could have turned left and avoided customs and just gone to the lounge.  Duh.  Oh well, next time.

With NEXUS, I was thru customs and outside in a couple of minutes.  Then followed the signs to International Departures.

There was no other passenger at either the First or Business Class check-in lanes and I had my boarding pass in no time.  Then headed to security and the CX Lounge.   

Fast Track was uselss since there were not a lot of passengers.  It just fed to the back of the line of only a dozen or so. 

Don't you just love when you have to thru the duty free stores to get to the gates?

Just above gate D67 is the Cathay Pacific Lounge which was renovated about 6 months ago, and is still very nice.

Although the serve yourself food offerings were a little slim.

But there was a kitchen and noodle bar.  The dishes I saw looked pretty good.

The Piper was servicable.

Lindeman's??

Time to relax.

I headed out to the gate at around T-35.

Only to find the gate locked.  Transit pax from the inbound HKG-YVR flight had not yet boarded so YVR pax had to chill in outside.

After about a 20 minute wait, we were finally allowed and boarded immediately.

Vancouver-New York JFK
Cathay Pacific 888
777-300ER (77W)
9:50p-6:00a +1 (sked)
10:20p-6:00a  +1 (actual)
Departed 8/8
Suite 2K

Even though it's been around for a while, I still love the 1-1-1 cabin.

One of our two wonderful FA's tonight, Jutha will one of many glasses.   

 

Meh,

Tonight's menu.

Showtime.

The salmon and scallop starter was delicious.

And the sweet personalized note.

Mushroom soup... yummy.

Oh yeah...

The tenderloin was outstanding and perfectly prepared.

And with bearnaise.  OMG.

Yeah, I think I'm full.  After the decadent dinner, JoJo converted my seat to a bed and I was able to get about 90 minutes of sleep.

What an amazing but all too short flight.  Hands down, the best North American transcon flight.   And now the letdown, the trek to Terminal 8 and American.

 

After security, I headed for the AA Admirals Club, flashed my Cathay Pacific boarding pass and I was given the green light to go to the new Flagship Lounge.   Nice and new, but what's the point?   It's no more attractive than the old lounge and seemingly less functional.  Like where are the business center work spaces?  I didn't see them.  Supposedly, a new dining room in under construction in the old Flagship Lounge space.   Meh... 

With a pathetic selection of food offerings is what is hopefully a temporary station.

Showers are nice, new and an improvement, although the ventilation is just as bad.

One of the casualties of the ongoing construction is that someone messed up the Wifi and there was none.... as in no internet.   I decided to move to the satellite Admirals Club as my JFK-YUL flight departed from Gate 32 anyway.

Admirals Club near Gate 39.

At T-30, I headed down the concourse where my flight was just about ready to board.

New York JFK-Montréal
American Eagle 4343
ERJ-145
9:00a-10:30a
January 12, 2017
Seat 12A 

 

Poor man's First Class is exit row single seat 12A.

With loads of leg room.

Yap, yap, yap.

This guy was hilarious, trying in vain to stuff his carryon into the tiny overhead bins.  A couple minutes of pushing, pullind and squeezing and he gave up and dropped back at gate check.

Only a half on shade on this plane as the rest of it apparently disappeared into the wall.

Fun landing today as the captain had advised that visibilty was "pretty bad".  Yeah, that's always comforting to hear.   Crew did a great job as this is the first of ground I saw less than 30 seconds from touchdown.

While the gate check bags were being retrieved, I chatted with the crew who said that we just made it as the ceiling was minimum 200'.   Anything less and we'd be heading for BTV. 

Looks like we were the only international flight landing at this time.

The NEXUS kiosks which use an iris scan to verify identity, issue a receipt and lets NEXUS holders enter Canada without speaking to any customs/immigration officer.

Yikes, lots of unclaimed bags. 

The main garage across from the terminal with all the rental car counters and vehicles.

After a nap and some work, I headed downtown to visit my mom and for dinner with my sister and her husband.  But first, the always wonderful rush hour traffic.

To Liverpool House, a celebrated restaurant whose chef was apparently the youngest to win Iron Chef America a couple of years ago.

Lots of delicious appetizers...

... but the foie gras with cinnamon brioche was insane.

Slow cooked lamb.

And of course dessert.

LOL on the wall.

The sun was out the next morning as the temps had dropped some 30 degrees F and the wind was now 30 mph.

After a few meetings, a company party starting at the historic old Montreal Forum, now a complex of theatres, restaurants and entertainment venues.

The a few blocks down Ste-Catherine street to Kampai Gardens, a new hot spot.

By 6am on Saturday, temps had dropped even further and it was donwright frigid.  I dropped off my rental car and ran to the elevator to escape the cold.  The walkway to the US Departure terminal.

I headed for the NEXUS priority lane which moved like at a snails pace.

Another emotional support dog, no doubt.

After clearing customs, the usual walk to the concourse thru the duty free store nonsense.

Montreal-Philadelphia
AA 4102
CRJ-200
7:20a-9:16a (sked)
7:15a-8:45a (actual)
January 15, 2017
Seat 1C

 

Welcome to one of the least comfortable airplanes ever made.  Ordinarily I wouldn't go near this plane, but this was the fastest way to get to New Orleans today.

Apparently I was the only passenger with elite status today as I had the entire first 3 rows to myself... including 1C which is the least worst seat on the plane.

No idea what this Delta 757 was doing here today as the biggest plane DL schedules to YUL is a CRJ-900, although the NY Rangers were in town to play the Canadiens tonight so it may have been their charter.

Excellent service today from our FA Martha, who had fun barking at kettles that insisted on standing during push back and taxi.

PHL's bus terminal which is much nicer than LAX.

Yeah, let's encourage even more phony emotional support dogs.  Oy.

With 45 minutes to spare, I headed for the A/B Admirals Club using my status matched Air Berlin Gold card for entry, although the sour lounge dragon had no idea what it was and gave me plenty of grief for bothering her this morning.  Yeah, welcome to Philadelphia. 

Spacious and quite attractive, at least when on one is there like this morning.

 

At around T-40, I headed downtairs for the quick walk to near by Gate B3.

Philadelphia-New Orleans
AA 1744
ERJ-190
10:30a-12:45p (sked)
10:30a-12:25p (actual)
January 15, 2017
Seat 1F then 2F

I was originally in 1F but moved back to 2F to get two seats to myself.

Lunch today was a choice of turkey sandwich or chicken salad.   When you have low expectations, you won't be disappointed.  And as expected, AA delivered.  Yeah, that looks good.

Yeah, that looks good.

Great views of NOLA on descent.

Yikes, what a dump this place is.  A new terminal is under construction but this relic will still be used.

I ordered UBER as soon as I approached the concouse exit and my UBER Black driver pull up just as I arrived at the Transportation Center.

Real subtle.  LOL.

I arrived at our hotel at 1:00p and headed upstairs see Mrs. SFO777 and then head for lunch.

With a couple of recommendations from the Omni concierge, we headed out for a late lunch.

Lucnch at iconic Galatoire's with a bachelorette party turning the place into a raucous scene.

My shrimp creole was excellent.

OMG, give it a rest already.

After lunch, we headed up a tacky Bourbon Street back to our hotel.

With a stop at Leah's for pralines.

With a couple hours to spare, we decided to try the Hop On Hop Off bus.   

Yawn.

Bigger yawn.

Argh, get us out of here.

Seriously?  OK, after a half an hour we'd had enough of what was unquestionably the worst Hop On bus we've ever experienced... anywhere.   

We hopped off at the WW2 Museum which is where we should have gone first.  Unfortunately, we were running our of time and grabbed a taxi back to the hotel.

Mercifully, tonight was the polar opposite of this afternoon.  An amazing dinner and great party at Brennan's.

Our gorgeous private wine cellar dining room.

What an amazing dinner.

Birthday boy SFO777Jr and the future Mrs. SFO777Jr

After our amazing dinner at Brennan's, we headed up the street to The Carousel Bar at The Monteleone.

Back at the hotel, the party continued on our balcony until security knocked on our door to tell us that guests were complaining about the noise.  Oops.  Our bad.

And the 1am parade down Chartres just below our balcony.

After a 2nd noise complaint, we shut the party down just after 2am.  And after a short night's sleep headed over for brunch at Antoine's, home of the grumpiest host on the planet.

After brunch, a quick tour of this classic almost 175 year old restaurant.

We were able to negotiate a 2:15pm checkout and Uber'd it for the 25 minute drive to the airport.  OK, this is one sorry looking facility.   Apparently a new terminal is under construction although to augment not replace this old relic.

 

AA catering is so bad that we tried to find something healthy to eat in the terminal.  Zero, zip, nada.  

This place is ugly.

With 3 gates jammed together at the end of this lovely seating area.

So old with few electrical outlet for charging.

At least we're on time and can get out of this depressing place, except that we have to fly a depressing airline.

New Orleans-LAX
AA 2580
737-800
January 15, 2017
Seats 5EF
 
Now playing the field, my last AA mainline flight was 5 months ago.  Only a cheap fare and expiring SWUs brought me back to this sorry excuse for an airline.
 

First generation slider seats with no seat back IFE of course.

But reasonable legroom.

Hard to believe but catering has gone from bad to disgusting.   Choice of chicken pot pie or stuffed peppers.  I pre-ordered one of each so Mrs. SFO777 could choose between the lesser of the evils.   Unfortunately, both were gross and inedible.

Both the corn and arugula salads were awful. But they were both positively gourmet compared to the chicken pot pie...

Which had absolutely zero chicken...

Or the stuffed peppers, which smelled and tasted just plain nasty...

After I asked, one of our FAs brought me a BOB chicken wrap and even refused my offer to pay.  Amazingly, unlike the chicken pot pie, the chicken wrap actually had chicken. What a concept.

To complete today's wonderful AA experience, catering forgot to load dessert.   Our FA apologized for the lack of cheesecake and tried to make the best of it...