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My Flight Delay Blues and Trip to Vancouver

by on June 10, 2011 · 12 comments

in Cathay Pacific, Trip Reports

This weekend I’ll be hanging out in Vancouver for the Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) conference. This is my first time to YVR and I have high hopes for a really great weekend. I’ve never met someone who didn’t like Vancouver and I have all Friday to explore the city.

That is, if I’m not a walking zombie. I’m currently writing this post from the JFK Terminal 7 British Airways Terraces lounge at 1:41am. As many of you experienced, there were wild thunderstorms across the east coast last night, so not surprisingly my 10:40pm JFK-YVR Cathay Pacific flight was delayed. What bothered me though, is that Cathay didn’t update their flight status until I arrived at the airport at 9pm. I was trying to wait as long as possible, but when they refused to change the time I figured the aircraft might be on the ground and they may have clearance to take off once the storms pass – what do I know? I didn’t want to miss the flight, so I got in a cab and got to JFK, just as I saw the board switch from “On time” to midnight. Whatever, I had a lot to catch up on, so hanging out in the lounge for an extra hour wasn’t the worst thing.

However, when I got to check-in the friendly agent laughed and said it would be well after 1:20am – which was when the non-stop JFK-YVR flight would be taking off. Apparently the inbound aircraft had been diverted to Toronto an hour or so earlier and they knew it would be really late. She apologized that I wasn’t notified and gave me a $25 meal voucher. I was a little perturbed, because I really wish Cathay would have systems in place to let customers know when flights will be delayed. I even signed up for their flight notification emails and never got any. Right now our estimated take off time is 3:40am :-(

I live in Brooklyn, so I would have much rather preferred spending the majority of the delay in the comfort of my own home – especially since I’m really feeling the effects of jetlag after my short trip to Tokyo (which was amazing, by the way). Anyway, I planned to have more Tokyo posts up today, but the internet connection at Terraces is dreadfully slow, so the posts will have to wait until this weekend and next week.

If you are curious, I used British Airways miles to book my business class Cathay award. It was only 50,000 miles and $85 in fees, which equated into 36,000 American Express Membership Rewards points because they had a 40% bonus running earlier this year when I booked this ticket. Those 36,000 points were less than the 50k sign-up I had gotten for my Platinum Card and considering regular coach seats JFK to Vancouver are often $800+ and business class was $5,000+, I think this was a good use of Amex points. In fact there’s a 50% British Airways transfer bonus, which I think is a phenomenal deal.

Back on topic, I plan to do a sea-plane tour, but that’s about all I have on tap. Where should I eat? What else should I do? I’m staying at the Hyatt using a confirmed suite upgrade and it appears to be centrally located.

As always, I appreciate your great advice and insight!

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  • ahow628

    You should check out the restaurants in the Kitsilano area, just to the south of downtown. We went to the Jolly Indian Bistro for Indian food and it was fantastic. Unfortunately that was 5 years ago, so I can’t vouch for it now. There are tons of other really great restaurants over there though.

    Also, my wife and I got engaged at Stanley Park. There are some amazing views over there.

  • Michael

    1) Rent a bike and ride around Stanley Park!

    2) Go to Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals!

    3) If 2 is too expensive, go to any sports bar and watch with the entire city as they live and die this game;

    4) Eat Dim Sum and great Chinese food downtown;

    5) There’s amazing ZIP LINE opportunities!

  • Liane

    Definitely go to Granville Island. Great public market with fun stalls and fab food. Try “Go Fish”. They’re open noon-6…or until they run out of fish.

  • MkePediatrician

    You must go to Vij’s restaurant! Great food, great atmosphere and great owners!

  • Brett

    I also recommend biking around Stanley Park. I was in VAN last weekend and my girlfriend and I had a great time renting bikes.

    Yaletown is also an amazing place for dinner. Lots of options! Earl’s or Yaletown Brewery are great spots!

    Good luck, and hopefully you can catch game 5 of the NHL Finals! The city will be going nuts if they win!

    Enjoy!

    Brett

  • Chris

    Get a 24hr transit pass, then walk/bike around Stanley Park. Then walk along the harbor, past the seaplane base to Canada Place. Wander around a bit, then down to the SeaBus terminal. Take that across, then catch the bus to Grouse Mountain. If you are crazy, do the Grouse Grind to the top. If you are like me, and lazy, take the gondola to the top. Grab some coffee and sit on the deck and enjoy the view of Vancouver while watching the crazies finish their run.
    There is a large Chinese place on Robson, I think it is Hon’s, that had a great salt-covered octopus dish.

    Vancouver to me is a city that wants you to be outside and it is AWESOME! So be sure to walk/bike to where you want to go. Lots of places to rent bikes. I can think of three close to Stanley Park, near the intersection of Robson and Denman.

  • Angel

    I jaw saw that your plane took off at 5:40am???? OMG! Anyhow, I hope you had a good time and please post a mini report on your business class trip. I’m going to YVR at the beginning of September and booked a ticket on F using BA miles thanks to your blog (got the 100k from Amex Plat)!!!! All the best,

    Angel

  • Sammbo

    1) A second for Vij’s. Great restauranteur. Main restaurant is amazing, but there is a cheaper and faster lunch option next door as well.

    2) JapaDog: try something new. Good quick bite and easy walking from your hotel.

    3) Legendary Noodle: hand made Chinese noodles. Yummy. Casual dinning near Stanley park.

    4) Tojo’s: spend some of your hard earned cash on a roll or two. Pricy but good.

    5) Il Giardino: Good Italian and wine.

    6) Tiramisu from Presto Panini. Get it to go or end an evening with coffee and dessert.

    7) Go find some freshly caught copper river salmon. This is good year for it.

    Enjoy.

  • Steven

    I flew Cathay from JFK to HKG last December during the east coast blizzard post-Christmas. Cathay’s operations at JFK was quite a mess then, as it seems to be now. My flight was delayed 40 hours, and we spent 36 hours holed up in Terminal 7 after Cathay couldn’t decide on when it would actually take off – 13 flight time changes! Cathay could have told us immediately after deplaning to leave the airport and come back the next day, but they delayed until it was too late and the snow was too thick – thus necessitating the long stay in the terminal. Your story brought back a flood of memories.

    Have fun in Van! I’ll be there next week for a wedding, I hear it’s a great time of the year to be there. Check out Granville Island, Gastown, Yaletown, and of course, go CANUCKS!!

  • Mike L

    What aircraft is the JFK-YVR route? I found award space right on ba.com but seatguru says that this route is 773. I thought this route would use the long haul 777-300ER (77A).

  • foofiter

    Hi TPG,

    Was this on the 77A?

    I will be flying HKG – YVR – JFK in December on this route and based on my dummy booking on CX’s site I will be on the 77A (lie flat seats in J).

    Is that what you flew on?

    I would love to see pictures if you have any!

    Thanks!

  • Madtizzy

    I have taken this same flight at least 20 times, and never….not once … has the flight ever left JFK on time. In fact , on most occasions , the flight has left JFK at least 2 hours late. Although I love Cathay Pacific, and still find it to be the most comfortable and the most pleasant airline in the world to fly…. this particular flt between JFK – YVR is annoyingly and notoriously beyond late. The worst thing is that it arrives after all car rental companies have closed. Even if the car rental company “promises ” to keep an eye on the flight and leave an agent at the desk an additional hour , till 2a….we have yet to find a waiting agent, and have always been forced to hire a car or taxi at a cost that is more than 1 week’s car rental.

    YVR and the rental agencies should work more closely together to accommodate passengers on CX. Or, CX needs to get their sh** together and leave JFK on time.

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