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An Enjoyable Hop from St. Louis to Toronto on an Air Canada Express CRJ-100
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that the idea of flying on a Bombardier CRJ-100 makes the majority of flyers cringe or even sick to their stomach. I can’t say I enjoy flying on CRJs either, however, anytime I get to fly on a new airline usually results in an eventful and typically enjoyable flight.
One thing that’s always annoyed me about travel blogging is how almost every review is some amazing first class product. Any frequent flyer will tell you that not every flight can be Lufthansa First Class. Sometimes you’re stuck flying a Bombardier CRJ-100 from the Midwest to bone-chilling cold Toronto.
Air Canada Express CRJ-100 Itinerary
- Flight: Air Canada AC7386 (operated by Air Georgian)
- Aircraft: Bombardier CRJ-100 [C-GKEJ]
- Dep/Arr City: St. Louis-Lambert International Airport (STL) / Toronto Pearson (YYZ)
- Dep/Arr Time: 5:40 PM (On-Time) / 8:30 PM (On-Time)
- Seat/Class of Service: 8A / Economy Class
How I Booked This Flight
Air Canada Express operates 2 to 3 daily round-trips to and from St. Louis-Lambert International Airport. The flights have been doing pretty well given the fact that on some days, Air Canada is up to three daily flights. Even with 100 to 150 seats available per day each way, flights appear to sell out. That said unless you book your flight well in advance, you’re going to end up paying a fortune for a seat in economy.
I decided to take this trip last minute. Though I never had any intentions of paying cash for this flight, I decided to check to see what a ticket on this flight was selling for on the day of departure. On the day of departure, a single ticket for a one-way flight from St. Louis to Toronto was over $1200. That’s right, $1200. That’s in coach.
I decided to use a few thousand GOL Smiles Miles and some cash to book this flight. In total, I used 7,500 GOL Smiles Miles and $331.69 Brazilian Reals, roughly $100.65 USD. I don’t have a very good valuation of GOL’s Smiles Miles but I know I spent way less than $1200 for this flight.
Check-In – Air Canada Express CRJ-100
I got to the airport just 45 minutes prior to departure. I made my way to the tiny Air Canada ticketing desk where a single agent sat on the phone assisting another customer. The agent worked for United as United fulfills most of, if not all of Air Canada’s ground positions at St. Louis. I already had my boarding pass but I wanted to switch seats and confirm that my United elite status was on file.
I approached the desk and was given the hand. I don’t mean to make her sound rude, she was handling an immigration issue for a passenger. It seemed stressful and my request could wait.
She put the phone down briefly and I requested seat 8A in the exit row. She printed my boarding pass, seat 8A and got back on the phone. Air Canada is part of the TSAPreCheck program so I made my way through the security screening checkpoint in under 5 minutes.
I arrived at the gate roughly 15 minutes prior to boarding after stopping for a snack. There’s no better feeling than getting to the airport at just the right time.
Air Canada Express CRJ-100 Flight AC7386
Boarding began on time. There were roughly 30 passengers on the flight, out of 50 seats. Even with bags having to be valet tagged, boarding went smoothly.
I was surprised by how many upper-tier elites were on the flight. I was in Group 3 which is for low tier Air Canada elites and Star Alliance low-tier elites. I assumed I would be one of the first to board as St. Louis isn’t a very big Star Alliance elite base. However, the majority of the passenger appeared to have boarded in Groups 1 and 2.
Once onboard, I took my seat and crossed my fingers hoping 8B would remain open. Thankfully, I had two seats to myself this flight. Additionally, row 8 is the exit row meaning I had ample legroom.
As you can tell by the picture of the legroom, the aircraft was in pretty bad shape. The aircraft is a few months older than me so it’s seen better days. Air Canada, as well as most other CRJ operators, fly these planes nonstop. In addition to feeling dirty, I didn’t think an airline could make a CRJ duller. Air Canada’s CRJ-100s and -200s feature what might be the dullest and blandest aircraft interior.
The lighting was dim, every panel and surface was a nasty looking off-white, and the seats were covered with a tan faux leather. Though hideous, I was fairly comfortable throughout the flight. That might be because I had an open seat next to me.
The most dated and disgusting part of the aircraft was, of course, the lavatory. The toilet was somewhat clogged and the lid that opens when the aircraft flushes to dispose of waste, wouldn’t close. Needless to say, the rear of the aircraft wreaked of human waste. Additionally, the faucet didn’t work but that’s almost to be expected on older CRJs and ERJs.
Air Canada Express “Air Canada Cafe”
Service was limited given the short duration of the flight. Still, pretzels and beverages were served on the flight. A small menu consisting of light snacks was also available. I was extremely hungry and decided to purchase some Pringles. I enjoyed a Coke, some pretzels, and Pringles during the flight. The Pringles cost $3 CAD which is roughly $2.38 USD. That’s relatively cheap considering American Airlines, Delta and United seem to sell Pringles and other chips for $3 USD and even $4 USD.
The crew consisted of a single flight attendant who was very professional, however, not the friendliest. Though I can’t blame her for not being the most friendly and chipper flight attendant in the sky. She had to spend a night in St. Louis and then fly a CRJ-100 back to bone-chilling Toronto.
Overall; Air Canada Express CRJ-100, St. Louis to Toronto
I actually legitimately enjoyed this flight. I usually hate flights in which there’s no wi-fi and little service but that fact that I could travel directly from St. Louis to Toronto in under two hours, is super convenient. The convenience, combined with an enjoyable and seamless ground experience on both ends, made this flight quite enjoyable. I also loved the soothing turbulence that seems so much more noticeable on small regional jets.
Have you ever flown with Air Canada Express? Would you take a direct flight on a CRJ-100 or a flight with a layover to avoid a CRJ?