We got back from LA yesterday evening – and immediately I felt cold again. I miss the warm weather already! We travelled to Los Angeles on Air Canada from Montreal. When looking at airfare – it was shocking how much all the airlines were charging for March Break. It was an average of $2500 or so for all three of us just for airfare along. Crazy! So, in our research we discovered that it was significantly cheaper to fly from Montreal ($1500 for all three of us – which is pretty standard). Flying from Montreal also meant that we could avoid switching planes in Toronto, which because of custom line ups and general headaches is now avoidable at all costs. Our flight to LAX was in the evening and return was bright and early in the morning.
A few things about our airplane rides!
Montreal -> LAX
We live about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from the Montreal airport, which makes it a great alternative for getting certain flights. We drove down at 1pm on Sunday and were in Montreal in no time. The parking lot at Park n’ Fly was full, but there was another lot right next to it. We caught a shuttle and was at the airport in no time. Montreal’s airport for departures was a breeze. No line ups for baggage check and customs was less than 10 minutes to clear. We always have to line up for baggage check because of the car seat, but it was super easy. We found that we had a silly amount of time to waste before our flight, so we grabbed some burgers and fries and a restaurant and walked around. The airport was pretty nice and also had lots of play areas for kids. Extra thanks goes to the Second Cup who gave us free milk for Max.
Despite it looking like the flight was almost full with no seats of three left, we did manage to get us all in the same row. We were in the very back of the plane with the flight attendants, but that was ok. We were able to get priority boarding because of Max, which always helps because it takes forever to get him settled.
The flight to LAX was super bumpy. The seatbelt sign was on for probably half the flight. Made things interesting when Max had to go to the bathroom real bad (he had a diaper on though). Max was pretty good during the flight. He watched some movies and TV shows on the plane’s TVs and on my iPad.
When the plane was boarding, these two ladies ask the guy in front of Max (in the window seat) to switch seats. Their excuse was that the one sister “had back problems” or something like that. The guy at first said no, but was pressured by the sisters to trade seats, even though the one lady had the aisle seat at first. Max is three and of course it is understandable that he doesn’t sit still very well. Trust me, I know when my kid misbehaves and on this flight he was pretty good. BUT his feet tend to touch the seat in front of him and he kind of likes to hang off the seat. He doesn’t kick the chair or anything, just rests his feet. Anyhoo – during part of the flight, Max discovered the tray table. He was seeing how it works when the lady in front of him turns around and gives him the nastiest look I’ve ever seen. About an hour lady, Max was resting his feet on the seat and the lady again, whips around looks at him with the death stare and then says to me “can you tell him to stop kicking my chair, I’m trying to sleep”. First off, he wasn’t even kicking the chair and second, sure – I’m sure my 3 years will listen to me. I apologized and switched seats with Max for a bit. I also should have said to her that her nasty-ass perfume was giving me a headache, but whatever. Anyways, it was quite hysterical when her sister said later that Max was super cute and when the flight attendants gushed at him saying he was super well behaved and was a dream kid on the flight. I had to laugh at one point because Max realized that we were really high up in the air and he was worried that we would fall out and get hurt. Then he said “I know! We need parachutes!”. Where does he come up with this?
After the flight landed, we waited for the plane to empty before we made our move off the plane. By the time we got to baggage claim, our bags were there. We didn’t even stop walking, just scooped and ran. The Enterprise shuttle wasn’t too far behind and by the time we knew it, we were on our way to Riverside. The whole process from landing to getting the rental van was one hour. That included being stuck in LAX traffic (the worst!). Hold on to that thought for our exit from Montreal….
LAX -> Montreal
Flights from LAX back to Toronto/Montreal/Ottawa tend to be early in the morning or late at night, which was exactly the choices we had when we booked. We picked the morning flight as it was cheaper. Whenever we have a morning flight at LAX, we book a hotel near the airport because LA traffic is a whole different ballgame. We left the Sheraton Gateway at 5:25 and was in the airport in all of two minutes. We got to our terminal and saw a giant line. I had already checked in, but didn’t print off our boarding passes, so I asked the Air Canada agent who was in charge of the line if we could go to the shorter “baggage drop” line – we could! I saw so many people with boarding passes in the giant line, no idea why they lined up there. We were through the line really quickly. Unfortunately Terminal 2 is under construction, so we were really limited for breakfast. I think the choices were pretty much pie, sandwiches or alcohol (ok, no alcohol but the third food place was a bar). We again, had a bit of a wait since we got through security really quickly.
LAX Air Canada gate people never call for priority boarding for parents with small children, so we just went into the line after the business class was on the plane. The plane was completely full so we didn’t want to hold up the line. It was a good call since Max decided to stop at every single seat and ask “is this mine?” – for 27 rows….
This flight was much smoother. The seatbelt sign was only on for 5 minutes and Max was even more great. Except when it was time to land. The pilot took a really steep decent into Montreal and Max was screaming “OWWIE!” the whole time – that and asking me “give me kisses on my ear, no not little kisses, BIG KISSES” and screaming. As soon as we got just above the ground, his ears popped and he literally stopped screaming in two seconds. Funny guy made his appearance again when he digged out the safety manuel and instructed the plane to “put their buckles on – come on guys! Plane is landing!”. Lots of great views on the flight. We saw mountains, Mont Tremblant and where “Uncle Blake” lived.
We again, waited for most of the plane to leave before making our way out. Of course there was a bit of confusion about exactly where our stroller was, but it was found. Then we went down to customs. I usually don’t swear on here, but the words out of my mouth were “what the F*** is this?”. The line up at customs was longer than the lines at Disneyland! Absolutely insanity. Normally, you stand in a small line basically consisting of the people on your flight, and then you see a border security agent. Sometimes there isn’t enough agents on duty and there are lines, but this line was different. We hand to snake around the line several times to visit a computer where we scanned our own passports and our customs card. No agent. So weird! Non-Canadians/landed immigrants go through the usual standard customs line (and were moving faster!). After this process, you went downstairs to get your luggage and then present a copy of your card to the border agent at the doors.
Of course, what happens, the agent says it is our lucky day and we are going to “secondary screening”. For those who watch the Canadian Border Security show – this is the room that they interview all the people on the show – closed doors, black gloves and tables ready for inspection. Now, in the show it appears that the rooms are pretty empty. The agents can at any time request someone to go through this step – sometimes it is random, sometimes it is because something has popped up. But yesterday, there were tons of people in the room, including three other families. I’m guessing they will randomly select people a lot more to ensure no one is lying. Anyways, we were probably selected because we were on “business travel”, and didn’t buy much. The agent asked us about our travels – usual questions you would be asked in any regular customs agent questioning and we were on our way. I’m really glad he didn’t have to go through my dirty underwears…..
By the time we got on the shuttle and back at our car, 1.5 hours had gone by. It took us less than an hour to get though LAX, including a 15 minute shuttle ride and the car rental process. Crazy! Then we got stuck in Montreal traffic. We finally strolled in the door at 7:45pm – 4 hours after landing. YAY!
I’m not sure we will do the Montreal thing again. We did save over $600 though and I guess crazy customs lines are worth that savings.
Have a great Friday!