Apr 7, 2023 (Friday) – Apr 8, 2023 (Saturday) – Flights from Victoria to Ft. Lauderdale via Toronto
2023 Panama Canal Cruise
My Air Canada Rouge flight (AC1900) on an Airbus A320-214 (C-GFCH) from Victoria (YYJ) to Toronto (YYZ) leaves Victoria at 11:24PM. This red-eye flight has lots of empty seats, so we can spread out a bit to rest, with some passengers have 3 seats to themselves, so they can lay down to sleep better. I have a good rest, but as usual don’t get any sleep. Flight time is 3:57, and the sunrise is pretty out the aircraft window as we land at Pearson Toronto Airport at 6:37AM the following morning.
Going through US security and Customs and Immigration pre-clearance is the usual sh*t show, which involves taking off shoes and jackets for security. The immigration line only takes about 10 minutes, so I don’t bother with the Mobile Passport Control (MPC) | U.S. Customs and Border Protection app before getting in line to talk with border security agent “Hernandez”. He appears to be pretty bored with all the cruise passengers he must be dealing with, asking me how long the cruise is and then waves me through.
My Victoria-Toronto flight arrival gate is in Terminal 1 and thankfully my Toronto-Ft. Lauderdale departure gate is in the same terminal. So after finding the gate for my Fort Lauderdale (FLL) flight, I start looking for a quiet place to have a cappuccino and some breakfast since I’m pretty hungry by this time. As it turns out there are few options, so I end up at the Hearth restaurant for breakfast, paying CA$30 for a vegetarian omelette and a cup of coffee!
I put an Apple Airtag in my checked bag before leaving home, so I now flash up the ‘Find My’ app on my iPhone. It indicates my checked bag is very close to me in the same terminal…a bit of a relief considering Pearson Airport’s recently newsworthy baggage handling fiasco.
When I return to the gate area, I still have about three hours to wait for my flight to start boarding. Passengers are gathering for a flight to Miami, leaving mid-morning. Huge numbers of parents with young kids completely fill the waiting area. The gate staff are making it clear that not all the carry-on bags will fit in the cabin, so they are urging passengers to check their bigger carry-ons.
The boarding process for my flight is a similar mess. It’s a full flight with lots of folks with wheelchairs, walkers, baby buggies and lots of oversized carry on bags that they eventually have to check, since there’s no more room in the cabin. Despite the chaos, the gate agents board everyone quite efficiently, and our Airbus A321-211 (C-FJNX) starts rolling off the apron at 12:45pm. The pilots start one engine using the power wagon, then start the second engine after they roll away from the gate.
This 2-hour 51-minute flight is fine, once everyone settles down. The kids are good, and my seat mates in the 3-3 configuration are fine as well. We fly south offshore from the Atlantic coast of Florida, and since I’m in a window seat on the right side of the aircraft, I have some good views of the ocean, beaches and cities before we turn in at Fort Lauderdale to land at 3:48 PM.
Since we pre-cleared in Toronto, we go straight to the departures area. To my great relief, my bag appears early on the belt, so I can get ahead of the crowd. I take a taxi to the nearby Hotel near Port Everglades | Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port Hotel, where I check-in and get settled in my room. I soon go downstairs to the R Lounge for dinner: tasty Mahi-mahi fish tacos with chips and salsa and a Space Dust IPA | Elysian Brewing for a total of US$35.
I’m quite pleased with how the flights went. I used some of my Marriott Points to pay for the night’s stay in this very nice hotel, which is in a good location.