With the brief series about a weekend trip to Nagoya I did back in April finished, it’s time for the next (and until the end of this week the only) trip in the backlog – a trip to Canada I did back in May.
With twelve nights, twelve flights, and more than 25 thousand miles, it was one of the longer trips I’ve taken in a while. And, while originally I wasn’t supposed to cross the Pacific during this trip, it ended up being my first semi (as I didn’t cross the equator) round-the-world trip.
But, let’s take a step back to see how the trip came together.
Air Canada’s Insanely Low Transatlantic Fares
The whole trip was born when in August of last year Air Canada published and subsequently decided to honor fares in the $100 and $200 range. While I live in Japan, I could not resist booking one of the tickets, and so I booked a trip from Paris to Toronto for about $160.
Separately, I immediately told my friend Philippe who lives in France about the deal.
While hesitant at first, when I found a roundtrip from Paris to Vancouver that included a flight on Lufthansa 747-400 for less than $200, he jumped at the opportunity of doing our first trip together in about ten years.
And, that is the short story of how I ended up with two roundtrips from Paris to Canada with a night in Paris between the two of them.
Now, all I needed to do was to get from Tokyo to Paris and back…
Getting to Europe with British Airways
Luckily, between August 2017 and May 2018, there was plenty of time to make plans about how I was getting to Paris.
Somewhere during that time, I was looking for relatively cheap ways to fly British Airways four times so that I could earn Executive Club Silver status in combination with the miles earned from “underpriced” trip to New York in Qatar Airways’ business class.
With the above in mind, I ended up booking the following for my flight back to Japan after spending Christmas in Slovakia: Vienna – London – Milan – London – Tokyo – London – Paris with the last two of those being my positioning flights for this trip.
Now, all I needed to do was to get from Paris back to Tokyo…
Slight Change of Plans: Going the ‘RTW-Way’
Originally, the plan was to get a flight from Paris to Vienna, visit my family in Slovakia for a couple of days, and then head back to Japan.
However, in the end, after considering how long the trip would have already been at that point and finding a reasonable one-way fare from Vancouver to Osaka, I decided to cut the trip short and “throw away” the Vancouver – Frankfurt – Paris portion of my second ticket to Canada.
Instead, I booked flights with Xiamen Air from Vancouver to Osaka via Xiamen. Not only did it allow me to get home faster and less tired, but it also gave me the chance to try a new airline.
Finally, for the short hop from Osaka to Tokyo, I booked a flight from Osaka Kansai airport where my Xiamen Air flight was arriving to Tokyo Haneda using Avios miles.
Seaplanes: A Must-Do for an Avgeek in Vancouver
After booking the trip to Vancouver, I was set on trying at least one seaplane flight. After all, Vancouver is home to the world’s largest seaplane-only airline Harbour Air and there are probably more scheduled seaplane flights than anywhere else.
For weeks, even months, we discussed with Philippe where to go, and in the end we decided to book a flight from Victoria to Vancouver onboard Harbour Air’s Twin Otter.
As we were hoping to find out if we would be able to also fly on the classic Beaver, we waited to book our flight to Vancouver Island until the last minute. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the Beaver, but at least we got to try another airline and aircraft type: Seaair Seaplanes’ Cessna 208 Caravan.
And, also a different pair of seaports, since we flew from Richmond adjacent to Vancouver International Airport to Nanaimo which is about a two-hour bus ride from Victoria, the capital of British Columbia.
I will write about those experiences later on, but if you want to read more about seaplanes now, make sure to check Philippe’s take on it.
Booking the Hotels and Planning the Rest of the Trip
Like I mentioned in the beginning of this article, I was on the road for twelve nights during this trip. Besides the nights I spent on the airplane, I also booked the following:
- Ibis Styles Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport for the night before the flight from Paris to Montreal
- Hotel Manoir Sherbrooke in Montreal for an unplanned night in Quebec
- Holiday Inn Toronto Airport East for two nights
- Vittoria Hotel and Suites for a side-trip from Toronto to Niagara where I got using Megabus
- Première Classe Roissy – Aéroport Charles De Gaulle for the night before the flight from Paris to Frankfurt
- St. Clair Hotel – Hostel for two nights in Vancovuer
- Red Lion Inn and Suites for one night in Victoria
I booked all of those using Hotels.com which I like because of their simple loyalty program and which I consistently find to offer good rates. And, while I won’t be reviewing most of those properties, you can expect articles about the three airport hotels in the list.
Besides the flights and hotels listed above, I will also be publishing reviews of the lounges I had the chance to visit on the trip, as well as about sightseeing and spotting in some of the cities I had a chance to visit on the trip.
Overall, the trip was an excellent mix of flying new airlines and experiencing new lounges, spotting at airports I haven’t been to before and checking out new cities.
During the next couple of weeks (or months given the high volume), I will be publishing more detailed articles about each of the trip’s parts.
So, stay tuned!