Air Canada Express uses a fleet of dozens of Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s on short hops around the country. One of the routes it uses the aircraft on is from Edmonton to Calgary which I had a chance to try during my recent trip to Yellowknife.
Continue reading this review to see what the 30-minute economy class flight on the Q400 was like.
Transfer and Boarding at Edmonton Airport
After arriving in Edmonton from Yellowknife onboard an Air Canada Express CRJ-900, I had almost three hours until the departure of this flight.
As such, I went to the airport’s Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge courtesy of my Star Alliance Gold status. While nothing to write home about, the lounge provided a better place to wait for the flight than the terminal, especially because of its nice business center with large desks.
With my flight scheduled to depart at 2:40PM, I left the lounge just after 2PM. As soon as I stepped into the terminal, though, I received an email notifying me of a 20 minute delay and sure enough – when I checked FlightRadar24, I realized the inbound aircraft was still on its way to Edmonton.
The aircraft arrived at 2:48PM and – to my surprise – boarding started just ten minutes later. At that point, I had my boarding pass scanned at gate 49A, walked down the stairs to ground level, and exited onto the apron.
Onboard the aircraft, I was welcomed by a very energetic flight attendant.
Air Canada Express Dash 8 Q400 Economy Class Cabin & Seat
Like other Air Canada Express Dash 8 Q400s, the one that took me from Edmonton to Calgary was in an all-economy class configuration with seats in a 2-2 layout. While the seats were quite narrow, the legroom was alright, and the seats overall were perfectly fine for the 30-minute hop.
Each of the seats had access to an individual air vent and in addition to the obligatory seat pocket and tray table, there was also a coat hook.
Departure from Edmonton International Airport
With the flight being full and most passengers having too much carry-on luggage with them, boarding took what felt like forever. At some point, one of the flight attendants was even walking around the cabin with a Storm Trooper helmet that was too large to fit in the overhead bin.
At 3:25PM, the captain welcomed us onboard and mentioned that we would be flying for 32 minutes at an altitude of 20,000 feet. Around the same time, the main door was closed, and at 3:27PM, we were pushed back.
While being pushed back and making our way to the active runway, a manual safety demo was conducted by the crew. At the end of it, while passing through the cabin, one of the flight attendants sighed “I love my job but I hate boarding, especially if they [the ground staff] don’t do their job.” It was easy to emphasize with her statement given how almost everyone had way too much carry-on luggage with them.
We took off from Edmonton Airport’s runway 12 at 3:38PM.
Air Canada Express Dash 8 Q400 Onboard Service
Shortly after take-off, one of the cabin crew members made an announcement saying that a drink service would be done as soon as it was safe to do so. She also mentioned that because of the short flight duration, only water, orange juice, and apple juice would be offered.
Seatbelt signs were switched off five minutes after take-off at which point the cabin crew sprung into action – one of the flight attendants even sang to herself as she walked down the aisle with the cart.
It took about five minutes for the drink cart to get to me – at which point I asked for a cup of apple juice.
Arrival at Calgary Airport
With the flight being just over half an hour long, the seatbelt signs were switched on just over 20 minutes after they were switched off.
Shortly after, the cabin crew made an announcement saying that we were behind schedule and asking passengers to let those with short connections disembark first. Like with boarding, though, the deboarding ended up being quite disorganized and I don’t think the announcement had any positive effect on those with short connections.
The landing gear was lowered at 4:14PM – just as the Calgary skyline appeared outside – and two minutes later, we landed at Calgary International Airport.
We came to a full stop at our arrival gate at 4:20PM – more than 45 minutes behind schedule.
Air Canada Express Dash 8 Q400 Economy Class Summary
Given that I had a fairly short connection on separate tickets to make in Calgary, the most important thing for me would have been for the flight to arrive there on time. Fortunately, even with a fairly late arrival, I still managed to make the connection and even briefly stop by a lounge before taking my onward flight to Frankfurt.
As for the flight itself, it was perfectly fine. The seats were perfectly adequate for a 30-minute hop and so was the scaled-down drink service. The only thing I wish Air Canada did better on this flight was – as the flight attendant mentioned – stricter carry-on luggage checks at the gate. If that had been done, I am fairly confident ten if not more minutes would have been saved during boarding.