I love to go places but always dread the long flights taking me there. My frequent trips to Europe often take me via London Heathrow or Toronto Pearson International airports, involving stressful transfers.
Even thinking about it gives me the chills. You can choose other routes and miss out on the two giant airports, but most probably the trip will cost you lots more. Myself I hate to waste extra money on flights and rather put up with the stress
Comfort in flying is hard to find these days unless you fly business class. If you’re like me and you count economy class as your only option, you will be cramped into a narrow seat with no leg space for seven plus hours across the Atlantic ocean to Toronto, or more than nine hours if you fly to Vancouver.
Air Canada or British Airways
Shopping around for a cheap flight to Canada, you will most probably have to decide between flying with British Airways and Air Canada. Which one should you choose?
Regarding flying comfort and services there are no big differences between the two airlines. If you arrive in Canada and don’t need a connecting flight, either of the two airlines will be fine. Should you need a connecting flight from Toronto, Vancouver or another big city, the inland flight most probably will be with Air Canada as well. If this is the case, to fly the whole trip with Air Canada makes travelling easier.
Actually, I only found this out during my recent trip to Switzerland when I flew Air Canada all the way. It was a most relaxing trip without the usual travel stress.
How do you eliminate travel stress?
Book with Air Canada to your final destination in Canada if you need a connecting flight. By using the same airline all the way will make the connections easy, even in large airports like Heathrow or Toronto. Booking with your preferred airline usually costs you extra dollars.
Choose smaller airports over big ones if you have a choice.
Take a small backpack or soft bag as a carry-on rather than a roller bag, so you can squeeze your luggage into tighter bin spaces.
Check-in online within 24 hours of departure with Air Canada is a breeze. Most times when I tried to check-in using different airlines it didn’t work. Online check-in means less stress and less time necessary at the airport.
Change your seats during online check-in. I prefer aisle seats for long flights to be able to move around, but choose a window seat across the Rockies when travelling during the day.
At the airport
Arrive early, drop off luggage and have your passport validated.
Head through security. Don’t wear boots or a belt. Get rid of your water bottle or at least its content. Separate your belongings into available trays. Jacket, backpack, laptop, tablet, cellphone, creams and liquids, all have to be taken out of your travel bag.
Go through passport control
Most Customs/Security employees are not friendly and sometimes I even find them rude. Don’t be like me and drop a funny remark, they won’t like it.
Find your departure gate and board the plane once your Zone number on your boarding pass is called.
Keep your eyes open for an open bin space when you get onboard and make your way to your seat. This way you won’t be stuck with the space near your seat, which might be full already.
Airline food is quite awful, don’t expect gourmet food. Most times you can choose between two dishes, chicken or vegetarian pasta.
Juices, soft drinks, and water are freely available. Drink lots during the flight.
Inland flights in Canada – no free food. Meals available for purchase (credit card payment only). Take along snacks. Juice, soft drinks, and water are served.
You’ll receive a Declaration Card while you’re on board on the way to Canada, and must complete it prior to arrival.
On the Declaration Card, you fill in your information, your travels and what you bring into the country. Instructions on how to complete the card are attached.
Once the Declaration Card is filled out, detach and discard the instructions. Do not fold the card, keep the card ready along with your travel documents. You will be asked to show the card several times once you get off the plane.
Connecting to another flight?
If you are connecting and travelling on to another destination, follow the signs. Depending on the airport where you arrive, you may have to have your baggage checked and screened before re-boarding. This used to be a normal procedure at the first airport of arrival in Canada. but wasn’t required during my recent trip. Airport rules change constantly.
It’s less stressful if you have plenty of time between connecting flights. If your flight is delayed, the connecting flight personnel will be informed and they will try to get you on board before departing.
Should you miss the connection because of a delayed flight or mechanical problems, the airline will rebook you on the next available flight. If your connecting flight is with the same airline and you get stuck, they may offer you compensation for meals or accommodation. Those arrangements are voluntary with the airline.
Arrival in Canada
Upon arrival, follow the signs to the Primary Inspection area. A border services officer will examine your Declaration Card, identification, and other travel documents.
When you are directed to a booth, you may be asked a series of questions to determine your Immigration status, the nature of any goods you are bringing with you, your duty-free allowance and personal exemption entitlements.
Also, if you have anything to declare, including purchases and food products of any kind, make sure to inform the officer.
Goods not properly declared that are restricted or prohibited in Canada can, under the law, be subject to seizure.
Yrene lives in the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada, and is the founder of BackcountryCanadaTravel.com. She was born in Switzerland, lived and worked on different continents and has travelled the world. Yes, that's me, an Entrepreneur, wilderness nut and animal lover who prefers off-the-beaten-track places. I write about things I love. Mostely.
Great Travel Tips!
Hello Ines, I’m happy to know that you find my information useful. That keeps me inspired!
Thanks for this article ? we flow to calgary with british airways via heathrow, also a good airline, good service and friendly staff?
Thanks Christoph for the input. I have nothing against British Airways, I flew with them many times. It’s just when I have a connecting inland flight with Air Canada, I was better off flying with them all the way.