2007 NetLetter #971 - April 21st 2007

#971 - April 21st 2007
Dear NetLetter,

Welcome to the 971st issue of "NetLetter". The NetLetter is the longest running newsletter (launched in 1995) that is dedicated to Air Canada retirees.

We now estimate that the NetLetter is read by over 2750 retirees when counting our email distribution and those that print the NetLetter and give them out to their friends. The "NetLetter" is written by Vesta Stevenson and Terry Baker from Vancouver Island (see sidebar) and also with articles and comments from "you" our readers. Formatting of text, photos, etc. for this HTML version is done by Webmaster Alan Rust and is published courtesy of the ACFamily Network at www.acfamily.net

Park 'N Fly update
Park and FlyPark 'N Fly offers an opportunity to park 'n save. Until December 31, 2007, Aeroplan partner, Park 'N Fly, is offering all active and retired ACE family employees an opportunity to save 25 per cent when parking at all Park 'N Fly airport facilities across Canada. For a list of airport parking facilities, consult www.parknfly.ca. To take advantage of this discount, present your Air Canada identification card, business card or letter confirming employment and quote the following coupon code: 31735 - valid from April 1 to June 30.
Air Canada News
Air CanadaAir Canada's 777-300ER aircraft are configured with 42 Executive First Suites and 307 seats in Economy Class, while the new 777-200LR model arriving later this year will be configured with 42 Executive First Suites and 228 seats in Economy Class. Customers will enjoy industry-leading in-flight comforts on all 18 of the new 777 aircraft that Air Canada has on order, creating a consistent fleet-wide, in-flight product in conjunction with the carrier's ongoing major refurbishment program for its existing fleet. In addition, Air Canada has 14 Boeing 787 aircraft on order that will begin delivery in 2010.
Air Canada's new in-flight product features lie-flat beds in its international Executive First cabin, the only North American airline to offer the comfort and privacy of lie-flat beds in business class. All customers will enjoy digital quality personal seat back entertainment systems with 80 hours of video and 50 hours of audio on demand, as well as standard 110 volt electrical outlets at arms reach.

DC-9
"RAPIDAIR" celebrates its 35th year on April 30th.   It was on this date in 1972 that the DC-9 shuttle service commenced between YUL-YYZ.
Air Canada DC-9
- The Canadian transcontinental and Montreal-New York, Toronto-Montreal routes were enhanced with the introduction of the DC-9's in April 1966.
European Vacation
Vesta Stevenson
Our Chief pilot- Vesta - located and sends this advice -
European vacation
Strategies to stretch your cash on the Continent
Last Updated March 28, 2007
By Wallace Immen
Remember those halcyon days when * it was claimed * you could see Europe on $5 a day. Even then, you had to cut every corner, put up with bedbugs and live on the equivalent of bread and watered-down wine if you really wanted to go on the cheap.
Today, with the Euro seemingly hitting new highs every day, five Euros won't even buy a good cup of coffee around Les Halles in Paris, let alone along Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
In fact, your five loonies will now only buy about three euros, almost one fewer than last year, thanks to the pounding the dollar has received in the past few months in relation to the strength of the euro. It's called currency fluctuation and we're being fluc-ed along with the rest of the world by the trend.
But that doesn't mean you have to give up your dream of a vacation on the Continent if you plan some strategies to stretch your cash. Here are some euro-saving tips that will leave more money in your pocket so you can stay in clean, well-lit places rather than scraping by while you're in Europe:
Buy a package
Making individual bookings can be time consuming, and last-minute prices are actually rising because European travel is extremely popular this year. By contrast, wholesalers use their buying clout to reserve ahead, and packages of travel, hotels and tours can be a lot cheaper than booking individually.
It doesn't have to be the, "If this is Tuesday, it must be Belgium" bus tours, either. If you don't like group tours, search the web for self-guided tours that can include hotels, car rentals and even meals.
Book a cruise
Cruise lines have to make decisions on itineraries and start printing brochures as long as 18 months ahead of the time they sail. So nearly all of them set their prices in U.S. or Canadian dollars last year, when dollars were much stronger against the euro. That means you'll get at least a 10 per cent price advantage compared to accommodations ashore priced in euros.
Cruise prices also tend to include all meals and the transportation from city to city. That can help you budget your trip more accurately, and can work out cheaper in the long run than arranging shore travel yourself.
Unlimited passes
Travel passes are no longer just for backpackers. Most large cities in Europe have discount cards that allow you to visit many museums and attractions at a discounted price. Check them out when you go to the local tourist information centre.
The venerable Eurail pass comes with an option for first-class travel and the chance to reserve seats. It's priced from $693 Cdn for an adult pass good for up to 15 days, with longer durations and options for use in as many as 17 countries.
There are also national and local travel passes good for unlimited rail and bus. Single-country passes can be had from about $75 for a pass good for five days.
Links to current rail deals available to Canadian travellers to Europe are available on www.raileurope.ca. The commercial site will mail you the tickets, but the trade-off is they add a markup.
And remember that passes are priced per person, so if you're going with several friends, you may save money by renting a car. If you go that route, make sure you book from Canada and get a firm price, because walk-in car rental rates in Europe are staggering.
Go on the fringe
You can save a bundle just by avoiding the high-tourist summer season and staying outside the high rent districts. Obviously, the bills for accommodations in the 1er Arrondissement in Paris or hotels anywhere near the Via Condotti in Rome are going to be astronomical. You'll be able to stay an extra day on the savings if you're willing to walk or take a bus from a hotel in a less fashionable district.
May and September are less expensive than midsummer, although not the off-peak bargains they once were because of a boom in tourism. April and October are more likely to see heavy discounting of hotels, but the trade-off may be that not all the attractions are open at that time of year.
And consider going beyond the well-trod turf. The Republic of Slovenia has just become part of the euro zone, for example, and is actively promoting deals to build up its tourism base.
Other countries that are poised to enter the euro zone, but that still retain their old currencies, are offering discounts this year to promote tourism. These include the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Poland, which is offering five-star hotel rooms from 65 euros a night. Their prices are reasonable today, but are sure to climb as the euro comes in. And visiting them today will give you an opportunity to see them before they inevitably develop mass tourism.

Pensions and hostels
You don't have to be a backpacker to stay at a hostel.
In fact, the accommodations in what used to be considered tourist quarters may be better than what you've become accustomed to in Canadian business hotels. They're usually friendlier than a crowded hotel, but the downside is you may have to share a bathroom.
And hostels and pensions are only a good option when they're close to public transportation, because a late-night taxi ride when public transportation is sparse can quickly offset the savings in room cost.

Pack your own lunch
Even the tourist luncheon menu in major cities in Europe can be expensive. In places like Italy, just sitting down incurs a cover charge and the need to order a minimum amount of food or drink.
But every city has a market that is often among the most colourful places in town, full of sights and sounds, and food fresher than you're likely to see in any supermarket. It's a chance to try your skills in the local language and sample the local produce, and you'll find the prices are the best in town.
Take it all to a local park or scenic spot, et voila, you can feel like a (clothed) subject in Edouard Manet's famous canvas Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe.
European rules on drinking in public tend to be somewhat more flexible than in Canadian cities, but check the local customs before imbibing.

Ask the locals
Practising a few phrases of the local language (Can I get a better price? Do you have a fixed-price menu? Thank you very much.) can help you find bargains and negotiate better rates.
Everything can cost more than it should when you are seen as an outsider, unfamiliar with the customs and the language. Local inhabitants know more than the guidebooks.

Enjoy yourself
Finally, remember that this is a vacation and the idea is to have some well-earned enjoyment * not to drive yourself crazy trying to cut corners.
And a tip: The exchange rate if you pay by credit card is generally not as favourable as paying by cash or traveller's cheques.
If you do use cash, remember that exchange booths and hotels in Europe often tack on a set transaction charge. You're better off cashing a larger amount of money or traveller's cheques at once rather than making a number of small transactions.
Wallace Immen is a travel writer who journeys regularly throughout Europe.

Reader Feedback

This is the 70th anniversary year, and we will be printing some memories from our readers - enjoy!


Subject: Ron Peel's first flight

The following is a highly edited extract from his book "Flying with Trans-Canada Air Lines" by Ron Peel < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

TCA Lancastrian (courtesy of CAHS)My first flight with TCA was the air test of TCA 100 Lancastrian originally planned for November 11th. 1943. A major fuel leak was discovered that postponed this long awaited flight until the next day. Then Jock Barclay, Kelly Edmison, Al Blackwood and I finally got airborne and found the aircraft in satisfactory condition for our first Atlantic crossing scheduled for the next day. After this test flight success we socialized a bit and I was much amused to note the similarity between the two captains, Jock and Kelly, and comedians Laurel and Hardy. They obliged Al, the radio operator, and I with one of their well-rehearsed routines. We roared in appreciation.
On November 13th 1943 and right on schedule, a most pleasant chap picked me up in a TCA station wagon for my first really comfortable ride to Dorval. For several years kindly "Old Tom" (he was probably pushing fifty) drove all CGTAS flight crews to and from their Atlantic flights

It was only after Captain Jock Barclay was satisfied that the route and the enroute and terminal weather conditions were satisfactory that he made the decision to proceed.
My diary records that my navigation was "a bit rusty". Early in the flight I was shocked to find that my three astronomical position lines intersected to form a very large triangle instead of the small "cocked hat" whose centre can usually be taken as a reasonably accurate estimate of position. It was the worst astro fix I had ever taken! I was puzzled. The aircraft had been flown accurately while I took what I believed to be excellent sights. I had carefully calibrated my sextant beforehand to determine its small index error. I knew its corrected readings were accurate. So what had happened? After much checking of my calculations and plotting I also knew they were not the cause of my problem. I eventually discovered that the sextant's mechanical device that averaged the six measurements made of each star's altitude had failed. It took me quite a while and probably a lot of sweat to solve this unusual riddle.

At Prestwick I slept the clock around. The next day I learned that it would be about a week before there was any chance of making my first westbound Atlantic crossing with TCA. I immediately took off for Leeds, first by bus to Glasgow where I just managed to catch a fast train to my birthplace.

(The return flight will be in another NetLetter -eds)
- Lancastrian Photo courtesy of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society

This from Bill Norberg

Queen Elizabeth III would like to submit some experiences I had when Trans-Canada Air Lines changed its name and corporate image to Air Canada.

There had been ongoing discussions about changing the name of the airline to one that more closely represented the expansion of the original airline beyond Canada. The chosen name "Air Canada" was one that would not likely be the source of much dissent either within the airline or the country. There were a number of airlines  that used the same general name structure such as Air France etc.

The official date of the conversion to the new name was January 1st 1965 but there had already been a public presentation of the new name and aircraft livery on October 14th 1964. Trans Canada Air Lines had been selected to fly The Queen and the Royal party from Ottawa to London England following completion of the Canadian tour. Trans-Canada Air Lines had never flown HRH The Queen before and this was considered to be a wonderful opportunity to give the airline some excellent public exposure. The President was ecstatic and plans were developed to bring this about. There was as usual, a great deal of communication required between the Government of Canada, HRH The Queen and the airline to ensure all requirements were met, not the least of which were security concerns. As the departure station was Ottawa which was a part of the Central Region, Frank I. Young, Regional Operations Manager, was given the responsibility to make the necessary arrangements on behalf of the airline. He in turn of course delegated specific responsibilities to the various departments involved.

Maintenance and Engineering were assigned responsibilities to make all necessary arrangements to select the aircraft to be used and modify the aircraft to provide the specific accommodations requested for The Queen. The airline was operating both Conway and Pratt and Whitney powered DC-8 aircraft at the time. Not surprisingly, a Rolls Royce Conway powered aircraft was to be used by specific request  Not only must it be Rolls Royce powered, the Decals on the power plants indicating the manufacturer should be placed on the aircraft side of the power plants so they could be seen from within the cabin. Technical staff undertook a detailed monitoring of all the Conway power plants we had to determine which ones were likely to be the most reliable. Once this was determined,  those power plants were relocated to the aircraft that had been selected for the flight, it was DC-8 number 809. Aircraft number 802 was selected as the back up aircraft.

I was assigned the responsibility to coordinate Maintenance Branch activities required to prepare the aircraft as well as those required to have the aircraft located in Ottawa the day before the Royal Flight.It was an interesting task as I had to coordinate a number of Maintenance activities with other technical departments.I had the support of Gerry Wolfe and our  final task was to prepare a report for the Maintenance Department that would be forwarded to all parties concerned including F.I.Young in Toronto. He was very pleased at what we had provided. He immediately  contacted the Director of Maintenance to request that I prepare a similar report for him to coordinate the Company activities on his behalf. We took on the job and I was assigned the job of doing the necessary coordinating with other branches.

There  were major changes made to the interior of the aircraft to accommodate the personal needs of HRH The Queen and her staff . A special dining area was prepared to seat four people,a sleeping area for The Queen as well as dressing rooms etc. Special food service carts were modified to ensure a flawless service at meal times. The cabin of the aircraft was fitted out with first class seating to accommodate the Royal staff of which there were 27. The seating arrangement for these individuals was predetermined .The rear section of the cabin was allocated for the wardrobe trunks and special needs of the  Royal party. They were located on pallets for easy loading and had to be accessible during flight.The requirements for the flight were provided by the British staff and were very detailed. I remember one small item that was a bit amusing. It was stated that HRH The Queen did not prefer Champagne, but several cases should be boarded for the staff.

The President was quite anxious about the flight as he wanted it to go off well for obvious reasons. There was the overriding issue of security and special efforts were undertaken by the RCMP to ensure there was no opportunity for risks to HRH The Queen and her Royal party. After the aircraft had been modified it was given special tests to ensure all was in perfect condition. After the tests the aircraft was sealed and no one was allowed in or near the aircraft.

The major exterior change to the selected aircraft was the application of the new, and as yet unseen, livery that was a part of the name change from Trans-Canada Air Lines to Air Canada. The design was still in a fluid state until just before the flight.I remember Herb Seagrim coming out to the base while the livery was being applied. We went down to the hangar to view it. He wanted a change the size of the maple leaf on the tail but otherwise  approved it. The back  up aircraft did not have the new livery.

As the flight was going to depart from the Armed services hangar at Uplands Airport Ottawa we had to ensure all was in order. I arranged to have a DC-8 aircraft flown to Ottawa so we could ensure ourselves that there would be no surprises the day of the departure. We had the aircraft positioned exactly where it would be on departure day and the Military staff  who would be providing the security and protocol services were there as well to ensure items like the "Red Carpet" were of the correct size etc. It was quickly determined that the  "Red Carpet" was not long enough. The Sargent in charge reported that fact to the Officer in charge who casually told him to get one that was long enough. He then came back to advise the Officer that in event of a wind at time of departure, the carpet would often lift up which could be a safety hazard to The Queen. The officer asked the Sargent what he would recommend? The Sargent said that a service man standing on the side of the carpet every 5 feet would do. How many would he need? About 50.....Arrange it! We carried out a few more tests and finalized our plan.

The pilot who had been selected to operate the flight was Captain Art Anders, a fine individual and an accomplished pilot of many years experience. I knew Art quite well from our early Winnipeg days and felt very confident knowing he was in charge. I remember so well his comment the night before we ferried the aircraft to Ottawa to be ready for departure. Everyone was on tenterhooks fearing something could happen to have a less than perfect operation. I admit I also had a few butterflies, but no more than I had every time we departed a key flight. Art said to me before the flight left for Ottawa. "Don't worry Bill....once those wheels are off the ground we are not coming back" True to his word the departure went perfectly and Art managed to have the flight arrive in London within 15 seconds of the plan. It doesn't get any better than that.

The departure went off on schedule and The Queen waved goodbye to Canada against the background of the new Air Canada livery. While we may exhibited a great deal of bravado about the flight we did have an ace in the hole. We had a second aircraft standing by behind the RCAF hangar ready to be moved to the departure ramp should it have been necessary.  I did not have the privilege of being in Ottawa to observe the departure but was allowed to stay home that morning to watch it on TV. I felt good that it had gone well but that did not surprise me.

After this flight plans were developed to start the re-painting of the fleet to the new livery standards. It was a big job but we now had a fleet of aircraft in a striking new livery that drew attention to the change from the traditional Trans-Canada Air Lines candy stripe livery to a new bold maple leaf format. It stood us well for many years as many of us know. This change to the name Air Canada was a good one as the airline has truly become a world airline and has developed a marvelous reputation for its quality of service and technical excellence of its operations. Truly a reputation that was well earned and a source of pride to all employees who served throughout these 70 memorable years.

John W. Norberg  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Remember when?

Nearly forty eight years ago, on May 4th, 1959 Canadian Pacific Air Lines began operation of it's first 'Transcontinental' flights, connecting Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal. The service was operated with Bristol 'Britannia' Series 314 aircraft. Because there were some initial problems with electrical systems on the Britannia, flights departing from Montreal each day were backed up by a standby DC-6B, with crew at the ready. Since the senior officers of CP Ltd at Windsor Station in Montreal had put so much effort into obtaining permission from the Canadian Government for this service, everyone at CPAL Dorval airport put a great deal of effort into making each morning's departure 'on time'.
My duties at the time were as a Flight Dispatcher at Montreal, Dorval Airport, and I can remember the sigh of relief each morning after we had successfully dispatched a Britannia to Toronto as Flight 01. But I can also remember the frenzied switching of on board catering and payload, and re-flight planning when a DC-6 had to be substituted for the Britannia at the last minute.
Eventually, after a few months, the electrical problems were fixed and all went well,  until in time the Britannia's were replaced on the Transcontinental service by DC-8-43 aircraft.
The permission to operate across Canada, in competition with Trans-Canada Air Lines, made CPAL operations much  more efficient, as aircraft operating from Montreal to Europe, and Montreal to Mexico, could be exchanged with the Vancouver aircraft directly across Canada, without having to make an exchange at Mexico City.
Lots of publicity in Canadian cities accompanied the new service, and the attached cartoon was published in the Vancouver Sun at the time - The artist was the very well known 'Norris'.
The caption has a CPAL pilot telling a passenger "It's our answer to a ridiculous ruling allowing us only one flight a day".
Best wishes,
William Cameron
Okotoks, AB
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Vancouver Interline Club

Vancouver Interline CLubHere is an invite to their "Austria Vancouver Club"

  • Where - 5851 Westminster Hwy,  Richmond.
  • When - Apr 27th at 18:00
  • Menu - Schnitzel buffet & dessert
  • How much - $9.00 for members, non-members and ACRA
  • Drinks - $3.50 local beer, $4 - 5.00 for imported beer, wine & high balls.

Contact is Fred Buchi
Tours&Info VIC
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Why not drop by and yodel - don't forget your Tyrol hat.
Found on the Internet
Indian carrier Jet Airways has introduced a 'check in while walking' service at Mumbia and Delhi airports. Passengers can be checked in- with the help of a hand held interface device and a hip mounted printer - while walking through the terminal. The mobile agent can quickly access and verify passengers travel reservation details, complete check in process and generate a boarding pass.
Star Alliance News
Star AllianceClaiming it "is assuming again the leadership in fleet modernization," Lufthansa yesterday announced a commitment for 15 CRJ900s and took over commitments for 30 Embraer regional jets from Swiss International Airlines, now an LH subsidiary.
Terry's Travel Tips

Terry Baker

New Zealand from $798*
Confirmed air deal! Must purchase with 3 night minimum stay. Airline taxes are additional. Air from LAX or SFO. Add ons available. Can also add on Wellington, Christchurch or Queenstown. Depart now through May 31 Call for more information.
Must book by April 30,2007


New Zealand Land Deals.....
Bed & Breakfast Self Drives

Rental Cars, Motorhomes and Hotel Passes, Ferries & Train Journeys

New Zealand Explorer 9 Days/ 7 Nights from $2416 per person
Auckland/Rotorua/Queenstown/Christchurch Includes round trip confirmed air from US, 7 nights accommodations, tours, some meals and more.

New Zealand Spectacular 13 Days/ 11 Nights from $2881 per person
Auckland/Rotorua/Wellington/Blenheim/Christchurch/Queenstown includes round trip confirmed air from US, 11 nights accommodations, tours and some meals.

Australia from $1099*
Aussie Air Pass includes both international flights to Australia from SFO and LAX AND three domestic Australia flights within Australia Travel between May 1 and Dec. 6, 2007 Must book by May 17, 2007

Sydney Escape from $368*
Melbourne Escape from $321*
Tasmania Hobart Escape from $340*
Adelaide Escape from $330*
Coober Pedy Discovery (Opal Mines) from $731*
Perth Escape from $275*
Darwin Escape from $227*
Alice Springs from $349*
Ayers Rock from $366*
Cairns and Palm Cove Escape from $307*
Rental Cars, Motorhomes and Hotel Passes, Train Journeys

Australian Spectacular 10 Days/ 9 Nights from $1980
Sydney, Alice Springs, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Cairns

These deals move quickly...CALL TODAY!
Caesar Hotels Interline Vacations
1 800 422 3727
Monday through Friday, 9 am to 6 pm CST
Saturday Hours begin April 1, 2007 9:30am to 1pm CST

Bernie McCormack sends us this information -
Subject: Travel insurance

I have a quick bit of information regarding out of country insurance and a phone number that your readers can call and CAN/AM Insurance will answer all questions. I found the service very prompt and friendly. I phoned today and travel tomorrow and my contract will be forwarded by E mail today. All of the health questions are the same for ages   55-89 and I believe that depending on the answers the rates are the same. Naturally if one answers incorrectly the policy will be voided so that is why it is so easy to complete by phone. Pay by credit card.
I had no health problems but my wife has a heart condition (that is stabilized) . 10 days insurance in February (going to HNL) was $97 total for the two of us. My wife had pneumonia one month ago and the total cost now (going to LAX) is     $ 161.
Phone no. 1 800 224-3660. They are in Windsor Ont.
Bernie McCormack gram& This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Country Travel Reports
For information regarding the country you wish to visit, check the information at www.voyage.gc.ca

Go to and click on "Countries Travel Reports" to get up to date information regarding immigration, passport validity, visa requirement and a host of other information.

For example this is the South Africa entry requirement -
A valid Canadian passport is required for Canadians intending to visit South Africa. The passport must be valid for a period of at least 30 days beyond the date of your expected departure from South Africa. Canadians arriving in South Africa with a full passport (i.e. no space for the necessary South African Temporary Resident Permit or visa, at least two pages), will be denied entry to South Africa. The new Immigration Act does not make provision for this scenario and Canadians will be denied entry. Canadians also require a return ticket.

 

Smilies
From the RAPCAN EmailNews
- The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline baggage.

- An old pilot is one who can remember when flying was dangerous and sex was safe.

- Both optimists and pessimists contribute to the society. The  optimist
invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.