Flying my one millionth mile on an Air Canada Express (Jazz) CRJ-900 from San Diego to Vancouver

Flying my one millionth mile on an Air Canada Express (Jazz) CRJ-900 from San Diego to Vancouver

01. Air Canada Express (Jazz) CRJ-900 economy class San Diego to Vancouver
02. SkyTeam lounge, YVR
03. Philippine Airlines 777-300ER business class Vancouver to New York (JFK)
04. Delta Air Lines 757-200 premium business class (Delta One) New York (JFK) to San Diego

It really pains me to say this, but this Air Canada CRJ-900 flight from San Diego to Vancouver was the flight I had been looking forward to my entire life. No, I don’t have an Air Canada fetish of any kind, and you know dang well that I hate CRJ’s more than anything else on this planet, but it was this flight that just so happened to be the one that crossed me over that monumental 1,000,000 mile mark.

And don’t even get me started on how it came to be that my 1,000,000th mile flight ended up being on CRJ. The honest truth is that I completely lost track of my flown mileage, and it wasn’t until I was updating my flight log a couple weeks before this trip when I realized what was about to happen. I did consider booking a special flight of some kind (right before this jaunt to Vancouver) that would’ve been more worthy of reaching such a significant milestone, but it seemed really self-indulgent considering that nobody but me would care anyway.

A CRJ-900 it is then. Thank God it wasn’t a CRJ-200 though, because then I definitely would’ve had to come up with an extremely indulgent Plan B to avoid a disaster such as that.

San Diego, CA (SAN) – Vancouver, BC (YVR)
Friday, September 14, 2018
Aircraft: CRJ-705ER (technically, it’s a -900)
Registration: C-GNJZ
Duration: 2 hours 41 minutes
Seat: 24A (economy class)

Air Canada Express (Jazz) CRJ-900 side view
Air Canada Express (Jazz) CRJ-900 side view illustration by
YVR-SAN route map
The route map from SAN to YVR.

Dear Air Canada,

As much as I appreciate daily nonstop service between San Diego and Vancouver, I would like to enquire as to why you chose the ungodly hour of 7 AM for the morning departure. Please be advised that most human beings are still quite dysfunctional at this hour, and it would behoove you to extend the departure window forward at least two hours so that your passengers (and employees) can appreciate the experience in a more alert state of mind. Please feel free to call me at your convenience so that we can discuss this matter, as I’ve got some really good ideas for departure times that will make this flight a more attractive option.

Thank you and kind regards,


P.S. The decision to serve this route with a CRJ blows. But don’t worry – we can discuss this as well.

Well then, I guess there’s no point in telling you about how much that I wasn’t happy about such an early flight. To be honest, I’m not sure exactly why they chose this particular time slot, because it seems to arrive into Vancouver far too early for the majority of connections to anywhere in the world.

Maybe it’s simply an aircraft availability issue? I really have no idea, but what I do know is that a 9 AM departure time (and not a minute earlier) makes a lot better sense for my particular needs, and that’s all that matters anyway. Ha!

San Diego airport early morning departure
It’s not like I was expecting a parade or anything, but at least one red balloon tied to something out here with “congratulations to SANspotter!” printed on it would’ve been nice.
Air Canada baggage drop San Diego airport
There wasn’t even any cake here at the baggage drop, and the reality of this being like any another CRJ flight was setting in painfully hard and fast.

If there’s one really nice thing about these early flight out of San Diego, it’s the fact that getting through security is relatively easy and quick and the airport itself is pretty slow compared to other times of the day. It took me no longer than 15 minutes to get through security and grab some breakfast before finding a quiet place to sit and relax before the flight.

Air Canada express CRJ San Diego airport
Does that look like something you’d wanna celebrate your 1,000,000th mile on? I can’t believe I was stupid enough to lose track of my mileage leading up to this big moment!
SANspotter selfie early morning SAN
Checking again to see if they swapped it to an Emirates A380 or something for this special occasion.
Air Canada express in San Diego
I guess one of the advantages of being so early is the fact that it gave me ample time to practice the inevitable difficult conversation with Canadian passport control. “I know, it DOES seem suspicious that I would allow a CRJ-900 to be my 1,000,000th mile flight, but I swear I’m telling the truth!”
Air Canada CRJ San Diego airport
Perhaps the driver of that Gate Gourmet truck will lose his concentration, slam into the side of the CRJ, and then they’ll have no choice but to swap to an Emirates A380. And before you slam me for sounding unreasonable, it should be noted that I’d even settle for a 777.
Air Canada CRJ review San Diego to Vancouver
Another angle, because this is a special moment after all. *sigh*

As I was waiting for the flight to begin boarding, I noticed that the fog outside seemed to be rolling in thicker and thicker with each passing minute. I didn’t think anything of it other than “whoa that’s cool”, and it didn’t seem to be affecting any other departures so I had no cause for concern. But you know how it is with fog and airports…

Air Canada mobile boarding pass
The Air Canada mobile boarding pass. How dare they use an icon of a 747 for a regional jet flight!

Boarding started at exactly 6:35 AM and within just a few minutes I was deep in the innards of the aircraft type that I despise so much. OK, I guess that’s being a little bit overdramatic. Of course I hate the CRJ, but to be fair, the CRJ-900 is far better than the rinky-dink CRJ-200 (an experience you can read more about in my United Express CRJ-200 review).

Old jet bridge San Diego airport
Having flashbacks to all of the jet bridges I’ve walked down over the course of the last 1,000,000 miles.
CRJ-900 boarding door
Someone could poke their eye out on the corner of that black mask surrounding the cockpit windows!
Air Canada CRJ-790 interior
Get out of the way people, because there’s a 1,000,000 mile flier coming through! Honestly though, I still felt like the same old peon that I’ve always been.
Air Canada express seats
Air Canada Express CRJ-900 economy class seats (which just so happen to look like the Air Canada Express CRJ-900 business class seats). I can’t wait until the day when all economy seats look like the ones in those Frontier Airlines A320neo’s.
Air Canada express CRJ-900 economy class review
These particular seats look like La-Z-Boy recliners from the 1970s compared to the new slimline seats they are stuffing in airplanes these days. Maybe that’s why I was feeling the urge to grow a mustache as I was getting settled in?
Air Canada express CRJ-900 leg room
A bit ironic (and really sad) that you’ll find more legroom in this Air Canada Express CRJ-900 then you would in an Air Canada Rouge A321.
Air Canada express CRJ-900 video screen
Although these are the exact same video screens you saw in my review of Air Canada A321 business class, they are larger than what you saw in my JetBlue A320 Core seat review. Hmm…I enjoy nothing more than making silly jokes about the little CRJs, but I’m kind of struggling with this one so far. This is a neat little airplane!
Air Canada express USB charging port
There are USB charging ports at every seat as well. “Dear Air Canada (I know, sorry for bothering you again) – scratch what I said earlier about how the CRJ was a poor choice for this route. I’m actually ok with it, and now I’m hoping that you will make it your highest priority to kill Rouge instead. Love, SANspotter”
SANspotter selfie CRJ-900
But I don’t wanna lean forward to look out the window!
Dirty airplane window
Speaking of looking out the window, remember how I couldn’t see anything the last time I flew on a CRJ-900? I think this is a sign (that CRJs hate me too).
Air Canada express CRJ-900 safety card
“**** that, I see fire. You can’t make me go out there!” (Says the guy in diagram 1 in the center section)

Everything seemed to be going very well as we were pushing off the gate, and I was having fun trying to get some flashy pics of the sun burning through that beautiful fog. Meanwhile, the highly skilled SAN ground crew did a remarkable job (as always) of getting us turned around and pointed in the right direction.

But then came the announcement from a frustrated sounding pilot, which basically consisted of him telling us that the fog was wrecking havoc with the airport this morning and that we were going to be delayed. Arrivals were coming in on runway 9, while departures were going off on 27.

Those of you who aren’t familiar with San Diego international airport, the normal flow of traffic is runway 27 for all the departures and all arrivals. It’s a one one-runway airport, and running it in both directions simultaneously is very inefficient.

This resulted in us being number 20 for take off this morning, which was especially painful since it didn’t account for all of the arriving aircraft as well. Long story short, it was going to be a while until we were able to take off. At least we didn’t have to go back to the gate, I guess. Immediately after the announcement, we started rolling towards the lineup for departures and just waited our place in line.

Fog delay San Diego international airport
Waiting patiently for the fog to clear. And somehow I thought my 1,000,000th mile flight was gonna be perfect. Ha!

Despite how frustrated the pilot sounded in his announcement, our wait for departure didn’t seem like it took all that long, and although I didn’t time it, I’m guessing it only took about 25 minutes or so before we were in the air. I was expecting far worse, so all in all it wasn’t a big deal.

Fog at San Diego airport
Just look at that wall of fog out there on the horizon!
Air Canada takeoff from San Diego
Taking off now, trying desperately not to think about all the episodes of Air Crash Investigation I’ve seen in which fog played a major role in a horrific accident. “Everything seemed to be normal as the plane lifted off the runway, but then…” More than anything I was mortified to think about how embarrassing it would be to die in an aircraft I despise so much.
Air Canada CRJ review
Well, we survived the fog, but it’s a long flight still and I can’t promise that I won’t die of boredom.
Flying over Catalina island
Catalina Island, just west of Los Angeles. Every time I fly over it, I decide that I’m going to visit as soon as possible. As much as I’m known to procrastinate, it’ll probably sink into the ocean before I ever step foot on it.

Air Canada jazz CRJ-900s are staffed by only one flight attendant, so service was a bit slow on today’s flight – although she seemed to be working very hard and as fast as possible. It was only scheduled to be 2.5 hours up to Vancouver this morning, so it wasn’t all that important to be served a snack IMHO. I think I would’ve survived. I think.

Air Canada express comfortable seats review
Would it has been rude of me to wake them up and tell them that I was about to cross over the 1,000,000 mile threshold?
Air Canada express beverage service
Popping bottles (of water) for one of the most important AvGeek moments of my life.

Knowing that this was my one millionth-mile flight, you’re darn sure that I knew exactly the point at which that was going to happen. Therefore, my nose was to the window and the in-flight map once we passed Lake Tahoe so that I could pinpoint and celebrate the precise moment when it happened.

Flying over Lake Tahoe
Seeing Lake Tahoe down there looking amazing as ever brought back a flood of memories from my 2014 family ski trip. Only a few more minutes to go and I’ll be in the 1 million mile club!

Just as we were coming up on Bend Oregon, I sat back in my seat and raised my glass of water to the video screen in front of me, which was showing the exact spot where I would become a 1 million mile flier. Cheers!

SANspotter selfie drinking water
The big moment! Nobody else seemed to care though, so I took a swig of water and enjoyed it all by myself.

I’m normally very comfortable with the fact that I’m an introverted person who likes to keep to himself most of the time, but I will admit that I was feeling the temptation to tap my neighbor on the shoulder and let her know the significance of what had just happened. She looked like she was dead asleep though, and I figured that waking her up to tell her something she couldn’t care less about wasn’t a wise decision. She didn’t look all that tough, but part of me was worried that she’d take a swing at me and I’d end up with a black eye to celebrate 1,000,000 miles with. Therefore, I celebrated the moment in silence all by myself.

 Flying over Mt Hood
Mother Nature was kind enough to gift to me with an amazing view of Mt. Hood though. Thanks ma!

This flight up to Vancouver went right back to being boring and dull as that special moment passed, and by the time we reached the USA / Canada border the skies had turned gloomy and gray – typical of what I was expecting for this time of year in the Pacific Northwest.

Approach into Vancouver Canada
Wait! What happened to the beautiful sunshine? My hopes and dreams of ending this flight with a ray of sunlight beaming down upon us were smashed in an instant.
Approach and landing Vancouver airport
I’m telling you, I gotta stop watching that Air Crash Investigation series. I may be a seasoned million mile flyer now, but my fingernails were dug deep into the armrest for the entire approach and landing. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about airline crashes from watching that show, it’s that even though things seem normal and calm, **** can happen in an instant and then it’s all over.
Landing at YVR
Welcome to Vancouver!
Vancouver airport terminal
Interesting. I don’t see any cake and balloons here either.
Arrival at YVR air Canada express
Is there nothing more stressful than being just moments away from having to deal with stone-cold Canadian Immigration agents? *gulp*
Flying 1 million miles
One last brief moment of celebration before walking off the plane, undoubtedly confusing as hell to the crew. I’ll bet anything that they’ve never seen anyone throw a gesture like this in the back of thier CRJ!

Flying more than 1,000,000 miles has been a goal of mine since I was 10 years old (at least), and it feels so good to have finally reached that milestone! I’m a bit disappointed that it took this many years to finally cross over that number, but the fact that I did it was enough to give me a satisfied grin as I checked that box off of my bucket list.

As luck would have it, it was actually the next segment which would have been worthy of being a proper 1,000,000th mile flight. I was so close to making this a very epic milestone, and if anything else, it’s made me realize that I’m going to be darn sure when and where I’m going to cross 2,000,000 miles. Of course I have no idea how it’s all going to play out right now, but I promise you that it’s not going to be on CRJ.

Comments (5)

  1. Randy Preising

    November 17, 2018
    • SANspotter

      November 18, 2018
  2. Albert

    February 23, 2019
    • SANspotter

      February 24, 2019
      • Albert

        June 17, 2019

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