Montreal/Quebec City Trip Report Part 1: Getting to and from Montreal (Flying and Driving)

Quebec City

We met our daughter and her friend in Montreal. They drove from Connecticut and it took about 6.5 hours on the way up and about 6 hours on the way back. She drove directly from the passport office in Stamford (she had to get a same day emergency passport as she lost her old one) and drove back to New Haven where she lives. It was nice that she had a friend to share the driving and to hang out with when her old parents went to bed early.

They had a short wait at the border each time and some bad weather to contend with on the way home, but no issues with driving to and from Canada via northern New York state.

My wife and I flew to Montreal from Newark and flew back to Atlanta, both on Air Canada. Our flight to Montreal was in business class as I booked this flight a bit late when I realized we had to be in New Jersey to drop off our younger daughter at college on the Friday morning. In the end, it was 25k Aeroplan points per person for business class and 20k per person for economy so it made sense to just book business class.

For the return flight to Atlanta, I booked one-way economy class tickets for about $200 per person. Overall, this trip was not a great value, but we needed to fly over a holiday weekend so that our we would not have to take any additional time off work.

We arrived at Newark around 1:00pm for our 3:30pm flight to Montréal. We returned our rental car (rented to help with college move-in) at National and took the Air Train over to Terminal A. Security was a bit of a nightmare as TSA Pre-Check was closed. We did get our boarding passes marked so we could avoid shoe removal at the scanner. It took about 40 minutes to get through.

We went to the United Club in Terminal A. Our business class tickets on Air Canada gave us access (although I also have Star Alliance Gold status via an ANA status match that also gives us lounge access when flying any Star Alliance airline). This is a small club that will be closing along with the rest of the terminal when the new Terminal One opens in…2021.

The club was much better than I expected. It wasn’t too crowded and the food selection was surprisingly varied and decent quality.

We sat in the club for an hour or so and then headed to our gate in this ancient terminal. We flew on a relatively new E175 with in-flight entertainment, power ports and USB ports at every seat.

We were served a fruit and cheese plate along with choice of beverage. My wife had wine and I had whiskey.

There were fantastic views of New York City on our takeoff from Newark as it was a beautiful day.

We landed a few minutes early, but had to wait for a jetway. The immigration hall at Montréal looked like it was going to take hours, but in the end, it was fairly efficient and took about 25 minutes from deplaning to Uber.

On our way home, we were dropped off by our daughter around 3pm as she was headed back to Connecticut. We breezed through Global Entry past a huge line of US-bound travelers. We found the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in the US Transborder area. This time I used my ANA Platinum status to get us entry.

The lounge was nicer than I expected as there was a full hot and cold buffet and a pretty premium bar selection.

We sat for a couple of hours with a nice view of the apron and watched as our flight got gradually delayed due to a late arriving aircraft. Keep in mind that there was pretty terrible weather up and down the east coast so in the end, being delayed about an hour wasn’t too bad.

Unfortunately, the food selection looked better than it tasted so we decided to try our luck at the Priority Pass restaurant, Houston’s Bar and Grill. For anyone with a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Capital One Venture X card, there is a Priority Pass restaurant in each of the three terminal sections at Montreal (international, domestic and US transborder).

The food wasn’t too bad at the restaurant. I ordered a salad and my wife ordered a burger. They warned us on entry that the kitchen was taking about 30 minutes, but thanks to our delay, we had the time.

Salad with chicken at Houston’s

I used the last of my cash for a tip and the entire bill was complementary thanks to Priority Pass. We headed down to our gate and boarded about an hour late. We boarded via stairs which always allows for a decent plane picture.

We were on an ancient CRJ900 with no in-seat power, no IFE and tiny overheads. Our bags fit OK, but some people had to put their rollaboards under the seat in front of them.

Air Canada CRJ 900 Economy

Given the bad weather, our flight was surprisingly smooth. I ended up buying internet access to help pass the time and Air Canada allows you to use miles at about 1cpp instead of paying cash. It’s a great idea and I can’t believe Delta hasn’t done this yet as they are always looking to get people to part with SkyMiles at 1cpp.

Points or cash for internet

We arrived around 10pm and then had to schlep all the way from Concourse F to Park and Ride (which had a long wait for a shuttle). We got home around 11:30pm after a long day.

Overall, Air Canada was fine. The continued mask requirement seems out of place (especially as masks are not required in the airport or just about anywhere else in Canada). Having lounge and restaurant access at the airports was convenient considering we spent a small fortune on meals in Canada. Up next, I review our hotels.

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