A destination Airshow has made me want to visit…

I’m sure I’m not the only one that watches Airshow (the moving map on the in-flight entertainment system) obsessively when flying. What I always find funny is the obscure cities they sometimes display. Instead of displaying New York or Boston as points of reference, they’ll instead show towns with a population of 5,000 (as I find out after doing some research after landing).

While I sleep well on flights from the west coast to Europe, I usually just stay up on flights from the east coast, since the flights are too short to get any real sleep. I’ll typically always have Airshow playing, and one of the places that always mystifies me is St. John’s, Canada. You’ll already be half way to your destination in Europe, but still over North America. St John’s is the easternmost city in North America, and for whatever reason, I’m desperate to visit.

I was thinking of booking a trip there using miles (since revenue tickets are really expensive), though have revised my plan since. Air Canada has a daily flight from St. John’s to London Heathrow operated by an Airbus 319, with near perfect award availability. So if you’re ever wondering why you’re seeing an Air Canada Airbus 319 at Heathrow, that’s why. I also think it wins the award for the most uncomfortable premium cabin transatlantic product for a “full service” airline, given that the flight features standard domestic first class seats.

Anyway, back on topic. Instead of just booking an award as far as St. John’s, I’ll have St. John’s be my stopover point enroute to Europe the next time I cross the pond. While I wouldn’t look forward to flying domestic first class all the way to London, it should be an experience, and being able to visit St. John’s at no extra cost seems worthwhile.

So anyway, who has been to St. John’s? Is it worth a visit? For how long? Has anyone else been tempted to go based on Airshow?


  1. Been up and down the west coast of Newfoundland, all the way up to St. Anthony and Lance Aux Epines. Newfoundland’s very beautiful.

  2. Not only tempted; Halifax has been driving me nuts after I’ve seen in on Airshow hundreds of times.

  3. I visited St John’s for a week on a whim in 2006. It is eerily beautiful, with lots of fog and mist and a rocky coastline. Wonderful seafood. Rent a car if you can and drive around the peninsula to experience the small towns and lighthouses. If you’ve ever had a desire to go bird-watching, this is the place to do it.

  4. I never comment on your blog although I read religiously, but I had to on this one…I’ve seriously thought this same exact thing every single time I fly across the pond and see it one the map. crazy.

  5. @Wouter I’ve got a trip planned to Saint Pierre and Miquelon next summer. I love that they use the Euro. My planned trip includes St John’s, Halifax, Moncton, and Charlottetown, PEI as well. I really enjoyed Halifax when I was there for work. Even though it was January.

    I took time to drive down to Peggy’s Cove and visit the SwissAir 111 memorial as well. A sobering reminder that our safe travels are built on the tragedy of others.

  6. regarding most uncomfortable premium cabin , do you consider Icelandair to be a full service airline? If so, try their Saga class on a 757 sometime.

  7. Been there. You really need to take a road-trip there to appreciate how far away and how big it is. (i.e. it’s a long drive across the island.) The ferry from Nova Scotia is entertaining in itself.

    Just don’t confuse St. Johns with Saint John. 🙂

  8. St Johns is lovely and worth a visit, but I wouldn’t make it a long one. Also, be aware that some things can be quite expensive as it’s not cheap getting them there. It has benefited over the years by the Canadian government regionalizing jobs to it.

    One place I regularly fly over when flying from Heathrow to the West Coast is Iqaluit – it has always intrigued me. I pride myself on knowing my geography but, apart from flying over it and it hosting a 2010 G7 meeting, I’ve never heard of it and never seen it mentioned in any news reports.

  9. >What I always find funny is the obscure cities they sometimes display.

    Yes! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about Godthab whilst on a California-Europe service!

  10. St. John’s is a great spot to visit in July or August. Beautiful scenery and friendly people.

    It also has the distiction of having more bars per capita than any city in North America.

    An evening on George Street is not somerthing you will soon forget. Unless of course you over indulge and then it is something you just can’t remember.

  11. St John’s? Hm, been there once, flying United from ORD to FRA. Just off the Canadian coast suddenly the RHS engine decided to stop working; hence u-turn and emergency landing in St John’s. We arrived there at about midnight and asked a taxi driver to show us the town; highlights were Signal Hill, where Marconi received the first wireless radio transmission across the Atlantic and drinking with the locals in a pub.
    It only took United about 15h to organise a replacement aircraft…Never flew United long-haul ever since.

  12. Very admirable, Lucky! You’ll need some luck to avoid delays. From Wikipedia:

    Of major Canadian cities, St. John’s is the foggiest (124 days), snowiest (359 cm (141 in)), wettest (1,514 mm (59.6 in)), windiest (24.3 km/h (15.1 mph) average speed), and cloudiest (1,497 hours of sunshine).

    Good luck!

  13. You will love YYT. It is my second favorite Canadian city after YUL (I grew up in YHZ). The A319 service to LHR is much better than backtracking to YHZ which I had to do (as do most pax) when AC ends the summer service. Given that YYC – YHZ is longer than YYT – LHR us Canadians are quite used to doing domestic “trans Atlantic” segments on a A319. Big country. Small population.

  14. You will love YYT. It is my second favorite Canadian city after YUL (I grew up in YHZ). The A319 service to LHR is much better than backtracking to YHZ which I had to do (as do most pax) when AC ends the summer service. Given that YYC – YHZ is longer than YYT – LHR us Canadians are quite used to doing domestic “trans Atlantic” segments on a A319. Big country. Small population.

  15. If you didn’t want to make it part of a transatlantic award, you could use bmi miles for a domestic one way award (zone 3) and use it as your stopover. The reasoning behind that is so your origin and destination could be in the US, so you could find a cheap revenue flight back to Tampa.

    Something like TPA-YYZ-YYT(stopover)-EWR. Should be 11.25K plus 75GBP.

  16. Hi Lucky!

    YYT is worth a visit for sure. Great city.
    The lounge is special in that you need a pincode to enter. The pin is given at check-in.
    I wouldn’t take YYT-LHR. Better to backtrack to YHZ IMO. AC J is worse for comfort than UA or CO F, IMHO.
    If you’d like to read a little about YYT (including the airport & lounge), please visit: http://thelounge.me/2010/11/15/part-5/

    Cheers from YYC!

  17. St. Johns is a lovely fishing village that’s grown up to be a small city. Got hooked on Tim Horton’s donuts there (although you can find them all over Canada and parts of the U.S.). If you rent a car you’ll encounter a sign leading you to the town of Dildo. My traveling partner and I had a lot of fun photographing that one. Weather is best between May-September. This is one of the towns that took in thousands of inbound wide-bodies on 9/11/01 when the U.S. refused any more inbound air traffic. It’s the town featured in “The Shipping News” starring Kevin Spacey. Can’t wait to go back.

  18. You should do a whole Canadian tour…stop in YOW along the way!

    YYT-LHR in a 319 isn’t that crazy, given that the distance is slightly less than TPA-SFO

  19. St Johns might be okay for an afternoon, but I wouldn’t spend a lot of time there. It’s pretty, but not much else.

  20. Hey Lucky. St. John’s is great. Come and stay!

    Friendliest people you’ll ever meet. I should know…I’m one of them!

    Funny thing, my wife always wants to travel to Tampa for our holidays. You weather is just darn better!

  21. If you live in Canada and want to go to London on an award ticket, the yyt-lhr flight should be kept in the back of your mind as an ace in the hole, based on the availability reported.

  22. Just make sure you specify and end up in St. John’s, Newfoundland, as opposed to Saint John, New Brunswick. I actually have kind of a funny story about that.

  23. I love the east coast! Anyone visiting should be sure to drive to Cape Breton from Halifax and see the fall colours and the Cabot trail.
    Lucky, get ready for accents and seafood feasts!

  24. Guys if you ever done LAX-YYZ or SFO-YYZ or YVR to YYZ its almost the same distance as doinig YYT-LHR. Also since the Executive Class is for domestic you do realize its one of the best product in North America. Most people who travel to and from Canada and the
    US prefer AC over UA, CO, DL, AA for comfort and good product. You will get the same treatment over the atlantic. It’s no different as doing east coast to west coast on AC for 5hr flight. It will be interesting to fly the small narrow body airbus across the pond. YOu should enjoy the experience of flying A319 across the pond.

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