I travel. I won’t say I travel a lot, I won’t say I travel a little. I travel just enough. It’s gotten to the point where I can navigate some airports in my sleep (and arguably have). It’s also gotten to the point (I’ve just noticed this recently) where the Air Canada staff at the local airport remember me enough to know I don’t speak french. This means over time I’ve experienced a few different airlines.
Air Canada, United, American, Delta, Westjet, US Airways, Swiss Air, British Airways, and more. Due to where I’m situated in Canada and where I travel I normally end up on Air Canada. This past trip to AstriCon, however, was different in that I ended up on both Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge. I won’t/can’t group them together. They are different.
Some people hate Air Canada. Some people say they lose luggage all the time. To me they’ve been great. They’ve gone above and beyond at times to give me a chance at catching flights, in 9+ years they’ve only temporarily lost my luggage once, and they have been the most friendly overall of all airlines I’ve dealt with. I like Air Canada and I’m happy to fly with them. As this post isn’t about Air Canada itself I won’t go further into detail.
Air Canada Rouge
Air Canada Rouge on the other hand… is a budget airline. They cut corners in order to make pricing (seemingly) cheaper. I say seemingly because on routes where Rouge flies there are no regular Air Canada flights so it is hard to compare what pricing would be if they existed. We have to assume that the price is cheaper based on memory.
At First Glance
From a looks perspective they try to make themselves seem “hip”. The crew is young, dressed smartly, and the women wear fedoras on entering/leaving. Their overall attitude is different. All of the crew I encountered were more lively. They told many jokes and made an effort to interact more. At times though they just didn’t seem to care and poked fun at a few passengers. The looks from some of them as people placed large luggage into the overhead were… interesting.
The experience, on the other hand, could have been better. Naturally with a budget airline you give up things.
The entertainment system is a Panasonic based wifi-only solution. You either bring your own device (iPad, iPhone, or laptop) or you rent an iPad for $10. There’s no screens anywhere. For my two flights there was no cost to get into the entertainment system but according to the Rouge website it should cost $5. This may change in the future. Selection was meh, video quality was meh. If they did charge I wouldn’t have paid for it.
I can’t comment on this because unless you are flying to Europe you’ve got to pay for it and I wasn’t about to do that. Drinks were same ol’ complimentary.
Cramped. Lacking in space. I’m not a tall person but my knees were against the seat in front of me and getting comfortable was difficult. Going to Vegas I was able to manipulate things a bit to get an empty seat beside me and I was damn glad to have it. Coming back I was not as lucky. As Rouge flights are usually not for short hops this is frustrating. I dread to think of European flights if the available space is the same as what I was subjected to…
My flight to Vegas had a controllable air vent. It did not have power.
My flight from Vegas had power. It did not have a controllable air vent. The pilot controlled it for everyone.
You get one thing and give up another.
My Overall Thoughts
If it wasn’t clear enough: I don’t like Air Canada Rouge. While the experience is meh my real reason for not liking them is that as a budget airline they should cost less (theoretically) and I’m not sure if they do. Without a point of comparison against a normal Air Canada flight on the same route and how much they would have priced those fares I’m not sure if I’m saving money or if they are just making more of it.
A quick check shows cheaper flights available on either United, Westjet, or American depending on dates selected for a Las Vegas round trip. Having flown all of them I’m sure spending more for Rouge would not be worth it. It may have been the case that Rouge was cheaper in the past but the other airlines changed their fares accordingly. I don’t know.