When Air Canada announced their low-cost subsidiary, Air Canada Rouge, I must say I was almost intrigued. Instead of adding new routes or supplementing Air Canada’s existing route network with Rouge, they replaced existing mainline coverage with Rouge. People who bought their tickets before the cut-over were, understandably, upset. I was alerted to a fantastic deal, on Air Canada Rouge, on a route I fly regularly (LAX-YVR) by TheFlightDeal. The airfare was sub-$200 when it’s regularly $300+. I snagged a weekend booking without asking anyone I would be visiting in Vancouver.
Several weeks had passed and I had been hearing more about Air Canada Rouge – not all good things either. In particular, people were complaining about the leg room, or lack thereof, on the A319 aircraft. Air Canada decided to go from a 31-35″ pitch on their mainline aircraft to a 29″ pitch. Seat pitch refers to the distance between a point on one seat to the same point on the seat in front of it. Typically, the greater the pitch, the more leg room there is.
Los Angeles (LAX) – Vancouver, BC (YVR)
On a previous flight on a different carrier, I overheard a flight attendant ask another if they had seen the Air Canada Rouge uniforms and that they were vintage yet quirky. Usually vintage and aviation/flight attendants means that it’s pretty cool. Think about how flying was in the 1950s. Upon boarding, I did notice that the uniforms were modern vintage, but in my opinion not that quirky. I like the fedora hats, but not all of the flight attendants wore one.
When I got to my seat, I immediately realized it was going to be a tight fight. I put my backpack under the seat in front of me and sat down. Last time I was on a flight in a seat with less than 31″ pitch was in a Vueling Airlines flight. I’m a little over 6 feet tall, so even the 30″ pitch on Vueling was tight. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
The flight attendants all seem young. They were also very friendly. I expect that out of a young crew as they typically aren’t as jaded as more senior FAs can be.
Overall, the flight was smooth and we arrived about 10 minutes early. Even if it wasn’t early, the arrival time of this flight is right around the time that a flight from Asia lands, and others from USA, so immigration can have a long line. Thankfully I have Nexus and I don’t even have to talk to anyone until I leave. Best $50 I have ever spent!
Vancouver, BC (YVR) – Los Angeles (LAX)
When I checked-in for my flight 24 hours in advance, I felt like either there was something wrong or there was a mistake. I had been pre-selected for seat 18A. At first I thought this was just a plain window seat, so I tried to change it. I realized that 18A is the window seat in the second exit row! On the Air Canada Rouge A319 with “premium” seats, the first exit row (row 17) only has two seats. So 18A and 18F have no seat in front of them!
Even without the seat in front of me, I still couldn’t cross my legs as 17B is still too close. There isn’t extra leg room in row 18. I didn’t mind because I could still stretch my legs.
The flight down to LA was relatively uneventful. I felt like I didn’t get as good service as I did with the aisle seat. We also unexpectedly hit some light-moderate turbulence for several minutes going over the southern Cascades mountain range.
Air Canada Rouge In-Flight Entertainment
On mainline Air Canada flights, there are individual seat-back TVs. This is not the case on Rouge flights. However, there is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) streaming content. Just remember to download the Air Canada IOS app or install Flash on your computer first. Judging the IFE by quantity, there was quite a bit of movies, TV shows and music to choose from. Judging on quality, there is room for improvement. The selection of movies seemed to be quite random.
The quality of the movie was good. I was able to watch it full screen with a small quality reduction. There was several times where the app crashed – and looking around it crashed at the same time as other peoples so I suspect it’s with the plane or media server. Also, the app does not support multitasking – so you can’t do something else while listening to music, which is pretty annoying.
I am disappointed that the YVR-LAX route got “Rouged”. I think this is a valuable route with a lot of competition (4 other airlines currently serve this route with a 5th being added in October). Vancouver is known as Hollywood North and I can’t see that actors would choose to fly Air Canada Rouge over other carriers. I usually fly Alaska Airlines and even in economy, I am more comfortable. I don’t think it stacks up well against the competition.
I do feel, however, that my expectations were met and I survived. I flew on Air Canada Rouge because TheFlightDeal found an excellent fare (thank you again). If you’re not following them on Twitter and/or getting their daily email, I strongly suggest doing so.
During the safety briefing, they first did it in English then as if following a script said “and now in French” and did the same briefing in French. Following that…and now in French.