Review of Air Canada Rouge flight Vancouver San Francisco in Economy

Airline Air Canada Rouge
Flight RV 1848
Class Economy
Seat 14D
Aircraft Airbus A319
Flight time 02:03
Take-off 21 Sep 14, 20:30
Arrival at 21 Sep 14, 22:33
RV   #121 out of 121 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 31 reviews
jetsetpanda
By 4902
Published on 26th September 2014
Hi and welcome to my 2nd trip report to Vancouver this year. I have decided to exclude my outbound on UA since it was rather routine focusing instead on my first flight with Air Canada Rouge on the return trip.

As some of you might know, Rouge was created as the LCC branch of AC using 767's for long haul flights and A319's for short and medium hauls. This new concept has been controversial and a lot of AC's frequent flyers have voiced their displeasure with it. Some aspects of the inflight product have been compromised, like an average 29 or 73.66 cm seat pitch in Y on the A319's and an intra-European style cabin in J with a middle seat blocked. Up until now, I've been very satisfied with the true AC product whenever I flew them to YVR, so I was curious to see how my opinion will change after flying Rouge.

To begin, I was not able to reserve a seat and had to pay a fee of USD 20 per person to hold one beyond the 24 hrs check in time. Since I was traveling with two family members, I decided to just pay the fees and have the peace of mind of having seats together. A minus point already, especially since one of my companions was a senior and required the assistance of someone sitting next to her.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. There was no line at the AC counter but we used the self check-in kiosks. I noticed that our frequent flyer numbers were not printed on the boarding pass unlike the ones from UA on the outbound, so we had to manually input these on the kiosk and then they were printed on the reissued boarding cards.

On the way to YVR airport.

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Check-in area.

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Boarding pass.

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After clearing U.S. Immigration we browsed through the Duty Free shop.

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The gate.

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The plane was supposed to leave at 2030 but at 2000 there was no sign of the plane at the gate. Meanwhile, the screen on the counter still showed an on time departure. The inflight crew has arrived by now and they were waiting along with the passengers. I walked a bit to stretch my legs and knew that this flight was going to be delayed, even though the screen and the airline website showed on time.

The flight next door was also a RV one going to LAX and I saw the crew standing by the gate. That flight was slightly delayed as well. One thing that I noticed about Rouge is the hideous uniforms of the FA's. What's up with that hat and the sloppy ensemble? Are they trying hard to project a cool, laid back and casual image? Just because it is low cost does not mean that it has to be careless. Personally I think a professional image is more effective at conveying authority and respect, not someone who looks like a college kid who put together a wardrobe in a hurry to look presentable.


The prêt-à-porter collection.

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Another interesting fact about the Rouge inflight crew is that FA's receive a Customer Service Excellence training at the Disney Institute in Florida following a 6-weeks regular training at AC. Who better than the instructors at The Happiest Place on Earth to teach you how to make people happy? This proposition sounds great as long as the trainees don't end up looking like the Joker in Batman with a permanent smile on their faces.

Eventually two gate agents showed up after 2000 and one of them announces that the flight will be delayed due to SFO traffic control. We are given a dept. time of 2120. A collective sigh was heard and everyone was resigned to his fate. A while later my name was called along with others to come to the podium. I got excited for a moment thinking if this could be an upgrade, but I don't have status with *A. Nevertheless I believe in miracles and was hopeful for one but it turned out to be a routine document check. Are you kidding me? After going through security with the dreaded -SSSS- on my card, being patted down, opening my bag to be tested and passing through U.S. Immigrations you still need to see if I am the right person boarding this plane?

I sat down near the gate and the agent approached me and my companions to advise that when the plane is ready she will board us first because we were traveling with a passenger that requested a wheelchair. I thanked her for the gesture and waited patiently. When it was about time to board, the gate agent walked away from the counter and her co-worker announces that they found a mechanical problem that will delay the flight further. Needless to say, this was followed by frustrated sighs. A few minutes later the agent announces that the issue has been resolved and they will proceed to board the plane starting with F and elites. There was only one agent working at the gate and no priority was given to elderly or families traveling with children. A line formed instantly and we placed ourselves near the podium. Thankfully a nice lady in F allowed us to get in front of her and upon giving my boarding pass and driver's license to the gate agent to be scanned he asked for the passport.

Plane at the gate.

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Upon entering the plane, I see the purser kneeling down and checking the carts in the galley. She still manages to say hi to those entering. I guess multitasking is in the training curriculum.

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We made our way to row 14 and the pitch looks and feels tight. There was a FA positioned nearby greeting passengers.


Excruciatingly tight seat pitch.



Another surprise - I noticed that the overhead bin above rows 15 and 16 DEF was closed and marked with equipment signs. As if overhead bins are not prime real estate, who in his right mind would restrict these by using them as storage for airplane equipment? Thankfully I was able to put most of our luggage in the overheard compartment above our seats but felt bad for those seating in the two rows behind me.

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Seat pocket contents.

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The FA was proactive helping passengers and did a good job getting everyone settled.

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There were 3 FA's on our flight and they conducted the safety demonstrations live. After take off lights were dimmed and a FA offered tablets for rent. Minutes later the beverage cart made its way along with snacks for sale. I purchased the Duo Combo for USD 9.50 which offered a better value and included a snack + meal. I chose a bag of cashews and the Greek salad. Everything was served with a smile and the salad tasted fresh. My row was the 4th one in the Y cabin and by the time the FA's got to it they were already running out of items like the chicken wrap and the cheese with crackers. I think AC should provision more meals on these flights.

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Pizza

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The rest of the flight was uneventful and we landed in SFO 1:15 hr. later.



BONUS

An afternoon walk through downtown Vancouver starting with the Waterfront, stopping at Bella Gelateria and ending at the Pacific Center.




Bella Gelateria

Judging by the long lines and the signs announcing its award winning gelato, this place could easily be the best gelateria in Vancouver.

We waited for about 30 min. to be served and the wait was worth it. The place features fresh and local ingredients in its production and there is no shortage of really exotic flavors like the Persian inspired Akbar Mashti made with rose water and saffron, along with black sesame, lavender or fior di latte (now that is a true Italian flavor). I opted for a more common cherry and hazelnut, which was light and not overly sweet. Not quite like the real thing in Italy, but close enough.





On my way to the Pacific Center with the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver in the background.

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Pacific Center and Holt Renfrew store.


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No trip is complete without food and here are a couple of restaurants that I visited when I stayed in Richmond.

Dragon View restaurant

This upscale restaurant had tasteful decoration and good service. The dim sum was just superb striking a perfect balance between texture and taste.




Shredded chicken with jellyfish and crunchy flat rice noodles underneath.

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Crab cakes with mayo.

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Seafood rice porridge. There were big chunks of scallops, fish and shrimps underneath. This was served with roasted peanuts, green onions and minced preserved vegetables as accompaniments.

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Fried squid tentacles.

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Coconut gelatin and mango pudding with evaporated milk.

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Guu Izakaya @ Aberdeen Center

Izakaya is a drinking establishment that also serves food to accompany the drinks. It's sort of like a Japanese pub that serves its own version of tapas. This place was loud and convivial with service that was top notch.

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Sashimi salad.

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Chicken karaage (fried chicken marinated in ginger, garlic and soy sauce)

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Fried ribs.

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Tropical roll - boiled salmon with mayo, spicy chicken, cucumber, mango sauce & spicy miso sauce.

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Okonomiyaki - deep fried squid and cabbage pancake with tonkatsu sauce and mustard mayo.

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Stewed pork belly with egg and bread.

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White Spot

A local chain restaurant specializing in burgers and other Canadian favorites.


This is dedicated to - lagentsecret - Cheers!

Poutine!

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See more

Verdict

Air Canada Rouge

5.8/10
Cabin2.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Meal/catering6.0

Vancouver - YVR

8.9/10
Efficiency7.5
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

San Francisco - SFO

9.8/10
Efficiency9.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

Seats were just horrible. The pitch is the worst that I have experienced flying in Y and I literally felt like I was in a sardine can. I am 5'9 or 1.75 meters and can't think of anyone taller than me sitting comfortably in these seats. I also question AC's decision to switch their flights from true AC to Rouge on the SFO route. SFO is far from being a leisure market like MCO or MIA. The inability to use the overhead bins above rows 15/16DEF is a major issue and a big disappointment.

The crew was great and extremely accommodating. I saw FA's help passengers with bags, always smiling and polite in all their interactions. I was pleasantly surprised when I asked for kid's wings and the FA proceeded to get a stack out of her pocket right away and asked me if I needed more than one.

Salad was OK but quantity on the small side. In addition some items were already running out after serving the first couple of rows. I would hate to sit in the back and wait to purchase something from the Cafe menu.

We arrived 1:15 hr. later at 2348 instead of 2233.

In the end, this was an uncomfortable flight that luckily lasted less than 2 hrs. I can't imagine sitting through this torture on a longer flight despite the better catering and great service. I never thought that I would say this but I would prefer to take UA over AC for the comfort advantage and the ability to reserve a seat free of charge.

Information on the route Vancouver (YVR) San Francisco (SFO)

10 Comments

  • Comment 118826 by
    K2World 1891 Comments

    Thanks for this report.
    AC is well known for not being on time, and it seems to be the same for its low-cost version.
    The legroom is horrible ! I hope it's better on their 763 .
    The salad and the pizza seems ok.
    Nice pictures of Vancouver :)

    • Comment 302270 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      Thank you for your comments.

      I can't imagine myself flying Rouge to Europe, even on a widebody plane.

      AC has a decent B.O.B. menu and it is better than the competition. Too bad that some items seem to run out way earlier.

  • Comment 118832 by
    lagentsecret GOLD 12423 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR

    With fee for the seat, wasn't it better to fly with a legacy or was it still less expensive with Rouge ?

    Oh you got the SSSS as remarks : what was weird in your behavior lol ?

    The prêt-à-porter collection
    Anyway Rouge's FAs are smart : they prefer eating at the fast food instead of buying something from the BOB ;)

    Another interesting fact about the Rouge inflight crew is that FA's receive a Customer Service Excellence training at the Disney Institute in Florida following a 6-weeks regular training at AC
    I think it's perfect to have the adequate behavior with North American pax ;)

    upon giving my boarding pass and driver's license to the gate agent to be scanned he asked for the passport
    I thought that American people MUST have a passport to travel to Canada

    The FA was proactive helping passengers and did a good job getting everyone settled.
    It's incredible how much people are travelling with suitcases that they are not able to put in the overhead bins by themselves :(

    What was in the round box (near the salad) ?
    I wouldn't be able to eat US onboard food

    Nice bonus pictures

    Thanks for the dedication : even if I like oily food (when it comes about olive oil), this poutine (and its namesake) are way more than what I could eat

    See you soon for a next flight

    • Comment 302271 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      With fee for the seat, wasn't it better to fly with a legacy or was it still less expensive with Rouge ?
      It was the same price. I chose Rouge to try it out.

      Oh you got the SSSS as remarks : what was weird in your behavior lol ?
      Maybe I looked too secretive like someone I've been hanging around with. ;)

      Anyway Rouge's FAs are smart : they prefer eating at the fast food instead of buying something from the BOB ;)
      I don't think they have leftovers at the end of the service judging by how understocked they were.

      I think it's perfect to have the adequate behavior with North American pax ;)
      When in Rome do as the Romans.

      I thought that American people MUST have a passport to travel to Canada
      You are right and I had my passport when I went through U.S. Immigrations and security. I just put it away and thought that a driver's license would suffice since it was also an official document establishing identity. With U.S. pre-clearance on these flight I thought that this was redundant.

      What was in the round box (near the salad) ?
      I wouldn't be able to eat US onboard food
      Crumbled feta cheese. B.O.B. is not for the discriminating gourmand. ;)

      Thanks for the dedication : even if I like oily food (when it comes about olive oil), this poutine (and its namesake) are way more than what I could eat
      You are most welcome. A little ketchup should make it more palatable. :P

  • Comment 118836 by
    Numero_2 GOLD 9930 Comments

    Thanks for sharing.

    Nice to see how AC Rouge looks like.
    Well, the Rouge Y product isn't far from its mother's one, especially regarding the delay. lol

    There's nothing good to expect about pitch in LCCs...
    At least cabin crew was efficient and friendly.

    Nice bonus : I must go to Vancouver once !

  • Comment 118840 by
    AirCanada881 1622 Comments

    Thanks for the report, Rouge doesn't look too appealing :/

    I hope you enjoyed Vancouver, next time take a trip down to White Rock by the US border, a beautiful little beach town with lots of shops and cafes and a 500m long peer, I used to live there for a year and I come every year to see family. Beautiful British Columbia at its finest!

  • Comment 118941 by
    indianocean GOLD 6828 Comments

    Just like the big sister, always late. Are they doing this on purpose?
    Thank you anyway for the great report. I like the AC Rouge livery but I've read lots of comments on Skytrax website and you just confirm how bad is this airline.

    • Comment 302350 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      It seems to run in the family. ;)

      One thing I forgot to mention on my report - I was able to take a peek at their J service and they give out printed menus as well as a full tray for dinner service. Even though the seats might be the European J type, the catering might be decent and better than UA. If you fly UA in J, their website list Refreshment as the only type of service in the front.

      If you are in Y, then UA is better from a comfort standpoint. You can select your seats for free if they are available and there is more seat pitch.

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