Its website brings a slew of expectations and anticipations, the promise of a new way to escape. We are told that from the moment you book a ticket to the warm welcome you receive when you arrive aboard, Air Canada Rouge offers a new way to vacation. Its message invites us to enjoy the newly designed cabins and promises unprecedented leisure! It’s BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy is obligatory. That’s to say, it isn’t’ possible to watch films on the flight unless we bring our own entertainment systems. Air Canada Rouge boasts affordable rates and the fact that no matter how you travel, you earn Aeroplan Miles.
The destinations: Finally direct flights to new destinations! Montreal-Nice, Barcelona, Venice, Lisbon, Manchester… We’re often willing to forgo some degree of in-flight comfort in order to avoid the hassle of transiting through multiple airports. Traveling with Air Canada Rouge on a flight between Montreal and Nice costs about $100 to $200 less than it would ordinarily.
The online ticket purchase experience is effective, as long as it’s for a standard booking:
While there were no problems during this part of the transaction, there’s still the fact that Air Canada and most other carriers don’t yet accommodate the needs of those travelling in pairs. For instance, when travelling with a partner, it’s sometimes necessary to manage multiple credit cards and separate travel insurance specifications. If this common common situation isn’t accounted for in the reservation system, buying two tickets, at the same rate, seated side-by-side is a logistical planning nightmare. Even trying to synchronize the reservation process from two separate computers, you begin to realize that each one sees different seats. The reason? Each user belongs to a ‘different class’ of Aeroplan member. It quickly becomes clear that only a call to customer service can complete this sort of booking.
Aeroplan member, be wary on Rouge:
You may not receive the usual number of miles, as they can be reduced. But to know this, you’ll have to try to understand this ambiguous message: “The minimum number of miles* accumulated based on distance flown on Air Canada and Air Canada Express flights (Air Canada rouge flights do not apply)”.
Newly designed cabins, really?
On the Montreal-Nice destination, it is clear that Air Canada has found a way to recycle old planes. Legroom is minimal and, should the passenger in front of you recline their seat, you’ll be unable to make routine movements like changing the position of your legs or picking up something that just fell on the ground (read more on the legroom controversy in this blog post). Clearly, the new cabins referred to in the welcome message are not part of this Montreal-Nice flight. According to friends who have flown to other destinations like Barcelona and Las Vegas, new cabins are not part of those experiences either. One wonders where the luxury cabins mentioned on the site are?
On-board entertainment thanks to your own device
Increasingly, airlines are adopting the BYOD approach to managing inflight entertainment, asking passengers to bring their own mobile devices (iOS only with Canada Rouge) or to rent one on board for $10. To access the inflight entertainment system, you have to download the application in advance and put it in airplane mode. As many passengers do not know how to download the app or to turn on Airplane mode, cabin crew spend a lot of time explaining how to configure the passenger’s device to access the entertainment system. It would be helpful to provide a good wireless connection while passengers wait to board. This would allow to allow them to download the application and to learn how to use it while connected to the internet.
Air Canada Rouge’s video-on-demand application offers few choices, no recent movies and about 4-5 movies per category, though certain categories offer more selection. At times, the movie stream “drops”, probably because of the instability of wireless signal on board. Once the signal drops, you have to start the process of selecting your movie from the beginning. Once the film loads, it’s difficult to find and resume playing from where you left off. Another additional frustration is that it is impossible to monitor the journey made by the aircraft or to keep tabs on the flight time remaining. This service simply isn’t available. Navigation through the app’s categories is difficult. There’s no easy way to get a back to the category listing, using the main menu is required to preview movies and there is no back button.
The BYOD policy is a current topic of debate. While studies show that more and more passengers bring smartphones, tablets and laptops with them, many complain about the lack of infrastructure to accommodate them on board. Using a mobile device to watch a movie or two will drain its battery. Since there’s currently no way to charge the device on board, passengers would need to need to bring their own battery chargers in order to benefit from continuous entertainment on long flights.
According to a study by market research firm Osurv, implementing a BYOD and wireless entertainment VOD is one of the most profitable moves airlines have made since adding fees for baggage and meals. However, many passengers still love the concept of a more laid-back experience where one is presented with an entertainment system at eye level rather than holding a device on your lap – a lot less comfortable for the neck. Otherwise, there should be shelves or other types of supports to hang your device on the seat in front of you. Although this would probably cause problems for passenger safety. In short, this will require a new approach to design a cabin that is actually made to accommodate passengers own devices. This study also mentions that several passengers would expect to get some form of compensation in terms of cost savings, air miles, or otherwise in exchange for bringing their own device.
Since the FAA has authorized using wireless connexions on board in the united States, questions regarding security on board have arisen: Is harmful interference created even when devices are used in airplane mode? How could it be possible to know if all passengers have activated the flight mode?… (Read the article).
It seems that the logistics and planning needed to implement a BYOD policy haven’t been completely thought through on Air Canada Rouge. As a result, the crew is left to act as impromptu technical support, answering repeated calls from passengers in need of help with troubleshooting (ding, ding! ). Should this really be a part of the flight attendant’s job description?
Onboard cleanliness is lacking:
As these photos reveal, cleaning on the flight between Montreal and Nice had been superficial at best. Nuts and cereal packaging were seen on the floor as new passengers boarded. Washrooms are outdated, some panels are held together with wires and the garbage bins do not appear to be emptied regularly and were found to be full an hour into the flight.
A hot meal was provided, accompanied with paid alcoholic beverages. Nothing new on this subject.
Flight crew were young, dynamic, friendly and made every effort to enhance the flight experience. Did they receive technical training to help passengers bringing their own devices? No, I am told their training is mainly focused on security and it’s only the attendants who are a bit more tech-savvy who can help out with technical problems.
Did Air Canada Rouge fulfill his promise?