Review: Air Canada Rouge Business Class – Is it Worth it?

Air Canada Rouge Business Class Review Cover image

Welcome aboard our comprehensive review of the A319 Air Canada Rouge Business Class experience! If you’re considering an upgrade for your next flight, you might be wondering, “Is Air Canada Rouge business class worth it?”

Join us as we review Air Canada Rouge and its premium service, exploring everything from seating comfort to in-flight amenities, and ultimately answering that all-important question. Get ready to uncover the luxuries and perks this cabin has in store for discerning travellers like you.

What is Air Canada Rouge?

Before diving into this Air Canada Rouge review, let’s look at what this airline is.

Air Canada Rouge, with “Rouge” translating to “red” in French, is an Air Canada subsidiary specializing in providing cost-effective air travel options for leisure travellers. It operates seamlessly within the Air Canada mainline and Air Canada Express networks.

While flights are booked using Air Canada (AC) flight codes, they are operated under the Air Canada Rouge brand, akin to regional flights under the Air Canada Express label.

Air Canada Rouge A319 M deplaning

It was launched in 2013 and primarily focused on serving vacation destinations and leisure routes. Air Canada Rouge operates a fleet of narrow-body aircraft, including Airbus A319s, A320s, and Boeing 767s.

Air Canada Rouge Premium Rouge or Business Class?

Although technically called “Air Canada Premium Rouge,” Air Canada Rouge business class offers more legroom, a hot meal, and access to Air Canada’s business class lounges. The latter is a key difference between premium economy on Air Canada as those passengers do not get access to Maple Leaf lounges and cafes. As such, I am going with the Air Canada Rouge business class name. This was also the main reason for my booking.

My Air Canada Rouge Business Class Booking

While on my coast-to-coast EV road trip, I had an impromptu detour to Toronto to visit my spouse and attend a concert. To make it work I flew out of Charolottown on a Friday and back on a Saturday. The only carrier that worked was Air Canada Rouge, an airline I had never flown and had only heard bad things about. Cramped seats and shitty service were a common complaint so I was not looking forward to the flight.

Since I heard the seats were not the most comfortable, I looked at upgrade options and in the end, decided to use a combo of Aeroplan points and eUpgrades to fly Air Canada Premium Rouge. I checked both legs and there was availability for eUpgrades so booked my return using the Flex reward fare. This gave me a better chance of being upgraded and did not cost anything extra – using the standard reward would have been an additional $125.

Why just the return flight? Charlottetown airport does not have a business-class lounge so the value isn’t there in my opinion.

A couple of days before my flight I got a notification that my eUpgrade cleared. With that, come along as I review Air Canada Rouge business class between Toronto and Charlottetown, PEI.

Toronto Pearson Lounge Experience

Although the Charlottetown airport does not have a lounge, the flight out in Air Canada Rouge economy made me wish I would have upgraded that flight as well. Can confirm, the seats have zero legroom and it made for an uncomfortable flight.

Fast forward to my Air Canada Rouge review flight – my spouse was flying back to Vancouver at noon and my flight wasn’t until 14:30 so I had plenty of time to kill. I gladly spent that in the Air Canada Cafe. For those unfamiliar, it is a scaled-down yet elevated version of the Maple Leaf Lounge. In my opinion, it has better food and drinks and, it is less crowded.

Be sure to check out my full review of the Air Canada Cafe for more details as well as why I think it’s underrated.

Air Canada Rouge A319 Business Class Seats

Air Canada Rouge Business Class seat with menu and bottle of water in foreground

As mentioned, my economy flight to Toronto on Air Canada Rouge was not great. The seats have very little leg room and, as a result, I took a good bruising on my knee from the passing drink cart. I was ready for a little more comfort on my return.

The seats in Air Canada Rouge Business Class offer a lot more space than economy. They are configured in 2-2 formation and are 21 inches wide with a pitch of 36.

That said, I had a window seat and it was a bit of a squeeze to get through the middle armrest and the aisle seat passenger had to get up for me to pass. In the seat though, it was very comfortable. There is a footrest and adjustable neck support making it an enjoyable flight.

In between the two seats is a small shared table with power and USB outlets on the front.

Air Canada Rouge In-Flight Entertainment

Air Canada Rouge business class does not have in-seat entertainment systems. Similar to other budget carriers, Air Canada Rouge offers a streaming service accessible by your own personal devices. To connect, select the Air Canada SSID and follow the browser prompts.

I found the movie and TV show selections to be more than enough to entertain anyone on a short-haul flight. On my Air Canada Rouge review, there were plenty of new release movies and shows from HBO and Apple TV+ as well as a good selection of classic films and documentaries. I had no issues connecting and streaming.

Air Canada Rouge WiFi

A pleasant surprise with my Air Canada Rouge review was the inclusion of WiFi access. Air Canada Rouge business class passengers get complimentary access and can connect by entering their last name and seat number. I was able to connect and was impressed by the speed pulling 10.6M down and 6.5M up.

I have typically only used in-flight WiFi for texting or scrolling Instagram. Air Canada Rouge WiFi was more than enough to get some work done and even stream some YouTube clips.

Air Canada Rouge Business Class internet speed test

Air Canada Rouge Service & Amenities

Service on my Air Canada Rouge business class review included a bottle of water upon boarding and a hot towel shortly after take off. Beverages and a package of almonds were served after that and then a hot meal.

Air Canada Rouge Food & Drinks

Air Canada Rouge Business Class menu

On my Air Canada Rouge business class flight meal choices were a chicken dish in an apple and maple sauce or gnocchi with peas and asparagus in a cream sauce. Both came with a heritage mix salad and a Capacioino cheesecake for dessert.

I went with the gnocchi and was pleasantly surprised by both presentation and taste. I had low expectations for the food service on Air Canada Rouge business class – I was expecting something on par with Air Canada’s premium economy or WestJet’s premium economy offering. This was not that.

So, Is Air Canada Rouge Business Class Worth it?

Air Canada Rouge Business Class view of PEI

Although I wasn’t expecting much, I was really impressed by my Air Canada Rouge review and experience. The seats were good, not great but a huge step up from the cramped quarters in economy. The food on my Air Canada Rouge business class flight was also much better than expected and the inclusion of free (and fast) WiFi was the icing on the cake.

That all said, is Air Canada Rouge business class worth it? That depends.

In my case, I was flying a return route from Charolotown to Toronto. Since the Charlottetown airport does not have a Maple Leafe lounge (or any lounge) I did not bother upgrading for that flight. It was the same cost to upgrade the return from Toronto which included access to the Maple Leaf Lounge and Air Canada Cafe. This was the difference maker for me as I had four hours to kill at Pearson airport.

Depending on your departure city and destination, I would consider lounge access before spending the extra cash, Aeroplan points, or eUpgrade credits.

Air Canada Rouge Review FAQ

Is Business Class on Air Canada Rouge worth it?

The value of opting for Business Class on Air Canada Rouge hinges on a blend of personal preferences and travel priorities. Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge the enhanced comfort that comes with Business Class—this often includes wider seats and more legroom, making long journeys notably more pleasant. Moreover, the assortment of amenities, from gourmet meals to priority boarding and access to airport lounges, can significantly enhance the overall travel experience. So, if you prioritize a more comfortable and convenient flight, Business Class might be a worthwhile choice.

On the flip side, the higher price tag associated with Business Class should be a consideration. The cost is typically substantially greater than an Economy Class ticket, so whether it’s worth it will largely depend on your budget and how much you value the added comfort and services. Additionally, the length and nature of your flight, as well as your travel purpose, can sway the decision. Frequent business travellers might find the upgrade more justifiable, especially when needing to arrive well-rested and ready for meetings, while leisure travellers may weigh the added expense differently based on their own preferences and financial considerations.

Ultimately, the worthiness of Business Class on Air Canada Rouge is a matter of individual needs and priorities, with the key being to align your choice with what matters most to you when flying.

What is the difference between Air Canada Rouge and regular?

Air Canada Rouge, a subsidiary of Air Canada, primarily caters to leisure travellers and offers a more cost-effective travel experience, operating on vacation-focused routes with narrow-body aircraft like Airbus A319s and A320s. In contrast, regular (mainline) Air Canada covers a broader network, including major cities and business destinations, utilizing a mix of narrow-body and wide-body aircraft for various routes.

Differences extend to seating configurations, in-flight amenities, and fare classes, with Air Canada Rouge often providing more budget-friendly options and a unique Premium Rouge Class, while mainline Air Canada offers a full range of fare classes and premium services. Your choice depends on your destination, budget, and travel preferences.

Is Air Canada Rouge a good airline?

Whether Air Canada Rouge is considered a “good” airline depends on your individual travel priorities. It stands out as a budget-friendly option, particularly for leisure travellers heading to vacation destinations. While it may not offer the same level of luxury as mainline Air Canada or premium carriers, it provides a reasonable level of service, especially in its Premium Rouge Class.

The airline’s route network is tailored to popular vacation spots, making it a convenient choice for certain travellers. Whether it suits you largely hinges on whether you prioritize cost savings or are seeking a more premium in-flight experience with additional amenities and services.

Is Air Canada rouge cheaper than Air Canada?

Air Canada Rouge is often considered a more budget-friendly option compared to mainline Air Canada, especially on routes that cater to leisure travellers. However, the relative affordability of Air Canada Rouge versus Air Canada depends on multiple variables. These include the specific route you plan to fly, the class of service you choose, the timing of your travel, and the availability of promotions or seat sales.

While Air Canada Rouge typically offers competitive pricing on leisure routes, the cost disparity can vary considerably based on these factors, making it essential to conduct a fare comparison for your particular travel plans to determine which airline offers the best value.

What is included in Air Canada Premium Rouge?

Air Canada Premium Rouge is a premium cabin class offered by Air Canada Rouge, the airline’s leisure-focused subsidiary. In Premium Rouge, passengers enjoy an enhanced travel experience, including spacious seating with extra legroom and wider seats. They receive priority services such as priority boarding and baggage handling, which can streamline the travel process.

Passengers are also treated to a premium meal and beverage service, offering a more refined dining experience compared to Economy Class. While Premium Rouge offers a higher level of comfort and service than Economy, it’s not as premium as the Business Class typically found on mainline Air Canada flights. The exact amenities and services can vary by route and aircraft type, so it’s advisable to check the specific details for your flight when booking.

What say you?
Thoughts on this Air Canada Rouge Business Class Review?
Let’s hear it!

For more luxury travel reviews from business class and beyond see HERE.

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Review: Air Canada Rouge Business Class - Is it Worth it?

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