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Air Canada Rouge was created in late 2012 and its first flight took place in July 2013. It is a subsidiary of Air Canada that serves leisure-oriented destinations. It has expanded significantly in the last 3 years and will soon reach 50 aircraft to serve about 100 routes, most of them seasonal.
I have to admit that after having experienced business class on Swiss this summer, I was still apprehensive about this flight. Without doing the“luxury chicken” my stay in Iceland with WOW air had prepared me a little to the underclassification. Air Canada Rouge has a bad reputation, especially on the seat spacing which, at 29 inches, is one of the tightest in North America.
Let’s move on to the story of this trip.
Check-in and airport in Havana
The flight takes off at 8 am, we arrive at the airport for 6 am. We were able to register online. Internet access in Cuba is still in its infancy, but it is possible to buy WiFi access cards for a period of time to use public access points. We had printed our boarding passes in a business center located in a hotel in the capital.
Of course this does not fit the special but unwritten rules of the airport. We have to go through the counter. However, we saved some time because there was a counter dedicated to Internet check-in where the person printed our boarding passes. The passages to the security and the border police (asleep) are fast and we are in the departure hall.
As you can see it is a very simple style. There are a few stores without much interest, a café in the center that sells the bare minimum. All boarding gates are located around this island. We see some flights by the national company, Cubana de Aviación or Copa Airlines of Panama.
Our flight is posted on time, the aircraft arrived the day before is ready.
We will “restore” ourselves before the flight.
Air Canada Red flight
The boarding starts on time and will be fast, the plane being far from being full. Unlike other Air Canada flights, we were able to book the emergency exit seats-which provide a little more space-without paying extra.
It rains a little on this day of departure, after a stay without a cloud.
Air Canada Rouge does not have an in-seat entertainment system (IFE). You need to download an app or access the device’s closed Wifi network with a browser.
The system works well, it is possible to rent an iPad Air 2 for $10. However, I regretted the lack of information on the flight such as the remaining time and the map with the position of the aircraft.
A paid food and beverage service is provided shortly after take-off. Unlike other low-cost airlines, there are still some free drinks such as coffee, tea and water.
After a very quiet 3 hour flight, we are approaching Toronto.
Bonus: Plaza Premium America Express Lounge at Toronto Pearson
We arrive at 11:15 am at Pearson and our flight to Montreal takes off at 2 pm. Thanks to our American Express Platinum card we were able to enjoy:
- the wire cutter at the security checkpoint, very appreciable because the queue was long
- Plaza Premium – American Express lounge in the domestic section (there are others for international or transborder flights)
Here are some pictures of the show and its food and drink offer.
Air Canada Rouge is a company with minimalist services. We still have access to an entertainment system and some drinks unlike WOW air. The company also has a generous offer for luggage, for Cuba at least, with 2 free checked bags. On the other hand, the price remains in the standard offer. Personally, I find it hard to understand the positioning of this new brand. We know that this allows Air Canada to hire flight crews at lower salaries but I don’t see the point as a customer.
The guides for your stay in Cuba
I recommend two books from the publisher Ulysses: Havana and especially Understanding Cuba. This book, whose author I know, will allow you to better understand this country. Cuba is in transition and is still very mysterious. Given the forced isolation and the political regime, there are many fantasies circulating about Cuban society. If you want to venture outside the all-inclusive hotels, this is a perfect guide.
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