On our most recent trip to Europe I was searching for business class flights that started out of San Diego. It's our home airport, but doesn't have many international flights, so I knew it would make the search more difficult than flying out of LAX. I knew we wanted to travel in May, so I started my search in July of the previous year. I used United's search system as I was planning on using both United and Avianca miles. You can read more about how I booked flights using Avianca miles here. As I was searching through various dates I kept seeing flights on Air Canada via Toronto to Copenhagen. It was pretty much my only option if we wanted to fly out of San Diego. There were some business class flights available, but most were only business for part of the trip, which I'd rather not do. I finally found a availability for both flights on business leaving on a Tuesday. I moved quickly and booked one with United miles (70,000) and one with Avianca miles (63,000).
So as you may have have seen by the title, Air Canada Rouge calls their front of the airplane seats, Premium Rouge. There was plenty of flight reviews on Air Canada's international business class (I'll get to that later), but not many on Air Canada's Rouge premium product. After experiencing it, I would say it's on par with any domestic first class product and would not hesitate to fly it again.
San Diego is one of my favorite airports. It's such a breeze to fly out of. Security is quick, terminal 2 has great food and the staff is really friendly. The Air Canada check in staff was really amazing, but that's a story for another time. Check in offered an economy line that a few people waiting and a premium line with no wait. We were able to walk right up and check in. Boarding started on time, and the plane boarded premium first. The flight was full and they were requesting that people in economy check their bags. Luckily, we did not have to check our bags being in the premium class. We were in row 2 on the right side of the plane and the plane took off about 10-15 minutes late. Thankfully it wasn't any later as we only had an hour and 10 minutes connection in Toronto.
We flew on a Rouge Airbus A321. In Rouge Premium there were only 8 seats in a 2-2 configuration. In economy it was a 3-3 configuration.
The seats were comparable to any first class domestic flight. They were roomy and had good recline, they were not lie-down seats, which was fine since the flight was in the middle of the day. The seats had 37" pitch and 22" wide.
Before take off we were offered a menu and water or orange juice.
The seats did not have built in entertainment, so we were given Ipads that attached nicely to the seat in front of you. You could also get entertainment via your phone, computer or tablet. In economy they were charging $10 for the Ipads. I didn't use it on this flight as I was getting some work done, but the functionality seemed to be just as good as if it were a traditional entertainment system. Wifi was provided by Gogo and was not free even in Premium. If you have any Gogo passes, you can use them on the flight.
Shortly after take-off we were offered drinks and nuts. There was no drink menu, but I recall them serving 3 red wines, an Italian, a French, and a Canadian Pinot Noir. You'll have to take my word for it, but the Canadian Pinot was amazing. I wish I recalled the name!
Dinner/Lunch was served about an hour into the flight. I went with the butter chicken and my wife had pre-ordered the vegan dish, which was essentially some dry pasta with a teaspoon of sauce. Both dishes were forgettable, but her's in particular was not good.
The highlight of the dish was the wine and the cheesecake. The salad was also good.
The area this flight excelled in the most was the service. I can't give Air Canada enough credit. From the check in to the in flight service, everything was polished and professional.
While Air Canada Rouge Premium isn't going to rival international business or first class, it's still a great product. The seats were comfortable, the wine was good, and the service was wonderful. I'd take this route again in a heart beat. Nicely done Air Canada Rouge.