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Rouge Alert

I flew Air Canada Rouge to Las Vegas recently. It’s Air Canada’s “fun” airline. I’ve flown it dozens of times. Usually, Air Canada flies Rouge on seasonal or vacation destinations. Florida, Las Vegas, Caribbean, and even some European destinations are all targets.

The logic is probably that vacation destination passengers are lower revenue than customers who fly for business (somebody else pays for their ticket). An airline designed to fly at lower cost won’t affect as much customer loyalty because these passengers are price shopping in any case. You can get away with a slightly narrower seat pitch, more people packed in J (J is business class in frequent flyer parlance), and older aircraft.

Air Canada (as well as many other airlines) have done something similar with regional flights, with many of its lower revenue routes operated by other companies. The fleet is also older.

For “main line” Air Canada, they save the best routes with high revenue customers. Internationally, that means Hong Kong, London, Frankfurt, among others. In North America, it’s the transcontinental Canadian and US flights, and business routes between Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Boston, New York, and Chicago.

On the FlyerTalk Altitude forum, members will refer to a downgrade of a route for when it gets “rouged” (or sometimes cheekily misspelled “rogued”). Some observations flying Rouge routes:

Less frequent flyers are more easily aggrieved. This could be because they’re nervous about not knowing what happens if things do go wrong (e.g. there’s a delay or if their luggage doesn’t arrive). They might also have much higher expectations of what they’ll get for their fare. One couple I sat next to in an emergency exit row was very upset that their seat pitch was only five centimetres more than other rows.

Nobody rents their iPads. I’m not even sure if this is an option but paying to rent an iPad seems a bit antiquated. Most phones do the trick.

Flying them makes me nostalgic. Yes, their planes are older, especially their 767, which is the aircraft I’d often fly with my mom to Israel during my summers to Israel. However, it’s the lack of seat back TV (which is fine by me) and the old flight attendant call buttons that makes me think of a time when I was just starting to fly and was so excited about EVERYTHING. If I close my computer and look out the window (I’ve switched to window seat sitting a few years back), it is exactly the same feeling. If I didn’t have my computer or phone, I’d need to rustle through the inflight magazine or bring along a book, or draw in a notebook to be entertained.

I enjoy these moments a lot. It’s like being teleported to a different time in your life and all of the emotions and world views come roaring back and you can feel which parts of you are the same and which have changed.

So… thanks Rouge??

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