The “Baby Barbie” jet grows up into a confused teen
The most hated of all Air Canada aircraft has been the Canadair CL65 RJ. Even more than the medieval A321 torture seat, this aircraft as a whole caused ones back to hunch (assuming you are over 3 and half feet tall), neck to twist (the windows are 1 foot below your eye line) and encouraged a relationship with your seatmate that mimics a Broadway-worthy performance as Siamese twins. After years of complaints, Bombardier has come up with their “Mark II” version, the Canadair 705 RJ. Today I had the opportunity to experience the “improved” product.
Walking down the jet way my first thoughts were; “Dear God, three hours in this thing…it looks the same…ackkk!” Stepping aboard, I instinctively assumed the “RJ Crouch” and I was surprised to be able to stand straight. The floor on this model has been lowered allowing one to stand up straight , and at the same time “raising” the window height so anyone older than three can see out the window. Very positive.
The plane has an Executive Class section (another positive) and I was seated in 1A. Immediately this proved to be a very poor seat choice. Directly across the aisle (I could reach my arm and touch it) is the Business Class lavatory. I suppose this is Canadair’s idea of in-flight entertainment, complete with “smell-o-vison”. Fun games you can play include; “What did that guy have for dinner last night?” and “What the hell is she doing in there for 15 minutes?”. Fortunately, the Executive Class Cabin only had 3 out of 9 seats filled, so after one round of the toilet game, I was able to relocate myself to 3A.
For a three hour flight from Regina to Toronto, the lack of an oven for warm food is a big disappointment. It did not affect my fruit plate meal, but the other passengers noticed and commented on the lack of a hot meal service. I understand the business jet version of the aircraft has hot galleys, so I can only assume that the lack of them here is Air Canada’s doing, not the manufacturer.
Other disappoints include; lack of audio-visual entertainment (Coming Soon – or so says the sticker plastered to the seat in front of me), lack of in-seat power (for a brand new airplane it should be standard) and the “plasticy-ness” of everything. It feels like the Kia of airplanes. While it is a substantial improvement over its predecessor, it still seems like a small airplane trying to act like a big one. Like a confused teen trying to look older with Mommy’s makeup.