WestJet vs. Air Canada

The day has come – I’ve flown WestJet.

Readers may be familiar with my many rants and raves about Air Canada. I’ve long been curious about WestJet – but Air Canada always suckers me with a) Access to lounges (which you get with elite status and higher); and b) its Airmiles (which enable me to travel for free).

So what does WesJet offer? Let me count them off:

  • Friendly staff: Over at Air Canada its a mixed bag – lots of surly people. WestJet has got lots of friendly people who, above all else, don’t so no but try to solve problem.
  • More leg room: According to seatguru (a favourite site) the average pitch of an Air Canada seat is 32 inches, where as the WestJet plane I flew had a pitch of 34 inches. I’m 6″2, and that is a serious bonus. (WestJet does have planes where the pitch is only 32 as well).
  • Super fast boarding: WestJet loads people on the front and back of the plane simultaneously. I arrived at the gate 50 minutes before departure and the plane at my gate was for Montreal, and it hadn’t even boarded yet. I figured either the gate would change or that my plane would be delayed. But at WestJet they board in literally 15 minutes or less. Incredible.
  • Adhere to priority boarding rules: Air Canada often says it is only boarding people from certain rows, but in reality the gate attendant will let pretty much anyone through. This slows down boarding and turns the boarding line into chaos – something WestJet discourages.
  • Satellite TV: Need I say more.
  • Headset sockets: You can use your own headset as opposed to having to create an inordinate amount of waste using Air Canada’s double pronged headsets.

And where does Air Canada come out on top?

  • Lounge access: Being able to hit the lounge before and after a flight is huge. It allows me to check and send emails just before taking off and landing and to load up on some fruit for the flight.
  • Perks for Prestige, Elite and Super Elite status members: Best let’s face it, the perks really only kick in when you are super elite.
  • Uhh…. lounge access? Right, I already said that.

The biggest downside with WestJet is that they charge extra for everything (lounge access, entertainment, etc…) which means that business travelers has to pay for those perks out of pocket as opposed to having them folded into the ticket price.

So am I surprised that people choose WestJet? Not at all.

20 thoughts on “WestJet vs. Air Canada

  1. David

    Westjet seat pitch is not 37″. If you actually read that somewhere, the source is mistaken. Westjet pitch in economy is 32″, the same as an Air Canada Airbus (319/320/321) and Embraer 175, more than on Jazz planes (31″), but less than on an Air Canada Embraer 190 (33-34″) or Jazz 705) (34″). And the Jazz and Embraer aircraft have no middle seats.

    Reply
  2. David

    Westjet seat pitch is not 37″. If you actually read that somewhere, the source is mistaken. Westjet pitch in economy is 32″, the same as an Air Canada Airbus (319/320/321) and Embraer 175, more than on Jazz planes (31″), but less than on an Air Canada Embraer 190 (33-34″) or Jazz 705) (34″). And the Jazz and Embraer aircraft have no middle seats.

    Reply
  3. David Eaves Post author

    David, you are correct – I misspoke. Thanks for pointing that out. The plane I took had seats with a pitch of 34 inches, not 37. That said, even 34 vs. 32 makes a big difference.
    Looking at only the larger planes (I don’t tend to fly in the Embraer’s or Regional Jets too much, and usually for only very short flights) I did notice that Air Canada’s Airbus 330’s have a seat pitch from 32-34 but only 8 of its 141 Boeings and Airbuses (or 5.8%) are of this class. The rest of its fleet offers a seat pitch of 31-32 inches.
    WestJet has a 34 inch pitch only on it’s 737-800’s which make up 6 planes of its 68 planes (8.8% of it’s fleet). The rest offer 32 inches. There are no seats with only a 31 inch pitch.
    The end result is that on average, on Airbus and Boeing planes, WestJet offers more room. Thanks for pushing me to clarify.

    Reply
  4. David Eaves

    David, you are correct – I misspoke. Thanks for pointing that out. The plane I took had seats with a pitch of 34 inches, not 37. That said, even 34 vs. 32 makes a big difference. Looking at only the larger planes (I don’t tend to fly in the Embraer’s or Regional Jets too much, and usually for only very short flights) I did notice that Air Canada’s Airbus 330’s have a seat pitch from 32-34 but only 8 of its 141 Boeings and Airbuses (or 5.8%) are of this class. The rest of its fleet offers a seat pitch of 31-32 inches.WestJet has a 34 inch pitch only on it’s 737-800’s which make up 6 planes of its 68 planes (8.8% of it’s fleet). The rest offer 32 inches. There are no seats with only a 31 inch pitch.The end result is that on average, on Airbus and Boeing planes, WestJet offers more room. Thanks for pushing me to clarify.

    Reply
  5. Sean S.

    I’ll always fly WesJet out of Saskatoon, even though (until this week) you pretty much had to stop in Winnipeg when heading east or Calgary when heading West. Air Canada has F#%# up almost everytime I have flown with them, while WesJet provides fast, friendly and generally ontime service.

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  6. Sean S.

    I’ll always fly WesJet out of Saskatoon, even though (until this week) you pretty much had to stop in Winnipeg when heading east or Calgary when heading West. Air Canada has F#%# up almost everytime I have flown with them, while WesJet provides fast, friendly and generally ontime service.

    Reply
  7. jag

    Another WestJet perk… If you access their online reservation system via offsetters.ca, a portion of your ticket price will be used for purchasing complimentary carbon offsets on your behalf.

    jag – a visitor in passing while looking for something else… :-)

    Reply
  8. jag

    Another WestJet perk… If you access their online reservation system via offsetters.ca, a portion of your ticket price will be used for purchasing complimentary carbon offsets on your behalf. jag – a visitor in passing while looking for something else… :-)

    Reply
  9. Jen

    What about the web check-in where you get to select your own seat?! With Air Canada you have to pay extra for seat selection, but with WestJet it’s included!

    Reply
  10. Jen

    What about the web check-in where you get to select your own seat?! With Air Canada you have to pay extra for seat selection, but with WestJet it’s included!

    Reply
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  12. Hilda

    Last August I flew West Jet for the 1st time ..went down east…What a pleasant surprise !! Friendly staff right from the counter to on the plane. Then I had the pleasure to take a West Jet vacation to St. Lucia…awesome staff..on the plane the captain made jokes , staff friendly & VERY pleasant. WOW…what an airline!!

    Reply
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  14. Mrbrightside

    BAGGAGE INSURANCE MEANS NOTHING TO AIR CANADA.I always flew Air Canada and enjoyed the perks of they offered until…summer 2008 i was travelling from halifax to grande prairie with a short stop in montreal. All was great until I arrived in Grande Prairie AB. This is when I went ot get my bags from the baggage area to get my 3 bags. (fresh lobsters,medium and large suitcase). As I was standing there I located my lobsters and my smaller suitcase.Now I'm waiting for my large suitcase . Here it comes around the carosal and as i reached to pick it up something was wrong. the bag seemed to light to be mine.so it thought i had the wrong bag. so I looked at the tag…well the tag has my name on it. This is when I noticed that the bag had been compromised. The bag was open. and when I looked inside all my belongings were gone with the exception of 2 belts with large metal buckles. So as I am stunned I make my way to the AIR CANADA desk showed my bag to the lady at the desk and she said ” NOOOO WAY” . She knew what had happened without asking..I took pictures and file a report with aircanada on the spot.Now I had travellers Insurance that cover my bagge up to $1500 . However air canada told me there was nothing they could do. They said my bag must have opened while in flight and there is noway to track my items. but my bags had locks on them and the zipper is still in proper working order. Here is what I think someone from the baggage handling opened my bag and took my belongings. This bag contained mostly designer jeans and shirts and some summer items.It seems strange that the only things that were not taken were belts with METAL buckles. I would think that this person(s) would have trouble getting metal passed the screaning that the employees face. Obviously this person was well aware of this and decided to leave them behind.Air Canada rep. told me that I needed to file a police report and only had 2 days to write aletter to ther claims department. I told them I already did.But in the end they win. I never filed a report with the police because I knew that it would take alot of my time and the result would not change. The one thing air canada does not know about me is that if I feel I was done wrong and not compensated to my liking that I would never fly with Air CANADA again.Me and my girlfriend travel about 2 or 3 times a year . This is thousands of dollars that they are now losing out on. I will only fly WEST JET from now on.my loss is WEST JETS gain.I also boycott “movie gallery and sundance balloons”I guess my loss is WEST JETS gain.

    Reply
    1. R_mass

      This could have happened with any carrier. Theft can occur at any point in the journey through the airport. Thieves dont have an allegiance to a particular airline either.
      You really should have filed a police report. This is commonly required for reimbursement for insurance for all carriers. Travel with WestJet if you want, but their overall baggage liability in dollar$ that they would pay out to you is much lower than Air Canada’s.

      Reply
  15. DE

    i once thought that Westjet was heads and tails the first choice in Canadian airspace but because of my negative experiences their weakening customer service levels and inconsistencies with their cancellation and delay policies i have found that i have been happier with Air Canada lately. it is a case of Westjet lowering there standards more so than Air Canada raising theres. i don't believe i said that but i have had negatives with my Westjet experiences which was unheard of in the past

    Reply
  16. Jay Quiline

    I am glad you have shared your message. It is an eye opener. Good for you to take the time and post this message. Every penny counts – especially in todays economy. 2 thumbs up!

    Reply
  17. Jj1999

    If time could go back, I would choose Air Canada rather than West Jet today.
    The flight WS183 rescheduled from 16:30 to 20:26 because the aircraft was not back from somewhere as planed, no apologies, just ten dollars snack. On top of that, when we came back to drop the luggage 40m before departing, and found out all machines on which you have to get the tap for your luggage on your own have refused to work at that time. The young male fellow looked mind-absented to help others. The quantity of helpers seemed under demaned.
    I have been so many times flying with Air Canada, and never met such a situation like this. Despite the price slightly difference between them two, I like the better service than the little lower price.

    Reply

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