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.