WestJet is one of Canada’s most well-known airlines. But with its low fares and no-frills approach to flying, you may be wondering – is WestJet really a budget airline? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine WestJet’s fares, fees, routes, fleet, and amenities to help you determine if it fits the budget airline mold.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: WestJet started out as a low-cost carrier but has evolved to occupy more of a middle ground between full-service and ultra-low-cost airlines. While base fares are generally low, WestJet charges fees for many extras and has fewer cramped seats than extreme budget airlines.
WestJet’s Fares and Fees
Low Base Fares
When it comes to fares, WestJet is known for offering competitive prices that cater to budget-conscious travelers. While it may not be classified as a traditional budget airline, WestJet does offer low base fares that allow passengers to save money on their flights.
These fares are often available for both domestic and international destinations, making it an attractive option for travelers looking to explore a variety of locations without breaking the bank.
à la Carte Model for Extras
Unlike some budget airlines that bundle everything into one price, WestJet follows an à la carte model for extras. This means that passengers have the flexibility to choose which additional services and amenities they want to pay for, allowing them to customize their travel experience.
Whether it’s selecting seat assignments, adding checked baggage, or purchasing in-flight meals, passengers can decide what they need and only pay for those specific extras. This approach gives travelers the freedom to tailor their travel experience while managing their budget effectively.
Fee Policies vs. Ultra Low-Cost Carriers
While WestJet offers competitive prices, it’s important to note that their fee policies differ from those of ultra low-cost carriers. WestJet aims to strike a balance between affordability and providing a comfortable travel experience.
While certain fees may apply for additional services, the airline focuses on delivering value to its customers. For example, WestJet provides complimentary snacks and beverages on their flights, which is not always the case with ultra low-cost carriers.
It’s also worth mentioning that WestJet has a generous baggage allowance compared to some budget airlines. Passengers are allowed to bring a carry-on bag, personal item, and checked baggage without incurring additional fees, depending on the fare type and destination.
This is a valuable perk for travelers who require more luggage space.
For more information on WestJet’s fares and fees, you can visit their official website: https://www.westjet.com/en-ca/book-trip/flight/fares
WestJet’s Route Network
One of the key factors that determines whether an airline is considered a budget airline or not is its route network. Let’s take a closer look at WestJet’s route network and see how it compares to other major airlines.
Focus on North America
WestJet has built its reputation as a leading budget airline by focusing primarily on destinations within North America. With its headquarters in Calgary, Canada, WestJet operates flights to over 100 destinations in Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.
This extensive coverage of North American destinations makes WestJet a popular choice for travelers looking for affordable flights within the continent.
According to WestJet’s official website, they offer flights to major cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles, New York, and Cancun, among many others. This wide range of destinations within North America allows passengers to easily explore various popular tourist spots and business hubs without breaking the bank.
While WestJet has primarily focused on North American destinations, they have also made efforts to expand their international presence. In recent years, the airline has added more international routes to its network, providing travelers with more options for affordable flights to destinations around the world.
For instance, WestJet now offers flights to popular international destinations such as London, Paris, Dublin, and Glasgow. This expansion into international markets has allowed WestJet to cater to a wider range of travelers, including those looking for budget-friendly options for their overseas adventures.
Not as Extensive as Major Airlines
However, it’s important to note that WestJet’s route network is not as extensive as that of major airlines such as Delta, United, or British Airways. While WestJet offers a significant number of destinations, it may not have the same level of coverage as some of the larger carriers.
When comparing the number of destinations served by different airlines, it’s worth considering factors such as the size of the airline, its focus on specific regions, and its target market. While WestJet may not have the same global reach as some of its competitors, it still offers a comprehensive network within its target regions, making it a viable option for travelers seeking affordable flights.
WestJet’s Fleet and Seating
One of the key factors in determining whether WestJet is a budget airline is its fleet and seating options. Let’s take a closer look at the different aspects of WestJet’s fleet and seating arrangements.
Single-Class Boeing and Airbus Aircraft
WestJet operates a fleet of Boeing and Airbus aircraft, which are known for their efficiency and reliability. The airline primarily uses single-class configurations, offering a consistent experience to all passengers.
This means that regardless of the fare you choose, you can expect the same level of service and comfort.
By utilizing single-class aircraft, WestJet is able to optimize its operations and streamline the boarding process. This allows the airline to offer competitive fares without compromising on safety or customer satisfaction.
So, while WestJet may not have multiple cabin classes like some full-service carriers, it still provides a comfortable travel experience for all passengers.
Introduction of Premium Cabins
In recent years, WestJet has introduced premium cabins on select routes. These cabins offer enhanced amenities and services, providing a more luxurious experience for passengers who are willing to pay a higher fare.
The introduction of premium cabins is a strategic move by WestJet to diversify its offerings and cater to different customer segments.
The premium cabins feature wider seats, increased legroom, and additional perks such as priority boarding and complimentary meals. This allows passengers to enjoy a higher level of comfort and convenience during their journey.
While these premium cabins may come at a higher cost, they provide a great option for travelers who value a more upscale travel experience.
More Legroom than Ultra Low-Cost Carriers
One of the advantages of flying with WestJet is the generous legroom offered in its seating arrangements. Compared to ultra low-cost carriers, which often prioritize maximizing the number of seats on their planes, WestJet provides more legroom for its passengers.
Having extra legroom can make a significant difference in the overall comfort of a flight, especially for taller individuals or those who simply prefer more space. This is particularly important on longer flights where passengers may be seated for extended periods of time.
With WestJet, you can expect a more comfortable journey with ample legroom, even if you’re flying on a budget.
WestJet’s Amenities and Services
When it comes to amenities and services, WestJet strives to provide a comfortable and enjoyable flying experience for its passengers. While it may not offer all the frills of a luxury airline, it still provides several amenities to enhance the journey.
Complimentary Soft Drinks and Snacks
One of the perks of flying with WestJet is that they offer complimentary soft drinks and snacks to all passengers. Whether you’re in economy or business class, you can enjoy a refreshing beverage and a tasty treat during your flight.
This is a great feature, especially for those on a tight budget, as it allows you to save money on purchasing snacks during the flight.
Checked Bags and Seat Selection Cost Extra
While WestJet does offer competitive fares, it’s important to note that checked bags and seat selection are not included in the base fare. Passengers have the option to add these services for an additional fee.
This gives passengers the flexibility to choose the services they need and avoid paying for services they don’t require. However, it’s important to factor in these added costs when comparing prices with other airlines.
Limited In-Flight Entertainment
WestJet provides in-flight entertainment on most of its flights, but the options may be more limited compared to other airlines. They offer a selection of movies, TV shows, and music, but it’s not as extensive as what you might find on larger carriers.
However, many passengers bring their own devices and streaming services, so this may not be a significant drawback for some.
While WestJet is not an ultra-low-cost carrier in the spirit of Allegiant or Spirit Airlines, its low base fares, à la carte fee structure, and no-frills service place it squarely in the budget airline category.
However, WestJet does offer some advantages over extreme budget airlines when it comes to legroom, amenities, and route network. So while not the rock-bottom cheapest option, WestJet offers a good mix of affordable air travel coupled with essential comforts and conveniences.