Westjet now in its 22nd year has emerged as a significant force in Canadian aviation and has again won the AirlineRatings Low-Cost Carrier Award for the Americas, although its radar is now focused on premium travelers as well.
The Calgary-based carrier commenced operations in February 1996 and has grown to become Canada’s second-biggest airline.
Today, it boasts a fleet of 122 aircraft and a network that serves, along with regional offshoot WestJet Encore, more than 109 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe.
However, while it is voted as Best Low-Cost Airline for the Americas, it is also an airline in transition to a full-service, global carrier a project that started in 2016.
The airline has invested more than $4 billion in Boeing 737 MAX and 787 Dreamliners.
Its first of 10 787-9s arrives in January, and WestJet introduced its flight schedule for the 787 on October 10 with the first three 787 Dreamliners to serve London, Paris, and Dublin non-stop from Calgary. Westjet has also taken delivery of the nine of the 50 737MAXs it has on order.
Lounges are also coming in for a makeover with upgrades in each of its Canadian hubs; Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto to meet the needs of the premium traveler.
At the same time, it has upgraded its loyalty program, WestJet Rewards, adding a new upper tier called Platinum that will also cater to the premium traveler.
In May WestJet announced new Premium Economy seats to replace the Plus seats and the new seats would feature a more extensive 2-2 configuration on 737s.
And in October, it introduced an entirely new brand campaign called “Love Where You’re Going.” The brand campaign is intended to be multi-faceted, targeted to employees as we want them to love where they are going career-wise and also targeted to the business traveler – we want them to enjoy where they are going in life, and their career and WestJet wants to help fulfill that.
“WestJet is a carrier that has established a reputation for flair, humor and community engagement,” AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas said.
“There is no question WestJet is an airline that is going places – particularly into the premium end of the market.’’
And low fares haven’t stopped it giving passengers room to breathe with a seat pitch in the main cabin of 31-33 inches and 36-38 inches in its WestJet Plus section. Its WestJet Connect app offers free TV shows and movies as well as the ability to buy in-flight Internet packages.
Famous for its humorous April Fool’s day videos, WestJet earned community respect with events such as 2016’s “Snowflake Soiree” benefiting the residents of a Canadian town ravaged by wildfires.