WestJet has announced changes to its WestJet Rewards program, including new Member Exclusive fares.
New Member Exclusive Fares
Previously, WestJet Rewards members had two ways to use their WestJet dollars:
- By booking flights: 1 WestJet Dollar = $1
- Using Member Exclusive Fares: it was a fixed-price option, allowing you to book a one-way trip within Canada for as little as $125 WestJet Dollars or to Europe for $349 WestJet Dollars. In Economy class only.
This fare was even available for flights on partner airlines such as Air France, Delta, KLM and Qantas. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, WestJet decided in June 2020 to suspend Member Exclusive Fares.
Today, WestJet has announced the launch of new Member Exclusive Fares:
- it will be possible to use these fares for economy class, but also for premium economy and business class on WestJet
- Dynamic pricing: it is, unfortunately, the end of the fixed price option.
- Member Exclusive Fares will be directly visible in the search engine
- the base fare for all guests must be paid in full with WestJet dollars
- you will not earn WestJet dollars or qualifying spend on Member Exclusive fares
This is a devaluation of this part of the WestJet Rewards program. Moving from fixed fares to dynamic fares is a path taken by many airlines (including Air Canada for its flights in the new Aeroplan program).
While browsing WestJet’s website, we can see that the airline has strangely decided to maintain carrier surcharges, while its main competitor, Air Canada, has decided to get rid of them!
For example, here is a one-way flight from Montreal to Calgary. The Member Exclusive Fare is 154 WestJet Dollars + $100.11 CA$. We realize that the Member Exclusive Fare is a version of the “Econo” fare, allowing to choose a seat ($) (not an option with the basic fare).
Finally, the only real advantage I see compared to the previous situation is the ability to book premium cabins (premium economy and business).
To celebrate the launch of the new Member Exclusive fares, members will receive up to a 35% discount off the Econo base fare on Member Exclusive Economy fares within Domestic Canada when booked by December 31, 2020, with travel by June 27, 2021.
Give Gold Status
In 2021, WestJet Gold and Platinum Rewards members will have the opportunity to offer Gold status to another passenger travelling separately on a round-trip flight.
Thus, this member will enjoy Gold benefits such as:
- priority boarding
- Complimentary upgrades at the gate
- Complimentary upgrades prior to check-in
- Airport lounge access
- First and second checked bags free
- Priority baggage
It will be a milestone award to be chosen according to your qualifying spend with the airline: $6,000, $8,000, etc.
Update about the Companion Voucher
The companion voucher, an advantage of the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard or a milestone award, will undergo some changes.
For example, in 2021, it will be possible to convert it to an airport lounge access (like the new Elevation Lounge at Calgary YYC). However, you should be aware that this lounge is also available to Priority Pass or LoungeKey members: one of your credit cards may already provide you access to an airport lounge!
Also, until November 11th, you will be able to share your companion vouchers with others. So instead of travelling yourself with one other person, you could book a flight for two other people!
All the rules of this offer are available on this page.
With the launch of Air Canada’s new Aeroplan program just days away, WestJet is clearly eager to fill the space. In my view, the new Member Exclusive Fares are a missed shot and can’t encourage members to earn WestJet dollars for that purpose.
Also, as Air Canada is about to launch Aeroplan Family Sharing, no mention regarding families has been made on the WestJet side. There is a fee of approximately $50 for transferring WestJet dollars to another member. Where Aeroplan is going to allow 8 members to share their points, for free.
Finally, I would have liked to see a more meaningful integration with partners like Air France, KLM, Delta and Qantas right now. But WestJet is keeping some news in reserve for 2021 when travel will really resume… let’s hope so!