WestJet is a Canadian favorite, considered to have service levels far better than those of its closest competitor, Air Canada.
Why are they a favorite? Canadians are famously known to be polite and friendly individuals, and that culture is best reflected through WestJet crew. After all, there is only one airline in Canada known to give underwear and a TV as a Christmas gift to all their passengers. Or, the only airline in Canada who has an annual April Fool’s tradition.
However, earning free flights on WestJet have historically been a great challenge. Hence, I have only flown them thrice so far, even though I have been in Canada for more than twelve years, on the following flights:
- Vancouver to Toronto in Premium Economy
- Seattle to Calgary to London in Economy
- Amsterdam to Calgary to Vancouver in Economy Class
All of which occurred in the past year, as I realized how easy it is to earn free flights on WestJet.
You will notice that I have not flown Business Class on WestJet, and for good reasons. WestJet has made it essentially impossible to hack into their Business Class cabin without paying a considerable sum of money.
I always assumed this policy also applied to Economy Class, until I realized how easily accessible free flights are with WestJet.
Good Old Days with WestJet
What now seems like many years ago, the best way to get free flights on WestJet was through what they call Member Exclusive awards. Quite consistently, they offered many flights at a fixed fare of $125 per person, typically up to 4 passengers, and this was a great “loophole” to save a lot of money, especially since WestJet dollars are quite easy to earn in Canada.
The Present State with WestJet
The landscape has changed considerably. Nowadays, WestJet still offers Member Exclusive awards, but the discounts are typically small, making WestJet dollars worth slightly more than $1 each.
When redeeming WestJet dollars, you will see three options, as described in the image below:
- EconoFlex for $658.40. This is a completely flexible ticket, however, refunds are provided as a WestJet credit, and this ticket comes with a free checked bag as well. Advanced seat selection is free
- Econo for $595.48, this ticket comes with a change fee but you can cancel for a credit. There are no free checked bags nor is there advance seat selection available for a fee.
- Member Exclusive, is for 455 WestJet Dollars + $87.45, for a total of $542.45. This makes each WestJet dollar valued at $1.16 for a similar Econo booking.
Under the old system, the Member Exclusive fare would have been 125 WSD + $87.45, and it is now 455 WSD + $87.45, a significantly worse proposition.
Alternatively, if you collect Delta SkyMiles (they are a transfer partner of American Express Canada), you can instead use Delta SkyMiles to fly on WestJet: In the picture below, the same flight is available for just 17,500 Delta SkyMiles + $34 in taxes and fees.
That’s over a $50 discount just from buying through Delta! I always find it ironic when a partner airline has lower taxes and fees than the host airline itself.
The most amazing part? Delta SkyMiles has no change or cancellation fee, so, really, this ticket is comparable to the EconoFlex option on WestJet, however, you will not receive the complimentary first checked bag and advanced seat selection. But I am sure, the $50 savings will help recover some of those additional costs.
Earning Delta SkyMiles in Canada
How do you earn 17,500 Delta SkyMiles in Canada?
17,500 Delta SkyMiles can be transferred from American Express by converting 23,400 American Express Membership Reward Points. So, by using 23,400 American Express Points, you will save over $600. That’s significantly better than the regular redemption option.
Is transferring points for WestJet Economy Class worth it?
I absolutely think so. I often use a goal to determine if something is worth transferring miles for. 90,000 American Express Membership Reward Points will get me a one-way Business Class ticket to India. By saving $600 using 23,400 Membership Reward Points, I’m essentially arguing that the one-way Business Class ticket to India is worth nearly C$2,400. A round trip ticket would cost C$4,800, so when airline pricing is like this:
Why would you save your miles and redeem them for this ticket, but pay $600 for a flight in Economy? The other perk of purchasing a ticket outright is that you often can decide on your date, unlike with miles, where you typically have to accept various restrictions.
Determining when to use your points is always going to be subjective. But it is important for everyone to know the cheapest way of flying domestically in North America in economy class is not through a Canadian frequent flyer program, it is through an American frequent flyer program.
I always ask myself: if I use miles to save on “necessary” travel, what would be the cost to my ultimate redemption, a flight from Vancouver to India in Business Class? And if I think that redemption is too expensive, then I absolutely should use my miles to travel in Economy Class.