Airlines

WestJet is adding an ultra-low fare for those not checking a bag

WestJet has announced plans to introduce a new, cheaper fare category, available to those who forego a checked bag.

Under its current structure, WestJet offers six fare options: EconoFlex, PremiumFlex and BusinessFlex allow you to change your flight for no fee (any difference in fare will apply). Econo, Premium and Business let you change your flight for an additional fee (any difference in fare will apply).

Basic fare, WestJet’s cheapest fare option, is intended for travellers who require the bare minimum for travel comfort. Additional benefits like seat selection, cancellation protection, fare changes, cancellations and refunds are not included.

According to CBC.ca, WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech released details on the new fare structure yesterday afternoon, saying that the new fare will be introduced within “a couple of weeks.” The CEO went on to explain that the new ultra-low fare is intended for budget-conscious travellers, and will help to free up some much needed space in the overhead bins.

On May 22, the same day the fare announcement was made, the WestJet Group released Soaring Together, its first progress report highlighting the airline’s accomplishments across Canada since the launch of its growth strategy nearly two years ago.

In 2023, guests purchased more than 2.5 million tickets below $100 from The WestJet Group. Nearly 50 per cent of all tickets purchased were priced by WestJet under $200.

Freezing fees

The WestJet Group calls for a freeze on mandatory government-imposed fees and the permanent cessation of airport rent collection. Despite Canada’s high cost and uncompetitive regulatory environment, since WestJet was founded in 1996, ticket prices in Canada have dropped by more than half in real terms, as a direct result of WestJet’s entry and ongoing competition in the market.

Given concerns around affordability and competitiveness, WestJet is making the following policy recommendations to the federal government:

  1. A comprehensive review of Canada’s user-pay system for aviation infrastructure. This review should consider competitiveness impacts, intermodal equity, border leakage and value for taxpayers
  2. An immediate freeze on mandatory imposed government fees, charges and policies that increase the cost of travel
  3. The cessation of the collection of airport rents by the federal government

“WestJet is committed to maintaining a transparent and low-cost structure that welcomes competition and drives the best value for our guests. Yet we operate in a very expensive and user-paid infrastructure environment that significantly drives up ticket prices for the everyday Canadian and hinders competition,” said WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech. “Air travellers are paying too much in government fees and charges on their plane ticket compared to other nations and other modes of travel. These changes would increase competition, lower ticket prices, and foster greater transparency for our guests.”