WestJet launches flat beds from Gatwick to Calgary with good ‘everyday’ fares

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Low cost Canadian airline WestJet will launch an impressive fully flat Business Class service on its London Gatwick to Calgary route from 28th April.

As you can see from the photograph below, it looks good:

WestJet Boeing 787 flat bed business class London Gatwick Calgary

It is a 1-2-1 formation.  If the seat looks familiar, it is because it is the same one that Qatar Airways uses on its Boeing 787 and A380 fleets in Business Class.  It certainly isn’t the sort of seat you’d expect a budget airline to be using.

The one thing that differentiates WestJet from a legacy airline is the size of the Business Class cabin.  There will be just 16 seats on each aircraft.

WestJet Boeing 787 flat bed business class London Gatwick Calgary

There is also a good looking Premium Economy cabin.  These seats have a 38 inch pitch and a 13 inch TV:

WestJet Boeing 787 flat bed business class London Gatwick Calgary

The upgrade comes as WestJet begins to take delivery of its new Boeing 787-9 fleet.  Ten of the aircraft have been ordered, with the next two earmarked for Calgary – Paris and Calgary – Dublin.

British Airways has been pulling back from Calgary

British Airways is not flying to Calgary this Winter and it appears that it will not return next Winter either.  I have seen a report which suggests that the high cost of deicing the aircraft in Calgary each day makes the whole service uneconomic, although that sounds dubious.

The British Airways service IS operating during the Summer timetable, from 31st March to the end of October.

WestJet is offering ONE-WAY Business Class fares

One thing that WestJet brings to the party, apart from brand new aircraft and an excellent seat, is one-way pricing.

If you are struggling to find Avios redemption seats in both directions, you now have the option to fly one way on British Airways and purchase a relatively cheap one way ticket in the other direction with WestJet.  You won’t be penalised by WestJet for only buying a one way ticket.

Even if you have enough Avios, it might make financial sense to pay cash for one leg if WestJet pricing is low enough.

WestJet Boeing 787 flat bed business class London Gatwick Calgary

What about pricing?

To be honest, the opening fares are not exactly low cost.

In July, the cheapest I can see for a one way FROM London Gatwick to Calgary is £889

A one way TO London Gatwick from Calgary is £736

This makes a total return cost of £1,626

However, let’s compare that to an Avios redemption.

A one-way flight FROM London Gatwick to Calgary in Club World (there is no First Class on this route) on peak Summer dates is 75,000 Avios + £419

A one-way Summer flight FROM Calgary is 75,000 Avios + £296

A return flight in Club World on a peak date is 150,000 Avios + £651

As you can see, you’re getting poor value for your Avios by doing a full redemption vs paying the WestJet prices.  If the options are £1,626 return on WestJet vs 150,000 Avios + £651 on British Airways, then your Avios are only worth 0.65p each.

(If you have a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher then the numbers are a lot better, of course, and clearly worth doing.)

An Avios ticket is refundable, of course, whilst the WestJet ticket is not.  On the other hand, WestJet offers a small private cabin with just 16 seats of a superior quality and configuration to BA Club World.

For  2019 this is very much a theoretical discussion only, however, as there are virtually no Avios seats in Club World to be found to Calgary for the entire Summer.

It will be worth keeping an eye on Dublin pricing when that service launches.  With no Air Passenger Duty it should be at least £150 cheaper than the London flight and I would expect the reduced demand compared to London to push the price down even further.

There are no ‘add ons’ either ….

Despite being a low cost carrier, Business Class passengers do NOT pay for luggage or seat selection.  WestJet will let you check in 2 x 23kg suitcases for free.  Food and drink is free, and you get lounge access, priority boarding etc.

(Yes, I know, we have a low cost carrier offering free seat selection in Business Class whilst BA will charge you £60+ each way if you don’t have status …..)

And a few airline miles too ….

WestJet is not in any of the major airline alliances.  However, you can credit flights to Delta SkyMiles, Flying Blue (Air France / KLM) and Qantas, as well as WestJet Rewards.

Conclusion

To see a low-cost carrier launch a Business Class seat which is far superior to the British Airways offering is an odd state of affairs.

£1,625 to £1,826, which is the current fare range depending on date, is not exactly bargain basement pricing for a return Business Class flight, of course.  However, if WestJet ends up offering fares like this day in and day out, even outside sale periods, it will be a serious option for a flat bed to Canada.

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Comments

  1. Another good reason to go to Canada which I have now delayed for TOO long!

  2. Be good to get a review on the service as my experience with Westjet for numerous North American flights and one return to New Foundland has been mixed. Had some prettty obnoxious staff on the flights so will be interesting to see how they adapt to offering a more premium service. Their safety briefings are also painful. I know you have to do them and they have tried to inject some humour into them, but they always come off as one big injoke between all the crew that last ages and isn’t funny.

  3. David S says:

    Don’t think you can classify West Jet as Low Cost anymore since their pricing, certainly for internal Canadian flights are more expensive than legacy carrier Air Canada, although AC has gone downhill.

    • Agreed. My last round trip to a western Canadian city with WS cost almost £800 a person at end of August/September, without baggage, meals, or seat-back entertainment (all those are extras of course). Not what I call low cost..

  4. Nigel the Pensioner says:

    Head over to Calgary for Stampede in July – its absolutely brilliant!!
    I guess West Jet’s prices reflect the cost of deicer fluid!!

  5. Derek Scott says:

    I’ve flown the BA Calgary route a few times and was due to fly it again in December until it was withdrawn.

    I think the real reason is a combination of 787 availability and the Calgary economy. Calgary has been hurting for a while due to the very low oil price (it’s a oil city)! This is where WestJet sees a gap for lower prices: BA Calgary route has been pricey compared to similar distance routes.

    My main other legacy options from Edinburgh now are AC via LHR, UA via NYC or LH via FRA, or BA via LHR into YVR and connect onto WestJet or AC

    I just hope BA upgrades back from seasonal in 2021

    • Or in the summer, you could grab drive or train/coach it to GLA and Westjet it from there via Halifax.

  6. Chris L says:

    I’m pretty sure that there was some reward availability in May to Calgary as recently as last week (I’m going in May) – possibly only inbound to LHR – but this seems to have vanished. Maybe it will return.

    • Chris L says:

      Actually there is availability but the BA ‘Find Reward Availability’ tool isn’t working. Possibly for the same reason BA Redemption Finder isn’t working at the moment.

  7. ITAmateur says:

    Looks very good. Does anybody know if WestJet intends to fly their new 787-9 on other routes as well? YYZ-LHR for example would be most welcome.

  8. Phillip says:

    They had very good onward fares to West Coast USA. I’ve seen £550-600 one way to San Francisco via Calgary!

  9. Unless I’m mistaken I think the April 20th Date is wrong.
    I was under the impression that the Inagural flight date for the 787-9 on the LGW-YYC was is going to be Monday 29th April.

    Just wanted to add that info. Not sure if i’m wrong.

  10. Lady London says:

    Don’t we need the new Canadian equivalent of ESTA to fly to Canada now or even transit in Canada on way to US?

    I’m guessing Westjet may have their own cheaper de-icing facilities in Calgary that their planes can plug into and maybe even heated hangars?

    • Chris L says:

      Yes, the eTA. Not sure about transit. It only costs about $7 a head I think.

    • Not that new. I got one in April 2016. Cheap and very straightforward from what I remember, and valid for 5 years.

  11. Re de-icing I thought that Canadian airports had remote de-icing stations which is more efficient than using trucks and/or de-icing at the gate.

    I suspect it’s more that the numbers BA is getting don’t compare well with some of the newer US routes like San Jose and Nashville, which are served with similar aircraft.

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