Is It Worth Upgrading To WestJet Plus?

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Is It Worth Upgrading To WestJet Plus?
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Review: Fogo Island Inn
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I won’t be doing a full review of my WestJet flight from Toronto to Gander, though did briefly want to talk about the value proposition of WestJet Plus. This was my first trip on WestJet, and when I booked I didn’t even realize that WestJet had a “Plus” cabin on their 737s.

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We booked our WestJet flight through an OTA, so I didn’t see that option at the time. Our one-way tickets from Toronto to Gander cost ~150USD per person, and only when I checked in online did I see the option to upgrade to WestJet Plus. It seems like WestJet offers discounted upgrades to Plus at check-in, which opens 24 hours before departure. As WestJet describes it, upgrading to Plus comes with:

  • Extra legroom and seating at the front of the cabin
  • An empty middle seat
  • Priority boarding
  • Free food & drinks

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The cost to upgrade to Plus on our Toronto to Gander flight was 90CAD, plus tax. As you can see, there are three rows of Plus seats at the front of the cabin, and this seems to be the case on all WestJet 737 flights.

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Including tax, the total cost to upgrade was ~70USD per person.

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So, was it worth paying ~70USD to upgrade on a three hour, 1,250 mile flight? Let me start by saying that the flight landed on my birthday (at 1:30AM), so if nothing else it seemed worth it to avoid starting my birthday in economy. That seems like it would be bad luck for the year to come. 😉

Anyway, WestJet Plus is sort of like business class on intra-Europe flights, except there’s more legroom and less service.

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WestJet Plus apparently has 36″ of seat pitch, so it’s similar to extra legroom economy on US airlines.

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There was a tray over the middle seat, which had a bottle of Dasani water for each passenger on boarding.

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There was also an outlet at each seat.

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WestJet offers free soft drinks and coffee in economy, along with a free snack. However, they charge for more substantial food and alcohol. For reference, here’s their onboard menu:

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Fortunately there’s a bit more service when you’re traveling in Plus. After takeoff we were offered warm (disposable) towels.

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We were then offered a selection of snacks, with the choice between a thai chicken wrap, a turkey & swiss croissant, and a cheese tray. I nibbled at the cheese tray, which was… fine (I wasn’t very hungry, since this was a late night flight).

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Ford had the chicken wrap, which he enjoyed.

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In addition to that, we were each offered a snack box.

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Inside the box were sliced apples, an apple crumble dessert, and a mint.

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On top of that we were offered beverages of choice, including alcohol. I just had a cup of water and a McCafe coffee.

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The service in WestJet Plus was more like economy than business class. While we were offered free food & drinks, it was mostly also stuff that could be purchased in economy, it was also served in cups, etc. Also, the service seemed to be similar to economy, in the sense that flight attendants made a single pass through the cabin during the flight.

I found the WestJet flight attendants to be perfectly fine. They weren’t overly friendly, but weren’t bad either.

WestJet is supposed to have wifi, though it was broken for the entire flight.

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So, is WestJet Plus worth it? At the cost of 70USD for the three hour flight, I’d say yes. It’s actually completely unrelated to the free food and drinks, since we didn’t drink alcohol and weren’t especially hungry.

Instead it’s because we could actually sit in comfort. Legroom and shoulder space was plentiful, so I was able to be productive for the entire three hour flight. Meanwhile economy was full, and with 31″ of pitch, I wouldn’t have been able to comfortably work.

So at the upgrade cost I think WestJet Plus can be worth it. I’m not sure how much it would have been if I paid for it in advance, but in looking at the fares for travel in the future, it looks like it’s often about 250CAD more for the three hour flight from Toronto to Gander. That’s about as twice as much as I’d be willing to pay for it.

WestJet-Plus

Have you flown WestJet Plus before? If so, did you find it worthwhile?

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Comments

  1. I’ve flown it a few times, before the pricing differential became too great. Nice on a 3-4 hour flight that is typical for Canada. Useful to those without NEXUS as it often gives you priority security. If I buy it it is for the shoulder room and priority boarding.

  2. You are someone who has thought many ridiculous things are “worth it”, from hotel cars to hand-holding services at airports, to spending $$$ without seeing the destination, to upgrading on small airlines (Paro/Vietnam) where you then have to wait 30 plus minutes during checkin for the privilege, to only looking at Hyatt/SPG when there are tons or other reasonably priced options available at comparable/better hotels.

    That is to say, you are absolutely not a good judge of if something is “worth it”. Leave that to people who actually value their time and money.

  3. You can generally get exit row seats on WestJet for free if you are quick during OLCI.

  4. Dont understand why people think or consider West Jet as low cost or budget airline. Their fares are almost exactly the same as those from Air Canada

  5. @CK +1

    And comparing them to SouthWest even makes “Westjetters” cringe. They’re so far beyond that original business plan.

  6. Your point of the WestJet Plus fare vs last-min upgrade reminds me of another question I keep thinking about from time to time – Is W (Y+) really worth the 2x the discounted Y fares, or it’s only worth it when offered at last min, say $300-350 for JAL’s NA routes?

  7. Lucky, I think this was a pretty good review of the product. It is not bad, sort of similar to European short haul business class. For $70 worth it for a 3hour flight. I have taken this product to Hawaii, and thought it was worth the $150 upgrade price. A little more room, place to put your snacks and nice when travelling with one other as you get the whole row, nobody has to sit in the middle.

    This type of product reminds me that really first class on a flight less then say 1500 miles, is really of pretty small value. Coach is really not that bad if you don’t have someone in the middle seat next to you.

    I know people of size can purchase an empty middle class coach seat. Do you know can a regular person like you or me purchase an extra seat even if we are not too big? What airlines offer that and how do you book an empty seat?

  8. I agree it’s worth it for the extra legroom on a longer flight – definitely not for the food or service.

    Pro tip: if you’re on a full flight like yours, just be the last to check in and you get Westjet Plus for free. I flew on a combined AA/WS itinerary from AUS-PHX-YVR and got upgrades on both flights (extra legroom on AA, plus on WS), since I waited to check in at the airport. Westjet isn’t so bad about overselling, so you don’t have to be as paranoid about not getting a seat at all with them.

  9. @Dave: WS doesn’t overbook flights, but if they have to down-gauge an aircraft there will be some denied boarding going on.

    I am flying WS YWG»YYC»YXE in a month or so booked using some WS points I got because of a service failure. Looking at the fares then it was 180 WS points +60$ cash for a basic fare, or 280 WS points +60$ cash for a plus fare, I went with Plus. I will have a bag and the total flight time will be about 3 hours, so seemed worth it to me.

  10. I flew on LessJet last week from LGA to YYZ because I was a Delta codeshare customer. The pitch on LessJet 737’s is worse than on Air Canada planes and the TV screens are about 10 years out of date. I usually choose AC or Delta for economy flights of less than 3 hours. Of course it all comes down to price!

  11. Are you bemoaning a coffee being served in a cup? What else would you expect it in – an embossed crystal goblet?

  12. I’ve flown WS Plus class LAX-YYZ and it was certainly worth it IMO. It was nonstop, came with a bit more room, bottomless free drinks and was SO MUCH LESS than AC on the same route. Unless you get an internationally configured 787 or 767 on AC, which is possible, with lie flat and true business class service, you’re in the equivalent of a US domestic F seat on an A320 or similar – which is most of what they fly on that route. So, it’s a lot less fancy in terms of catering, and the seat is narrower, but it’s maybe 30% of the AC price on the same route. It’s even cheaper than F on AA/DL with a connection, for a nonstop flight. So, as someone who pays his own fares or bills a Client, on this route, WS Plus class wins, easy.

  13. @ @mkcol — Huh, where did I suggest that? All I said was that drinks were served in the same cups as economy, unlike in business class, where there’s glassware. That wasn’t a complaint, just an observation.

  14. @Lucky – Sorry fella, just the rest of the para is comparing Plus with economy, and it all reads that it’s not that great in Plus as it’s actually just what you’d get in economy, inter alia a cup isn’t that good either, hence my inference that a cup isn’t good enough.

  15. That free food that was offered looks better than intra-European business class by a kilometer

  16. Gander? Just fly some of United’s TATL flights which offer free diversions in Gander and Goose Bay.

  17. Received an upgrade to Plus last month on HNL-YVR and was pleasantly surprised.

    Flight Attendant serving our section was beyond phenomenal; she was pleasant and offered several drink and snack runs to our section. I had to turn down one offer for fear that I would have to ask for wheelchair assistance to deplane. 🙂 At the end of the day, it’s a really good Premium Economy product which you cannot compare to F on a legacy North American carrier.

  18. It’s also worth noting that $70 is likely the distressed inventory price.

    On my flights to Cuba last year, Plus was pricing at +$500 per segment for roughly the same experience.

  19. I have a flight scheduled on June 21st. From Cincinnati to Toronto then on to Vancouver. I had hip replacement surgery a few months ago and thought I should check into upgrading to plus or first class.. I have never flown Westjet so I don’t know if they have first class. How can I find out the cost or upgrading for the Toronto to Vancouver leg of the trip to save mine!?

  20. @Lucky – What would you say is a reasonable price for a 3-5 hour flight? I recently flew Westjet (economy) from Orlando, Florida (MCO) to Calgary, Canada (YYC). It was a 5hr flight. Economy cost $200 (AMAZING PRICE) while Plus cost $750. We definitely didn’t upgrade as that was way to expensive for 4 people.

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