Program Score Card: WestJet Frequent Guest

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When it comes to Canadian low-cost carriers, WestJet leads the pack. As the second largest airline in Canada (behind Air Canada), they service 71 destinations in Canada, US, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Their operational model is similar to Southwest’s in that they only operate coach-only 737 aircraft.  WestJet is not in any of the alliances, but they have flirted with partnerships in the past and most recently were rumored to link up with Southwest. However, it seems that talks of a Southwest partnership have fizzled and WestJet is more likely to link up with Delta. Nothing is finalized, but as a Delta Frequent Flyer, I’d like more intra-Canadian options.

The WestJet Frequent Guest program (sounds way too much like a hotel loyalty program to me) is spend based, similar to JetBlue and Virgin America.

Currency=  WestJet Dollars (Sign up link here)

Earning:

Flights:

  • Earn 2.5% in WestJet dollars on your eligible spend** on WestJet flights.
  • Earn 1% in WestJet dollars, after you reach $1,500 spend with WestJet, on your WestJet Vacations packages.

Credit Card:
RBC Mastercard:

Earn up to 1.5% back in WestJet dollars on purchases
Earn an additional 0.5% back in WestJet dollars when you use the card to pay for flights or vacation packages± booked with WestJet or WestJet Vacations. (Apply)

Parners: Only RBC Mastercard

Redeeming: Since you earn Dollars, you use that to purchase any flight- no black out dates.

Expiration: Points expire after five years

Positives-
+Simple earning structure, based on annual spend
+ Generous, 5 year expiration policy

Negatives-
– Limited earning partners
– No redemption partners (yet)
– Dollars are not worth much

Elite Status:

Perks are given when reaching annual spend limits.

$4,500: you receive a companion flight anywhere WestJet flies within Canada, – four complimentary advance seat selection vouchers, and two airport lounge passes

$6,000: you receive an additional companion flight anywhere WestJet flies within Canada, – four complimentary advance seat selection vouchers, and two airport lounge passes

Overall Summary:
WestJet has a straight forward program that rewards people for spending a lot of money. In my opinion, the program lacks creativity and flexibility. The inability to earn WestJet dollars on partners really hampers the ability to quickly accrue dollars- especially when their main competitior, Air Canada, has a robust program with hundreds of partners.

As far as their spend based system based against JetBlue and Virgin America, they are the least rewarding.

If you spend $1,500 on JetBlue, you get roughly $90 (6%) in value. Virgin America earns you about $150 (10%) in value- both are many times more generous than WestJet, which gives a 2.5% return, or $50 measly dollars.

Additionally, the spend based perks are unremarkable. I’d like to see them let someone who spends $6,000 a year on flights to always select their seats in advance.

In general, I think they should rename the program to WestJet Cents, because calling them Dollars makes it seem like they carry real value.

Overall scores:

Points: C-
Elite Program: C-
Overall Grade: C-

First steps for WestJet to get the overall score moving towards an A:
1) Increase the value of Dollars (2.5% is not competitive)
2) Partner with a large airline that will allow international redemptions
3) Get  hotel and travel partners- a shopping mall should be a no-brainer
4) Give more perks to high spenders

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