WestJet, Canada’s traditionally egalitarian discount airline (think Southwest Airlines) is breaking into first class.
The airline is adding a true premium cabin on new Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets this fall, although an official date has not been confirmed. WestJet is marketing the new cabin as ‘Premium’ class, but from renderings showing a two-by-two seating, this cabin definitely looks like what domestic North American fliers would call first or business class.
WestJet, founded in 1996 as a low-cost competitor to Air Canada, is in the midst of a transformation into what looks more like a full-service airline. Last week the airline firmed up its joint venture agreement with Delta Air Lines to expand its existing partnership, which the two carriers say will cover 95% of transborder passenger routes.
WestJet is adding 12 ‘Premium’ seats arranged in three rows of two-by-two seats – replacing its current Plus seating featuring a blocked middle seat, resembling intra-European business class.
WestJet already offers premium economy-style recliners on long-haul Boeing 767 flights, but had only operated a single cabin on smaller planes, with the extra-legroom, enhanced amenity Plus seats up front.
WestJet hints at enhanced service
WestJet hasn’t provided full details on meal and beverage service in its Premium cabin, but the carrier did confirm that glassware, flatware and linen will accompany ‘exclusive menu options’ and a wine list akin to domestic first or business class. WestJet’s current Plus seats include free drinks and snacks more in line with a premium economy experience.
WestJet’s joint-venture partnership with Delta will bring expanded codeshare agreements to travelers throughout North America. With a new business class cabin, I wouldn’t be surprised to see combined itineraries that include a Delta One flight connecting to a WestJet Premium flight.
Delta confirmed “more closely aligned frequent flyer program and reciprocal elite benefits,” but has not provided specifics, like if elites will receive upgrade benefits similar to what Delta offers with Aeromexico.
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