the program that has been delayed numerous times for the past few years is now
here. Live on the Westjet.com site as of March 4th, the program takes a page out
of the Travel Rewards Credit Card industry by allowing members to redeem points
for full or partial travel with no black out dates. Basically you will put your
WestJet dollars towards the purchase of any ticket at the going rate from WestJet.
Many Travel Point and Hybrid Credit card programs do the same, for example redeeming
5000 points for a $50 credit towards any travel that is booked. Of course the
more dollars you have the bigger the discount towards that travel.
you reach the $1500 you then start earning 2.5% in WestJet Dollars back on every
dollar you spend with WestJet and 1% back on WestJet Vacations. The key is that
you have to hit that $1500 level.
Earning WestJet Dollars
In general, you earn 2.5% in WestJet Dollars on WestJet flights (total base fare, excluding taxes, fees and surcharges) but these don't kick in until you hit the $1500 annual spend level. The $1500 level gives $50 in WestJet dollars ($1500 x 2.5% = $37.50 + a $12.50 bonus) and after this point you will earn 2.5% on any WestJet flights. WestJet flights booked via any method, online, WestJet Super Sales Center, Travel Agency, online booking sites etc. all count towards your annual spend and the earning of WestJet Dollars as long as you have your WestJet ID attached to your booking.
Once you reach your first annual spend level of $1500 with WestJet you can start to earn WestJet dollars on WestJet Vacations bookings. You will receive 1% in WestJet Dollars for these WJV bookings (taxes and fees excluded).
You can earn additional WestJet dollars with the WestJet RBC MasterCards. There are two offerings from RBC, the first is the WestJet RBC World MasterCard which offers 1.5% in WestJet dollars on everyday spending and 2% on all WestJet and WestJet Vacations bookings. The card comes with a $100 WestJet Dollar sign up bonus. The second is the WestJet RBC MasterCard offers 1.0% in WestJet dollars on everyday spending and 1.5% on all WestJet and WestJet Vacations bookings. The card comes with a $25 WestJet Dollar sign up bonus. The annual fees are $79 and $39 respectively.
what is good about programs like the WestJet program is that you don't have to
have a lot of points to redeem and get some sort of reward versus the set point
programs like most frequent flyer programs where you need a minimum amount of
points to redeem for a flight.
Overall I feel the program is average, the key features listed above make the program stand out from others in those areas but it will have some difficulty attracting the leisure traveller who only travels once or twice a year.The key target market for this program are the business travellers who have not become 100% loyal to one airline's frequent flyer program and would choose WestJet at least 3 or 4 times a year based on price or schedule. This sector of the market should make the program a success however it will have a tough time attracting the business travellers looking for business class upgrades, lounge access on every flight and class of service bonuses, those travellers will stick to the airline that gives them these. Will these people join the program anyways? Absolutely, as there is nothing to lose by joining WestJet's program.
I also think that WestJet and RBC are banking on people getting the credit card as that will allow Frequent Guest members to bypass the $1500 annual spending level with WestJet. For those who like to travel with WestJet, but only do so once or twice a year they will have to go with the credit card if they want to get the WestJet dollars discount.
This is the first frequent flyer program to come along and compete in Canada with Aeroplan since Canadian Airlines Plus, but, at this point I don't forsee many people jumping ship from Aeroplan to focus on WestJet's program. The people who have been disgruntled with Air Canada or Aeroplan had already made the move to WestJet prior to the launching of this program. At this time Aeroplan still offers many more partners and redemption possibilities but then again the WestJet Frequent Guest program is only in its infancy. It will take a few years for it to become a major player and at that time I may have to revisit this review. I am, just as curious as all of you, to see where this program will go.
We would like to hear your thoughts on WestJet's new program by commenting on our blog! With WestJet being a very responsive company to commentary, please ensure you do comment as WestJet does read our blog!
Rewards Canada Blog Post on the WestJet Frequent Guest Program
WestJet Frequent Guest Program
RBC WestJet MasterCard
WestJet Bonus Offers Page on Rewards Canada