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Thursday, November 5, 2020

WestJet Member Exclusive Fares are back - now with access to Premium & Business Class fares (And they are pricing at 35% off until the end of the year)


 

Back in June WestJet paused access to their Member Exclusive Fares so that they could revamp and enhance this somewhat unknown but very valuable redemption option for WestJet Rewards members. If you are unfamiliar with their Member Exclusive fares you can think of them as WestJet's fixed price redemption option that was in the vein of your classic flight reward charts from programs like Aeroplan, AIR MILES and most other frequent flyer programs. Essentially you would pay a flat rate of WestJet dollars for a flight on WestJet or even WestJet's partner airlines like Air France, Delta, KLM and Qantas. Prior to the pause flights in Canada or to the U.S. typically ran 99 WestJet dollars for short haul (although we are seeing that as low as 63 right now) or 125 WestJet dollars each way for long haul, to Europe for as little as 349, Asia for 599 and Australia for 629.

 

Recommended reading to help you catch up on this topic:


Today marks the relaunch of WestJet's Member Exclusives fares with several marked changes:

  • There are now Member Exclusive Fares for Premium and Business Class on WestJet in addition to your standard Economy Class
  • There are no partner redemptions at this time – this feature is very important to WestJet and of course WestJet Rewards members. It is on their roadmap to relaunch sometime in 2021. In reality with the current situation globally I think the percentage of members who would be looking to book on partner airlines would be very low so this isn't a crucial step for WestJet right now.
  • Member Exclusive Fares will be fully dynamic now - that means those set prices we mention above are no longer valid. This now mimics the new Aeroplan, Delta SkyMiles and other frequent flyer programs who have moved to dynamic reward flight pricing.
  • Member Exclusive Fares show up on regular flight searches - you no longer need to check off the little box to see them. This gives you the ability to see ME fares right beside the cash prices for those flights
  • The new Member Exclusive fare, when available, will always provide a discount off the regular WestJet ticket prices (discount is provided on the base fare of the cabin equivalent fare bundle). Note that Member Exclusive fares require the full payment of the base fare in WestJet dollars. Member Exclusive fares are not discounted off the following fare bundles: Basic, EconoFlex, PremiumFlex and BusinessFlex.
  • you will not earn WestJet dollars or qualifying spend on Member Exclusive fares

To celebrate the launch of the new Member Exclusive fares WestJet Members will receive up to a 35% discount off the Econo base fare on Member Exclusive Economy fares within Domestic Canada when booked by December 31, 2020 with travel by June 27, 2021.

Here are some examples of the new Member Exclusive Fare pricing:

Calgary-Vancouver December 2020


 

Calgary - London Gatwick December 2020




Calgary - Maui March 2021





Vancouver - Toronto January 2021




First thoughts

I spent just a little bit of time this morning perusing the new ME pricing and hope to follow up again once I get more time to research more of them. For now you can see from the examples above it appears the Member Exclusive pricing is based on the Econo fare level for Economy Class and the non-flex pricing for Premium and Business Class. One of my first thoughts as well seeing the new pricing are the flights to London, you still have to pay the dreaded carrier surcharges! WestJet has known for two months now that Air Canada has done away with charging surcharges on Aeroplan reward tickets so it surprises me that WestJet didn't follow suit. This could be a big sticking point against WestJet and the Member Exclusive fares. However since the pricing is dynamic now you can see that redeeming for a Member Exclusive to London in Economy class is better with the new system. The old rates would have been 349 WestJet dollars or possibly a bit less plus $228 in fees whereas now it is 43 WestJet dollars plus those same fees. As with any program changes there are going to be some changes that are good but some will be bad. The good here is the access to Premium and Business Class as well as the low price options of dynamic pricing the bad being the high price options of dynamic pricing and the need to pay for those surcharges.

The big take away here is that just like other dynamic pricing models the person redeeming will have to do their due diligence to see what the best redemption option is for them. Do you pay cash for your entire flight, do you redeem WestJet dollars against the cash fare or do you do Member Exclusive redemption.

Learn more about WestJet's new Member Exclusive Fares here.


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