More details on the pause and future evolution of WestJet Rewards Member Exclusive Fares

Last Friday we brought you the news that WestJet will be pausing
their Member Exclusive Fares as of June 25. At the time there were
questions on whether it is a pause or if that redemption feature of the
program was going to go by the wayside. I can tell you the good news
that it is strictly a pause
. WestJet has committed that a solution will
be in place by the end of 2020 with a better member reward offering and
will continue to add more features after that. If you are unfamiliar
with WestJet’s Member Exclusive Fares they are basically WestJet’s fixed
grid redemption option. If you are familiar with Aeroplan’s Classic
Flight rewards chart, Amex’s Fixed Points for Travel chart, the RBC
Avion chart and so on that is what Member Exclusive Fares are. 

primary reason for wanting to update member exclusives is exactly what
is stated on WestJet’s site – to improve the process. Right now the
booking process for Member Exclusive Fares doesn’t follow their typical
booking flow as if you were buying a revenue ticket or even just wanting
to redeem WestJet dollars towards a revenue ticket.

the process for booking Member Exclusive Fares will make it easier for
WestJet to promote them. The uptake on the program was lower than
expected and up until now it has been a secondary method of redemption
that members mostly learned of via sites like ours. They aren’t front
and centre on WestJet’s site (yes there is a check box right on the home
page to show the fares during the process but many people aren’t aware
of what it means) For the most part the WestJet Rewards program has
really focused on the ability to redeem WestJet dollars dollar for
dollar. However the future Member Exclusive Fares will be much more
integrated into the booking process and in my mind should make WestJet
Rewards even more competitive with other frequent flyer programs as
these type of reward options can provide outsized value. For example in
our post from last Friday the flights between Toronto and Calgary were
$347.22 using Member Exclusive Fares versus $459.01 to buy outright. 

WestJet’s 787 Business Class should become part of Member Exclusive
Fares in the future

other step with the new Member Exclusive Fares that will make WestJet
Rewards that much more competitive is that WestJet wants to make sure
they will have set rates for Premium and Business Class redemptions on
WestJet flights. 

What is an unknown right now is what the
pricing will be for reincarnated Member Exclusive Fares. Will they still
be a fixed price and be the same as they are now? Will they move to
dynamic pricing like Air Canada is planning for North American
redemptions? We don’t have any details yet from WestJet but I feel like
they will keep a very close eye on what Aeroplan will do and adjust
accordingly. What I can say is that they will need to be competitive –
for example if the sign up bonus for the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard is 250 WestJet dollars they’ll want the standard North
America redemption rates to be around 200 to 250 (100 to 125 WJD each
way) to stay in the league of what we see from other airline co-brand
credit card offers seeing that those others hover around the short haul
redemption to long haul redemption region. In my mind if WestJet keeps a
fixed rate redemption in place they can’t raise the current prices we
are used to by more than 10%. If they did WestJet could be putting the
nail in the coffin in terms of competing with Aeroplan and having Member
Exclusive Fares becoming the competitive tool they want it to be.

in all the impression I get from WestJet is that they don’t want to
mess with the actual premise and value of Member Exclusive Fares. They
really do want it to become a major part of the WestJet Rewards program,
they want it front and centre and they want it to help them grow the
program and the airline. 

To close out this post let me say
this isn’t the only news from WestJet that you can expect over the next
few weeks
. So stay tuned right here on the Rewards Canada blog as we’ll
bring you all the details as the news (and offers) get released!