How to Choose the Right WestJet Fare


WestJet offers passengers a choice of different fare types on all flight bookings.

Some fares are cheaper, but don’t come with flexibility or additional benefits. On the other hand, more expensive fares offer flexibility and include benefits such as advance seat selection, change and cancellation options, and free checked baggage.

In this article, we’ll explore the different fare options for flights with WestJet to help you make the right decision based on your personal priorities.

WestJet’s Fares

WestJet has a total of 10 different fare options, outlined as follows:

  • Economy (Basic, Econo, EconoFlex, and Member Exclusive)
  • Premium (Premium, PremiumFlex, and Member Exclusive)
  • Business (Business, BusinessFlex, and Member Exclusive)

It’s important to note that not all fare options will appear for every flight. For example, many WestJet flights don’t have a business class cabin, and on these flights, you won’t have the option to choose Business fares.

This is especially the case with Swoop’s former narrowbody Boeing 737 aircraft, which are fitted entirely with economy seats. With the recent integration of Swoop into WestJet, the defunct ultra-low-cost carrier’s aircraft now service WestJet flights.

Swoop’s former aircraft, fitted entirely with economy seats, now service WestJet flights

When booking a flight, before you’re able to select one of the 10 fare types, you must first search for your desired flight route and date, and then select your desired cabin class.

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After you’ve selected the cabin class, the available fare options will appear.

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Choosing the best fare type will ultimately depend on your personal preferences, which can change from flight to flight. This means that there’s no single best fare for every situation.

When it comes to choosing the best fare with WestJet, you’ll want to consider the following:

  • Cost
  • Flexibility (i.e., changes and cancellations)
  • Luggage (checked and carry-on)
  • Seat selection fees

Additionally, you’ll want to take stock of whether you have access to any of the following:

With these in mind, let’s take a closer look at each of the 10 WestJet fare classes.

Basic

The four economy fares offered by WestJet include Basic, Econo, EconoFlex, and Member Exclusive.

west jet economy class 4
WestJet 787 economy

Basic fares come with the least amount of flexibility, and in fact, you’re not allowed any changes, cancellations, or refunds whatsoever with these fares.

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This means that if you book a Basic fare and you need to change your flight, you’ll be completely out of luck unless you have applicable travel insurance.

However, Basic fares tend to cost the least out of all the fare options, so if you prioritize saving money and can live without the flexibility, then booking this fare class may be the best choice for you.

It’s also worth noting that with the Basic fare, you won’t earn any WestJet dollars, and your spending won’t count towards earning elite status with WestJet.

What’s more, if you’re a WestJet elite Silver, Gold, or Platinum member who’d usually enjoy same-day flight changes, complimentary upgrades, or seat changes, your benefits are automatically voided if you select a Basic fare.

You’ll also have to pay for checked bags and seat selection with Basic fares.

The cost to check a bag will depend on whether you prepay, pay during self-service check-in, or pay at airport check-in. The price also fluctuates depending on your destination.

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Keep in mind that if you have the WestJet RBC® World Elite Mastercard, you’re allowed one free checked bag on any WestJet route, even if you booked a Basic fare. You also enjoy free checked baggage if you have WestJet elite status.

Another add-on cost to consider with a Basic fare is seat selection. The privilege of choosing where you sit on your flight will cost you between $5–250 (all figures in CAD) depending on your flight and the type of seat you’d like to select.

If you don’t pay in advance, your seat will be automatically assigned to you at check-in for no additional fee.

Finally, if you have seat selection vouchers by way of WestJet elite status, you can use those to get around having to pay for seat selection with Basic fares.

Who should book Basic fares?

Despite the restrictions and lack of benefits, Basic fares may still be the best choice in certain scenarios.

First off, if you know you won’t need to change or cancel your flight, then it may make sense for you to enjoy the lowest possible price. However, if your travel plans are still up in the air, a Basic fare limits your ability to make changes or to cancel.

A Basic fare can also be a good choice if you don’t travel with checked bags, or you already get free checked bags with your WestJet RBC® World Elite Mastercard or WestJet elite status. In these situations, there’s no need to pay for a higher-priced fare just to access free checked bags.

Lastly, if you don’t care about accumulating WestJet dollars, or you’re not interested in earning elite status with WestJet, then Basic fares may be the best choice.

Prior to booking a Basic fare, you’ll want to compare the amount you’ll save by booking the lower fare against how much it’d cost you for any checked baggage and seat selection fees.

If you’re looking to travel while paying as little as possible, and don’t need additional baggage or seats, WestJet’s Basic fares may well be right for you.

Econo 

WestJet’s Econo fare comes with slightly more benefits and flexibility than the Basic fare.

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For starters, you’ll have the option to change or cancel your flight, albeit for a fee.

Both change and cancellation fees are charged per direction, per person, except for flights to and from Europe, where change and cancellation fees are charged per transaction, per person.

To change or cancel an Econo fare, it’ll cost $100–118 (CAD) for all flights between Canada and non-European or Asian destinations. For flights between Canada and Europe or Asia, a change or cancellation will cost between $150–177.

In both cases, you’ll also be responsible for any fare difference.

If you choose to cancel your flight, you won’t‌ receive a refund to your original form of payment, but you’ll instead receive a refund to your WestJet Travel Bank.

You can then use your WestJet Travel Bank funds to purchase future WestJet flights, but it’s important to note that your Travel Bank funds expire one year from the date of your cancelled flight.

With Econo fares, you’ll have to pay for checked bags for flights in Canada, the US, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe. If you’re travelling to Asia, you’ll enjoy one free piece of checked luggage.

Seat selection with an Econo fare costs between $5–250 – the same as a Basic fare.

Lastly, with Econo fares, you’ll earn WestJet dollars, and your spending is eligible to help you qualify for WestJet elite status.

Who should book Econo fares?

You should book Econo fares over Basic fares if you’d like to keep costs down, but still want the option to change or cancel your trip for a fee.

Plus, if you’re a frequent flyer with WestJet, you should book Econo fares at the minimum, since your flight will contribute towards qualifying for status.

Econo could also be a better choice than Basic if you’re flying to Asia or Europe, as the Econo fare provides free checked bags when flying to or from Asia, and checked bags are significantly cheaper when flying to Europe.

Again, with this, you’ll need to crunch the numbers to see if the extra cost you’ll pay for the Econo fare is less than the cost of checking bags, which you may otherwise enjoy as a credit card or status benefit.

EconoFlex

WestJet EconoFlex fares come with the most flexibility and benefits for an economy WestJet ticket.

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Changes and cancellations to your ticket won’t cost you any additional fees with this fare class. However, cancellations will still result in a credit to your WestJet Travel Bank instead of a refund to your original form of payment.

With this fare, you’ll also receive one free checked bag on all flights, and you’ll be able to make your seat selection for free.

Lastly, you’ll be able to earn WestJet dollars, and your fare purchase will count towards earning WestJet elite status.

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Who should book EconoFlex fares?

You should book an EconoFlex fare if you’re uncertain about your travel plans, and you don’t want to pay extra to change or cancel your flight.

An EconoFlex fare should also be considered if you’re checking a bag, and don’t have the WestJet RBC® World Elite Mastercard or WestJet elite status, both of which would come with one free checked bag.

Once again, you’ll want to do the math to determine if the amount of money you’ll save with the free checked bag, potential cancellation or change fee, and seat selection fee makes up for the additional cost you’ll pay to book an EconoFlex fare over one of the lower Economy fare classes.

Economy Member Exclusive Fares

Member Exclusive fares are entirely different from all other WestJet fares.

To start, you can only book Member Exclusive fares with WestJet dollars, and you’ll need to have enough WestJet dollars to cover the entire base fare, after which you’ll have to pay the taxes and fees with cash or from your WestJet Travel Bank.

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Member Exclusive fares follow the same checked baggage and seat selection fee structure as Econo fares, and they have the same change and cancellation policies and fees as well.

However, a difference is that if you cancel a Member Exclusive ticket, you won’t receive a refund entirely to your WestJet Travel Bank. Instead, the WestJet dollars that were used for the base fare of the ticket will be refunded back to WestJet dollars, and the portion paid for the taxes and fees will be refunded to your Travel Bank.

Keep in mind that WestJet dollars don’t have to be used exclusively on Member Exclusive fares – you’re welcome to use your WestJet dollars on any fare.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that you won’t accumulate WestJet dollars on Member Exclusive fares, and your flights won’t count towards earning WestJet elite status.

Who should book Economy Member Exclusive fares?

The main reason to book Member Exclusive fares is that they tend to offer a small discount over booking Econo fares. In some cases, the discount is minuscule (~3%), while in others, it can be a bit higher (~9%).

However, since you need to have enough WestJet dollars to cover the whole base fare, you may be better off booking Econo fares and applying your WestJet dollars balance there instead. This can also be useful if your WestJet dollars balance isn’t high enough for the Member Exclusive fare.

Plus, you’ll also earn towards elite status and get a return in WestJet dollars, which you won’t get with Member Exclusive fares.

Premium & PremiumFlex

There are three fares to choose from for flying in WestJet’s Premium or premium economy cabins: Premium, PremiumFlex, and Member Exclusive.

It’s worth noting that WestJet offers a true premium economy cabin on its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, but not on its smaller aircraft. 

1803 WJ B787 PressStills PCL S10 C04 CabinOV RT
WestJet Boeing 787 premium economy

Rather, the Premium cabin on smaller aircraft is somewhere in between economy and a true premium economy seat, depending on which aircraft is being used on your flight.

In some cases, you’ll just get a seat at the front of the plane without any extra legroom, while in others, you’ll get a bit more room and more in-flight amenities.

Therefore, prior to booking a Premium fare, you should check to see what your experience will be like to make sure it’s worth the extra cost.

WestJet’s Premium and PremiumFlex fares are almost indistinguishable from one another.

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With both fare types, you’ll enjoy two free checked bags, complimentary food & beverages, priority services, and the accrual of WestJet dollars.

The primary difference between the two fare types lies in the change and cancellation policy.

With Premium fares, you’ll have to pay a cancellation or change fee of $100–118 within Canada, or between Canada and all destinations except Europe and Asia.

For flights between Canada and Europe or Asia, change and cancellation fees range from $300–354.

All change and cancellation fees are charged per direction, per person except for changes or cancellations on flights to and from Europe, where fees are charged per transaction, per person.

With PremiumFlex fares, there’s no additional fee for changes or cancellation; however, if you do make a change, you’ll have to pay for the fare difference, if any.

Another key difference between PremiumFlex and Premium fares is how the refund is handled if you choose to cancel your flight.

With PremiumFlex fares, your refund is returned to your original form of payment, and with Premium fares, your refund will ‌appear in your WestJet Travel Bank to be used on future WestJet flights, with a one-year expiry date attached.

Who should book Premium fares?

You should book Premium fares if you want to fly WestJet Premium or premium economy, and your travel plans are fairly set.

You can also book Premium fares even if your travel plans are uncertain; however, you’ll want to look at whether the amount you save from booking a Premium fare over a PremiumFlex fare is greater than the amount you’d have to pay in cancellation or change fees.

Keep in mind that the funds from any cancelled flights will be added to your WestJet Travel Bank rather than being returned to the original form of payment.

Who should book PremiumFlex fares?

To be frank, booking PremiumFlex fares rarely makes sense.

The significantly higher cost of booking this fare type ‌tends to overshadow any amount you’d save on a potential change or cancellation fee.

However, if you find a PremiumFlex fare that doesn’t cost outrageously more than a Premium fare, it may be worth booking this to avoid the potential change or cancellation fee.

Lastly, if you want to avoid having your money tied up in a WestJet Travel Bank at all costs, then a PremiumFlex fare would ensure that you never have to worry about expiring Travel Bank credits.

Premium Member Exclusive Fares

The only other WestJet Premium fare type is the Member Exclusive fare.

As a Member Exclusive fare, you can only book this fare type if you have enough WestJet dollars to cover the entire base fare amount. Additional taxes and fees will have to be paid in cash or WestJet Travel Bank funds.

You also won’t earn any WestJet dollars with Member Exclusive fares, and any cancellations or changes will cost the same as Premium fares.

For cancellations, the WestJet dollars you spent will be returned as WestJet dollars, while any amount you spent on taxes and fees will be added to your WestJet Travel Bank.

Other than these Member Exclusive fare-specific features, all other benefits and fare rules are identical to the other WestJet Premium tickets: two free checked bags, extra leg room on some aircraft, complimentary food & beverages, and priority services.

Who should book Premium Member Exclusive fares?

Similar to WestJet Economy fares, the only reason to book a Member Exclusive fare is if you were planning on booking a Premium fare, but the Member Exclusive fare winds up being cheaper.

Keep in mind that you’ll forgo any potential WestJet Rewards, and you won’t be able to redeem a companion voucher with a Member Exclusive fare. However, the potential savings could be worth it, assuming you have a sizeable balance of WestJet dollars.

Business & BusinessFlex

If you’d like to fly WestJet’s best overall product, there are three fare types to choose from: Business, BusinessFlex, and Member Exclusive.

WestJet 787 Business Class 44
WestJet Boeing 787 business class

With a business class ticket, you’ll have lounge access at available airports and your own bed in the sky with lie-flat seats.

You’ll also receive two free checked bags, priority screening, boarding, and baggage, and in-flight food and beverage service no matter which business class fare you book.

As we’ve seen before, the difference between Business and BusinessFlex fares comes down to the change and cancellation policy.

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With BusinessFlex fares, there’s no change or cancellation fee, and your funds from a cancelled flight will be returned to your original form of payment. However, if you choose to change your flight, you’ll still be responsible for paying any fare difference.

On the other hand, with regular Business fares, any change or cancellation comes with a fee, and any credit will be added to your WestJet Travel Bank.

For flights within Canada and between Canada and all destinations in North American (including Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico), you’ll pay $100–118 to change or cancel your flight per person, per direction.

For flights between Canada and Europe or Asia, you’ll have to pay a fee of $500–590 to change your flight and $600–708 to cancel.

Change and cancellation fees are charged per direction, per person, except for changes or cancellations for flights to and from Europe, whereby change fees are charged per transaction, per person.

Who should book Business fares?

Similar to Premium fares, the regular Business fare will more often than not be significantly cheaper than the BusinessFlex fare, even after taking the change and cancellation fees into consideration.

However, you’ll still want to be fairly committed to your trip if you book a regular Business fare, as the change and cancellation fees can add up quickly, especially on flights to Europe and Asia.

What’s more, cancelled flights won’t be refunded to your original form of payment, but rather to your WestJet Travel Bank, with an expiration date attached to the funds.

Therefore, if you’d like to fly WestJet’s best product and are fairly firm in your plans, a Business fare will result in the same experience at a lower cost than BusinessFlex fares.

Who should book BusinessFlex fares?

You should only book BusinessFlex fares if the extra amount you’ll have to pay for this fare is less than any potential change or cancellation fee, and you don’t want your refund to go to your Travel Bank.

BusinessFlex fares can be thousands of dollars more than a regular Business fare, so even though you’ll save money on change and cancellation fees, booking a BusinessFlex fare may not make financial sense, especially considering you aren’t getting any additional benefits.

Business Member Exclusive Fares

Lastly, the Business Member Exclusive fare is only bookable if you have enough WestJet dollars to cover the full base fare, and you pay the taxes and fees with cash or funds from your Travel Bank.

As mentioned above, Member Exclusive fares also aren’t eligible to earn WestJet dollars or credit towards WestJet elite status.

With this fare type, you’ll be subject to the same cancellation and change fees as with WestJet’s regular Business fare; however, the refund is processed differently.

Instead of having all the funds returned to your WestJet Travel Bank, WestJet dollars are returned as WestJet dollars, and the money paid for the taxes and fees are returned as Travel Bank funds.

All other Business Member Exclusive benefits are the same as with the WestJet regular Business fare and the BusinessFlex fare.

Who should book Business Class Member Exclusive fares?

As is the case with all Member Exclusive fares, you should only book a Business Member Exclusive fare if the cost is cheaper than the other business class fare options, and if you have enough WestJet dollars to cover the entire base fare.

However, you may also want to consider applying your WestJet dollars towards a Business fare instead. This way, you’ll still be eligible to earn WestJet dollars and qualifying spend towards WestJet elite status.

Plus, since Member Exclusive fares only offer a small discount, there generally isn’t really a strong value proposition to booking them over standard fares.

Conclusion

WestJet offers passengers to choose from 10 different fare types, with the lower-priced fares generally offering less flexibility, and the higher-priced fares providing increased flexibility and perks.

When choosing a WestJet fare, you’ll want to consider your priorities in terms of price, flexibility, and baggage. You’ll also want to take stock of additional variables, such as whether you hold the WestJet RBC® World Elite Mastercard, WestJet elite status, or a sizeable balance of WestJet dollars.

At the end of the day, the right WestJet fare is fairly subjective and depends on a combination of many of the above factors. If in doubt, you can always get in touch with a qualified travel agent to help you with the decision.





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