22 Feb 19
When booking a holiday, choosing your flights is one of the first things on the to-do list. In Canada, the dilemma of Air Canada vs WestJet is a familiar battle amongst even the savviest travellers. So, to make booking your next flight a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of comparisons between Canada’s favourite airlines.
Air Canada or WestJet? It’s been a travel dilemma for Canadians and visitors to Canada since the late 1990s. For many, the price is the biggest reason to choose an airline, but for others, it’s the amazing customer service, inflight perks, and comfort, or travel-friendly schedules. One thing is certain: Air Canada and WestJet both have loyal customers. If you’re on the fence, this post will give you some insight on paper, but the best way to know for sure is to book a flight and find out for yourself.
Air Canada vs WestJet
Where can you fly on Air Canada and WestJet?
Air Canada is the airline that represents our nation abroad with that big maple leaf logo flying in the sky, so it’s fair to say it’s the more widely known brand. They fly to almost 200 destinations in over 50 countries, so your choices for a planned or last-minute holiday are endless.
WestJet continues to add destinations to their flight plans with direct flights all over Canada, to the USA, Mexico, Caribbean, and Europe. New flight paths for 2019 are Calgary to Austin, Texas, and Calgary to Portland, Oregon.
Is Air Canada better than WestJet? | Skyscanner Canada
Where are their main hubs in Canada?
Air Canada’s main Canadian hubs are:
Toronto Pearson International, Canada’s busiest airportToronto City AirportMontreal Trudeau International Calgary International Vancouver International
Remember when WestJet didn’t fly east of Winnipeg? Now they call these airports home:
Calgary InternationalToronto Pearson InternationalVancouver International
Is WestJet a better airline than Air Canada? | Skyscanner Canada
How much does it cost?
Like any airline, the cost of airfare depends on your destination, as well as when you go and what time you depart (overnight flights, or “red-eye” flights are often less expensive). The most important factor that determines the flight cost is supply and demand. That’s why it’s often more expensive to travel over the Christmas holiday period. That said, there are plenty of airfare deals to be had all year round.
WestJet formed in 1996 as Western Canada’s low-cost airline. Today, they fly all over Canada, the U.S., and even to Europe. Fares start with Economy Basic service, which gives you a seat on the plane. Next is WestJet’s Econo, which as well as your seat, lets you collect WestJet Rewards dollars (if you’re a member), and finally, their EconoFlex fare, which allows the above point and one checked baggage, itinerary changes, seat selection, and reward points. Westjet also offers Business and Premium fares. For first-class air travel, check out their new 787 Dreamliner with private pods.
Air Canada dates back to 1937 – that’s a long time in the air. They offer 7 different fare options ranging from Basic to Business Class. Remember, like most things, you get what you pay for. Lowest fares do not include checked baggage, seat selection, cancellation, refunds or top loyalty rewards (if any at all). The airline also offers a budget service, Air Canada Rouge, which we’ve written about here.
Air Canada and WestJet have new baggage rules | Skyscanner Canada
Baggage allowances and fees
Air Canada has introduced new baggage rules for 2019. Here’s the low-down about the fees:
Canada’s national and U.S.-destined base fares include one small suitcase and one personal item to be taken aboard. Suitcases must be light enough for you to put it in the overhead locker. Checked baggage costs $31.50 for the first bag, $52.50 for the second, and $105 for each additional. Each bag must weigh a maximum of 23kg. International fares include two checked pieces, each weighing no more than 23 kg. Additional international luggage will cost $225 per checked bag. Prices include GST.
Note: Airport shopping will be considered part of your carry-on allowances. Passengers travelling with infants without a paid seat are allowed to bring an extra carry-on, such as a diaper bag.
When Air Canada does something, WestJet tends to follow so they also have new baggage rules to know about. All Economy fares at WestJet allow one piece of carry-on baggage, like a small suitcase, and one personal item such as a purse or camera bag. Size restrictions apply. Checked luggage costs $30 for the first piece and $50 for the second. The fee is the same no matter where you board your flight, although the currency will be relevant to the country. So, if you board in Paris and you check one suitcase, you will be charged $30 Euros. All charges originated in Canada are subject to GST.
Check-in and boarding procedures
We’ve all been on a flight that’s been delayed due to the late arrival of a passenger (and it sucks). Airlines must stay on schedule so if you’re late, they won’t wait very long (if at all).
WestJet and Air Canada have similar
check-in and boarding procedures. They are:
National flights: Check-in at least 90 minutes prior to departureUSA, International, Mexico and Caribbean flights: Check-in 120 minutes before take-off
Online check-in can be complete 24 hours before departure. For airport kiosk check-in, it’s 12 hours prior for Air Canada, and 24 hours for WestJet. Air Canada accepts baggage 4 hours prior when leaving from Canada and the USA, and 3 hours from all other destinations. WestJet allows baggage drop 3 hours before your flight. Be sure to check-in and drop your baggage before the cut-off times, which is 45-60 minutes prior to take-off. As a rule, airlines close boarding 15 minutes before a scheduled departure.
Always arrive at the airport with your passport and or photo identification, travel itinerary, and flight booking reference (either on your phone/tablet or in print).
Reward yourself with a holiday | Skyscanner Canada
Which Airline Has the Best Loyalty Program?
WestJet Rewards is based on earning
WestJet dollars, which you can receive every time you book flights
with them or their partner airlines: Delta, KLM, Qantas, and Air
France. You can also earn dollars with car rentals, hotel stays, or
by converting your RBC Rewards into WestJet dollars. As you collect
more WestJet dollars, you will progress from the entry-level Teal
membership into Silver, Gold, and Platinum, which will give you more
benefits and rewards with each level. Naturally, the more you fly and
buy, and bigger the benefits such as higher earning percentages,
priority services, upgrades, free checked baggage, advance seat
booking, and unlimited airport lounge entry.
Pros: No black-out periods, member-only fares, secure WestJet dollars redemption system,
Cons: Teal members are not eligible for lounge passes or complimentary access.
Air Canada’s Aeroplan loyalty program is based on status: silver, black and diamond, and earning is calculated during the calendar year. There are many ways to collect points, which you can then use for flights, hotel, cars, travel insurance, Duty-Free pre-orders, onboard services, or you can choose to donate them. You can also use accumulated air miles to purchase access to the airline’s Maple Leaf Lounge.
Pros: No black-out periods, spend air miles online at Indigo, Amazon, Apple, Hudson’s Bay Company, and more; convert other loyalty programs into Aeroplan miles.
Cons: Points expire if you have not collected or redeemed points in the prior 12 months.
Which carrier has the best airport lounges?
In Air Canada’s award-winning Maple Leaf Lounges ( in 16 airports across Canada, USA, and Europe) eligible guests will enjoy complimentary light meals and drinks, WiFi, showers, newspapers, entertainment, office areas, and a cell-free, quiet zone. The lounges are reserved for Air Canada and Star Alliance departing passengers, Star Alliance Gold members, Maple Leaf Club members, and a bunch of other membership holders and business class passengers. Entry fees may apply.
WestJet’s partner lounges are located
in 7 airports across Canada: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg,
Toronto, Montreal (YUL), and Quebec (YQB). Westjet passengers are
welcome to use the My Lounge and No1 Lounge at London’s Gatwick
Airport (LGW), and in Jamaica, Club Kingston (KIN) as well as, Club
MoBay (MJB). Charges may apply.
Inflight entertainment | Skyscanner Canada
What inflight services do they offer?
WestJet provides a free drink and a small snack onboard. Hot meals may be purchased on flights over 4 hours. For access to inflight entertainment, you’ll need the WestJet app, which you can view in the air for free! Earbuds and WiFi are available for a fee.
Air Canada provides complimentary soft drinks, snacks, and inflight entertainment on most flights. To save a charge for headphones, bring your own. To save up to 50% on the cost of menu meals, pre-purchase vouchers online. Meals and alcoholic beverages are provided on International flights, as are blankets and pillows.
What’s the Easiest Way to Book Flights with WestJet and Air Canada?
The easiest way to book your next airfare is with our Skyscanner search engine. Not only will our search tool bring up WestJet and Air Canada flights, but it will also offer you more carriers that fly to your chosen destination. You can do the same for hotel and car bookings too. It’s super easy to use, and you can even refine your search with the toolbars on the left-hand side. Happy travels!