First checked bag fee: why?

UPDATE: Please refer to WestJet checked baggage page on westjet.com for up-to-date information on our current checked baggage guidelines and fees.


Today, WestJet announced it will charge a $25 fee for a first checked bag on Econo fares for travel within Canada and between Canada and the U.S. The new fee will only apply to bookings made on or after today, September 15, 2014, for travel on or after October 29, 2014. Guests flying to any of WestJet’s international destinations including Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and Europe may continue to check one bag at no cost.

One of the most important questions WestJet uses to guide its decision-making is “why?” The why behind any decision is critical in making sure it’s being made for the right reasons. So, why are we introducing this fee?

Not everyone travels with a checked bag – yet effectively, everyone is paying for one. The purpose of a first bag fee is to offer you another choice. Rather than hiding the fee, this allows you to personalize how you want to fly by paying only for what you want or need. This user-pay type of system allows us to keep fares as low as possible, introduce lower sale fares and avoid fare increases, which benefits you and liberates even more Canadians from the high cost of air travel.

If you’re looking for the lowest possible fare, Econo is a perfect, no-frills choice – especially if you aren’t checking a bag. If you want a low fare with the benefit of a free first checked bag, and lower change and cancel fees, then it’s Flex. If enhanced comfort, convenience and flexibility, with more legroom and seat selection, complimentary food and cocktails, advance boarding, two free checked bags and flexible ticket features is more your style, Plus is a great option. Flyers are not alike, so neither are the fares. For more information on our fare bundles, please visit westjet.com/fareoptions.

Something else that’s important to appreciate: this new fee will affect only about 20 per cent of you. Put another way, four out of every five of you won’t pay a first-bag fee. How? Because we’re waiving the fee for some members of our WestJet Rewards program (more on that in a moment) and guests who hold the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard. Guests who purchase a Flex or Plus fare won’t pay for a first checked bag, either.

Effective today, WestJet launched its new WestJet Rewards tiers program featuring three levels – Teal, Silver and Gold. If you qualify for the Silver tier you will be able to check a first bag at no cost. If you qualify for the Gold tier, you’ll receive two checked bags at no cost. These changes are a significant milestone in the evolution of our rewards program, adding even more value for our members. These tier benefits are effective starting October 29. For more information on the benefits of the new WestJet Rewards tiers, please visit the WestJet Rewards tiers page westjet.com/tiers.

Now everyone has a choice when they fly with Canada’s low-fare leader, so “why” not book today?