How to avoid expensive domestic flights in Canada by using Qantas Points on WestJet

GUIDE: Using Points
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 5 minutes
POSTED: February 20, 2018
UPDATED: April 19, 2018
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: Qantas Frequent Flyer

WestJet is a Canadian low-cost airline, providing an all-Economy Class service to over 100 destinations in Canada, the US, Europe, Mexico, Central America and The Caribbean.

Since May 2016, Qantas Frequent Flyer members have been able to earn Qantas Points on WestJet flights.

As of late 2017, you can now also redeem Qantas Points on WestJet flights, directly through the Qantas website.

Domestic flights in Canada can be quite expensive, even in Economy Class, so this is a welcome new redemption option for those who plan to travel within North America.

In this guide, we explain when using points might be of good value; outline some of the routes and aircraft that WestJet operate; and provide step-by-step instructions on how to make a booking.

In brief: How to redeem Qantas Points for WestJet flights

  1. See if WestJet operates the route with their route maps and timetables

  2. Check points pricing online, either via confirming route distance at Great Circle Mapper and looking at the Classic Partner Flight Reward table, or as part of the booking process on Qantas.com

  3. You’ll see the applicable taxes along with the points pricing as you try to make a booking—only if you have enough points in your account

  4. Make sure you book through Qantas.com to avoid phone booking fees

Routes, point pricing and value consideration

With over 100 destinations, we can’t list them all, but here are some example direct routes that WestJet fly, with airports in bold having direct flights to/from Australia:

DepartingArrivingNumber of Qantas Points required
HalifaxDeer Lake10,000
VancouverLos Angeles14,000
VancouverSan Francisco14,000
TorontoBermuda14,000
CalgaryToronto20,000
TorontoVaradero (Cuba)20,000
EdmontonToronto20,000
VancouverToronto/Montreal20,000
CalgaryHouston20,000
St John'sDublin20,000
TorontoTurks & Caicos Islands20,000
Toronto/Calgary/EdmontonLos Angeles20,000
HonoluluVancouver/Calgary28,000
CalgaryVaradero (Cuba)28,000
HalifaxGlasglow28,000
HalifaxParis28,000
Vancouver/CalgaryLondon35,000

WestJet have a really good timetable feature on their website where you can see all their direct routes and the days/dates those flights operate. This will help you isolate what days to search for WestJet redemption availability.

As WestJet is a low-cost carrier, they have regular sales, and tickets on flights may be best purchased with cash, unless it is a last-minute purchase or during a peak travel period like summer holidays.

For example, lets take the Vancouver to Montreal. This direct flight on the 5 October would cost $470 CAD (the Canadian Dollar and Australian Dollar are almost at parity at time of writing):

An Economy Class award seat on the same flight will cost 20,000 Qantas Points + $45 CAD in taxes and fees:

This award redemption would, therefore, give you an ultimate per-point value of around 2.12 cents, which is right on the our Qantas Points target value of 2.1 cents per point.

However, the same flight on the 20 June would only cost $232 CAD, giving you a much lower per-point value of only 0.9 cents:

So make sure to do your research and target redemptions on flights that have a higher revenue cost.

Aircraft

WestJet operate a fleet comprised of the Boeing 767-300, and the Boeing Next-Generation 737-600, 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft. WestJet Encore operates a fleet of Bombardier Q400 NextGen turboprops.

Business Class is not offered on any of their flights, though they do offer a ‘Plus’ fare, which is effectively enhanced full-service Economy. You cannot redeem for this with points but you can try your luck for a paid upgrade when checking-in at the airport.

Award availability

There seems to be plenty of award availability with WestJet, with at least two seats available on most days and flights that I searched for.

The taxes, fees, and carrier charges are also reasonably low compared to Australian domestic redemptions. For example, here is how much it will cost for one person one-way between Calgary and Vancouver:

Note that you won’t receive a checked baggage allowance with WestJet redemptions. It’s best that you contact WestJet before arriving at the airport to prepay for your baggage.

How to calculate points pricing and taxes

Do you need to call to book or can you do it online?

It is best to search for and book your WestJet flights online in order to avoid the phone booking fee.

However, if you find that there is a WestJet route unavailable to book online, do phone Qantas, and explain that it could not be found on the website. More often than not, they’ll waive any service fees.

Will I get lounge access on award redemptions?

There are no lounges on the WestJet network that can be accessed on award redemptions.

However, if you’ve got the American Express Platinum Charge or Citi Prestige Visa, this won’t be a problem, as you’ll receive complimentary Priority Pass membership with these cards, and you can access any lounges available at departure airports, regardless of what airline or class you’re flying.

This includes the new Plaza Premium Domestic Lounge in Vancouver:

Plaza-premium-vancouver

and the Plaza Premium Domestic Lounge in Terminal 3 at Toronto Pearson:

Plaza-premium-toronto

Other redemption options

There are no other easily-accessible redemption options for WestJet.

However, the most obvious alternative for Australia-based travellers is to redeem KrisFlyer miles or Asia Miles for Air Canada flights. Generally, it is best to use Asia Miles on shorter domestic flights and KrisFlyer miles on longer ones.

Summing up

It’s always a positive when new redemption opportunities become available, and it is great to see that Qantas and WestJet have expanded their frequent flyer relationship.

However, do be aware that you won’t get a checked baggage allowance on WestJet redemptions through Qantas.

The other obvious choice for domestic travel in Canada is with Air Canada, where I would recommend the use of either KrisFlyer miles or Asia Miles. Award redemptions with these programs can be of better value in some cases.

Though together, these options will now allow for easy award redemptions across the whole of Canada, and also to some interesting international destinations further afield.

Do you plan on redeeming Qantas Points on flights with WestJet? Share your travel plans in the comments below!

Supplementary images courtesy of WestJet and Plaza Premium.

How to avoid expensive domestic flights in Canada by using Qantas Points on WestJet was last modified: April 19th, 2018 by Daniel Kinnoch