Tuesday, March 9, 2010

WestJet's new loyalty program

Do you travel with WestJet? Have you been hoping that the airline would figure out some kind of loyalty program to reward you for your hard earned travel dollars? If so, then you will be happy to know the long awaited WestJet frequent flier program was finally unveiled yesterday.

"The WestJet Frequent Guest Program" gives the traveling public the opportunity to earn and accumulate WestJet dollars, which can be used as cash toward the purchase of any flight on any date to any destination - including seat sales. These 'dollars' can also be used towards WestJet Vacations packages, up to a maximum of 500 'dollars' per person.

The program is fairly simple in its approach, according to WestJet. You fly and earn 'dollars' towards future flights and vacation packages. The really nice things is that it isn't point based, it doesn't require advance booking, and there are no blackouts or seat restrictions. (Aeroplan, which is associated with Air Canada, has many of these drawbacks.)

A quick check of frequent flyer/loyalty rewards blogs did find a few concerns with the new WestJet program. There is apparently a high-spending threshold before you can start earning awards, and WestJet does not have the same global reach that Air Canada (and Aeroplan) can offer through membership in the Star Alliance.

Still, props to WestJet for taking a simpler approach to loyalty rewards. I think it fits in nicely with the way they originally positioned the company as an affordable alternative to Air Canada. While it is no doubt aimed at frequent fliers as WJ battles for control of the Canadian market, my guess is that it will also be appreciated by the less frequent traveler who will be pleased to earn a few dollars off their future flights or vacations.

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