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Wednesday,  June 12, 2024 10:06 AM 

WestJet launches “UltraBasic” no-frills fare option

  • Air
  •   06-05-2024  4:52 am
  •   Pax Global Media

WestJet launches “UltraBasic” no-frills fare option
Pax Global Media

WestJet on Tuesday (June 4) officially launched its newest fare offering, called “UltraBasic.”

Replacing the Basic fare offering, UltraBasic is WestJet’s lowest priced option and has been designed as a no-frills fare that gives guests the choice to add certain extras like reserving a seat in advance or adding a checked bag.

“We are committed to air travel affordability, and UltraBasic is an innovative cost-effective solution that strengthens WestJet’s ability to offer guests budget-friendly airfares to more destinations,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Group executive vice-president and chief commercial officer, in a statement.

“With UltraBasic, guests can tailor a travel experience that meets their needs, without paying for additional services they don’t value. We are delivering on our low-fare promise and believe UltraBasic will give more Canadians the opportunity to fly.”

READ MORE: WestJet to unveil new fare for travellers willing to fly without carry-on

For guests seeking the convenience of bundled offerings, WestJet’s other fare offerings, including Econo, EconoFlex, Premium, PremiumFlex, Business and BusinessFlex, will continue to be available.

What to expect with UltraBasic

WestJet says UltraBasic will result in price reductions across its domestic and transborder routes. The new fare will also expedite the boarding process, “contributing to enhanced on time performance and a better guest experience,” the airline says.

UltraBasic offers guests the following options at the lowest possible fare price, including:

  • a personal item to be stored under the seat
  • a pre-assigned seat at the back of the aircraft
  • the option to add checked baggage and seat selection for additional fees
  • the option to purchase Extended Comfort for additional benefits
  • the same friendly service, onboard food and beverage offerings, and access to the WestJet Connect inflight entertainment and connectivity system as before

The UltraBasic fare differs from what existed with WestJet’s Basic fare offering:

  • Guests are not permitted a carry-on bag (UltraBasic guests flying on transpacific and transatlantic routes only will be permitted to bring a carry-on bag in addition to a personal item). And unless an Extended Comfort seat has been purchased for all flights in a single direction, including connections or travelling on a transatlantic or transpacific flight.
  • Guests will be last to board (unless an Extended Comfort seat has been purchased OR they are a top-tier WestJet Rewards member)

When booking UltraBasic on WestJet.com, for transparency and to prevent misunderstandings, there is clear messaging about the fare and its limitations throughout the booking process, the airline says.

“This messaging is intended to ensure that guests are informed and aware of the fare they are purchasing and the terms they agree to. Digital and printed boarding passes will also indicate no carry-on bags are permitted with UltraBasic fares.”

Boarding zone modifications 

UltraBasic guests can add checked baggage to their reservation before arriving at the airport. They may also check their bags at the airport check-in counter before proceeding through security.

Guests who purchased UltraBasic will board the aircraft in the final boarding zone, WestJet says. Guests checking a carry-on bag at the gate will be charged a checked bag fee and a service fee to check the bag under the aircraft.

Once UltraBasic comes into effect, Basic Fares will no longer exist. Guests who purchased a Basic fare prior to the June 4, 2024, launch of UltraBasic will still be permitted a carry-on bag on all WestJet flights.

Low-cost options within aircraft

WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech first referenced the new fare while addressing a business audience in Calgary on May 22.

In addition to providing an affordable option, he said the move should also free up overhead bin space, which has become a pain point for many airlines as more customers opt out of checking their luggage.

von Hoensbroech has been hinting at a plan like this since last year when the integration of Swoop, the company’s now-defunct low-cost carrier, took place. In April 2025, Sunwing Airlines, which WestJet now owns, will undergo the same process.

The integrations of both airlines will result in densifying cabins to distribute costs across more seats.

The idea is to create a low-cost option within the aircraft.

“We will not segment our guests by airline [like through Swoop], but segment our guests within the aircraft,” von Hoensbroech said at a Toronto Region Board of Trade meeting last October. “For a market like Canada, that makes most sense.”


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