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TravelWestJet Boeing 737 MAX 8 economy flight review: Is it worth it?

WestJet Boeing 737 MAX 8 economy flight review: Is it worth it?

Quick take: WestJet economy class is a no-frills passenger experience that could be worth it for budget-minded travelers — but only if you get your tickets for the right price.


  • A la carte food and beverage options were reasonably priced
  • Wi-Fi speed was decent, and WestJet’s digital entertainment had a great movie selection
  • Efficient, if not overly warm, service


  • Cabin interior was dirty and had very worn seats
  • Drink cups were very small and beverage service was limited, so you may want to bring your own water or beverages aboard
  • Only one attendant at the check-in desk for non-priority passengers led to the line moving slowly

Looking to travel to Canada, eh?

Aside from Air Canada, WestJet should be on your radar. As Canada’s second-largest airline, this carrier offers a no-frills, low-cost customer experience. But while some may consider WestJet a “budget airline,” the carrier’s amenities still surpass that of low-cost U.S. airlines like Spirit and Frontier.

Since I prefer nonstop, round-trip flight deals over cheaper, layover-filled itineraries, I found myself perusing WestJet’s website. Looking to fly from Fort Lauderdale to Calgary, Alberta, in economy, I found round-trip, nonstop flights for just $292. To note, this nonstop flight route does not operate year-round with the same frequency.

Seated in economy class for roughly five-and-a-half hours, here’s how my overall WestJet experience went.

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How to book economy on WestJet

The WestJet Boeing 737 MAX 8 has only economy or premium economy seats on board; therefore, there are no business- or first-class fares available for flights operated by this aircraft.

WestJet sells three types of economy fares on its Boeing 737 MAX 8 from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to Calgary International Airport (YYC): Basic, Econo and EconoFlex. Here is what is included with each.

Fare type Change fees Checked bag fees Seat selection
Basic No changes allowed First checked bag:

  • Prepay: $35 to $42
  • Self-serve check-in: $45 to $54
  • Airport check-in: $55 to $65
Assigned a seat at check-in and can opt to change seats for a fee (5 to 250 Canadian dollars, or about $4 to $185)
Econo Change your flight for an additional fee, and any difference in fare will apply First checked bag:

  • Prepay: $35 to $42
  • Self-serve check-in: $45 to $54
  • Airport check-in: $55 to $65
Assigned a seat at check-in and can opt to change seats for a fee (CA$5 to CA$250, or about $4 to $185)
EconoFlex No change fees, but any difference in fare will apply 1 free checked bag Choose a standard seat at no charge; a preferred seat costs CA$5 to CA$236 (about $4 to $175), and an exit row seat costs CA$5 to CA$250 (about $4 to $185)

WestJet’s baggage policy allows passengers to have one personal item and one carry-on item for free when booking in economy, but its size requirements are a bit smaller than other similar airlines — more on that later.

As a points and miles enthusiast, I initially tried to book my flight via an award redemption. Though Delta is a codeshare partner of WestJet, I could not find nonstop award availability using Delta SkyMiles. Next, I checked the prices on the Chase and Amex travel portals.

The cash price on both travel portals was higher than WestJet was charging directly. However, I had the option to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a fixed rate of 1.5 cents apiece with my Chase Sapphire Reserve® through Chase Travel or my Amex Membership Rewards points for 1 cent apiece via amextravel.com, thanks to carrying The Platinum Card® from American Express.

I typically get more value from these transferable point currencies by transferring them to airline and hotel partners and redeeming them that way; therefore, I decided to save my points for future redemptions since the cash price on the WestJet flight was so low.

However, if you want to use your points for a nonstop WestJet award flight, I recommend using Chase Ultimate Rewards to get the best redemption.

*Editor’s note: Price ranges were available at the time of search and can fluctuate based on demand, season and other factors.

Class Basic economy Economy EconoFlex Premium economy PremiumFlex
Cash price (round trip) $292 to $693 $318 to $746 $405 to $918 $778 to $1,579 $1,855 to $3,731
Chase points (with Chase Sapphire Reserve) 22,000 to 50,000 28,334 to 52,334 29,334 to 63,800 54,400 to 107,800 126,200 to 251,266
Amex points 29,200 to 69,300 31,800 to 74,600 40,500 to 91,800 77,800 to 157,900 185,500 to 373,100

Since WestJet had a 20% discount on flights at the time of my booking, I purchased a round-trip, nonstop flight from Fort Lauderdale to Calgary in economy for $292. I used my Amex Platinum card to book my flight since it earns 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline (on up to $500,000 of these purchases per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar), while my Chase Sapphire Reserve only earns 3 points per dollar spent on travel purchases.

Related: How far in advance can you book a flight?

Checking in and boarding economy on WestJet

Before my flight, I downloaded the WestJet app, easily checked in and obtained my mobile boarding pass.

I typically prefer not to check luggage and fly with a small suitcase as my carry-on bag and my backpack as my personal item.

However, I double-checked the airline’s baggage policy because I’ve never flown with WestJet, and it stated that a backpack with the dimensions of my bag would count as a carry-on bag rather than a personal item. Since I didn’t know how strict the airline would be with their bag policy, I decided to prepay $40 one-way for a checked bag because if I were forced to check my backpack or carry-on at the airport, I would be charged an additional $10 anyway.

The WestJet gate agents did not double-check that each customer’s bags fit the appropriate personal and carry-on dimensions at the gate, but gate agents at YYC did check on my return flight, so you might not want to take any chances if you’re flying with the airline.


At FLL, WestJet does not have a kiosk where customers can check in or print luggage tags and boarding passes. Instead, you must wait in line to drop off your suitcase if you are checking bags. WestJet has a priority check-in lane available to business- and premium economy-ticketed passengers and Platinum, Gold and Silver elite members of its WestJet Rewards program. Since Delta is a partner of WestJet, if you are a Delta Silver, Gold, Platinum or Diamond Medallion member, you can also access the airline’s priority lane.

I do not have status with either loyalty program, nor was I flying in business or premium class, so I got in the non-priority bag drop lane. There was only one WestJet employee servicing this lane, which made the bag drop process a bit slow. While this was not problematic for me since I was the eighth guest in line and arrived two hours before my flight’s departure time, it could create extra stress if you find yourself at the very back of a long check-in line with only one attendant.

After swiftly getting through security at Terminal 2 using my Clear Plus membership and TSA PreCheck status, I waited for my flight to start boarding. WestJet participates in TSA PreCheck, so be sure to add your Known Traveler Number before check-in to speed up your security process.

Surprisingly, my flight began boarding 10 minutes before it was scheduled to do so. I’ve never been on a flight where the boarding process began early. Like most airlines, WestJet boards priority members, including premium economy passengers and those holding elite status with the airline, first in Zone 1. Additionally, Delta Gold Medallion members and above are also able to board in Zone 1.


As an economy passenger seated in the back of the plane, I boarded in Zone 2. Apparently, WestJet boards the back of the plane in Zone 2 and the front of the plane — aside from premium customers — in Zone 3. The overall boarding process was quick and efficient, and we were able to take off about 10 minutes earlier than the originally scheduled 3:30 p.m. departure.

Related: A review of Delta Air Lines in first class on the Airbus A321neo from Los Angeles to Seattle

How comfortable was WestJet economy?


The aircraft for my five-and-a-half-hour flight was the Boeing 737 MAX 8 with the following seat count and layout in economy.

Number of seats 174 (12 premium and 162 economy class)
Cabin layout 3-3
Economy seat pitch 30 inches
Seat recline About 3 inches
Seat width About 17 inches

I was seated in 28E — a middle seat just two rows ahead of the last row on the aircraft. Unfortunately, when I got to my middle seat, I noticed a small, empty alcohol bottle in the seatback pocket, which also had a noticeable crack. Taking a look around, it seemed like all the seats were well worn, and the floors were noticeably dirty with crumbs that I assumed were food. I couldn’t help but wonder if they didn’t clean the plane at all before we boarded.


If you value flight comfort, economy on WestJet may not be for you. While the economy seat pitch on this Boeing flight is 30 inches — the standard for most airlines — the seat’s cushioning was minimal and only reclined about 3 inches. I didn’t notice any rips or scuffing on the seats, but the loose fabric and body imprints show that these seats are a bit worn.


Each seat had a USB-A port and a universal plug located just above the seatback pocket. A plug to charge my phone was imperative on this longer flight, as the carrier only offers wireless entertainment to stream on your own devices rather than a seat-mounted inflight entertainment system.


The tray table on my WestJet flight was average size, about 15 to 16 inches wide and easily deployed. While I could comfortably fit my 17-inch laptop on the tray table, it’s not ideal for those wanting to enjoy a beverage or eat while using your computer.


WestJet’s 737 MAX 8s have three lavatories: one at the front of the plane and two at the back. That made for some lengthy wait times during certain stretches of the flight. Since this flight is more than two hours, I suggest booking at least five rows away from the bathrooms at the back of the plane.

I had moved to the aisle seat before takeoff since no one was sitting there. So, starting about two hours into the flight, there were constantly people standing next to my seat waiting for the facilities. I tried to nap on the plane, but this made it hard with people brushing past me.


Overall, the bathrooms on this WestJet flight felt comparable to other domestic U.S. flights regarding size and cleanliness.

Amenities in WestJet economy

Don’t expect many amenities on WestJet economy flights. While there are no seatback screens, WestJet allows you to use your wireless device to watch movies and TV shows for free on its app via Wi-Fi streaming. The airline had a good selection of new movies, including “The Marvels,” “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie.”

I purchased a Wi-Fi pass that I could use for the entirety of my flight for CA$23.09 (about $17). While inflight Wi-Fi can be spotty no matter which carrier you’re flying, my WestJet Connect worked surprisingly well. I was able to watch YouTube videos, send texts, answer work emails and use social media apps with no problem.

Related: Maximize your airfare: The best credit cards for booking flights

How was the food in WestJet economy?


Inflight food service started about 30 minutes after departure. The crew came around to ask if anyone would like to order from the a la carte menu. Complimentary beverage service began shortly after the crew finished taking passengers’ orders from the a la carte menu.


Since this was a nearly six-hour flight, I opted to try the red Thai curry cup with coconut rice and the three-cheese pasta cup with Italian spices for my dinner. These two items each cost about $7.

Unsure of what to expect, I waited as the attendant brought out two microwaved cups of food from Meal of the Moment, a brand that produces instant meals. The red Thai curry was flavorful for being a dehydrated instant meal. However, the three-cheese pasta cup was bland, and the Italian spices created an odd flavor profile when added to what amounted to watered-down instant macaroni and cheese.


If dining on dehydrated instant meals does not sound appetizing, you can also purchase snacks such as a Kit Kat, beef jerky, Pringles and gummy bears.

Aside from WestJet’s a la carte menu, economy passengers can choose from a selection of complimentary beverages, including water, juice and sodas, and a free snack — either pretzels or a chocolate biscuit.

Alcoholic beverages, such as a glass of pinot grigio or merlot, cost about $7. Beer, including Coors Light and Molson Canadian, costs about $6.

Customers were not given an entire can of soda or a beverage of their choice. Instead, I had to settle for a small plastic cup filled with ice and a little liquid when I ordered a ginger ale. Perhaps that’s WestJet’s way of trying to limit bathroom breaks.


After just a few sips, I finished my drink and wanted another. The flight attendants came around twice to pass out complimentary snacks and drinks, and when I asked if I could have both pretzels and a chocolate biscuit, the attendant happily obliged. Beverages aside, at least they were not being stingy on the snacks.

The second inflight service took place a little over an hour before the plane landed. Since there are only two inflight beverage services on this flight and the pour-size is limited, I suggest bringing your own nonalcoholic drinks.

Related: Is United Airlines premium economy worth it to Europe?

Is WestJet economy worth it?


It’s true what they say, “You get what you pay for.”

My international economy flight to Calgary was bare-bones but still worth it. Though the interior cabin could have been cleaner and better maintained, my seat had enough legroom to sit through my five-and-a-half-hour flight from FLL to YYC. This aircraft reminded me of an older JetBlue or American Airlines plane.

For future WestJet flights, I would make sure to buy snacks and drinks at the airport so I do not have to rely on the inflight service. I would also make a point to keep my devices charged ahead of time in case there are any issues with the in-seat power outlets when I want to stream entertainment.

Overall, if this round-trip economy flight had cost more than $600, I would have been disappointed in the overall customer experience. But because I paid less than $300 for a rather long round-trip journey between two smaller cities, I deplaned satisfied if not overwhelmed.


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