WestJet Opening First Ever Lounge In Calgary

Filed Under: Other Airlines

We’ve seen WestJet move upmarket and become a more premium airline than before, as their new 787s have fully flat beds, and they also eventually plan on introducing business class on their 737s. Now the airline has formally revealed the next step in their premium transformation.

WestJet Lounge Coming To Calgary

WestJet has announced that they have begun construction on their first every lounge at Calgary International Airport (YYC), and it’s expected to open in late summer 2020.

The lounge will be located near Concourse B, so will be accessible by those traveling from Concourses A & B in the domestic terminal, as well as those traveling in Concourse D in the international terminal.

I’m a bit confused about that, though — at most Canadian airports aren’t there separate domestic and international terminals that aren’t connected, so you couldn’t have domestic and international passengers using the same lounge? Or is Calgary different? I guess they could have two parts to this lounge that aren’t connected.

As of now details on the lounge are limited (they’ve just shared the one below rendering). As it’s described, the lounge will blend contemporary interior design with refined mountain living. It will be a Canadian-inspired space and will offer local food and beverages, along with business amenities.

WestJet Lounge Calgary rendering

WestJet is the largest airline in Calgary, and they say that this lounge underscores their commitment to the market. As d’Arcy Monaghan, WestJet’s VP of Loyalty, explains:

“As WestJet continues its accelerated journey to becoming a global network carrier our new flagship lounge in Calgary will give top-tier WestJet Rewards members, Business cabin guests and select partner travellers a home within our home in Calgary. This lounge will showcase WestJet’s award-winning hospitality, refined style, elevated products and premium experience our guests have been enjoying with the launch of our new Dreamliner.”

Who Will Have Access To WestJet’s Lounge?

WestJet’s lounge will be open to Platinum, Gold, and Silver WestJet Rewards members, those traveling in business class, and select eligible partner travelers (I imagine there will be some reciprocity for Delta flyers).

How Will WestJet Position This Lounge?

Canada is an interesting market when it comes to lounge access, at least compared to the US. Air Canada has historically been the only premium airline in Canada:

  • All Air Canada Altitude Elite 35K members and above get lounge access on domestic flights
  • Domestic business class passengers get lounge access
  • For those traveling on long haul paid business class tickets, Air Canada has an incredible Signature Suite in Toronto, with a la carte dining

Air Canada Signature Suite Toronto

WestJet overall has done a phenomenal job with their new 787, and in many ways has tried to one-up Air Canada. The airline offers dine on demand in business class, and the food is exceptional.

WestJet’s 787-9

It sounds like this new lounge will be shared both by domestic economy passengers who are Silver members In the WestJet Rewards program, as well as those traveling in long haul business class on WestJet’s 787-9.

Obviously there are slightly different expectations between a domestic lounge and a flagship international lounge, especially given that WestJet has been trying to impress.

So I do wonder what exactly they’ll do here. Could we see WestJet offer a la carte dining, but only for those in long haul business class? Will they offer what essentially amounts to a really good domestic lounge but a somewhat underwhelming international lounge, or what?

Currently WestJet uses the Aspire Lounge in the international terminal for their long haul business class guests, and it’s actually a pretty solid lounge. I imagine they must be trying to impress if they’re opening their own lounge, so it will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

Aspire Lounge Calgary Airport

What are you expecting from WestJet’s new Calgary lounge?

(Tip of the hat to @RewardsCanada)

Comments
  1. Domestic and international passengers probably won’t be able to share the same lounge, as those spaces are physically segregated in Canadian airports, so I doubt domestic passengers would be able to access the lounge without some sort of special access point, assuming it’s in the international area of the terminal.

  2. Domestic and International areas are not necessarily separate in Canadian airports. It just happens to be that way at large airports like YYZ and YVR. For instance, until recently, YUL had no separation between domestic and international areas. In fact, if a domestic flight was leaving from a gate closer to the international Maple Leaf Lounge (gate 50 or higher), Altitude E50K members and higher could access the international lounge. While YUL has installed barriers now, Dom/Int traffic continues to be mixed at smaller airports.

    Maybe there’s confusion because airport with US pre-clearance facilities have a completely segregated US departures area.

    In any case, this lounge seems exciting. Perhaps it will be a priority pass lounge as well?

  3. At YYC, domestic and intl passengers share the same secure airside area, you can walk between concourses A, B, C, D (B,C are served by AC domestically) once you’re airside past security. Concourse E is the trans-border area that has separate airside secure area from the rest of the terminal because they’ve cleared US Pre-Clearance

  4. The Air Canada lounge in Calgary Airport is on the domestic side as well, but they also have an arrangement with the Aspire Lounge. International passengers may use either lounge (if not travelling to the US) and then go through a security manned side-door with a valid boarding pass when it’s time to get to your flight. There is a crossover area in concourse C that has both domestic and international departures / arrivals sometimes (which is where the passage is located). You can view it on the YYC map on their website.

  5. International and domestic travellers are only separated in the largest Canadian airports (YYZ, YVR, and YUL). They do this so to make international/transborder transfers easier. Departing international travellers easily mix with domestic travellers in the smaller airports. I haven’t been to YYC, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are no checks between the domestic departures and international departures.

  6. Calgary does now have a new international terminal. We just flew to London on their new 787 in business (fantastic). Arriving from Vancouver it would have been easy to use a lounge in domestic – when you transfer to international you only do a boarding pass check to go to the international terminal- you don’t have to go through security again- but it is a fair distance even with the little shuttle, so you have to allow enough time. It’s important to note that it’s a one way passage from domestic to international-you can’t go back once you are in International. Also if going to US you also have to allow for time to go through US customs and this would only work if you are transferring from a domestic flight..

  7. This seems like a good question to ask your own Canadian contributor Kate about:

    “I’m a bit confused about that, though — at most Canadian airports aren’t there separate domestic and international terminals that aren’t connected, so you couldn’t have domestic and international passengers using the same lounge? Or is Calgary different? I guess they could have two parts to this lounge that aren’t connected.”

  8. If I’m not mistaken, WestJet took over the Chinook Lounge (Domestic Terminal, Concourse A) and I don’t think you can access it with Amex Plat any longer, only Priority Pass.

    I wonder what will happen to that lounge when they open the new one?

    Nit-picky edit: construction on their first *every* lounge at Calgary

  9. Most Canadian airports have a separate international departures area so there is sterile transit (unlike the U.S.) and you don’t need to clear Canadian customs to transit. At YYC (like YUL beforehand, likely) you can transit domestic -> international easily, you just can’t go back. So it preserves sterile transit.

  10. I agree with the others that separated domestic/international (as opposed to transborder) areas are more the exception (i.e. only at the biggest airports) rather than the norm. You need more experience at Canadian airports — come visit YOW!

  11. “I’m a bit confused about that, though”

    Then maybe you should ask someone more knowledgeable before posting this.

    If only you had a YYC-based writer…

  12. Here’s a summary for everyone. YYZ, YUL, YVR and YYC all have separate International Departures gates. They are secure (ie you can’t walk out without be escorted through customs), which allows Canada to offer sterile Transit Without Visa (TWOV), making those airports very attractive Intl-Intl connection points for people from countries that often need visas (ie China). However, at each of those airports you can also do sterile transit from domestic to international, just by walking over to the entrance to the international section (intl/dom gates are connected airside) and showing your international boarding pass. Obviously once you’re in, you can’t go back without going to customs.

    So its very doable, and already exists across much of Canada, including at YYC for AC until they relented and provided Aspire Lounge access for Intl/US pax after too many complaints. But that doesn’t make it good. As it stands, a WS departing pax on YYC-LHR with lounge access would check in at the international terminal (intl-dom baggage systems are separate), walk 500m to the A gates, clear security, go to the lounge, and then haul back to the international gates to board. Not ideal.

  13. “This lounge will showcase WestJet’s award-winning hospitality, refined style, elevated products and premium experience our guests have been enjoying with the launch of our new Dreamliner.”

    Including 5 hour queue for the buffet.

  14. It could work the same way as in smaller Australian cities where international and domestic airlines operate from the same terminal (for example Perth and Adelaide). Customers for both international and domestic flights use the same lounge.

    Customer clears security into the Domestic terminal where the lounge is located. Aussie domestic terminals are pretty laid back. Anyone can go airside (whether or not you are travelling) and there are no liquid restrictions. Visit the lounge. Then proceed to their international gate which is in a ‘sterile zone’ where you will have to first clear immigration (most often automated) and secondary security (liquid restrictions etc).

    It’s also a similar scenario in many airports in europe when visiting lounges. The lounges are often in the ‘Shengen zone’ (flights between european countries that have signed up to the Shengen Agreement with no need for a passport to travel. It’s just like a domestic flight). Then as for the Australian scenario, leave lounge, clear passport control, go into sterile zone for ‘international’ departures.

  15. Not only “small” airports in Canada have domestic and international (non-US) flights sharing the same gate area.
    Terminal 3 in YYZ (Toronto) has no segregation between domestic and international gates.
    I fly often between Toronto and Ottawa and at the gate next to mine today (B29) an Air Italy flight bound to Milan is boarding (B27).

  16. What an odd article.

    QUOTE: “I’m a bit confused about that, though — at most Canadian airports aren’t there separate domestic and international terminals that aren’t connected, so you couldn’t have domestic and international passengers using the same lounge? Or is Calgary different? I guess they could have two parts to this lounge that aren’t connected.”

    Why wouldn’t you simply research this before publishing this article? Basic, simple and quick research would have sufficed.

    YYC’s website (among many, many other sources) could have quickly and easily answered this question. A quick glance at a terminal diagram, and you could have provided accurate and definitive information in your article instead of publishing “I’m confused”.

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