WestJet Announces New Coffee Partnership With McDonald’s

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Many airlines introduce partnerships around their food & beverage offerings as a way of trying to position their product in a certain way. If a customer doesn’t have a strong feeling about the airline as such, they may have a more favorable impression if the airline partners with a brand they otherwise love. For example, United serves Illy coffee, and JetBlue serves Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.


Well, Canadian low cost carrier WestJet (the Canadian equivalent of Southwest) has just announced a new onboard partnership, and it’s an interesting one. Rather than trying to partner with a premium brand, they’re instead going for a brand that many people love. As of December 1, 2016, WestJet will serve McDonald’s McCafe coffee on all flights. Per the press release:

WestJet announced today it has partnered with McDonald’s®Canada in a move that will see the restaurant’s McCafé Premium Roast coffee available on board WestJet aircraft.

The first flight, taking place on November 21, 2016, from Toronto to Calgary, represents a global-first for McDonald’s and an unprecedented next step in the McCafé coffee journey, which in recent years has continued its emphasis on providing Canadians with A New Way to Café.

By December 1, WestJet will offer McCafé Premium Roast coffee across its fleet of Boeing 737NG and 767NG aircraft with the company’s regional airline, WestJet Encore, to follow.


It’s expected that WestJet will serve 30,000 cups of McCafe coffee every day. For those of us into collecting rewards, the WestJet McCafe cups will have the same on-cup rewards sticker as cups on the ground, so you can even earn McCafe loyalty points.

Per CBC, here’s some of the motivation behind the partnership:

The move is the latest front in an all out war in the coffee industry to win Canadians loyalty in their coffee buying. Tim Hortons was once untouchable in the space, but McDonald’s has made inroads with its free coffee promotions.

Second Cup is the exclusive coffee provider on Air Canada flights, and Toronto-based regional carrier Porter Airlines uses Starbucks exclusively.

WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky said Monday that Tim Hortons and Starbucks Canada both tried to bid for the contract to serve coffee on WestJet’s flights, but were unsuccessful.

When asked if WestJet will co-brand with McDonald’s on other products such as Chicken McNuggets, Saretsky said: “Possibly. We really want to make sure we get the coffee right first.”

Tim Hortons does not currently have a deal with any airlines to be the provider of coffee on board.

Bottom line

While unconventional, this is a brilliant partnership. McCafe coffee is actually quite good, in my opinion, and in this case they’re going with a brand many people love, rather than being concerned about how premium it is. Furthermore, given the market share battle with Tim Hortons in Canada, I suspect WestJet is getting the coffee for next to nothing.

Are you a fan of McCafe coffee?

  1. I don’t mind McDonald’s coffee…..but I LOVE Tim Horton (Timmy Ho). I always enjoy it when I visit my family back east. When I worked for New York Air back in the early eighties, our signature brand was Chock Full Of Nuts coffee….now that was good coffee.

  2. And American will have multiple coffee brands just like their seat configurations! One flight you’ll get Starbucks, the next one is some generic dollar store brand 😀

  3. Thanks for throwing us a Canadian-relevant story when you can. We don’t have many airlines, or as many credit card offers, as the US but it’s nice to read stories on one the big blogs.

  4. @Patrick/Arcanum:

    Thank you for clarifying that. I’ve never flown WestJet but couldn’t quite put my finger on where they fell on the spectrum. Their fares certainly aren’t indicative of an LCC, but they’re not Air Canada. Cheers!

  5. @Patrick – was going to say the same thing – very much so like JetBlue with most of their planes (unfortunately not all) having the free seat back entertainment, direct flights to YYZ from smaller airports like RSW much like the B6 routes to JFK, and overall great customer service from my experience. I much preferred them to Air Canada. It is kind of like the choice to fly to the NYC area via B6 to JFK (or EWR/LGA to a lesser extent) or to EWR via United. Sure, you get *A miles going with the larger carrier, but sometimes the experience is what you prefer.

  6. Please stop calling WS a low cost carrier. It’s not. It does things a little differently than old school carriers, but it’s definitely not low cost and hasn’t been for a long time.

  7. Even in the media, WestJet is called a low-cost carrier. I do not fault Ben for calling it that, as he had not flown on WestJet.

    But I agree with those above that it is not low-cost. Rather it needs a new term like “limited services” airline, as the economy is priced like Air Canada, but with fewer services offered.

  8. Let me know when WestJet finally implements Kargo Kids… then I’ll fly them.

    Timmy’s > McDonald’s, any day of the week.

  9. I actually brew McCafe at home … the price at the grocery store is good and I love the espresso blend. I make five scoops every morning.

  10. West Jet is employee-owned, which can make a huge difference for having a great service attitude. Flew them only once, back in 2008 from YYJ-YEG-PHX. On both flight legs the crew were super-friendly, upbeat and positive and the planes were very clean and comfortable. This is an airline that Canadians should be really proud of.

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