Christian Conservative Christian "Independent"

I'm an evangelical Christian, member of the CPC, but presently & unjustly exiled to wander the political wilderness.
All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

WestJet seat pricing policy stinks

Okay, so I book a WestJet flight just yesterday from Toronto to Ottawa in May for some business. So I made the mistake of looking again today, less than 24 hours after booking the flight, and what do I see? They've dropped the price for the same day by $20. Thing is, I checked the flight numbers... and it's for the exact same flight as I'm already booked for!

So I call up the call centre, you'd think that they'd have some sort of price guarantee for at least 24-48 hours, right? Not a chance... to get the lower price, I'd have to pay a $50 change fee... even though I'm not making a change, it's the exact same flight! But they consider that a "change", so they can't do it without charging a fee that's more than double the cost reduction of the flight.

Yea, I know, it's how the airline industry works, but that's just not cool. Of course I'm not out any money, it's for work, but I'd still like to save the organization a few bucks if I can.

UPDATE: Well that didn't take long... yes, I can see that you folks at WestJet are paying attention, thanks for stopping by this blog post. (at least two of you so far) You can reach me at "christian[dot]conservative[dot]2007[at]gmail[dot]com" if you'd like to discuss this further.

UPDATE II: Thanks to a sharp eyed reader, it turns at that just two weeks ago, WestJet offered just such a protection to it's customers. From their own news release:
WestJet guarantees its lowest price
Yellowknife to benefit from unique airline pricing proposition

CALGARY, March 31 /CNW/ - WestJet today introduced the WestJet Price Guarantee for guests booking between March 31 and April 6, 2009. Despite uncertain times, WestJet guests can be certain of one thing - they'll get the lowest WestJet price.

"We're introducing the WestJet Price Guarantee in response to our guests, who want some certainty in these uncertain times," said Bob Cummings, WestJet's Executive Vice-President of Guest Experience and Marketing. "Our guests want to know they're getting the lowest fare we have to offer and this news today delivers that peace of mind. This is a unique price guarantee within the airline industry in Canada. WestJet is proud to be the airline that continues to drive value for the guest. Our strong financial and brand health as well as unique offers like this are all part of the value proposition that has more and more guests flying with us."
Since they've offered such a deal before, I'd recommend a really low cost solution for them... why not introduce a 24-Hour price guarantee? If you book a flight on WestJet, and they drop the price within 24 hours, they'll refund the difference? Of course, this will be a low cost venture for them because how many people keep checking prices AFTER they've booked? We're probably talking somewhere like 20-40 people a week would take them up on such an offer, likely in the neighbourhood of $10-$30. So if you average things out to $20 an occurance, we're talking somewhere around $500-$1000 a week... a really small price to pay for customer satisfaction, don't you think? (of course, they'd have to do a cost analysis on the venture, but I don't think my numbers would be too far off)


UPDATE III: Come on all you WestJetters... I can see all of you reading my blog about this complaint, so what's the hold up? At least a half dozen members of your staff have been looking at my posts from today. Real simple solution guys, e-mail me at "christian[dot]conservative[dot]2007[at]gmail[dot]com" to talk about it.

In the meantime, it looks like your rivals at Air Canada are enjoying this... because someone from their HQ was taking a look at my posts on this issue.


  • At Thu Apr 16, 10:12:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger Reid said…

    Do you also expect to get yesterday's gas price if it goes up today just before you fill your car?

    Airline ticket prices are based on a formula that takes into account when you book your ticket and how many seats are available on the flight.

    Quit your belly aching. If you don't like it you can fly Air Canada. Or take the train. Or drive.

  • At Thu Apr 16, 10:47:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger Luca Manfredi said…

    It happens to me sometimes too, but in September it was on a positive note. A Delta nonstop from NYC was USD 900 one day (another connection was cheaper) and two days later it dropped to $700. Needless to say I flew nonstop.

    In your case you belonged to those who would have paid the higher price, and the airline decided to appeal to those who couldn't in order to fill up the flight.

    In Europe I regularly flew for $0.01 on very early or uncomfortable flights, airlines wanted me to foot the airport taxes instead of just flying empty. Competition and efficiency have two sides to them.

  • At Thu Apr 16, 10:57:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger Mr. Lorne said…

    CC, I can understand your frustration, but I think it's luck of the draw sometimes.

    I booked a flight to San Francisco about 6 months ago and got a decent price. Since then, the price has flucuated all over the place, sometimes higher sometimes lower, but overall, I did fairly well considering the market.

    While you may not have received the rock bottom price, WestJet is reliable for not upcharging you should fares skyrocket before your flight.

    Have a good day.

  • At Thu Apr 16, 11:00:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger Christian Conservative said…

    Were you even listening? Most places these days have a "Price protection" policy, where if they drop the price within a certain timeframe, they'll refund the difference.

    Why should airlines be any different, in our modern "Customer First" era? I'm not talking about a week later, I'm talking about less than 24 hours... surely the cost of refunding so few passengers isn't that burdensome, and fits nicely into their whole "Friendly skies" corporate attitude.

    Anyway, if you don't agree with me, fine, just don't complain the next time you have to pay taxes on something. It's funny, you're harping on me when it's the guys like me that are trying to keep your tax burden down by cutting government spending.

    Hey, maybe I'll quit bothering looking for a cheaper hotel and just run up the tab... and a nice steak dinner sounds better than McDonald's, don't you think? What do you say... it's your money, after all.

  • At Thu Apr 16, 11:02:00 a.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't think it was the yesterday versus today thing so much as the "change" charge CC was "belly aching" about.

    You do make a good point about gas prices, but any good business should be flexible to it's customers needs. A $50 change charge isn't flexible, that's silly

    Mike Wisniewski

  • At Thu Apr 16, 11:19:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger Reid said…

    Yes I was "listening."

    Your point about cheap hotel vs an expensive hotel is completely irrelevant. In that situation you are presented with two options and make a choice as to which one you take.

    In the case of the airline you pay the best price you find today. If an airline offered a "price protection" they would never have seat sales anymore because the instant they did everyone would get that rate. If you cancel an airline ticket less than 24 hours after buying it there is no cancellation charge. That charge only applies after the first 24 hours has expired. I think that's more than adequate.

    The problem is that there's virtually no competition in the Canadian airline business. If you want cheaper fares lobby for an open skies policy. Real competition will bring the fares down.

  • At Thu Apr 16, 11:26:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger SpyderGeer said…

  • At Thu Apr 16, 11:53:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger Christian Conservative said…

    Well Reid, if you're not paying attention, at least WestJet is... two hits already this morning.

  • At Thu Apr 16, 12:19:00 p.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Power of the internet strikes again!!!

    Mike Wisniewski

  • At Sun Mar 06, 11:28:00 p.m. EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My friend, you are on a crusade that is doomed. WestJet is not the same company it was 5 years ago - back then they actually DID care, but those days are over, even though they keep marketing the "We care" crap. They care about your money, and they will continue to find new and inventive ways to take your money.

    Air Canada, WestJet, they're all the same - they don't actually care about you - they just want your business. Flying with low cost carriers in Europe like RyanAir is even worse, and it's a growing trend - the airlines will continue to nickel and dime consumers for as long as they can get away with it. Like the telecommunications companies in Canada, there's not a lot of competition, so they can charge what they like and get away with it for as long as they want, until consumers decide enough is enough.

    I hope that someone comes up with a low cost train company where you can travel in a more civilized manner. Air travel, regardless of the company involved, is an absolute gong show.

  • At Fri May 30, 04:46:00 a.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maybe this is out of date. But it does still come up fairly high in google searches for westjet refund policy.

    Anyways, if the same thing happens again - just cancel the ticket. Westjet, like Air Canada, do a FULL REFUND if cancelled within 24 hours. It's right there on their fare information page.

    Also: use skyscanner. It's seriously good.

    Fares in Canada, alas are just bloody expensive anyway. Ah well.


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