WestJet has announced that it will start charging its passengers $25 for their first checked bag.
The fee will come into effect October 29th 2014, applying to economy fare WestJet flights that were booked as of today, September 15th, 2014. The $25 charge is for one way.
There is founded speculation that Air Canada will follow next. Porter Airlines already implements a $25 one-way baggage, while this is standard practice on most U.S. airlines. The reasons behind Canadian airlines considering, or already charging for, checked baggage, include rising fuel prices and a drop in our dollar value.
A spokesperson for WestJet added that it is “further evidence of our commitment to our guests as Canada’s low-fare leader.” The company believes that this service charge helps keep airfares as cheap as possible.
WestJet customers flying Flex fare are entitled to one free checked bag, those with the Plus fare receive two complimentary checked bags, among other advantages.
The Calgary-based airline also introduced its new loyalty program today, a three-tier structure with the levels Teal, Silver and Gold. For passengers who qualify for Silver ware allowed free first checked baggage and Gold are permitted two free checked bags.
So if you are here on our website booking a WestJet flight, please be advised that the first checked baggage fee will be applied if your flight is on or after October 29th, 2014.
Flight Centre Blog.
Posted: 15 Sep 2014 01:37 PM PDT
CBC News Posted: Jul 04, 2014 2:27 PM ET
Canada Jetlines Ltd. of Vancouver recently announced plans to raise $10 million to list on the TSX Venture Exchange, on the heels of an announcement by another low-cost carrier, Jet Naked, which is hoping to raise $30 to $50 million to operate out of Calgary.
The airlines will be trodding a well-worn discount runway of dead airlines such as Canada 3000 and JetsGo.
"Those airlines went head-to-head with the full-service airlines," Jetlines president David Solloway told CBC News on Friday. "We don't plan on doing that."
Instead, Jetlines plans to carve out a niche in the ultra low-cost segment, where the airline can keep base fares as much as 40 per cent lower than the incumbents by flying to underserved airports and connections, while charging for extras such as carry-on baggage, beverages and seat selection.
"We call it à la carte," Solloway said.
The low-cost carrier, set to launch in the spring of 2015, plans to service primarily airports west of Winnipeg, but also a few select others in Central and Eastern Canada. Solloway says he doesn't want to reveal specific routes until after the appropriate Transport Canada approvals have been granted.
Official data show Canadians took only about one per cent more flights this year, and airfares increased by about 1.5 per cent. But those numbers hide the true demand for cheap travel because they don't include the estimated 5 million Canadians a year who travel to U.S. airports to save money on flights.
Data show that some 960,000 people from B.C. travelled to airports in Washington state last year to travel, Solloway notes.
"Competition is good because low-cost airlines stimulate the market," he said.
Jetlines will be facing competition not only from Jet Naked but from WestJet's new regional carrier, Encore, and Air Canada's recent spin-off, Rouge.
Jetlines still needs $40 million in order to launch. It has hired Euro Pacific Canada to help reach its goal.
A British tourist is to be deported from Sri Lanka because of a large tattoo of a Buddha on her arm.
Naomi Michelle Coleman was arrested as she arrived at the airport in the capital Colombo after authorities spotted the tattoo of a Buddha sitting on a locus flower on her right arm, said the BBC.
A police spokesman said the 37-year-old was arrested for "hurting others' religious feelings".
A magistrate ordered Ms Coleman's deportation. She is currently being held at an immigration detention camp and is expected to fly home within days.
Authorities regularly take strict action against perceived insults to Buddhism, which is the religion of Sri Lanka's majority ethnic Sinhalese.
The British High Commission in Colombo said: "We are aware of the case and are providing appropriate consular assistance."
Ms Coleman arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport on Monday from India.
The UK Foreign Office warns tourists visiting Sri Lanka of the danger of mistreating Buddhist images. It says on its travel advisory site: "Don't pose for photographs by standing in front of a statue of Buddha.
"The mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is a serious offence and tourists have been convicted for this. In March 2013, a British national was refused entry to Sri Lanka because he had a large visible tattoo of Buddha on his arm."
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Phone and e-mail scams by fraudsters purporting to be from WestJet and other prominent Canadian companies continue.
Richard Bartrem vice-president, communications and community relations, WestJetWestJet today issued another warning to Canadians to avoid sharing their credit card numbers and other private information with fraudsters posing as WestJet or WestJet Vacations.
For several years, con artists purporting to be from WestJet and other prominent Canadian companies have called random telephone numbers across the country in an effort to obtain credit card information. They say they require a credit card number to cover fees associated with claiming the prize. Once they have a number, they use it to make fraudulent purchases.
WestJet does not use telemarketers or make telemarketing phone calls, nor does it share guests' private information with third parties for the purposes of telemarketing.
"This phone scam and other, similar versions continue to be a source of great frustration for our guests as well as for us," said Richard Bartrem vice-president, communications and community relations, WestJet. "We would like to reassure Canadians once again that we are not making these annoying calls, and we apologize for the inconvenience. We urge anyone who receives one of these calls to hang up immediately and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca."
A second, less-common scam currently circulating involves fake electronic tickets with long numerical sequences purportedly issued by WestJet.
WestJet itineraries are identified by six letters only and contain relevant information about fares, taxes and fees, baggage allowances, seat selection, inflight entertainment and airline partnerships.
21 Mar 2014
TripAdvisor under fire for 'fake' reviews on China site
TripAdvisor has removed at least 10,000 reviews from its Chinese website daodao following complaints that they were fake.
Online reputation management company KwikChex is now calling for the site to be suspended until a "very thorough audit" can take place and new systems installed to better detect fraud.
It claimed that the reviews of 12 of daodao's top 500 reviewers have been deleted by the website following a study by KwikChex into online review sites which revealed "extremely suspicious activity" on daodao.
TripAdvisor spokesman James Kay admitted "a number" of reviews by daodao members have been removed from the site pending further investigation.
However, KwikChex co-founder Chris Emmins said: "Whilst there is little doubt that TripAdvisor, under pressure from criticism has invested more in its efforts, we found evidence that appears to suggest that there are very significant flaws still.
"There are 'hotspots' of extremely suspicious activity - many in Asia, where KwikChexrecently met with many concerned owners."
For example, it found one reviewer on daodao.com had posted 2,633 reviews since November 2010 and one, who had posted 1,361 reviews since October 2010 claimed to have stayed in 51 hotels in Paris in March 2013 while also visiting hotels in eight other countries in the same month.
"Several of these 'super-reviewers' appear to almost follow each other around the world - posting reviews on the same businesses," it said.
The reviews on daodao also appear on TripAdvisor.com
Although some suspicious reviews have been deleted following the KwikChex report, it said it was still detecting patterns that suggest the problems on daodao are continuing. It said one of those reviewers whose posts have been removed has posted again.
"The scale of the problems do seem so huge that it may be best to suspend the site completely until a very thorough audit can take place - and new systems put in place to better detect fraud," said Emmins.
"This has been corrupting content on all TripAdvisor websites and is a threat to the integrity of not just the TripAdvisor brand, but also to the brands of major hotel chains that were reviewed."
TripAdvisor's spokesman insisted the company was "fighting fraud aggressively" and had sophisticated systems to detect fraudsters and penalties in place to deter them.
"These detection techniques and deterrents mean the amount of fraud attempted is extremely small.," said Kay. "The fact is, the scale of TripAdvisor means there is honesty in numbers - with 150 million reviews and opinions and 90 contributions a minute the community in itself is a self-regulating force.
"It is also worth noting that the China business operates on a separate platform from TripAdvisor to accommodate the significant market and regulatory differences in China. Our fraud detection logic and processes are also configured to the unique characteristics in that market.
"China is a highly dynamic emerging market and continuing to maintain the high quality of our reviews by identifying new fraud patterns is an ongoing effort that we take very seriously."
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Every airline employs a cadre of fare revenue managers. These are the folks who adjust airfares throughout the day, depending on route, season, demand, supply and other factors. They're a notoriously tight-lipped bunch, but, on condition of anonymity, we got one to explain how the fare game works.
Is there a best time of the day or best day of the week to buy airline tickets?
No. We constantly read stories from pundits who proclaim that Tuesday nights are the best or Saturday at midnight is the lowest time for airfares, but that is not entirely true. Each airline loads fares at different times of the day every day. To say that there is one time of the day or one day of the week that is better than another is false.
Plus, fares are so dynamic since they are based on market conditions and the actual number of passengers who are currently booked on a specific flight that they can change rapidly at any time. Many airlines tend to announce sales on a Monday leading other airlines to match certain fares the following day, but this is not a hard and fast rule. It truly varies from airline to airline.
How do airlines post “mistake” airfares and what are the consequences?
Quite simply, it’s human error. A revenue manager might attempt to do a global reduction on all North America fares for example and lower all fares by more than he intended. We have warnings and systems in place to catch these “fat finger fares” but they don’t always work and it takes a while to correct them. The consequences vary depending on the damage done. Usually you get one mistake and a warning. However, I heard through the grapevine that the guy responsible for that Dec. 26 Delta fare glitch got fired immediately. It probably cost the airline over a million dollars in lost revenue.
What is your role as a revenue manager?
Each airline has a complex computer system based on algorithms that can maximize the profit on each flight based on the types of fares offered on that specific flight. On one flight, there could be as many as two dozen different fares based on different factors such as advance purchase or how many days you stay at the destination. The computer knows that, by releasing (for example) 5 seats at a very low price, 10 seats at a slightly higher price and 20 seats at a slightly higher price, it can maximize revenue as the flight fills up.
On a full flight, we no longer want to offer that el-cheapo fare because it is based on supply and demand. The computer adjusts fares all the way up until the departure time, but as a revenue manager, I can go in and adjust things based on information that the computer may not know. For example, are there specific events taking place at a destination? Are there certain conditions at the departure airport that will allow more than the desired amount of seats to go empty such as weather?
How often do fares change?
Most of the time you will see the same fares for a few days unless they sell out. The biggest changes happen at 21 days, 14 days, 10 days, 7 days and 4 days, typically when advance purchase restrictions knock fares up a notch. The majority of fare changes aren’t really changes on our part: they happen because people are purchasing up inventory at the lowest published fare or the advance purchase restrictions are kicking in.
Why is it that sometimes I can wait until the last minute and find a cheap fare, but other times the fare goes up?
Well, most of the time the fare will go up because the flight will be filling up or the advance purchase restrictions will be kicking in. But on routes with significant competition -- New York to Los Angeles for example -- airlines may have sales or "dump seats" at the last minute to fill the plane if it's not particularly full. It also depends on the day of the week. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are often the cheapest days to fly because we carry fewer business passengers those days.
Why do airlines advertise sales and then I can never find the tickets available at the stated price?
When an airline puts seats on sale, not every item in the store is for sale, just a percentage. Plus, not every flight on a given route may offer seats for sale. A popular 6 p.m. flight may not have anything on sale since people are willing to pay full price for it whereas the early bird 5 a.m. flight may have more seats on sale. When airfares go down, jump on it. The limited capacity of seats will dwindle as time passes.
Why are there so few award seats out there? Each time I try to use my miles, I can't.
This is really a false assumption. There are a lot of award seats out there. We often give away 10-15 percent of our seats as award seats. We are operating a business, and our shareholders wouldn't like it if we passed on top-line revenue. If you are flexible with dates or flight times, there are lots of award seats out there. If a flight is not filling up as we may expect, we can open up award availability as the departure date approaches, so you’ll sometimes do better searching a day before travel or at the very last second.
This post originally appeared at Airfarewatchdog. Copyright 2014.
'Dangerous Cold' Leads To Thousands of Flight CancellationsArctic air mass creates first travel crisis of 2014
Thousands of flights to and across the U.S. are cancelled or delayed today as some of the coldest conditions in decades move into the country.
That’s the surprise fee Karin Melick-Barthelmess saw on her bill for an American Airlines flight from St. Louis to New York. It was listed as an “American Airlines Internet surcharge,” she says.
One dollar may not sound like a lot, but when American businesses in general — and travel companies in particular — build their entire ventures on fees like that, it is a big deal. (American raked in $266 million in ticket change fees and $255 million in baggage fees during the first half of 2013. It’s on track to collect more than $1 billion in fees for the year, with most of them coming in a few dollars at a time.)
Here’s the prediction for 2014: more nonsense fees.
But they’re going to be smaller than ever, in increments you hardly notice. They belong to a subset of junk fees I call microjunk fees. They’re $5 or less, an amount that even the most price-sensitive customer sometimes fails to notice. But add them all up and they can turn a money-losing business into a profitable operation.
For example, starting May 1, discount airline Allegiant will charge a $5 per “boarding pass fee” to passengers who choose to have a mandatory boarding pass printed out at select domestic airport locations. Wow, is paper really that expensive? Spirit Airlines, one of the most innovative companies when it comes to fees, is considering a sliding scale for its fees next year, presumably so that when customers have second thoughts about the extras, it can shrink them until they don’t hurt at all. Tricky.
Underestimating their own customers
Are we that dumb? No, but we’re suffering from a collective fee fatigue, and the businesses imposing these unethical extras know we’re far less likely to fight a $1 or $2 fee. When we protest, they either quickly agree to remove them or explain that these fees enable them to offer the lowest fares and give customers a “choice.” Which, of course, is hogwash.
A better question is: Are they that dumb?
Don’t they remember Blockbuster Video, the business that was built on ridiculous fees? Some say it went belly-up in 2013 because of changes in technology, but customers know better. They remember the “late” fees and “rewind” fees upon which the business appeared to build its profits.
Blockbuster may have been done in by one $40 late fee in particular, which it charged to a young customer named Reed Hastings in 1997. Name ring a bell? Yeah, he founded Netflix.
Companies that charge microjunk fees are playing a dangerous game by dismissing their customers as dummies, and they’re failing to learn from the failed businesses of the past. You deserve better.
Remain vigilant in 2014
You have to keep a watchful eye for these ridiculous fees, which are often added to your bill with little notification or justification. Melick-Barthelmess didn’t tolerate her fee, immediately contacting me to find out if I could help her.
“Is that the way of the future?” she asked.
The answer is obvious. Unless people like her stand up to these surcharges, we’ll all have to pay more of them in 2014. Of course, that doesn’t make them right or excusable. It would just mean we didn’t bother to say anything, and the fees stuck.
I admit, there are a few industry cheerleaders who claim little junk fees that pay for the “convenience” of printing a boarding pass — or rewinding a VHS tape, for that matter — are good because they offer consumers a choice. You can choose to print the boarding pass at home, or rewind the tape, and save money!
That is, of course, as absurd as it sounds. It’s the kind of propaganda that comes straight from a company’s PR department and is endorsed by dimwitted bloggers pretending to be consumer advocates. Just ignore it. I do.
I contacted American Airlines on Melick-Barthelmess’ behalf to find out if it had added a new $1 booking fee, or was testing a $1 booking fee for some of its online reservations. After a lengthy back-and-forth, American insisted it wasn’t charging a booking fee or testing one. Instead, it claimed Melick-Barthelmess’ credit card had charged a dollar for making the reservation — even though it was clearly labeled as an American Airlines charge.
So whodunnit? Who knows. After I asked American about the fee, it mysteriously disappeared.
“I certainly suspected American as the guilty party,” says Melick-Barthelmess.
Something tells me I’ll be hearing from a lot more consumers who are slammed by microjunk fees in 2014. Mind the little things next year, or you could be among them.
Dec 17 2013
Reminder that vacations aren’t always carefree—21% of Canadian travelers have needed medical attention while away. And 35% don’t buy travel health insurance before they go away.
The Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THiA) conducted a national survey of Canadians about their travel habits and their understanding of provincial health coverage.
“Only 6% of Canadians realize that provincial health plans cover approximately 9% of medical expenses when travelling outside of Canada,” said John Thain, THiA president.
The survey also finds 30% of Canadians plan to travel this winter, while 31% consider themselves risk takers. One third of those surveyed reported binge drinking while on vacation.
The good news? 94% reported packing underwear for their travels, the survey finds.
“Travel health insurance should be as essential to a vacation as underwear,” said Thain. “Many people will already have some coverage through employers or credit cards and it’s important to understand existing coverage and ensure you have the necessary supplemental coverage.”
THiA recommends that Canadians do the following to have carefree vacations:
Both banks will offer members an enhanced suite of Aeroplan Visa credit cards to include more earning options and benefits
Aimia confirmed today 10-year financial credit card agreements with each of TD Bank Group and CIBC, effective from Jan. 1, 2014.
TD will become Aeroplan's primary financial services partner and credit card issuer, under an amended version of the agreement announced previously, while CIBC will also continue to be an issuer of Aeroplan credit cards.
Aimia also announced entering into a purchase agreement with TD and CIBC, under which TD will acquire approximately half of the current Aeroplan card portfolio and CIBC will retain the balance, comprised of Aeroplan cardholders who have broader banking relationships with CIBC.
Both banks will offer members an enhanced suite of Aeroplan Visa credit cards to include more earning options and benefits, including exclusive Air Canada benefits, in addition to the changes to Aeroplan with Distinction benefits to be launched in January 2014 for all Aeroplan members.
The terms of both the new 10-year financial credit card agreements include a more than 15 per cent increase in price per mile to align to market levels and more comprehensive collaboration around data and customer insight analytics.
The TD minimum miles purchase commitment has been updated to a five-year volume commitment based on miles purchases by TD and CIBC. These payments, in aggregate, could be up to $95 million.
Features of the new credit card offerings to be introduced by the banks during 2014 were announced on June 27, 2013. TD will market its cards through a wide range of TD, Aeroplan and mass market channels, with CIBC using its proprietary channels to market to CIBC customers.
Regardless of whether members will transition to a new card, all Aeroplan Miles that members accumulate through the end of 2013 are deposited into their Aeroplan accounts and are not tied to their current credit card.
16 SEP 2013
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