WestJetreceived their first Boeing 787 in late January 2019 and initially placed it on their domestic service between Calgary and Toronto. On April 28th, The WestJet 787 was entered into international service between Calgary and London Gatwick. I was invited, by the guest experience and product team of WestJet, to test their Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight from Calgary to London Gatwick. I hope to share some insights of the development behind my WestJet 787 flight with you!
I flew the new WestJet 787 London service out of Calgary on May 4th. It was snowing in the evening with the temperature hovering around 0 degrees Celsius outside!
The international terminal at Calgary is neatly arranged; one can easily identify an airlines logo and then locate their check-in counter. WestJet have premium check-in counters near aisle 11. They have an inter-line agreement with Emirates and were able to tag my bag all the way to Dubai, via London Gatwick.
WestJet is in the process of having their own premium lounge built in Calgary. On international flights Business Class customers use the common lounge, The Aspire Lounge.
The Aspire Lounge was decent, with a fair selection of food and beverages.
WestJet 787 Dreamliner seats a total of 320 passengers. There are 3 cabins with 16 Business, followed by 28 Premium and 276 Economy seats.
Economy seat pitch
Premium seat pitch
Business seat pitch (convert to fully flat bed)
I was first to board the flight, ahead of the others, so I could take a few pictures of the nice fresh cabin.
WestJet 787 Business
WestJet 787 Premium
WestJet 787 Economy
My seat, 4K, is located in the last row in the Business Class cabin. The flight attendants took the time to introduce the seat functions to every single customer in the cabin, as it was their first time flying in this cabin.
The WestJet Business Class seat is manufactured by Rockwell Collins. (B/E Aerospace Diamond seat) The same seat can also be found on American Airlines and Qatar Airways 787. Savvy travellers should already be familiar with this style of lie-flat seat, it can convert into a full bed and every seat has direct aisle access. The seat padding is excellent, the seat is wide and offers a decent level of privacy. There is also a lap belt in addition to the normal seat belt at your waist.
Upon being seated I was served a welcome drink, I opted for the WestJet signature drink. It is a mix cocktail with: Gold Peak ice green tea, cranberry juice and a fresh lemon wedge. This cocktail was designed by a WestJet employee through an internal competition.
The on-board amenity kit is provided by the Canadian brand, Matt and Nat. I was told it is an "all vegan" product.
Boarding started at 6:30pm and was completed ahead of the scheduled departure time of 7:25pm; however, we were held at the gate for de-icing before able to push back. It is incredible for someone like me to see snow flurries and sub-zero temperatures in May! I enjoyed watching and filming the de-icing process from the warm comfort of my Business Class cabin.
My flight, WS1 to London Gatwick, had a projected flight time of 8 hours and 9 minutes and a cruising altitude of 38,000 feet. The load on the flight is healthy with 295 passengers (over 90% load factor).
After takeoff I was served with my choice of beverage, which was a 787 limited edition Dreamcraft All-Canadian Ale! Instead of nuts with drinks, WestJet served delicious garlic butter popcorn's!
I also bought a 1:400 scale WestJet 787 model, released by GeminiJets recently, as I collect die-cast models of all the planes I've flown on.
WestJet offers Business Class passengers a "Dine Anytime" service; I chose to dine later, as I wanted to check out the meals served in the Economy and Premium cabins. This review covers all 3 class's of dining and their different product philosophies.
In economy WestJet use environmental friendly paper boxes for the main course, instead of plastic containers. The meals came with a smaller, turquoise colour, non slip tray. The two choices were chicken stroganoff and pasta. At first glance you may think the meal portions are quite small, but after I examined the box I found it to be quite deep, so it is just a smart way of presenting meals on smaller tray.
The Economy product incorporates a bright and bold turquoise, inspired by stunning mountain glaciers and sparkling lakes of Canada.
For the Premium cabin WestJet have focused on both value and luxury, by bringing elements of Canada’s calming, yet irregular landscape into the diverse dining collection.
In Premium there were 3 choices: ginger beef, chicken with white sauce and vegetarian shepherds pie. Instead of using a trolley, the flight attendants prepare the meals in the galley and then bring them individually to each one of the passengers. I like the wooden look tray (again, non-slip) and the metal salad bowl, which was really classy!
Business Dining - Dine Anytime Service
Back to Business Class, I opted for 2 small plates and a main course from the Dine Anytime menu. I found many Canadian elements incorporated in the menu which was a really nice touch. I chose the Alberta beef short ribs, sour cherry pie and asked for a glass of ice wine, which is uniquely Canadian.
WestJet's menu approach and dining philosophy:
Our menu is as diverse and varied as our Canadian landscape, crafted to express Canada from coast to coast with a global fusion from our celebrated destinations.
The Business collection encompasses smooth shapes and varied textures, echoing Canada’s calm and appeasing, yet vast and varied land.
In Business Class the tables were set up individually, without the use of trays, resembling a restaurant dining experience.
Main Course: Alberta Beef Short Ribs with a glass of ice wine from Ontario
The meal, both in terms of taste and presentation, was really beyond amazing! I must say the food and the service far exceeded my expectations.
The food was some of the best on Trans-atlantic Business Class that I've ever tasted.
It took some time to get served in Business. The whole meal service took about 3 hours. The crew came to apologise that it took a little longer, as it was their first time flying the 787 Dreamliner and serving in the Business Class cabin. I didn't blame them, as WestJet have never had an international business cabin until now and this was in their first week of service. Over time I am sure they will address and improve on the timing of their service, as the crew becomes more familiar with the systems. I have noticed in Premium and Economy, the meal service were done a lot quicker in less than 2 hours.
To end the dining experience on a sweet note, the crew handed out Newfoundland sea salt dark chocolate.
The Sun was setting during the meal service as we continued to fly Eastbound over the Atlantic. We were flying at approximately 65 degrees North in latitude.
In-flight Entertainment and Wi-Fi
During the meal service I enjoyed a movie from the 18.5 inch touch screen IFE. There was a good selection of Canadian movies and I watched a funny one from Quebec called 1991.
Internet and Wi-Fi streaming is available throughout the flight. The full flight for CAD 21.99 is a good deal with no limits on usage.
After the meal a flight attendant turned down my bed, while I went to the bathroom to change. An interesting service they offer was a spray of rose water mist on my pillow! The bedding was excellent, with the texture feeling very smooth and velvety.
I slept a solid 3 hours before I was woken up to the sound of a loon bird. (hear this in my upcoming video!) The cabin mood lighting was turned into sunrise mode and breakfast was then served. I had the full Canadian breakfast, which consisted of: eggs, bacon, pancake with maple syrup and potatoes.
From the IFE London's weather forecast was displayed and also connecting flight information, including mine to Dubai.
We had a long and beautiful approach into Gatwick over the green country side of England. We landed on the Easterly runway of 08R and arrived at Gatwick North Terminal about 15 minutes behind schedule (due to the long de-icing procedure at departure)
There were 2 other WestJet flights in Gatwick (a 767 to Toronto and a 737-700 to Halifax).
WestJet is quite unique compared to most network carriers I've travelled on. They are currently going through a transition phase to becoming a full premium carrier; their 787 Dreamliner service is a great example of how WestJet have evolved, from their humble beginnings in 1996 with a 737-200!
The Canadian crew were exceptionally friendly and proud of themselves to be operating on the 787 flight. There was a lot of excitement from the passengers, as for many this was their first time travelling on the new WestJet 787 Dreamliner. It was quite amazing to see how the product team have developed a very competitive international product, within just 8 months of time! My flight was almost flawless in terms of both hard product and service delivery. I am confident that with some more time, and experience, the crew will iron out some of the pain points and deliver a well rounded service.