Saturday, March 27, 2010

Air Canada officially launches Calgary-Tokyo Flight

This morning YYC held festivities to celebrate the first Calgary to Tokyo non-stop flight operated by Air Canada. In attendance were dignitaries and officials from YYC, Air Canada, the City of Calgary, Japanese Consulate for Calgary and more.

The event started with a Japanese drumming group from Edmonton followed by speeches from Katherine Kelly of YYC, Stephan Poirier of YYC, City of Calgary deputy mayor Jim Stevenson Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation Cindy Ady, Douglas Mitchell of YYC and Calin Rovinescu, President and CEO of Air Canada. Some key notes that were mentioned were that Calgary is only the third city in Canada to have non-stop service to both Europe and Asia, and that Calgary also has the most non-stop service per capita out of any city in Canada. Everyone in attendance seemed quite excited for the new service and Calin Rovinescu was looking forward to be on this first flight. I posed a question to him about the lack of an Aeroplan bonus offer incentive for the flight (since bonus offers encompass my life in this business, I had to ask!) and he pretty much confirmed what I posted awhile back that bookings are strong enough and the fact that the flight is only 3 times per week were the reason why. The ceremonies concluded with Air Canada giving YYC a nice model of an Air Canada 777 and YYC presenting Calin and Air Canada a Japanese Daruma doll of good luck where Stephan Poirier and Calin Rovinescu each painted an eye on the doll.

It is nice to see this service finally come to fruition and hopefully with good support from both the Calgary business community and tourism from Japan this flight will prosper and see more frequencies once the Canada-Japan bilateral agreement allows for it.

For even more details, you can read this press release from YYC

Friday, March 26, 2010

Nov-Dec Passenger Stats

YYC has updated their website with the passenger stats of the last two months of 2009. In November, 894,609 passengers passed through YYC, a drop of 3.2% from 2008 numbers while December saw a slight increase of 0.7% to 1,030,921. In both months, domestic travel was down, transborder saw a split while International saw significant increases of 5.6% and 11.6% respectively.

Overall for 2009, YYC saw 12,175,011 people pass through the airport, a 2.7% drop from 2008. The first half of 2009 saw significant decreases in passenger numbers due to the economic slowdown. The airport started to seem some recovery in the last four months of the year and continues to trend that way into the first month of 2010

Source: YYC

Continental expands codeshares on Air Canada routes out of Calgary

Continental and Air Canada have once again expanded codesharing on each others flights in Canada and the U.S.. The following Air Canada routes out of Calgary will now carry Continental codes:

Calgary – Cranbrook
Calgary – Grande Prairie
Calgary – Kelowna
Calgary – Regina
Calgary – Saskatoon
Calgary – Victoria
Calgary – Yellowknife

Source Airline Route Updates

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

WestJet 1 day Sale - 50-70% off

* Book by March 17, 2010 (11:59 p.m. MT).
* For Canadian destinations travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until June 30, 2010.
* For U.S. destinations travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
* For U.S. and international destinations travel between May 1 and June 30, 2010.

Departing city: Calgary
One-way flights starting from:

Abbotsford $67
Regina $77
Comox $97
Saskatoon $67
Fort McMurray $107
St. John's $197
Halifax $167
Vancouver $77
Hamilton $127
Victoria $97
Kamloops $57
Yellowknife $127
Kelowna $57
Los Angeles $97
Kitchener/Waterloo $127
New York (Newark) $177
London, ON $127
San Diego $97
Ottawa $137
San Francisco $87

Book online at WestJet

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Air Canada Calgary- Las Vegas schedule change

As of May 1 Air Canada is changing their YYC-LAS flights to operate later in the day.
The new flight timings are as follows:

Calgary-Las Vegas Dep 1535 Arr 1715 (up to Apr 30 Dep 0845 Arr 1025)
Las Vegas-Calgary Dep 1755 Arr 2147 (up to Apr 30 Dep 1520 Arr 1911)

Source: Airline Route Updates

Thursday, March 4, 2010

WestJet Frequent Guest Program Review

I have done a complete review of the WestJet program, it is quite long so I will not post all of it here, as well you can see in the previous post a quick overview. However please post your comments, good,bad or neutral below. WestJet does read our blog and they are known as a very proactive company when it comes to comments from their Guests.

The complete review is on our main Rewards Canada site, you can read it here

Here is an excerpt:
Key Features
The biggest feature with the WestJet Frequent Guest Program is no black out dates. As long as seats are available (ie for sale on the website) then you will be able to redeem for them. There are no black out dates and there is no limit to number of seats per flight or per route like legacy frequent flyer programs. Although most legacy programs have introduced access to all seats at all times it requires more miles, typically double the base requirement or more whereas with WestJet the value of your rewards remains the same regardless of the ticket value.

Jet-Away bonus rewards are an interesting way to reward members without giving away tons of dollars and relatively unique to the Frequent Flyer Program industry but again they are taking a page from the credit card industry where numerous cards offer complimentary companion tickets. With these rewards however WestJet is keeping revenue in mind as you have to buy a ticket to go along with the companion ticket.

The WestJet Frequent Guest Program allows for transfers between members for a flat $20 fee, compared to most frequent flyer programs that have a base fee plus a certain amount of cents per miles transferred.

Overall what is good about programs like the WestJet program is that you don't have to have a lot of points to redeem and get some sort of reward versus the set point programs like most frequent flyer programs where you need a minimum amount of points to redeem for a flight.

The $1500 annual spend level will keep the ultra-leisure traveller away unless they get the RBC MasterCard. The spending is also per person, so if you think, by booking your family of four a trip and spending $1600 in base fares reaches the first level, think again, each person will only have $400 towards the first level.

The main downfall of the credit card type or WestJet type of program is that value is lost when you have to redeem for expensive/non-seat sale flights as you have to redeem more points versus the set point programs which require the same amount of points for a flight regardless of what it is selling for (of course this is the best case scenario not taking into account black out dates, availability etc)

As well the credit card is right in the middle of the pack as the 1.5% return on the World MasterCard version falls below cards like the Capital One Miles Plus and Diners Club MasterCards, but is equal to cards like the TD Travel Visas.

The 12 month annual spend levels will make it tough for the less frequent flyer to accrue WestJet Dollars. While Aeroplan has a 12 month inactivity rule, all you have to do is earn 1 or redeem 1 mile to keep your account and balance active and growing. With WestJet if you don't hit that $1500 in the 12 month period, say you spend $1350, you won't get anything.

The 5 Year expiry on your earned dollars is about average for the industry but only for programs that have life span regulations on earned miles/dollars. Many Asian frequent flyer programs have a 3 year life span and in Canada Aeroplan has a 7 year life span while others have no life span as long as you have activity in your account.

No online capabilites for redemption yet, that will come soon but in the meantime it means calling WestJet to take care of bookings when you want to redeem WestJet dollars.

Once again, you can read the complete review here

WestJet reveals Frequent Guest Program

It's officially posted, the long awaited much delayed WestJet Frequent Flyer program, called Frequent Guest has been revealed. I will have a more detailed review coming very soon but first impressions are mixed, I will need a little more time to digest this as there is lots involved here........

Basic overview:
You don't get anything back until you spend $1500 with WestJet per year, see the following:
- Spend $1500 with WJ get $50 in WestJet Dollars
- Spend $4500 get $165 WestJet Dollars + 1 Complimentary Companion Ticket within Canada, 4 advance seat selection vouchers and two lounge passes ($500 value)
- Spend $6000 get $230 WestJet Dollars + 1 Complimentary Companion Ticket anywhere WestJet flies, 4 advance seat selection vouchers and two lounge passes ($800 value)
- Spend $7500 get $300 WestJet Dollars

Basically once you reach the $1500 you then start earning 2.5% in WestJet Dollars back on every dollar you spend with WestJet and 1% back on WestJet Vacations. The key is that you have to hit that $1500 level.

The annual spending resets every 12 months based upon when you joined and your WestJet dollars earned have a 5 year life span (they expire at the end of the 5th year after you earned them)

You can use WestJet dollars towards any flight or towards a WestJet vacations (Max $500 for WJV)

WestJet Vacation's Packages do not count to any of the annual spend levels but will earn 1% in WestJet dollars once you reach the $1500 level.

You can also earn additional WestJet dollars with the WestJet RBC MasterCard and other bonus offers during the year.

Sign up before Dec 31, 10 and the $4500 award level is dropped to $3000 for the first year.

See all the details here and watch out for our complete and thorough review on Rewards Canada soon.