WestJet announces UltraBasic fare with no carry-on bag

WestJet announces UltraBasic fare with no carry-on bag
Photo credit: Nicholas Pescod

WestJet Airlines has replaced its basic ticket tier with a new fare category that does away with a free carry-on bag and other perks travellers once took for granted.

The Calgary-based airline said Tuesday its new “UltraBasic category,” the lowest-priced of seven fare classes, is a no-frills fare.

Travellers flying UltraBasic get pre-assigned seats at the back of the aircraft and will have to pay extra to select a seat, even when checking in. They will also board last.

They will also not be permitted to stow a carry-on bag in the overhead bins, unless they choose to pay extra for that privilege. However, UltraBasic travellers can still bring a personal item to be stored under the seat, and a carry-on is included for trans-ocean routes.

On its website, WestJet said the introduction of UltraBasic will result in price reductions across its routes. The airline committed to providing affordable options after shutting down its ultra low-cost airline Swoop and buying the low-cost Sunwing Airlines.

The airline also expects the move to help free up coveted overhead bin space and make the boarding process smoother overall.

“It is anticipated that the introduction of UltraBasic will expedite the boarding process, contributing to enhanced on-time performance and a better guest experience,” the airline stated.

WestJet is not the first airline in Canada to offer a “no carry-on” discounted fare, as Edmonton-based Flair Airlines’s standard fare only allows a free personal bag.

Until 2014, the ability to check one bag was included in the cost of an airline ticket in Canada. That was the year WestJet announced it would begin charging passengers a fee for their first checked bag, and Air Canada quickly followed suit.

WestJet said there will be clear messaging about the new UltraBasic fare and its limitations throughout the booking process, so that travellers don’t arrive at the airport unaware that they cannot travel with a carry-on bag.

“Digital and printed boarding passes will also indicate no carry-on bags are permitted with UltraBasic fares,” the airline said.

WestJet says UltraBasic travellers will have the same access to onboard food and beverages, as well as access to the WestJet Connect inflight entertainment system, as before.

By Amanda Stephenson

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2024.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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