Westjet’s New Dreamliner Business Class
As far as we are concerned, there are two types of longhaul flights: ones you’d like to end as soon as possible and those which you wish could last forever.
We recently flew from London Gatwick (LGW) to Calgary (YYC) on Westjet’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Business Class. Indeed it was a flight that fell into the latter category.
We were eager to sample the service as, having flown Air Canada’s Executive Class to many destinations, we wanted to compare the two products.
We also heard the Calgary-based airline had worked extra hard to add as many Canadian touches as possible in the design of the interior of the aircraft as well as the food and beverage service and amenities - right down to the salt and pepper shakers designed after the ‘Two Sisters’ mountain range and the ‘Dark Chocolate with Newfoundland Sea Salt’ created exclusively for WestJet by CXBO chocolates of Toronto’s Kensington Market. The amenity kit was created by Canada’s Matt and Natt and features Province Apothecary skin products with ingredients from each of the Canadian provinces. In Premium Economy, the amenity kit features Rocky Mountain Soup Co. products. The cutlery, table wear and fabrics - all Canadian and some with a First Nations theme.
The onboard service was everything you’d expect from a Westjet flight: friendly and laid back staff. That’s where the first big difference with Air Canada popped up: drinks were served just minutes after the seat belt sign was switched off - whereas on Air Canada we’ve waited up to an hour after takeoff for the cabin crew to take drink orders. As one crew member told us: we try to serve drinks no more than seven minutes after the signal and we aim to create an inflight experience less sterile than Air Canada.
Indeed, even the pre-takeoff announcement seemed like a proud moment in the cockpit, with the pilot saying that the airline has been flying for 22 years and the the introduction of trans-continental Dreamliner service is a significant milestone in its growth.
Even before takeoff we were served champagne and once in the air servings of delicious popcorn with truffle oil were served - wonderful.
The inter-continental Dreamliner service has three cabins: economy, premium economy and business. In between the premium economy and business cabins is a galley that’s open to passengers in both cabins to socialize and snack. We noticed it wasn’t heavily used - probably because passengers don’t wish to get in the way of the cabin crew. Still - a nice touch - right down to the Salted caramel & Chocolate Ganache.
The Business Class cabin, designed by Priestmangoode, has 16 Super Diamond seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, offering direct aisle access in a herringbone configuration. There are adjustable privacy screens separating the two centre seats. Add to that an adjustable leather arm rest, plenty of storage space, a vanity mirror and a large entertainment screen. We were especially taken by the extra comfortable Canadian-made duvet cover! The seat features a comfortable 78-inch fully-flat bed with fully customizable positions and easy-to-use controls.
Premium Economy is in a spacious 2-3-2 configuration, with extra large seat back screens. We noticed bottled water and amenity kits were placed at each seat before boarding, and mimosas served before take-off.
And then there’s the beverage and food service! Seven wines on the list including two from Canada - a white and an ice wine from Peller Estate. There’s even a Canadian craft beer available - the Dreamcraft All-Canadian 787 Limited Edition.
The lunch/dinner service can best be described as a culinary fiesta We opted for: Curry Pumpkin Soup (with roasted pumpkin garnish), Red Wine Braised Beef-Cheek (with new potatoes, shallots, carrots and green beans) and a selection of British and Continental Cheeses. The beef was perfectly prepared - in fact one of the best pieces of meat we’ve ever had in the skies.
After a nap of several hours, the cabin crew nudged us to try a Canadian aviation first: French-Canadian poutine! Essentially french fries with gravy and cheese curds, it could almost be on par with some of the poutine served by food trucks in Ottawa/Hull. Magnifique!
Given the chance, we’d fly WestJet again over the Atlantic for this 9 hours, 12 minute flight. For daylight flights you’re probably going to be OK in the Premium Economy cabin, though we’d move further up front for the eastbound night flight.
My Savvy Traveller received a complimentary upgrade to Business Class from WestJet. One-way prices vary but in mid-May ranged from C$548 for economy , C$2325 for Premium Economy and C$4048 for Business. Inflight wifi is available at C$10.99 for 90-minutes and C$21.99 for the full flight.