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Flying WestJet Airlines with Babies, Toddlers & Young Children
WestJet is a Canadian airline that started out as a no-frills, low-cost alternative to Air Canada. Now they are Canada’s second-largest airline, with scheduled and charter air service to over 100 destinations in Canada, the United States, Europe, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Recently they acquired Sunwing.
On flights less than four hours, WestJet offers complimentary drinks and snacks. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase. On flights that are four hours or more, WestJet offers complimentary drinks and snacks, with buy-on-board meal service in economy. In premium and business class, complimentary meals and alcoholic beverages are included. International flights on their 787s include complimentary meals in all classes.
WestJet Carry-On Baggage Allowances:
Each WestJet passenger in a confirmed seat is allowed one free piece of carry-on baggage and one personal item, total. Items that exceed the carry-on allowance will be placed in checked baggage and applicable baggage fees may apply.
If you are traveling with an infant, you may bring on board a diaper bag (that contains items specifically for said infant). This is in addition to the baggage allowance. Approved car seats may be brought on for use in a seat that’s been purchased for your baby or toddler.
Westjet Checked Baggage Allowances:
Fees for checked baggage vary depending on your destination and the level fare booked. WestJet flight fares from “EconoFlex” to Business include a free checked bag. If your WestJet flight is part of a WestJet Vacations Premium Economy package, your fare includes two free checked bags. All flights booked with Basic, Econo, or Member Exclusive fares charge $30-$35.40 for the first checked bag. The fee is charged in CAD or USD, depending on departure country.
The weight limit for checked bags on WestJet is up to 23 kilograms or 50 lbs
If traveling with a lap infant, two pieces of infant equipment are permitted free of charge and may be gate-checked at boarding. Additionally, for an infant with a full-fare ticket, one piece of baby gear is permitted free of charge (in addition to the checked baggage allowance.)
WestJet Check In Procedure:
Online check in for WestJet flights begins 24 hours before departure. However, some international destinations do not offer online check in. At the airport, check in at a WestJet kiosk 24 hours before your flight (or earlier) or with an agent three hours or fewer before departure. Select airports have a self-serve baggage tag kiosk.
If you are travelling with children under 12, contact WestJet immediately after booking and, if seats are available, they will assign seats next to at least one adult on the reservation, free of charge. If seats together are not available notify the WestJet gate agent or crew and they will do their best to accommodate seating changes at boarding. Air Canada does this as well. Although we’ve had to wait on hold, we have never had an issue with our seats being separated.
Fees for WestJet‘s advance seat selection vary between CAD $5 – $100, depending on fare level booked and seat selected.
WestJet now offers a number of upgrade options. When booking a flight, choose between Basic, Econo or EconoFlex, Premium or PremiumFlex, and Business or BusinessFlex. Business and BusinessFlex are only available on the 787 Dreamliner. Premium and PremiumFlex offer more leg and elbow room, and meals and beverages included in the fare. A Basic fare is simply that. Extras are charged accordingly.
Policies for Infants & Children on Westjet Airlines:
You’ve got to love an airline that includes this line in their online information about infant policies:
“WestJet recognizes the likelihood of your lap-held infant playing peek-a-boo with other guests as being pretty much 100%, and generally fun for everyone involved.”
WestJet will seat children under 12 with their parents with no additional seat selection cost if you contact them right after booking your airfare. It’s worth waiting on hold to do this!
An infant is considered a baby who is over seven days-old and not yet turned two. WestJet‘s regular seats are actually decent in terms of size and pitch. Almost every seat comes with seat-back entertainment. It’s usually live TV but there is always a kids’ channel or two. However, it sometimes doesn’t work all that well if you’re out of satellite range. But, for a time, my kids enjoy watching the little plane cross the map 🙂
WestJet allows you to check in a car seat and stroller at no additional charge. (But please don’t check your car seat as luggage!) You may substitute a playpen or travel crib for either a car seat or stroller.
WestJet is one of the few airlines that still offers pre-boarding for families traveling with small children.
On-Board Amenities for Infants on WestJet:
One of the washrooms at the rear or the aircraft will have a change table. They do not carry infant meals or baby milk onboard, and they do not offer regular milk as a beverage. My son drained his bottle on a flight home from Jamaica. I was VERY tempted to try to make one out of coffee creamers. My son was not a fan of Cuban milk . Flying home from Cuba is a bummer with no access to milk.
There are airplane bassinets on WestJet‘s 787-9 aircraft only. Request a bassinet when booking your flight or go to any WestJet counter at the airport. The infant must be a maximum of 9 kilograms/25lbs, a maximum length of 66cm/26 in., and unable to sit upright unassisted.
Lap Infants on Westjet Flights:
- You must hold your infant on your lap during taxi, take-off, landing, at any time the seat belt sign is illuminated, and at any time you are instructed to do so by the flight crew.
- Infants must be lap-held by the accompanying guest 12 years of age or older, or secured using a car seat for the duration of the flight.
- Transport Canada mandates that infants are not permitted in the emergency exit row, and that no person shall be responsible for more than one infant (any child under two years of age) on board. For example, infant twins need two persons, 12 years of age or older, to travel with them.
Lastly, there is no fee or taxes for lap infants, but proper identification is required.
Using Car Seats on Westjet Flights:
If you plan on using a car seat on board WestJet, you must purchase a seat for them. Additionally, contact WestJet to prepare your reservation for a car seat. Ensure your child is secured in the car seat for taxi, takeoff, landing, or whenever the seatbelt sign is on. All children in a car seat must be seated beside a guardian 12 years of age or older. Note that certain seats are restricted (for example, over-wing exit row or bulkhead seats). Most rear-facing car seats will be installed in a window seat. Use all car seats according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Booster seats, belly or loop belts, or baby hammocks are not permitted to be used on board. Infant carriers are allowed, but are not to be used during takeoff or landing.
Acceptable car seats must display the manufacturer’s name, the subassembly part number and the CAN-TSO number must be visible, and the car seat must conform to the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) 213 or 213.1. American seats must show, “This child restraint system conforms to all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS); and this Restraint is Certified for Use in Motor Vehicles and Aircraft (in red lettering).”
A Personal Review of Flying Westjet Airlines with Baby:
For our trip to Cayo Coco, Cuba, we booked online with WestJet Vacations. This was WestJet‘s first year flying into Cuba (Varadero, Cayo Coco, and Holguin). The first thing that struck me was the civilized flight times. Typically for Cuba you’re looking at an at least 7A.M. departure. And 8P.M. departures home becoming more and more common. We are no strangers to early morning flights with a baby in tow. However, it’s still VERY difficult. For our inaugural experience flying WestJet with a baby, we left for Cayo Coco at a very reasonable 10A.M. and returned at 2:45P.M. These flight times worked extremely well with our little passengers.
Prior Experience with WestJet:
The last time I flew WestJet, they had still only just entered the Eastern market and flying out of Hamilton. It was a work trip where I followed the Barenaked Ladies for three dates in Western Canada on their cross-Canada tour. Sound glamorous? Consider it was mid-February. The cold in Regina was so extreme when I inhaled my nostrils stuck together. It was a gruelling schedule with 12+ hour shoot days. I was exhausted. The flight “home” to Hamilton from Edmonton took 11hrs as we stopped in Regina, Winnipeg, and Thunder Bay. I remember landing feeling shattered and starving. Because, at the time, WestJet only offered cookies and juice instead of real meals.
So, I quickly dismissed the idea of flying them again anytime soon. WestJet with a baby? No, thanks! But, WestJet‘s presence grew. And they’ve managed to achieve the nearly impossible by being a profitable airline. Now I know why. Heading down to Cuba, even in the midst of ramped up security and delays at the airport, was a breeze.
WestJet with a Baby: Baggage Allowance
WestJet‘s luggage allowance is (Ed. note: was) generous: two pieces per person for a combined weight of 50lbs. One of our suitcases was overweight and we somehow (somehow!) were able to switch stuff around to equal them out. The fee for an overweight bag was $50. We had no difficulty checking our six pieces: three suitcases, a playpen, and two car seats (I know better now). They even supplied plastic bags to put the kid stuff in. (Edit to add: This is no longer the case. Westjet baggage fees are HERE.)
WestJet with a Baby: Service
They did a pre-board for families. The seat pitch is decent. This is a big consideration for us as on our first experience with a charter airline, my husband was unable to sit properly (he’s 6’7″). WestJet has live satellite TV (for free) on the seat backs (Channel 1 is Treehouse – the preschool channel) and accepts regular headphone jacks. The flight attendants were very friendly (no more groan-inducing jokes, thankfully). They introduced themselves and said to ask if I needed any help. They even provided a baggie for the diaper-bomb released mid-flight AND there was a change table in the rear washroom (hear that Southwest?) WestJet with a baby is a pretty comfortable experience.
There were complimentary drinks and snacks (cookies & juice!), plus a number of food and snack options available for purchase.
It cost us about 10% more to go with WestJet Vacations instead of some other tour operators. However, for flight times and service, for us it was well worth the money. As with our experience with Porter Airlines, we’d go out of our way to use them again.
(Edited to add: We’ve now flown WestJet with a baby several times more since originally writing this article, and our opinion still stands. Note that they still do not serve milk on board. I may or may not have been tempted to make up a bottle from coffee creamers on a particularly thirsty flight!)
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