Review: WestJet 737-700 Premium Class from Calgary to Yellowknife

WestJet, Canada’s second-largest airline, operates an extensive network of domestic flights in addition to some international flights. Recently, I had a chance to try it on both a long-haul flight from Tokyo to Calgary as well as a short flight from its hub in Calgary to Yellowknife. The flight was part of my trip to cover Buffalo Airways and Air Tindi.

Continue reading this review to see what the flight on a WestJet 737-700 in Premium Class was like.

WestJet Boeing 737-700 Premium Class
WestJet Boeing 737-700 Premium Class.

Booking the Flight & Online Check-in

This flight was part of a one-way itinerary from Tokyo to Yellowknife via Calgary. I reviewed the Tokyo to Calgary flight on WestJet’s 787-9 here. I paid 514 USD for the one-way ticket and since I was connecting from a long-haul flight from Japan, free checked luggage was included even on the shorter domestic segment.

Right after booking, I also submitted a bid for an upgrade to “Premium Class” for this flight. I bid 45 CAD – just above the bare minimum. Five days before departure, I got an email confirming that the upgrade bid went through. At that point, I was auto-assigned seat 1A which I later changed to 2A.

I was able to check-in online and download my boarding pass into Apple Wallet using the WestJet app without any issues.

Check-in, Lounge & Boarding at Calgary Airport

The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Airport-Calgary shuttle dropped me off in front of the terminal around 7:10AM. While I had a mobile boarding pass, I stopped by one of the Priority Check-in desks that can be used by Business and Premium Class passengers and WestJet status holders to drop off my bag.

With no one in the line and a friendly and efficient agent behind the desk, I was good to go in no time.

WestJet Terminal at Calgary
Calgary Airport curbside.
WestJet Premium Check-in Counters at Calgary Airport
Priority check-in.

Security took just under ten minutes. As the friendly security check staff replied “I’m good too, thanks!” to my “Good morning,” we had a good laugh before I proceeded through.

Airside, I still had plenty of time before my flight would start boarding so I walked over to Concourse B to see what WestJet’s lounge is like. While my ticket didn’t come with lounge access, I was able to get in using Priority Pass. The lounge turned out to be one of the nicest Priority Pass lounges I had a chance to visit so far.

Clagary Airport Airside Shuttle
Airside at Calgary Airport.
WestJet Elevation Lounge Calgary Bar
WestJet Elevation Lounge.

I left the lounge at 8:30AM and got to my departure gate – A22 – five minutes later. On the way, it was nice to see one of Air Canada’s A220s that is expected to start flying to Yellowknife from Toronto soon. Not having flown on the type yet, I certainly hope to board one – whether Air Canada’s or some other airline’s – soon.

By the time I got to the gate, some people were already waiting there. That said, it didn’t look like it would be a full flight. In fact, originally the flight was scheduled to be operated by a Dash 8 Q400 before being upgraded to the 737-700 for the summer.

Calgary Airport terminal.
Calgary Airport terminal.
Calgary Airport Shuttle
Airside shuttle.
Air Canada A220 at Calgary Airport
Air Canada A220.
WestJet 737-700 at Calgary Airport
WestJet 737-700.
Calgary Airport Gate 22
Gate 22.

Boarding started at 8:40AM. With group 1 including Premium Class passengers, I scanned my boarding pass, showed my ID to the gate agent, and headed down the jetway.

WestJet 737-700 Premium Class Cabin & Seat

Stepping onboard the 737-700 registered C-GWBN, I was surprised to see the aircraft equipped with proper domestic business class seats. I wasn’t the only one considering that one of the passengers that boarded after me said “I should’ve paid 50 bucks to upgrade” when he saw the cabin.

That’s because the online seat map was showing the aircraft being in an all-economy class configuration with Premium Class seats being economy class seats with empty middle seats. It appears, though, that all WestJet 737s have been refurbished with proper business class seats at this point.

The 737-700 had three rows of Premium Class seats in a 2-2 layout for a total of 12 seats. Large beige headrests with foldable sides added a nice contrast to the dark seats. The overhead panels were a bit worn out and dirty but they were equipped with individual air vents.

WestJet 737-700 Premium Class
Premium Class cabin.
WestJet 737-700 Premium Class
WestJet 737-700 Premium Class seats.

Separating the seats in each pair was a small table.

A regular tray table foldable in half was stowed in the other side’s armrest.

WestJet 737-700 Premium Class Seat
Console table.
WestJet 737-700 Premium Class Seat
Tray table.

On the bottom part of the console separating the two seats were also a universal power outlet and a USB-A charging port.

WestJet 737-700 Premium Class Seat
Power outlet and USB port.

On the console’s side facing the seat was a small storage compartment.

WestJet 737-700 Premium Class Seat
Storage compartment.

There was also a regular seat pocket on the seatback in front and there was plenty of storage under the seat in front. Inside the seat pocket were a safety card and a waste bag.

While my seat 2A didn’t offer as much legroom as the seats in the first row, it still offered more than enough of it for the short domestic flight.

WestJet 737-700 Premium Class Seat
Legroom.

WestJet Domestic Premium Class Pre-Flight Service & Departure

Upon boarding, a small bottle of Dasani water was waiting on the small table between my and my neighbor’s seat.

By the time the aircraft doors were closed at 9:12AM, there were two empty seats in Premium Class and economy was about 70% full. At that point, we were welcomed onboard by the chief purser who introduced the crew and mentioned that we were expecting to be flying for 1 hour 39 minutes.

After that, a manual safety demonstration was done.

WestJet Short-Haul Premium Class Service
Water.

We were pushed back at 9:18AM – two minutes ahead of schedule. Five minutes later, we started taxiing toward our departure runway.

Along the way, some nice views of aircraft on the apron as well as of Calgary’s impressive skyline could be had.

WestJet Calgary Airport
WestJet – Calgary Airport’s main carrier.
Calgary
Calgary skyline.
WestJet 737 MAX
WestJet 737 MAX.
WestJet 787
WestJet 787.

We took off from runway 34R at 9:31AM.

A few minutes later, the captain welcomed us and – in addition to the flight time – mentioned that we were going to climb to 40,000 feet and that it was 4 degrees Celsius in Yellowknife.

WestJet 737-700 Take-Off
Take-off.
WestJet 737-700 Take-Off
Climbing.

WestJet Domestic Premium Class Snack Box

Seatbelt signs were switched off about ten minutes after take-off.

Another ten minutes later, I was approached by the flight attendant working in Premium Class and asked if I wanted anything to drink. I decided to get a cup of orange juice.

It took about ten minutes for the drink to be served. At the same time, I was also handed a small snack box. Inside the snack box were four items – almonds, a chocolate quinoa crisp, a granola bar, and Mentos. Unfortunately, WestJet only serves proper hot meals in Premium Class on flights longer than two and a half hours.

WestJet Short-Haul Premium Class Snack Box
Snack box and drink.
WestJet Short-Haul Premium Class Snack Box
Contents of the snack box.

While enjoying the pack of almonds (I took the rest of the snacks with me rather than eating them onboard), I was also able to enjoy some nice views of Canadian scenery with an increasing number of lakes as we continued flying toward Yellowknife.

Cups and trash were cleared about 20 minutes after the drinks and snack boxes were served. Drinks were not proactively offered for the rest of the flight.

WestJet 737-700 Cruising
Cruising toward Yellowknife

WestJet 737-700 In-Flight Entertainment System

The 737-700 wasn’t equipped with in-seat entertainment. However, plenty of content was available to stream through the onboard wi-fi network. In fact, the content selection was the same as on the WestJet 787 used on long hauls.

There were over 150 movies ranging from classics all the way to new releases. It was interesting to see Doraemon – a Japanese animated movie – onboard a domestic flight within Canada.

The system offered a good selection of TV shows too. That said, each of the shows only had a couple of episodes rather than entire seasons.

Lastly, the online portal also had a relatively robust map and flight information section.

WestJet 737-700 In-Flight Entertainment

WestJet 737-700 Onboard Wi-Fi

The onboard wi-fi on the WestJet 737-700 not only provided access to in-flight entertainment as described above but also to the internet. The pricing was as follows:

  • Inflight Chat (2.99 CAD) – This plan offered text-only chatting on mobile devices using the iMessage, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat apps for the duration of the flight
  • Full Flight (21.99 CAD) – This plan offered full internet access for the duration of the flight

Unfortunately, the prices were exactly the same as those on the long-haul flight from Tokyo to Calgary. While the chat plan pricing was reasonable, the full flight plan was too expensive given that it was a sub-2-hour domestic flight.

WestJet 737-700 In-Flight Wi-Fi

Arrival at Yellowknife Airport

While I wanted to sleep a bit during the flight, the views were too good to sleep through. As such, for the rest of the flight, I did some work while being “distracted” by those views. They got especially impressive once we got closer to Yellowknife and were flying over the frozen Great Slave Lake.

WestJet 737-700 Cruising
Getting there.

At 11AM, the seatbelt signs were switched back on. Another ten minutes of descending later, the landing gear was lowered.

Throughout this time, amazing views of the Great Slave Lake and later of the scenery around Yellowknife could be had.

WestJet 737 Approaching Yellowknife.
Great Slave Lake.
WestJet 737-700 Yellowknife
Approaching Yellowknife Airport.
WestJet 737-700 Yellowknife
What a beautiful scenery!

We landed on Yellowknife Airport’s runway 34 at 11:12AM and two minutes later came to a full stop at our parking spot.

Considering that Yellowknife Airport doesn’t have any jetways, we disembarked using a mobile ramp and then walked over to the small terminal. Interestingly, the baggage claim was in the public area of the terminal.

WestJet 737-700 Yellowknife
Landing.
WestJet 737-700 Yellowknife
Ramp.
WestJet 737-700 Yellowknife
Baggage carousel.

WestJet 737-700 Premium Class Summary

Overall, the flight was enjoyable and the 45 CAD upgrade was well worth it considering that the aircraft was equipped with proper domestic business class seats.

While it would have been nice to have an in-seat screen, the streaming system offered plenty of entertainment options. Similarly, a proper hot meal would have been nice but given the length of the flight, the snack box was sufficient. What made the flight memorable, though, were the amazing views.

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