"Pivotal Moment": First Look At WestJet's Premium Flagship Lounge
Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw
WestJet gave media a sneak peek of its very first premium lounge at YYC ahead of the official 02NOV opening, unveiling a sleek space with plenty of seating options, an insulated family room, panoramic views and Canada-inspired design touches.
WestJet Elevation Lounge entrance.
The WestJet Elevation Lounge, a project two years in the making, is open to top-tier WestJet Rewards members (Platinum, Gold and Silver members), business cabin travellers and guests who have priority pass benefits. Located at Concourse B of the Domestic Terminal, it is accessible to guests departing from Concourses A, B and C, as well as Concourse D of the International Terminal (when accessed from security checkpoint B or C).
The modern space is a representation of WestJet's ongoing commitment to growing its share of the business market.
"The opening of the WestJet Elevation Lounge is a pivotal moment for our business and demonstrates our commitment to delivering world-class experiences both on the ground and in the air. It was only fitting to open this flagship space within our home hub in Calgary," says Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer.
The fireplace and bar in the WestJet Elevation Lounge.
WestJet's move towards becoming a premium airline began in 2018. Since then, it has outfitted new 787 Dreamliners with a business cabin that features lie-flat seats, enhanced menu offerings and exclusive amenity items. It also continues to refurbish its Boeing 737 fleet with a two by two seat layout, noted von sur Muehlen.
A "Canadian-Inspired" Place For Business & Premium Passengers
Hannah Fairweather, a product development analyst at WestJet, took media on an 3D walkthrough of the proprietary space, which features "Canadian-inspired" details that "blend contemporary design with refined mountain living."
The modern, 9,300-square-foot lounge can accommodate 220 guests, but capacity has been temporarily reduced to 100 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lounge offers various types of seating options.
The Elevation Lounge offers a touchless self-serve entry, opening up to distinct spaces where guests can relax, work or socialize. Alberta-inspired artwork and design elements pay homage to the province, while expansive airside windows reveal sweeping views of Calgary and the Wild Rose Country foothills.
Fairweather says the lounge was deliberately designed to have a comfortable, residential feel. Privacy partitions throughout the lounge create smaller cohesive environments, giving each area a sense of intimacy and separation. Spaces offer varying degrees of privacy, from a large dining-room-like area catering to groups, to individual privacy pods with transparent doors.
The "Open Market" serves fresh, chef-designed meals and snacks in an open-concept style space.
"The idea of this space is that we can offer a conversation between chef and guest. We didn't want a traditional buffet, where you line up and move along. We wanted something inviting and residential in the design," explained Fairweather.
At the back of the lounge, guests will find a dedicated family space outfitted with a sensory wall and two interactive gaming units. It's a place where "children can be children", points out Fairweather, as the entire space is sound-insulated.
The sound-insulated family room has a sensory wall and gaming units.
In the heart of the lounge stands the grand horseshoe-shaped bar, showcasing Canmore's Three Sisters mountain peaks on the bar wall. Here, guests can grab signature beverages, a premium selection of wine, and beer options from Calgary's own breweries, including WestJet's Elevation beer on tap by The Dandy Brewing Company, and an XPA by Annex Ale Project.
The WestJet Elevation Lounge also features a fireplace flanked by plushy sofas, two reservable shower units and a conference room that can accommodate six people (temporarily reduced to four due to COVID).
Vying For Premium Market Share
The Elevation Lounge is the latest step in its premium transformation.
"We have learned from lounges around the world and listened to guests about the key needs of the lounge. We believe our product is state-of-the-art. It's a place where you can relax, rejuvenate, but also where kids can be kids and families can relax. The WestJet experience is unique and will really cater to the premium guests who will enjoy this product," von zur Muehlen said.
Historically, Air Canada has been the sole premium airline in the country. Despite this, WestJet says it's bullish about competing for the upper scale market.
"Air Canada has been running lounges for decades now, and running after premium and business travellers. This is new for WestJet, but we intend to go after that section of the market. We believe we have built a terrific lounge experience and we believe the guests travelling with us will notice that," said Richard Bartrem, VP of marketing communications, WestJet.
Anna Kroupina Journalist
Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry