It’s one thing to know that travel agent associations are lobbying the government on agents’ behalf. It’s another to actually hear it and see it in action.
CALGARY — Where’s the best spot to grab a drink in Calgary these days? In a week’s time, it will be none other than Calgary International Airport.
WestJet’s brand new Elevation Lounge – the airline’s flagship airport lounge and its first-ever in the world – is set to make its grand debut on Nov. 2 at YYC. Spanning over 9,300 square feet and available to guests departing on both international and domestic flights, the contemporary space features an array of glittering amenities, including an impressive horseshoe-shaped bar where premium guests can enjoy six beers on tap, three of which are locally brewed, one of which is WestJet’s very own ‘Elevation’ beer.
The bar, like the entire lounge, was designed to be both approachable and comfortable, a reflection of WestJet’s signature service in the sky.
“With the new lounge, we can now bring our WestJet service down to the ground where you can experience our WestJet style and how we welcome and treat our guests,” said Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer, during yesterday’s virtual tour for media. “We have learned from all lounges around the world and listened to our guests. We believe that our hardware is state of the art, but besides that it’s also very much about the people – our colleagues – who make you feel welcome and safe.”
The opening of the lounge comes on the heels of last week’s announcement by The Calgary Airport Authority about its new government-approved, science-based testing trial for international arriving guests, which will hopefully reduce 14-day self-isolation requirements. Coupled with WestJet’s flagship space, YYC has now positioned itself at the forefront of global aviation recovery.
“Airports and airlines are essential in recovery and today’s lounge is another tangible example of how both WestJet and The Calgary Airport Authority are leading the way forward and committing to growth and innovation during these challenging times,” said Rob Palmer, Vice President of Commercial, Strategy & Chief Financial Officer, The Calgary Airport Authority. “By working together and implementing industry-leading health and safety measures throughout the entire airport and here in the lounge, we’ve proven that air travel can be comfortable, safe and healthy for everyone.”
WestJet’s Elevation Lounge, of course, is not the only premium space at YYC; Air Canada reopened its Maple Leaf Lounge at YYC on Oct. 15 with leading biosafety measures, a locally-inspired menu and even locally-made artisanal ice cream. When asked whether a “lounge dogfight” is brewing in Calgary between the two competing airlines, Richard Bartrem, WestJet’s Vice-President, Marketing Communications said that WestJet remains focused on its evolution.
“Our competitor friends down the road has been running lounges for decades now for premium and business travellers, while this is relatively new for WestJet,” he said. “The fact that the heat has been turned up a bit wouldn’t surprise us. I think they’re taking notice of us as well as we are very much intending to go after that segment of the market – the premium or business traveller who is looking for a lounge experience. We believe that we have built and delivered a terrific lounge experience and our guests travelling with us will notice that.”
Bartrem added that after yesterday’s sneak preview for media, influencers and VIP guests, much of the feedback focused on how surprising the end result was.
“To borrow a phrase from another brand, I think people were saying this is not your father’s WestJet,” he said. “The lounge is very much not what people expected to see from WestJet as we transition from being a low-cost carrier for many years now, and move into the space where we’re now going after a premium traveller. What we’re hearing from people is that the details and technology are impressive, and the little attentions to detail are what they’re noticing.”
The Elevation Lounge will be open to WestJet Rewards Platinum, Gold and Silver members, as well as guests travelling in Business on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and Priority Pass, LoungeKey, LOUNGE CLUB and Diners Club members. All other guests, including those travelling on other airlines, are welcome to access the lounge for a fee, payable upon entry.
Here’s an overview of key features: