West Jet – the other Canadian Airline

Don’t you think it’s the most fascinating thing how an aircraft comprised of tons and tons of steel (with wings like a bird that don’t really flap) can lift all that weight, all those lives, way up into the air? Fly at incredible speeds and take you far away from your starting point to reach a destination that’s always more magical than the one you left from?

Commercial aviation is one of the most amazing things to me. I find it so fascinating – most people think I’m nuts and simply say ‘Hey, it’s an airplane. That’s what it does’. That may be true but the ability it has to transform our lives pretty quickly is something that calls for appreciation.

In Canada the main airline is Air Canada. Hands down. They’re the giant, the leader of commercial aviation in our country and they’re great. Not everyone loves them, but from my perspective they’re solid, safe, structured, all business. And I love to fly with them. They’re my first choice amongst anything else. So when I found out we’d be flying West Jet (the ‘other’ Canadian airline) I started asking questions. I’m sort of crazy like that. :)

I spent a lot of time checking them out, asking questions, getting opinions from others who’d flown with them before. To summarize – I didn’t find anyone that had anything bad or remotely negative to say about West Jet. Everyone was happy with their experience with them! Here’s the basics…

Their fleet is mainly comprised of Boeing 737 aircraft. Not really a fleet that’s going to take you across the Atlantic anymore but definitely reliable. And I have a small bit of adulation for Boeing anyways, so plus one for that. Although the equipment wasn’t up to par on our flight, the TV in the back of our seats were out, the flight attendant offered to find us a seat with a TV that was working, and he did. He was very nice about it and made sure we were comfortable.

The commercials are out there – West Jet owners love what they do because they don’t only work for West Jet, they’re owners as well. The atmosphere is definitely more relaxed on West Jet than it is on Air Canada. Not to say one is bad over the other, but West Jet employees absolutely seem as though they love their job. They’re very candid on board, joking and being sincere. It’s refreshing and helps ease anyone with jittery nerves about flying for sure.

The perception is that the price of flying anything BUT Air Canada will be cheaper. While my costs were covered for my West Jet flight, I tried doing a random search between Toronto and Fort Lauderdale with both airlines, and found Air Canada to be $60 dollars cheaper after taxes. Not to say this is indicative of all their pricing, but both airlines are on par with each other.

Would They Take Care of You?
Perhaps it’s just my perception but West Jet feels as though they would extend an olive branch if you did have a bad experience. Their Twitter staff is great and always engaging with their passengers. They have incredible seat sales once a week. Overall they seem to care about your experience with them. Who wouldn’t want that in a large corporate company that you’re dishing out your money to, and trusting your life with?

After flying with them I have to say I’m really impressed! In comparison to Air Canada their staff is more relaxed and laid back. Less ‘official’ and more in line with ‘your friendly flying companion’. And the best part? On the way back, I was able to watch LIVE TV. Air Canada doesn’t offer that! Yes, I was able to catch the NBC Game of the Week. Philly and the New York Rangers. At least it was hockey, and live hockey.

So West Jet is definitely an option I’d consider again. I do have a rewards card and rewards credit card with Air Canada (saving points for my big European trip) so I would look at their flights and prices first. But within North America, West Jet is fantastic!

Holland America Port of Call: Costa Maya, Mexico

What an incredible day we had in Costa Maya, Mexico. The ship was able to dock at this port which is always better than having to tender in, because you have
freedom to come and go off the ship as you like. Costa Maya itself is really beautiful. The shore is modern, colourful and vibrant, and very welcoming. You can swim with the dolphins right near the port entrance, and there's plenty of shopping, swimming, and deck chairs for sun soaking with food and drink options close by. For our visit to Costa Maya, we decided to visit the Chochoben Mayan Ruins (definitely one of my bucket list items), and we had some time to kill before our tour started so we decided to grab a drink and some munchies.

I remember this day was SCORCHING HOT! One of those days where doing absolutely nothing, not moving an ounce, can cause you to break out in a crazy sweat. The only other time I've ever experienced weather this hot was on an abnormally warm day in Venice, Italy. Because I'm fair-skinned and the sun loves to burn me to a crisp, these are not my favourite kind of days but the excursion ended up being one of the highlights of our trip!

For all of the shore excursions, you meet your tour guide right at the end of the dock before entering in the port. Our tour was around $80-90 dollars, and was set to be 4 hours. We boarded a coach bus with no air conditioning (eek). The drive was about a half hour to 45 minutes, but along the way we had to stop and wait for another coach bus to pick us up because the speaker for the microphone wasn't working on ours. That was a bit of a killer in the heat but we tried
to keep positive in anticipation of what we'd be seeing later on that day!

Our tour guide Manuel was amazing! You could tell he was very proud of the Ruins and of being from the area. He was full of knowledge about the Ruins and had even offered paintings to show us of what he perceived the Ruins to look like in their hey day based on his historic knowledge of studying their past. Even though the day was sweltering hot, he answered all our questions and provided an incredible amount of information. Which for me is great because I'm a total sponge when it comes to exploring and learning new things. I

was impressed that there were quite a few more Ruins at this site than I expected. We learned that at one point it's believed the Ruins were originally covered in red stucco and claimed a bustling city home to 20-30 thousand people! The steps of the Ruins are tall, so when you walk them you have to look down to watch your step, which also puts you in the position of praying to the gods (which we got to try!). Climbing down the Ruins, you were supposed to side-step in their day as to not turn your back on the gods. We learned this location is actually quite new, only discovered in the past
10-15 years. The location was found because someone was flying over the area and noticed the land was quite mountainous, where normally it should be quite flat. As we were walking along, Manuel showed us random hills of dirt that he mentioned are pyramids that have yet to be unearthed. Because the terrain should all be flat, they know these random hills hide more secrets of the past so they are still working at uncovering them all. The area itself contains very large trees that are
hundreds of years old. It's all very beautiful!

At the end of our tour, we were offered a free beer or beverage. Free. Beer. Seriously! Nice touch, Costa Maya! We actually opted for pop because the day was sooo hot. On the ride back we melted from heat and exhaustion but we were also pleasantly and completely overwhelmed and mesmerized by the incredible history lesson we'd just experienced.

This day was incredible.