|WestJet reward programs take flight with launch of new WestJet RBC MasterCard and Frequent Guest Program
CALGARY, March 8 /CNW/ - WestJet announced today it is launching two new programs to reward travellers who fly with Canada's preferred airline.
The WestJet Credit Card Program offered in partnership with RBC and MasterCard, and the WestJet Frequent Guest Program will offer guests the opportunity to earn and accumulate WestJet dollars. Every WestJet dollar can be used as cash toward the purchase of any flight on any date to any destination - including seat sales. WestJet dollars can also be used towards WestJet Vacations packages (up to 500 WestJet dollars per person). There are no points, redemption grids, advance booking, blackouts or seat restrictions - just dollars off flights and vacation packages.
"These programs are designed to be simple, open and transparent," said Lauri Feser, WestJet Vice-President of Marketing. "Canadians want to be able to understand the way their rewards are calculated, and they don't want to worry about whether they have enough points to do what they want. For the frequent business traveller, our research indicates there is strong appeal for the rewards offered by this type of program. Most of all, they want to be able to use their rewards without blackout periods and other restrictions."
WestJet has joined with RBC and MasterCard to launch their new travel reward credit card program. RBC's first MasterCard product offering in Canadaincludes two new cards: the WestJet RBC World MasterCard and the WestJet RBC MasterCard. With each, cardholders earn WestJet dollars on everyday purchases.
"We're very excited to offer Canadians the opportunity to earn WestJet dollars," said Sean Amato-Gauci, Vice-President, RBC Royal Bank Credit Cards. "We know many prefer to fly WestJet, whether for business or leisure, and these two new cards will help make it easier for our clients to fly sooner and more often."
The WestJet RBC World MasterCard provides 1.5 per cent in WestJet dollars, plus a welcome bonus of 100 WestJet dollars. The card has an annual fee of $79, carries premium travel insurances and includes automatic membership to MasterCard World Experiences and Offers, which provides access to hotel discounts and upgrades, preferential golf and spa rates and other exclusive benefits.
With the WestJet RBC MasterCard, cardholders earn one per cent back in WestJet dollars on everyday credit card purchases, plus a welcome bonus of 25 WestJet dollars the first time the card is used. The card has an annual fee of $39.
Both cards provide a 0.5 per cent bonus in WestJet dollars for WestJet flights and WestJet Vacations packages purchased on the card.
The new WestJet programs offer all WestJet guests the opportunity to earn WestJet dollars. The WestJet Credit Card Program will appeal to all types of travellers, while the WestJet Frequent Guest Program rewards business travellers or other guests who spend more than $1,500 per year on WestJet flights.
|Air Canada adding fee for extra legroom
By Sarah Schmidt , Canwest News Service
OTTAWA — Canada's largest airline announced Thursday passengers looking for extra legroom will have to cough up extra cash.
Air Canada is joining a growing number of carriers, including its main Canadian competitor WestJet Airlines, by offering customers preferred seats for a price. The seats, costing up to $35 per one-way trip for domestic flights and up $75 for international flights, are usually located in exit or bulkhead rows.
The new policy also applies to new moms travelling with infants hoping to snap up a prized seat with room for a bassinet in the bulkhead row. In some aircraft, these seats, located directly behind a physical partition or wall, still have bassinets dubbed "sky cots" for infants to sleep.
In the past, airline staff would routinely place new moms travelling with their infants in seats in the bulkhead row.
In a statement, Air Canada's executive vice-president and chief commercial officer said the airline is responding to consumer demands.
Some customers "have indicated they prefer the additional legroom afforded by certain seats in the economy cabin of our aircraft, notably those located in exit rows or near internal dividers known as bulkheads," said Ben Smith.
"With our Preferred Seat option, we are giving customers the opportunity to reserve these seats in advance so they can look forward to their trip knowing they will enjoy extra comfort."
Air Canada already charges up to $22 per one-way for passengers to reserve a standard seat in advance of domestic Tango flights. Now, a family of four flying on the same Tango flight will have to pay an additional $13 per person, or $35 each way, to reserve seats with more legroom, totalling $280.
Harry Gow, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Airline Passengers, said paying extra for legroom is becoming common in the airline industry and is part of a pattern of charging for "everything, including the air you breathe."
He also said "it does provide an option for those who are longitudinally challenged, that is they're over five-foot-five," pointing out "seat pitches in airlines have gotten tighter."
But Gow took exception to applying the new charge to new moms seeking bulkhead seats in aircraft with bassinets.
"I suppose now the mommy and kiddie have to pay extra? That's really a backward move," said Gow.
"There's the airline Scrooge giving out its pre-Christmas gifts."
WestJet last year started charging passengers up to $15 to reserve seats with extra legroom.
Porter Airlines, a Toronto-based regional carrier, does not charge passengers to book special seats. A spokeswoman said Porter aircraft have five to 7.5 centimetres more pitch between seats throughout the aircraft, so all seats are comfortable, a spokeswoman said.
|18 Must-Haves for the Business Traveler
By OPEN Forum
Making a business trip a success involves a number of factors, including ensuring you are well-rested and on your game, protecting and transporting your belongings safely, keeping up with work and office events during your absence, and making every part of your business trip efficient and cost-effective.
Following is a selection of items and services that are often considered must haves for the business traveler, along with some guidelines as to what to look for. They'll help you save time, increase efficiency, and make that next business trip much more enjoyable.
1. Medication / First Aid
Aside from prescription medication, it is a good idea to have a small supply of over-the-counter supplies available if you need them in a pinch. Anti-nausea, allergy, and pain/fever reducing tablets, along with an anti-itch cream (for bites) can go a long way, especially if you start to feel ill and no pharmacies are open or nearby.
2. Inflatable Travel Pillow
Lugging around a non-inflatable travel pillow can be bulky and inconvenient, while an inflatable one is both light and portable. And when you are on that plane, train, or bus, having somewhere to put your head (that isn't the shoulder of the person sitting next to you) can mean the difference between arriving at your destination refreshed, and arriving needing a nap.
3. Plug Adapter
If you're traveling overseas, you'll need an adapter to plug your electronics and appliances into local power points. You can either choose an adapter suited specifically to your destination (often best bought when you arrive), or you can go with a universal adapter that will accept any type of plug and fit any type of wall socket.
4. Voltage Converter
Power points around the world vary dramatically in voltage. For example, if you plug a hair dryer from North America into an outlet in Australia — even with a plug adapter — you will immediately burn out your hair dryer and could even cause a fire. Many electronics have built-in adapters that can handle voltages from 110-240 volts, meaning you won't need an expensive and bulky voltage converter. However other items like hair dryers or small appliances don't have this capability. If you must bring these items, you'll need a voltage converter.
5. Surge Protector
Many power bars that we use at home have built-in surge protectors to prevent our electronics and appliances from getting a destructive shock in the event of a power surge (which can be caused by storms or faulty power connections). But we don't tend to bring power bars along with us when we travel, and power surges can be especially prevalent in developing countries. Protect your precious electronics from power surges by investing in a surge protector. Some plug directly into the wall (and you plug your items into it), and other smaller versions plug directly into your electronics, into which you plug the power cord.
6. Water Bottle
Whether you are flying (and trying to beat jet lag by staying hydrated), or at your destination and constantly on the move, having a reusable water bottle will save you the expense and hassle (and waste) of buying water in disposable bottles along the way. You can even order water bottles with your logo for the office, and give them out to employees to use too; a little guerrilla marketing and employee perks don't hurt.
7. Cell Phone / Smart Phone
With the advent of iPhones and other smart phone devices, your cell phone can also double as your PDA, MP3 player, e-book reader, camera, and even GPS device, among other handy tools. No matter what your device is, make sure you don't pay excessive roaming, long distance, and data fees by checking into the specifics of your plan. Some carriers offer international coverage for an extra fee that can make using your device abroad more cost-effective. If you are sending your employees off with a phone on the company plan, this is especially important; they don't often consider what your bill will be at the end of the month when they make or answer phone calls.
Some people use their smart phone solely for internet connectivity abroad (since international data packages can be inexpensive and free wifi hotspots rampant), and carry an unlocked cell phone into which they can insert a local SIM card for calls. Other people like online services like Skype or Google Voice for phone calls, which can be tied into your cell phone (in a variety of ways) for ease of use.
GPS is especially handy if you are navigating a foreign city in a car. If you don't have GPS capability with your smart phone, getting a small GPS device can save you time on the road, and is often equally handy at home too.
Although this may seem like stating the obvious, the big question at this point is what kind of laptop you want to travel with. From Toughbooks for tough travelers, to UMPCs (Ultra Mobile PCs) and Netbooks for light work, there is a wide range of laptops you can travel with.
10. USB Drive / External Hard Drive
USB drives are a great way to have a back-up of those important documents handy, just in case something goes wrong with your laptop along the way. They are also great for storing presentations if you plan to use somebody else's machine at your destination.
Selection ranges from mini USB sticks that fit on a necklace cord and store a few gigabytes of information, to external hard drives that are large enough to back up your laptop three times over. It is recommended that you keep your USB drive(s) separate from your laptop; if one is lost or damaged, you still have the other as a backup.
11. Wireless Mouse
Having a wireless mouse reduces the number of cords you need to carry, and (for most people) increases work efficiency over using your laptop's touch pad. You can even get mini versions of the wireless mouse to reduce space and weight. A close second to the wireless mouse is one with a retractable cord for ease of storage and use.
12. Extra / Extended Life Battery
You don't always have access to a decent power source while traveling. Increase work efficiency by investing in an extended life battery for your laptop, or by carrying an additional battery.
These days getting an Internet connection on the road isn't difficult. Many business travelers now insist on free wifi access at their hotels so they can stay on top of work. Some rooms also have high-speed cable internet connections, which tend to be more secure. Be sure to ask your hotel what they offer; for some business travelers, it is a deal-breaker.
14. Laptop Bag
The variety of laptop bags you can choose from make this seemingly basic item a little more complicated. Although the neoprene laptop sleeves are slim and compact, they don't do much for protecting your machine against bumps along the way, and there is little room for cords, adapters, and other plug-in devices. With increasingly stringent carry-on guidelines for flights, you will want your laptop bag to be practical enough to carry the majority of your electronics in one convenient place.
If your business trip is short in duration, it is nice to fly with nothing but carry-on luggage. However beware of recent (and ongoing) changes to the airline security process, along with some changes to carry-on baggage allowances. Some airlines will only let you bring one bag on the plane with you (believe it or not some restrict even that), so don't get too attached to your carry-on entourage if you tend to err close to former carry-on limits. Instead, focus on clever organizers to keep the volume of your luggage low.
16. Noise-canceling headphones
These are great for drowning out distractive noises on the road so you can concentrate on work or get some sleep, while listening to your favorite tunes or watching on-board movies. Using regular headphones doesn't achieve this as readily, unless you turn the volume up so loud that everybody else has to listen to your music as well. (Please don't!)
17. Screen Protectors
Another great item for home as well, screen protectors for your smart phone, camera, and other screen surfaces will ensure the long life of your electronics. Travel in particular can entail a more substantial beating on your belongings, as they tend to get crammed into bags where they may rub up against abrasive items.
18. Recovery ID Program Labels
Recovery ID program labels are attached to your items and registered with your information. If your item is lost, the finder can follow the instructions on the highly visible label and call the number or go online to report your item lost. The recovery program in turn contacts you and arranges for the return of your item.
Not only do these labels help you recover lost items, but they're also usually tamper-proof, making it difficult for a thief to remove the label and resell stolen items. If you resell the item yourself, you can deregister it from your name and your buyer can enjoy the service by registering it with their own information.
Here are a few Recovery ID programs to choose from:
* Track it Back
* Gadget Trak
* Stuff Bak
* Yellow Tag
* Boomerang It
|Travelling to Mexico
Effective March 1, 2010, all Canadian citizens require a valid passport for entry to Mexico. Canadian permanent residents seeking entry into Mexico require a Permanent Resident card, a Certificate of Identity, or a Refugee Travel Document.
For more information, please consult the Embassy or Consulate of Mexico in Canada or Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada's Travel Report for Mexico.
|Travel may broaden the mind but it can also pump up your cellphone bill
By Luann Lasalle, THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL - Travel may broaden the mind and rejuvenate the spirit but it can also pump up your smartphone bill to pretty unhealthy levels.
Watching video on the beach, downloading documents at foreign airports or emailing friends about all the fun you're having at exotic locales can mean huge charges on your bill, unless your plan specifically covers out-of-country use.
"Everybody has a story of somebody who had an iPhone, crossed the border and forgot to turn off the data and came home to a $10,000 phone bill," said PCMag Mobile analyst Sascha Segan.
The transfer of data rather than making simple phone calls is usually the big ticket item for roaming charges.
"Data roaming fees are out of control," Segan said, adding they can cost up to $20 a megabyte in some countries.
iPhone user Joelle Carpentier said she just shuts off her device when she's outside Canada.
"I don't think I am alone," Carpentier, a sales rep in the pharmaceutical industry, said of her new habit.
Carpentier said she will only surf the Net in the United States when she's in a Wi-Fi hot spot with free access to a wireless network. She also limits her phone calls.
Her iPhone service plan already costs about $100 a month and Carpentier wasn't thrilled about paying more for a rate plan that would reduce or eliminate her international roaming charges.
"It never ends," she said of the cost.
Mobile phone users who send email, texts and web surf can easily gobble up 10 to 20 megabytes of data use per day.
Segan said consumers should consider making voice calls, which can be cheaper.
"The new frontier is data roaming and that is still kind of a wild west experience," said Segan, managing editor of the New York-based magazine.
But wireless carriers are starting to take note that consumers and business people travel with their mobile phones, especially their smartphones, and use them just like they do at home for work and pleasure.
Rogers Wireless (TSX:RCI.B) recently announced that it has new rate plans allowing what it calls "borderless" data roaming between Canada and the United States for software apps, email and the Internet.
Rogers customers can pay anywhere from $20 to $55 a month for specific kinds of data plans, without roaming charges, that are geared to BlackBerrys, iPhones and other smartphones.
"From a communications perspective, it extends the Canadian border into the U.S.," said Gord Stein, vice-president of Rogers business segment.
Rogers also lets travelling customers pay an extra fee for data use for one month.
Bell spokeswoman Julie Smithers said customers travelling to the United States can spend an extra $10 per month on top of their plans to save on data roaming charges. Data costs customers $1 per megabyte. Bell also has pay-per-use charges for travellers.
Telus offers customers 30-day temporary plans with set wireless voice and data rates, regardless of where they're travelling in the world, said spokesman Shawn Hall. Prices are based on the rates and discounts Telus has been able to negotiate with wireless carriers in a specific continent, which it then passes on to customers, Hall said.
Deloitte Canada analyst Duncan Stewart said a large, established carrier like Rogers can strike better roaming deals than new cellphone companies.
But Stewart said the price of data on monthly service plans is coming down worldwide due to competition and new technology.
Wireless carriers are pushing consumers towards "no surprise, no penalty" plans, because it gives them steady revenue instead of "wildly" fluctuating bills, said Stewart, director of technology, media and telecommunications.
Wind Mobile CEO Ken Campbell suggests more competition will mean prices for data roaming will drop.
"You hear these horror stories about going down to the States, downloading a movie and being billed $5,000," he said from Toronto.
Wind, operating right now only in Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton, plans to offer competitive roaming rates, he said.
Segan said cellphone users need to do their homework and if they're unsure about costs, just turn the phone off and, above all, "do not surf unless you are in Wi-Fi."