Canada’s WestJet is raising the bar on comfort as it transforms into a full-service airline.

By Marisa Garcia
May 10, 2018
Courtesy of WestJet

WestJet revealed the design of its new Dreamliner this week, including a new livery and state-of-the-art comforts onboard.

The airline’s president and CEO described the introduction of the new Dreamliner service as “the dawn of a new era for WestJet and the next step in our transformation to a global network airline.”

From business class to economy, the airline focused on giving passengers what they need to work, rest and be entertained. That includes convenient storage, new in-flight entertainment and connectivity, and access to power for their electronic devices. The airline also played up the unique features of the Dreamliner; for example, by angling the Business class seats so that passengers can enjoy the views out of the large, dimmable windows.

Courtesy of WestJet
Courtesy of WestJet

We spoke with Ben Rowan, a director of PriestmanGoode and the lead designer on the project, to discuss the distinctive design details of WestJet’s new look.

“All of the materials were developed bespoke for WestJet,” Rowan told Travel + Leisure. “Taking the aesthetic of Canada, with a reference of the landscape, and integrating that with the brand palette which reaches across the cabin.”

WestJet picked the color scheme to echo natural features, with rich blacks and deep blues to represent Canada’s open skies at night; glacier and deep turquoise to recall the country’s abundant water features; and warm hues and tans to mirror warm sunsets contrasted with the silvers and greys of misty mountain mornings.

In textures and shapes, there is a strong reference to the new livery developed for the aircraft by Ove Brand Design, Teague, and Boeing.

“The angular nature of the decorative elements are derived from that, but there are also landscape references to mountains,” Rowan said. “Those very angular forms felt very WestJet, and they represent Canada as well.”

Producing the complex design features in the cabin required a lot of attention to detail, but that was something WestJet wanted to reflect its commitment to quality.

“We also really tried to play off on the craftsmanship of it,” Rowan said. “You can see it on all of the dress covers all the way through the cabin. Each is stitch plays up on the angular theme. That is a signature feature that runs through the classes.”

Personalization of the cabin space and experience in-flight was also very important.

“The business class is best example of that. We did a lot of work with improvement to privacy for the passenger, improving privacy as much as is allowable on this seat platform. You have the center privacy screen, and the seat shell is extended as well,” Rowan said. “It moves away from standard seats to something much more bespoke for WestJet.”

Business class features on-demand meal service which can be ordered through the seat’s touch-screen. Passengers can also order turn-down service when they are ready to sleep, and their seat will be converted into a comfortable bed with luxury bedding and pillows.

In premium economy, passengers will enjoy a custom menu and also get a self-service bar where they can hang out and stretch their legs a bit.

Courtesy of WestJet
Courtesy of WestJet

“One of the big things that WestJet wanted was to develop spaces that were social areas,” Rowan said. “We identified an opportunity with them, in the partition, to convert that from a functional space for the crew to a functional and recreational space for the passenger.”

WestJet has a reputation for approachability. The airline has fun every year with new April Fools jokes, and known for surprising its customers around the Christmas holidays. That corporate character is genuine, Rowan said, and really helped deliver this new project.

“We worked very closely together to develop the WestJet customer experience team,” Rowan said. “It was a real pleasure working with them because they are really very friendly and inviting. It shows that if you have an ambitious airline, and you get the right people working together, you can make a real difference in your product onboard, to improve the passenger experience.”

The new WestJet Dreamliner will enter service in 2019.

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