My traveling requires that I spend a lot of time in airports and in airplanes. A little pre-planning can make the entire experience a lot easier, especially for Canadians flying with Westjet.
In the last 18 months I have flown twelve times on Westjet aircraft. Prior to my first flights with them I applied for and was approved for both their One Person One Fare Program, and their Medical Seating Program.
The One Person One Fare (OPOF) program provides additional seating for flights only within Canada to guests who require additional seating:
- Because they are disabled or disabled by obesity.
- For one personal attendant required to provide care over and above the care provided by WestJet’s personnel on board the aircraft with regards to medication or using the lavatory. If more than one attendant is required, WestJet will consider these requests on a case-by-case basis.
The Medical Seating program provides additional legroom in specific seating areas and applies to all WestJet operated* flights for guests who cannot safely travel without special seating accommodation due to a medical disability.
By being approved under both programs I am seated in their Plus section, which gives a bit more leg room (which helps because I am 6’4”) and all food items and beverages are complimentary. On flights originating and terminating within Canada, my attendant (a.k.a. my wife) flies for free, however the airline is required to collect all applicable taxes and fees on behalf of airport authorities and the federal government.
Much of Westjet’s fleet are 737’s, although they are adding 767’s. In the 737 Row 1, the bulkhead row does not have moveable armrests. Depending on the plane moveable armrests are in row two and/or row three. Not having to be hauled down a narrow aisle in an aisle chair for multiple rows is a definite advantage.
For most of us who will be in wheelchairs for the rest of our lives, Westjet offers a permanent approval. For others approval may be for one or two years. It is best to apply well before you are planning to travel by completing and submitting these forms.
Reservations for the One Person One Fare program must be made by calling 1-888-937-8538 FREE. Reservations booked using any other method will be cancelled and managed according to the fare type purchased. Any subsequent booking will be made at the available fare level which may be higher than the fare originally purchased.
In some airports, for example Vancouver (YVR) Westjet employees handle the assistance boarding and deplaning. In others this service is contracted out. I find it is much better when the airline employees are handling the chore as they have a vested interest in keeping the customers happy. I had a nightmare experience with a contract staff person at LAX in Los Angeles, when she attempted to put me onto an escalator!
I am aware that Air Canada and Air Canada Jazz has a similar program, however I have not had the opportunity to use their program.