WestJet girds for new Air Canada fight & a lonely sea of left-behind teddy bears
Once again, we're seeing some potentially good news for Canadian consumers. I suspect the benefits will accrue mostly out west, but there's the potential for better deals and more competition on Ontario routes now that WestJet is talking about a new regional model of service.
In case you missed this morning's business sections and instead went straight to the star.com/travel page, WestJet on Monday said it's looking as starting a short-haul, regional airline as soon as next year. They're considering buying 40 turboprops (possibly from Toronto-based Bombardier, which would be a big bonus for our local economy, guys, so let's hope it happens) and taking a direct jab at the exposed jaw of Air Canada. Not to mention a bit of a swipe, methinks, at Porter Airlines.
Calgary-based WestJet currently keeps its costs down by flying oly one type of plane, a Boeing 737, of which they have nearly 100 - up from a measly three when they started out in 1996. They're fine for longer flights but not so well suited to short hop routes that are currently underserviced in Canada - such as Regina to Winnipeg. In a year-end interview with the Globe and Mail's Brent Jang, WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky said destinations that could benefit from expansion include Cranbrook and Prince Rupert B.C., as well as Lethbridge, Alberta, Brandon, Manitoba, Saguenay, Quebec and Sudbury, Sarnia and Timmins here in Ontario.
There's some thought the new, smaller planes would not only serve smaller cities, but could be used in off-peak hours for more popular flights, such as Calgary-Vancouver or, once they start their service to LaGuardia Airport on Long Island, Toronto-New York.
WestJet wants to consult with its staff, called WestJetters, before going ahead. But I can't see employees saying "Nah, let's not expand and take on Air Canada. We kinda like them beating the crap out of us on those new routes we could be flying. And who wants more jobs?"
Therefore it's only a matter of time until WestJet moves ahead. If and when they acquire their 40 planes, they'll be rougly 50 per cent bigger than Porter is today. Porter currently flies 26 turboprops, feeding such destinations as Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Timmins (as of Monday), Boston, Chicago, New York-Newark, Myrtle Beach, and, as of a few days ago, announced service for Washington D.C.
Stay tune for more fireworks. And possibly better deals.
A SEA OF TEDDY BEARS LEFT BEHIND IN BRITISH HOTELS, NOT TO MENTION KATE MIDDLETON MASKS
How's this for sad? A report on travelmole.com says Travelodge's lost property office in the UK has recovered some, wait for it, 75,000 teddy bears left behind by guests in 2011. That's a lot of heartbroken kids.
Apparently, the hotel chain says it also recovered 100 Duchess of Cambridge masks. No word on how many Prince William or Prince Harry masks were found. Or Pippa Middleton butt masks, for that matter. (Speaking of Pippa, I saw a headline today that asked that age old question, "What is it that makes Pippa's rear admirable?" And that's gotta be the headline of 2012 so far.)
Among other items left behind: a hamster, a Vera Wang wedding gown (maybe Heather Mills - the ex of Paul McCartney?), an urn (with or without ashes, the story didn't say) and a suitcase of designer dog outfits and collars. They also recovered at least one set of Ferrari keys, which makes me wonder about the sort of person who owns a Ferrari but beds down in a Travelodge. Hell, I'd rather sleep in the Ferrari.
The travelmole story said teddy bears were the item left behind the third most often. Top of the list, and no surprise here, were mobile phones and phone chargers.
It can be a tough thing to leave a precious belonging behind in a hotel. One year we drove to Florida for March break and our young daughter left her favourite doll, Sarah, behind in what I think was an EconoLodge outside of Pittsburgh. We quickly realized the error of our ways and called the hotel, which put Sarah up in the penthouse suite (or maybe a cardboard box behind the front desk) for a week's vacation. We picked her up on the way home and she seemed no worse for wear.
Since January 2011 all items left behind at Travelodge hotels that have not been claimed within three months have been donated to Cancer Research UK charity shops across the UK. Which is nice.
JAUNT.CA DEAL OF THE DAY - LOVELY PROPERTY ON LAKE SIMCOE
Trying to get away but can't manage a long break? Check out this great deal from www.jaunt.ca for a night at the renowned Briar's Resort up in Jackson's Point on Lake Simcoe. For $198 you get the following:
- 1 night's accommodation for two in a 2-bedroom Cottage
- Full Briars Breakfast for 2
- One bottle of wine in the cottage on arrival
- One $50 credit valid on services at The Briars Spa
- Complimentary cross-country ski or snowshoe rentals
- Guaranteed early check-in at 3 PM
The deal is valid for stays on Sunday-Thursday nights until April 12, 2012, but some conditions apply.