WestJet inaugural flight to Gatwick-2

In grand style, WestJet held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and party at Vancouver’s YVR Airport on May 6 to celebrate its new nonstop routes to Gatwick Airport.

WestJet inaugural flight to Gatwick-1 WestJet inaugural flight to Gatwick-3

WestJet’s Calgary and Toronto airport gates were also in party mode as they too picked up the route that same day (Edmonton, Winnipeg and St. John’s kicked off on May 7).

I was pretty excited to be on the maiden flight in conjunction with a press trip that would include visits to both London and Glasgow.

WestJet inaugural flight to Gatwick-4 WestJet inaugural flight to Gatwick-11

Each passenger was given a little gift bag at the boarding gate and soon enough our fully-packed flight was Europe-bound, arriving about 10 hours later at London Gatwick.

WestJet party at London's Admiralty Pub

That evening, I was invited to the WestJet party hosted by Boeing at the Admiralty Pub in lively Trafalgar Square.

At London's Admiralty Pub with CEO Gregg Saretsky
[At London’s Admiralty Pub with WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky]

The company’s very approachable CEO Gregg Saretsky (also onboard our flight) and various marketing teams were all there to enjoy traditional British fare and raise a glass to the new route.

WestJet party at London's Admiralty Pub

It was a fun night and a great chance to meet CEOs from Vancouver and Calgary airports as well as the Seattle-based Boeing folks.

WestJet party at London's Admiralty Pub

Clive Beddoe (WestJet’s Chairman of the Board of Directors and principal founder) was also on hand to give a few thanks to the company that now employs nearly 12k staff and serves 101 cities around the world. It was remarkable to learn that since its inception 20 years ago, the airline’s flown 240 million guests aboard its Boeing fleet!

WestJet party at London's Admiralty Pub
[Clive Beddoe]

WestJet now flies non-stop service between six Canadian cities and London: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg and St. John’s. Vancouver to Gatwick is offered six times a week through October 21 while the Calgary flight is available year-round.

Boeing 767 300ERW
[Boeing 767 300ERW; image courtesy of WestJet]

You can also fly daily from Toronto (year-round) and St. John’s (through October 21). In total, there are 56 weekly flights in both directions, on one of four Boeing 767-300 planes (St. John’s uses one of WestJet’s Boeing Next-Generation 737’s).

WestJet party at London's Admiralty Pub

London Gatwick marks the airline’s third transatlantic destination following service from St. John’s to Dublin (2014) and from Halifax to Glasgow (2015).

Transit from Gatwick to central London is pretty handy via the Gatwick Express, a half-hour train ride that terminates at London’s Victoria station.

Although that particular service (for reasons I’ll never know) cancelled on the day of my return back to the airport, the regular Gatwick train only adds another five minutes to the journey.

Visit WestJet online for details.

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