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Companion voucher and base fare/ATC. Am I reading this right?

Companion voucher and base fare/ATC. Am I reading this right?

Old Jul 10, 19, 10:51 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 36
Question Companion voucher and base fare/ATC. Am I reading this right?

Hi all. I could use your help.I just priced out a pair of tickets YHZ-CDG for next spring, using my companion voucher. It declined my voucher because "the base fare is less" even though the total price pp is over $800. It looks like the ATC is nearly as much as the base fare? When did that become a thing?

Here's the math.

For one person,YHZ-CDG return May 21-Jun 4

Adult base fare $387
Other ATC $320
Taxes & fees $136
Total $843

I did a quick FB chat with Westjet. "ATC" she said is not included in the voucher. Only the base fare. (So I could pay $399 for the voucher or $387 for the base fare, and the other add ons are the same. Not using the voucher is $12 cheaper!)

What's ATC, I asked. Well, fuel and things like that. So...when you buy the seat you're not paying for gas.

I know airlines messed around to add fuel surcharges and such to hide costs when they were able to advertise base price differently, but I thought that was mostly obsolete now. At this point there's very little difference between the base fare and the ATC.

Is this WS's way of devaluing the companion vouchers? We flew YHZ-LGW two summers ago and the companion cost was total of about $550 ($399 for the voucher, and about $90 in taxes), which was a significant saving over the regular fare. ETA, found my old ticket from 2017--the ATC on the trip to LGW was $15 with a base fare of $794. Now a trip to LGW has an ATC of $320, same as to CDG. The companion fare saved me $400 over the regular fare.

Am I reading it right? Basically my voucher won't get me any discount because of the way they've monkeyed with the fare breakdown.Is there a way around this? Maybe I need to look for different dates/airports or something? (Don't really want to fly to LGW this time, and it's not like there's a ton of choice.) Or maybe if I upgrade to a flex fare or something that squeezes a bit more out of me I'll balance with a reduced ATC?

Is there any legislation around ATC/how fares are broken out? I.e., can I file a complaint with anyone?

Ideas please! Help!

Last edited by coastgirl; Jul 10, 19 at 11:20 am Reason: spacing
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Old Jul 10, 19, 12:57 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Programs: Aeroplan AA
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This seems a bit slimy. If that's what they're doing, I won't be hanging on to the WJ Mastercard any longer.

Edit: Just did a dummy booking YYC-DUB for next May.
Base: $614
Other ATC : $320
Taxes, fees: $74
Total: $1010.

If I were to use my companion fare, that would drop by $215. The old, honest way, I'd save $535. Yes, it seems they've figured out a way to devalue the companion certs. Adios, Mastercard.
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Last edited by J. Leslie; Jul 10, 19 at 1:04 pm
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Old Jul 10, 19, 2:36 pm
  #3  
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Yes, that's how I feel about it. I did a quick check of a couple of NA fares, and the ATC is nonexistant or reasonable. So--maybe I can make it work for the sake of the NA fares, but what I was really hoarding it for was taking the kiddos to Europe. :-/

I'm still going to call myself tonight and see if I can get someone to explain why the ATC AND the fare structure for European flights has changed so much since we used the vouchers in 2017.
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Old Jul 10, 19, 2:54 pm
  #4  
 
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I have been a top tier WS member since they started tiers. They are starting to get really bad in the CS department. And this is before the PE sale. I am really disappointed and my loyalty is fading. This is super shady
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Old Jul 10, 19, 3:55 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Posts: 1,240
How it this any different than the fees that Air Canada charges for award tickets? This is part of the reason why I held on to United FFP for longer than I should have!! Glad I burned all those miles 5 years ago!
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Old Jul 10, 19, 6:08 pm
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Originally Posted by Arthurrs View Post
How it this any different than the fees that Air Canada charges for award tickets? This is part of the reason why I held on to United FFP for longer than I should have!! Glad I burned all those miles 5 years ago!
I donít know and I donít care. The point is that a benefit has been seriously devalued and itís time to re-think whether paying for that Mastercard is worth it any longer.
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Old Jul 10, 19, 9:22 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 236
This is not the case for North American flights. Just booked companion pass ticket for Premium to Phoenix. Just the standard fees and taxes
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Old Jul 11, 19, 7:26 am
  #8  
 
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I last used a companion pass for a YOW-MCO/ TPA-YOW trip at Christmas time. Saved roughly $300 on the second ticket and what ever the baggage costs were. I don't find much value in the companion pass when airfare is cheap to begin with, The real value is during peak travel times when tickets are expensive.
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Old Jul 11, 19, 10:18 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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It's an Europe thing with this ATC nonsense. I bought a premium fare to YYZ-LGW-YYZ and the fees were crazy, but nevertheless I saved about $1000 and my daughter enjoyed the experience accompanying me on my business trip to Europe.

If you plan things carefully, the greatest value for companion fares is when you buy a premium fare ticket to some nice, expensive location at a busy time of year. I saved $$$$ on a family trip to Hawaii last summer using companion fare vouchers.
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Old Jul 11, 19, 10:28 am
  #10  
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I wanted to update on what I've found out--finally had a chance to talk to someone today.

So ATC in this case includes, from my notes "insurance, service fee" and fuel. Not very specific, and no further breakdown of amounts. No explanation of why it's built that way. This reduces the base fare quite a bit over traditional amounts. E.g., my base fare two years ago was much higher when the ATC was $15.

The fares I was scrutinizing were the cheapest ones I could find for the destination and dates, so by the time you exclude regular taxes (about $150 or more) and the ATC ($320), the base fares were pretty low. For a total fare of $843, only $387 is considered base fare. (Only 45% of the cost is base fare--that's definitely whack.)

So, when I tried to apply my companion voucher for $399 instead of base fare of $387, it said, no, that doesn't make sense, and proceeded to calculate the two fares with out the companion calculation.

What the live agent was able to tell me is that the ATC for the companion ticket was only $65, not $320. I was never able to get that far, to see that. The trick is I have to start with a fare of greater than $399--or she said they could do it for me live, if I couldn't do it online. (We always book our companion tickets live anyway, as between Westjet Dollars and vouchers, and two groups of 2 on the same itinerary--it gets complicated!) So I do save by reducing the ATC from $320 to $65, and depending on the actual fare, I'd save any of the (weirdly low) base fare in excess of $399.

Still with me??

So, with a slightly more expensive first ticket, I do save a couple-hundred bucks on the companion voucher. Looks like all in, it'll cost me about $100 more pp to fly next summer than it did 3 years ago--honestly, not a bad return on my voucher, and probably still cheaper than any other carrier for flights in early summer. (Though I will be watching between now and the time I book, as this arcane weirdness does reduce my loyalty overall.)

And I still have NO IDEA why they have this giant ATC now instead of just a regular fare.

Thanks if you waded through all that. I felt obliged to come back and clarify, as I had been the one to raise the alarm.




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Old Jul 11, 19, 11:52 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
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Originally Posted by coastgirl View Post
Other ATC $320
I think the correct wording should be Other and ATC.
Other being fuel surcharge.
The airline trying to blame a mostly voiceless third party for hiding it's fuel surcharges.
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Old Jul 11, 19, 12:37 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
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I can see a scenario in the not too distant future where all NA 'base' fares are $99, all Caribbean $299 and all Europe $399.
But we'll still get our vouchers. No thanks - there are better values out there, credit card-wise.
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Old Jul 12, 19, 11:59 am
  #13  
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Originally Posted by J. Leslie View Post
I can see a scenario in the not too distant future where all NA 'base' fares are $99, all Caribbean $299 and all Europe $399.
But we'll still get our vouchers. No thanks - there are better values out there, credit card-wise.
Yeah, I'll be looking closely next year. I do like the WJ$ earn, it's like a secret little savings account...But I also have the ScotiaBank Visa Passport, and I've been earning lots of rewards regularly that I just apply to travel I've already purchased (at a higher rate than applying to regular purchases). I also like that the Scotiabank one has no-fee foreign exchange, as well as comparable insurance options.
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Last edited by coastgirl; Jul 12, 19 at 12:05 pm
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Old Jul 17, 19, 10:17 am
  #14  
 
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It's not only devaluing the companion vouchers, but also % based discounts, which usually are for the "fare" component only.
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Old Jul 17, 19, 2:25 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by sokolov View Post
It's not only devaluing the companion vouchers, but also % based discounts, which usually are for the "fare" component only.
Ah...that makes sense. I knew there had to be more than companion vouchers in it for them. Now they can claim a Europe fare sale with much less skin in the game...
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