WestJet teams up with local restaurants across Canada to serve fresh sandwiches sourced from the city of departure

By Nikos Loukas, InflightFeed

On many flights originating in Canada, WestJet offers a little taste of home. Whether it’s a meaty Spolumbo’s sandwich from Calgary, a Thai chicken wrap from Vancouver’s Bread Garden or the smoky pastrami from Au Pain Doré in Montreal, WestJet is offering an increasing number of locally made fresh sandwiches on most flights over 2.5 hours in length. All sandwiches cost CAD 6.50 (CAD 6 when pre-ordered).

“We want to offer our guests onboard menu items that will enhance their WestJet experience and support the communities we serve,” says WestJet’s On Board Product Manager Layne Ward. “Being able to partner with local caterers to offer guests a wide variety of fresh sandwiches is ideal.”

The sandwich story all started in 2010 in Calgary with a WestJet executive’s penchant for the chewy Italian sandwiches created by three ex-Calgary Stampeders football players at the local Spolumbo’s restaurant. “They were here having lunch, talking about airplane food, and wondering why it couldn’t be more local and more fresh,” says Tony Spoletini, one of the owners of the popular Italian sausage shop and deli.

Local, fresh
The Spolumbo’s crew signed on for a test run and, when guests gobbled up their airline sandwiches, WestJet looked for entrepreneurs in other Canadian cities to expand the program. Now, fresh and unique sandwiches are loaded on board every day from caterers and delis in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, London, Montreal and St. John’s.

Whilst the relationship between Spolumbo’s and WestJet came to an end recently, passengers flying from Calgary needn’t worry. Jennifer Sanford of WestJet explains “Our friends at Spolumbo’s are undertaking an exciting new venture, so October will be their final month as our supplier of on-board fresh food on flights departing from Calgary.”

Regular menu changes
Starting November 1, Sunterra Market will provide on-board fresh food on flights departing from Calgary. Sunterra has also been catering WestJet flights out of Edmonton since April 2012. The on-board sandwiches for flights departing from both Calgary and Edmonton will be rustic chicken salad, prairie roast beef and Mediterranean turkey.

On Westjet flights departing from Toronto, the smoked turkey and Brie cheese sandwiches are specialties of Scarlett House Catering. The small company supplies 50 to 60 flights a day from Toronto and created three sandwiches that cater to Westjet requirements – a grilled chicken breast on a focaccia bun with Tuscan mayonnaise, turkey-and-brie on a cranberry multi-grain loaf with a roasted red pepper mayonnaise, and a ham-and-cheese sandwich on a square croissant bun. According to Scarlet House owner Steve Coulighan the company had “been getting phone calls from parents who want sandwiches for their kids because they’ve been on WestJet flights. They say, ‘Our kids love your sandwiches and I want to put them in their school lunch bags.'”

WestJet changes their inflight menu offerings (and their suppliers) regularly in order to keep the food offerings interesting for passengers. Something that is not often seen at airlines who offer buy on board as an option for passengers. Lauri Freser, WestJet’s VP of Marketing, says the company’s unique sandwich program “is going very, very well” and demand for the fresh sandwiches is high. Every local purveyor makes three distinct sandwiches, and our WestJetters are proud to serve these sandwiches.”

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