Pictures: Behind the scenes at WestJet Airlines in Canada

Pop quiz: What's Canada's second-largest airline?

If you read this blog, you probably know the answer. It's Calgary-based WestJet Airlines, an almost 20-year-old carrier with some big expansion plans. Already it and its regional subsidiary, WestJet Encore, have 125 aircraft. WestJet flies Boeing 737s, while Encore flies Bombardier Q400 turboprops.

Historically the business strategy has been about taking Canadians to warm-weather winter locales. But that is changing. Later this year, WestJet will start flying four Boeing 767 aircraft, all of which are capable of flying 11 hours. WestJet hasn't said where they will be deployed after some initial runs to Hawaii and within Canada, but everyone thinks they're headed to Europe, at least in the beginning. 

I was in Calgary earlier this week at headquarters. To read the juicy information from my visit, you'll have to subscribe to Aviation Week. (The magazine pay my bills.) 

But I can tell you I found the airline delightfully quirky. Despite having 11,000 employees, WestJet seems to have held onto its start-up culture. One interesting tidbit: Regular workers have cubicles by the window looking out onto Calgary International Airport. That puts the top executives, including CEO Gregg Saretsky, in the interior of the building. The executives don't even have particularly large offices and because they have glass windows looking out onto the cubicles, everyone can see what they're doing. 

WestJet's shtick is that everyone pitches in. Saretsky tells me that when he flies, he likes to help clean the airplane when it lands. He says he even puts on gloves.

I'm afraid I'm busy today with Aviation Week assignments, so I can't share much more. But here are some photographs from WestJet headquarters you might find amusing. 

A model of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 in the lobby of headquarters. WestJet said in 2013 that it plans to buy 65 of the next-generation 737. At the time, deliveries were expected beginning in late 2017. Notice the split scimitar winglets on this one? Airlines say the new winglets help them save about 2% in fuel consumption. (That's over traditional winglets.)

A model of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 in the lobby of headquarters. WestJet said in 2013 that it plans to buy 65 of the next-generation 737. At the time, deliveries were expected beginning in late 2017. Notice the split scimitar winglets on this one? Airlines say the new winglets help them save about 2% in fuel consumption. (That's over traditional winglets.)

WestJet has a three-bay hangar attached to its world headquarters at Calgary International Airport. You don't even have to walk outside. There's a heated walkway between the offices and the hangar. Given the frigid temperatures, that's a good thing. (If you're wondering, this is a Boeing 737-700.)

WestJet has a three-bay hangar attached to its world headquarters at Calgary International Airport. You don't even have to walk outside. There's a heated walkway between the offices and the hangar. Given the frigid temperatures, that's a good thing. (If you're wondering, this is a Boeing 737-700.)

This is the mockup 737 cabin where WestJet flight attendants train for emergencies. See the command center on the left? Employees there can make just about anything bad happen on this mockup, which is located in the hangar. 

This is the mockup 737 cabin where WestJet flight attendants train for emergencies. See the command center on the left? Employees there can make just about anything bad happen on this mockup, which is located in the hangar. 

This is WestJet's network operations center where crews plan and track the airline's flights. It is not as fancy as some I have seen, but it gets the job done. Others I have been to are United's in Chicago, Delta's in Atlanta and Lufthansa's in Frankfurt. (Click on the links to see my content from other operations centers. All were written for my former blog, L.A. Airspace.)

This is WestJet's network operations center where crews plan and track the airline's flights. It is not as fancy as some I have seen, but it gets the job done. Others I have been to are United's in Chicago, Delta's in Atlanta and Lufthansa's in Frankfurt. (Click on the links to see my content from other operations centers. All were written for my former blog, L.A. Airspace.)

You can't leave WestJet's headquarters without a stop in the gift shop! 

You can't leave WestJet's headquarters without a stop in the gift shop!