Budget Travelers Rejoice! Discount Airlines Growing in Canada

Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 20, super-discounted airline Swoop (owned by WestJet) will become Canada’s second discount airline (after Flair) with its first flight from Hamilton, Ontario to Abbotsford, British Columbia.

image via http://www.flyswoop.com

Swoop Airlines will launch with 5 destinations across Canada – Halifax, Nova Scotia; Edmonton, Alberta; Winnipeg, Manitoba; as well as Hamilton and Abbotsford, with more destinations promised to be coming soon.

Budget airlines have been incredibly successful in Europe for many years, but are only beginning to break in to the North American air space.

The pink-and-white branded Swoop airline operates on an ‘a-la-carte’ style service. This means that when you book a ticket, you pay for just the seat on the plane. Everything else you might want on a flight, like a carry-on or checked baggage, in-flight meal, or seat selection is available to add-on at an additional cost. You pay only for what you want – and you only get exactly what you pay for.

For example, a one-way flight from Halifax to Hamilton on July 1 is $99 CAD, including taxes and fees. This allows you to take on one personal item that fits under the seat in front of you.

The price varies on different dates, with the most expensive flight in July costing $199 CAD (on Sunday, July 29).

The cheapest flight with Air Canada on the same day will run you $361 CAD, including taxes and fees, but allows you take on a personal item as well as a standard carry-on.

Swoop, to their credit, is very transparent about their ‘Optional fees’ on their website. For example, they don’t only list the cost of these extras, but it’s clear that it’s cheaper to add on these items online at the time of booking than it is at the airport counter.

swoop baggage
Swoop’s Baggage fees via http://www.flyswoop.com 

Seat selection on long distance flights, classified as longer than 900 miles, varies from $10-25 CAD depending on the seat you are choosing. I noticed that on these flights, a front seat with extra legroom costs $25 to reserve. On a recent trip to California with Air Canada, pre-selecting a seat with extra legroom would have cost me $40.

So is Swoop worth it?

The flight on July 1st had only one option – departing at 8pm, and even a carry-on item isn’t included in the fair. Air Canada on the other hand, had roughly 10 flights to choose from that day, and although the fees are higher, do include a carry-on.

For me, it comes down to flexibility. As a single female and often travelling solo on my own schedule, I don’t mind flying late in the evening if it’s going to save me several hundred dollars. Even if I were to add both a carry-on and a checked bag, the Swoop flight still works out to less than Air Canada’s.


The key, as with any airline, is to always do your research, weigh out the options, pros and cons, and added fees, and see what makes the most sense for your trip – each flight is different!

Have you travelled with a budget airline in the past? Share your experience in the comments below!

Happy Flying!


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