During the past two decades, numerous low cost airlines have entered the Canadian airline industry to compete with giants like Air Canada and WestJet.
They can afford to provide budget-conscious travelers with cheap airfare thanks to their emphasis on no-frills flight accommodations and minimizing operating costs.
In this guide, we’ll review some of Canada’s most popular low cost airlines and what they offer.
Departing Canadian Cities: Calgary, Edmonton, Fredericton, Halifax, Hamilton, Kelowna, Montreal, Saint John, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg.
Arriving Cities: Calgary, Edmonton, Fredericton, Halifax, Hamilton, Kelowna, Montreal, Saint John, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Phoenix
Fleet Size: 8
Founded in 2006, Lynx Air is based out of Calgary.
It offers flights to 16 cities in Canada and the United States, with plans to add more destinations in the near future.
Its fleet consists of eight Boeing 737s, and the airline has plans to acquire an additional 46 for delivery through 2028.
Beyond airfare, you pay only for the amenities you want on your flight.
Services like priority boarding and seat selection are available during booking for an extra cost.
Additional baggage fees for checked, carry-on, oversized bags, and in-cabin pets also apply.
Departing Canadian Cities: Abbotsford, Calgary, Charlottetown, Deer Lake, Edmonton, Halifax, Kamloops, Kelowna, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Saint John, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Windsor, Winnipeg
Arriving Cities: Canada: Abbotsford, Calgary, Charlottetown, Deer Lake, Edmonton, Halifax, Kamloops, Kelowna, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Saint John, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Windsor, Winnipeg: Dominican Republic: Punta Cana; Mexico: Cancun, Puerto Vallarta; United States; Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City, Orlando, Palm Springs, Phoenix, San Francisco
Fleet Size: 20
Headquartered in Edmonton, Flair Airlines operates a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft that provide flights to over 35 destinations in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.
It also offers world tours to other global destinations and charter flights.
The airline’s slogan is “Plane and Simple,” and it promotes itself as Canada’s first and only independent ultra low cost carrier.
As Flair is a discount airline, you can expect to pay additional fees for services like extra baggage and in-flight meals.
Alternatively, you can stick with Flair’s unbundled prices, which only cover airfare to keep your costs low.
The airline doesn’t offer access to in-flight Wi-Fi but provides a range of in-flight entertainment options through its app.
Bundle deals are also available, which can save you money on add-on services like carry-on bags and priority boarding.
Departing Canadian Cities: Toronto
Arriving Cities: Cancun, Las Vegas, Orlando
Fleet Size: 3
Jetlines is one of Canada’s smaller players in the discount airline industry.
But it makes up for this by supplying flights to some of the most popular destinations for Canadians.
It’s also rapidly growing its fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft, with plans to operate 15 by 2025.
Apart from basic airfare, you can purchase a wide range of extra services and amenities for your flight, including food and checked bags.
You can bring up to two checked bags on your trip and one piece of carry-on luggage on board depending on the fare class you choose.
Jetlines offers complimentary in-flight entertainment, which you can access through its on-board Wi-Fi network.
Departing Canadian Cities: Toronto, Montreal
Arriving Cities: Cayo Coco, Holguin, Santa Clara, Varadero,
Fleet Size: 4
Off We Go (OWG) is a virtual airline and division of Nolinor Aviation, a charter airline based in Montreal.
It maintains hubs for departing flights from Montreal Trudeau and Toronto Pearson airports.
Founded in July 2020, the airline currently operates a fleet of four Boeing 737s, specializing in flights to Cuba.
It also provides charter flights with a client list that includes sports clubs, performers, tour groups, and Fortune 500 companies.
No Wi-Fi or online entertainment is available on OWG aircraft.
But you get access to complimentary meals and unlimited bar service.
You’re permitted one carry-on bag on board and one personal item, such as a camera or briefcase.
Seating onboard the aircraft is divided into three unique sections, accommodating singles, couples, and families.
Departing Canadian Cities: Hamilton (listed as Toronto on the airline’s website)
Arriving Cities: Aalborg, Alicante, Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Bilund, Bologna, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Fuerteventura, Geneva, Gothenburg, Gran Canaria, Hamburg, Lisbon, Liverpool, London, Madrid, Malaga, Mallorca, Paris, Porto, Prague, Reykjavik, Salzburg, Stockholm, Tenerife, Venice, Verona, Warsaw
Fleet Size: 10
Play is an Icelandic discount airline based in Reykjavik, the nation’s capital.
It debuted in July 2019, and its fleet comprises 10 Airbus A320neo and A321neo aircraft that take passengers to various destinations in North America and Europe.
Its first Canadian destination launched operations in January 2023 with flight links between Keflavik International Airport (Iceland) and John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport.
From Hamilton, flights head to Reykjavik and then onto many European destinations.
Like other Canadian-based low cost airlines, paying only for basic airfare is the cheapest option.
You pay extra for checked bags (three maximum), carry-on bags, priority boarding, and other equipment, such as skis and hunting gear.
Food and beverages are available for sale on board as well.
The airline offers bundling options if you plan to bring plenty of extra items on your flight.
Active:Until October 2023
Swoop is a discount airline launched in September 2017, though it officially began operations in June 2018.
Its fleet is comprised of 16 Boeing 737-800 aircraft that provide flights to 32 destinations in North America and the Caribbean.
Swoop was founded by WestJet to compete in the ultra low cost carrier (ULCC) against rivals like Flair.
The intention was to offer airfare up to 40% lower than WestJet’s fares.
WestJet announced in June 2023 that it will shut down the budget airline and integrate it with its main operations as of October 28, 2023.
Founded in November 2005, Sunwing offers regular and charter flights to destinations in the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, and Central America during winter.
In the summer months, it offers domestic flights across Canada.
It has a sizable fleet size of 30 aircraft.
Sunwing is a subsidiary of WestJet, which purchased the low cost airline in March 2023 after approval from the federal government.
On June 17, 2023, WestJet announced plans to shut down Sunwing and merge its operations with its own over the next two years.
Parent: Transat A.T.
Air Transat is a low cost airline that offers scheduled and charter flights throughout Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Some destinations are available year-round, while others can only be booked during winter.
The airline boasts a fleet of 34 Airbus aircraft, with plans for further additions in the near future.
Air Canada was set to purchase Air Transat in 2019, but the deal failed to materialize and dropped in April 2021.
How to Find Cheap Flights
While there are plenty of affordable airlines in Canada, it still takes effort to snag the best airfare deals, not to mention impeccable timing.
Here are some ways to find cheap flights without staying glued to your smartphone all day.
Set Up Alerts on Websites Like SkyScanner
The cost of airfare can be highly volatile, making it challenging to predict the best time to book your flight.
Prices can fluctuate daily, sometimes even hourly.
By signing up for one of these sites, you can set up price alerts for your desired flight route.
Here’s how they work:
- Download the flight deal app (or visit the site’s desktop version) and search for your ideal flight routes.
- When checking flights, a notification (such as “Get Price Alerts.”) will appear asking if you’d like to set up an alert to receive the latest airfare price updates.
- Set up the alert of your choice and create an account on the app to save it.
- When a ticket becomes available at your preset price, you’ll receive an instant notification through the app or via email. You can then purchase it immediately.
Most flight deals apps give you plenty of flexibility to customize alerts based on your needs.
You can create multiple alerts simultaneously, specify a departure date range, and filter for characteristics like seat class, number of stops, airport, and number of tickets.
You can even narrow your options to include only flights with low carbon emissions.
Sign Up for YYZ Deals
YYZ Deals is a travel website that presents cheap flight deals.
It continuously gathers flight data looking for the best deals.
As evidenced by its name, it focuses exclusively on flights originating from Toronto.
Though the site looks and feels a bit dated, it’s still worthy of our attention if you’re looking to secure cheap flight deals as soon as they pop up.
There are a couple of ways to access real-time alerts for discounted airfare. One option is to provide your name and email address so you can receive notifications via email.
The other is to join the YYZ Deals Facebook Group.
Of course, you can also search the YYZ website anytime to see if anything piques your interest.
There’s no fee to sign up for alerts or to access the site.
To check out cheap flights from other Canadian cities, click on the “From Other Cities.” tab.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Does Canada have a budget airline?
Yes, Canada has several low cost airlines. Some notable examples are Flair Airlines, Canada Jetlines, Lynx Air, and Porter Airlines.
- Why is Flair so cheap?
Flair can offer low rates on airfare due to its small aircraft fleet and focus on minimizing operating costs by providing no-frills flights. As a passenger, you must pay extra fees for amenities like checked luggage and in-flight meals on top of the base airfare.
- Is Flair Air Canada or WestJet?
No. Flair is an independent low cost airline. It’s not affiliated with any other airline.
- Is Porter owned by Air Canada?
No, Porter Airlines operates as an independent low cost airline in Canada. Porter Aviation Holdings, formerly REGGO Holdings Inc, owns the airline.
- Is Flair owned by Air Canada?
Flair is an independent discount airline. It’s not associated with any other airline or a member of any airline alliance.
- Does Flair overbook their flights?
Flair doesn’t intentionally overbook any of their flights. However, given the airline’s smaller fleet of planes and operational constraints, flight disruptions and delays occur more frequently than with larger airlines.
- Can you bring food on Flair Airlines?
Flair Airlines allows passengers to bring perishable food on board. The items must be packed in leak-proof containers.
- Do Flair seats recline?
While they were once available, Flair’s planes no longer offer reclining seats.
- Can I bring food on a Swoop flight?
You can bring food on board a Swoop flight. All perishable items, such as meat and fruit, must meet Swoop’s weight and size guidelines and several other requirements, including proper packaging.
- Can I bring a backpack on Swoop for free?
Yes. When boarding your flight, you can bring one free personal item, such as a small backpack, purse, or briefcase.
- Can you watch movies on Swoop Airlines?
Yes, Swoop provides an in-flight entertainment system with movies, TV shows, and music.
- Can you take a backpack as a personal item on Swoop?
Yes, Swoop allows passengers to bring on board one personal item, which can be a backpack.
- Is Swoop owned by WestJet?
Swoop is a low cost airline owned by WestJet. Swoop will be shut down October 2023 and merged with WestJet’s regular airline business.