Discount Flights are Taking Off in Vancouver

Comparing two of Western Canada’s ultra low cost carriers

Ultra low cost carriers can offer flights to their customers for less than $100 dollars. (Pixabay)

Canadians love to travel. But due in part to our relatively small population and massive land area, domestic air travel in Canada is some of the most expensive in the world.

Fortunately for us Vancouverites who are strapped for cash but still want to venture outside of the province, things are looking up in 2018 with the introduction of Swoop Airlines, who will be adding some much-needed competition to the ultra low cost carrier (ULCC) market.

Swoop’s philosophy is simple. They offer no frills travel, which means that tickets purchased through Swoop Airlines cover the cost of your seat and virtually nothing else.

Customers have to pay extra for checked and carry-on bags, in flight entertainment, and snacks, but if you’re willing to trade these small luxuries for, say, a round trip flight to Edmonton that costs under $100, then this might be your year to explore the Great White North.

With its inaugural launch set for July 2018, Swoop is only the second ULCC operating in British Columbia, following its Kelowna-based competitor, Flair.

Flair Airlines offers flights from Vancouver, Abbotsford, Kelowna, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton, and Toronto, and though Swoop has yet to see a plane take off, it will be offering flights to Halifax, Hamilton, Edmonton, Abbotsford, and Winnipeg. Both companies offer competitive prices, so there’s no doubt that they will be vying for each other’s business.

Both Swoop and Flair allow passengers to bring one personal item on board free of charge, but the maximum size allowed for these items is quite small. Even a standard backpack might be too big to qualify.

With Swoop, the cost of bringing one carry-on bag starts at $36.75, and the first checked bag costs at least $26.25. Flair offers similar prices, with the first carry-on bag starting at $31.50 and the first checked bag also starting at $26.25.

You may also wonder if cheaper airfare means worse customer service or an increase in flight delays and cancellations. In the case of Swoop, we’ll have to wait until July for feedback to start coming in.

As for Flair, customer responses online have been mixed, with many complaining of delays and other complications (on top of their lack of food and entertainment options). Although, to be fair, online reviews tend to be overwhelmingly negative in general, and similar dissatisfaction can be found online in reviews of both WestJet and Air Canada.

But perhaps the most important thing to consider about budget travel is whether or not these flights are any less safe. Fortunately, the answer is no.

Whether you’re flying on a private charter, first class, or a $20.00 flight to Kelowna, all airlines and flights are subject to the same safety guidelines. When it comes to safety, companies can’t cut corners to save a few bucks.

Amazing deals certainly come at a cost to your comfort, but being less comfortable is a small price to pay when saving big on your flight.

Besides, plane food sucks anyways, watching a movie on those little TVs is hard on the eyes, and when your mode of transportation is an airplane, it’s about the destination, not the journey.

So grab a book, pack a snack (though remember to pack lightly), and be willing to contort yourself into some awful position for a few hours while taking full advantage of these long-overdue flight deals. Let’s hope that Swoop and Flair are just the beginning.

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