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9 Best Low-Cost Airlines in Canada: Travel for Cheap in 2024

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Whether you’re travelling within Canada or internationally, flying is arguably the easiest way to get around the world. But there’s no doubt that it can be an expensive option. If you’re looking to fly on a budget this year, Canada’s ultra-low-cost airlines might be an attractive option.

In this guide, we’ll outline the best low-cost airlines in Canada, including common names like Air Canada Rouge, Swoop, and Flair, as well as newcomers to the scene, like Lynx and Canada Jetlines. Budget airlines offer both benefits and drawbacks, but we’ll help answer all your questions in the course of this article.

Best Low-Cost Airlines in Canada

Depending on your destination of choice, you may have a wide range of options for budget travel or just a few. These nine airlines stand out in the cheap airfare space, and each offers unique pros and cons that make it stand out.

1. Air Canada Rouge

An offshoot of the well-known airline Air Canada, the Air Canada Rouge branch, was developed with savings in mind. It travels to select destinations in North America (including the U.S. and Mexico) and certain spots in Central America, South America, and Europe.

To keep the price down, Air Canada Rouge does not offer food or beverage service on flights under two hours, and it also does not have in-flight entertainment. That said, it’s a compelling airline because it flies to significantly more locations than many of Canada’s other low-cost airlines. 

2. Flair

One of Canada’s most promising budget travel airlines, Flair flies to locations throughout Canada, and some sections of the U.S. Canadian locations include Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, and others.

Baggage is an important consideration when you’re flying with Flair – a standard-price ticket will buy you only a seat and room for one piece of baggage stored at your feet.

If you plan to bring any other baggage, you’ll have to pay a fee. But if you’re accustomed to travelling light, Flair offers competitive prices and sometimes has attractive package deals.

3. Lynx Air

A relative newcomer to the discount travel scene, Lynx Air isn’t partnered up with a larger conglomerate like some of the airlines on this list are. Lynx flies to destinations in Canada and the United States, and unlike some budget airlines, it does fly into major airports.

Some popular routes include a daily back-and-forth between Toronto and Vancouver and a route from Toronto to Orlando, Florida.

Like many budget airlines, Lynx will charge you extra if you want to bring baggage beyond one personal item. The airline is becoming increasingly popular, however, due to its top-tier destinations across the continent. It’s poised to disrupt the budget travel space in a big way.

Related: Best apps for booking cheap flights.

4. PLAY

Based in Iceland, PLAY is a great budget-friendly option for those looking to travel between North America and Europe. It offers comfortable cabins and has many destinations within the United States, Iceland, and continental Europe. It’s just beginning to service Canada, with its first Canadian flight from Hamilton, Ontario, beginning in June of 2023.

As PLAY continues to develop its Canadian offerings, it will surely be a name to look out for. There are not many offerings for cheap travel between Canada and Europe, but PLAY appears poised to solve that problem.

5. Sunwing

Known for its cheap flights to popular vacation destinations, Sunwing can help you travel to places like Central America, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean hotspots. It also travels to additional cities in the U.S. and Canada.

If you book a vacation package with Sunwing, you’ll be able to get more bang for your buck with add-ons like free checked bags. But if you’re booking only flights, extras will cost you, with steep fees that may surprise you. Beyond your personal item, additional cabin bags will cost you $25 or more, and checked bags go for $50 or more.

6. Porter Airlines

Porter Airlines stems from a regional airport located on the Toronto Islands. It flies to select locations in Canada and the United States. After suspending flights for nearly 19 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Porter is now getting back on its feet again.

For a budget airline, it offers plenty of perks. With different fare options, including some that allow you free checked and carry-on baggage, Porter has more flexibility than other carriers on this list. You can also enjoy free in-flight snacks and refreshments no matter what level of ticket you’ve purchased.

7. Canada Jetlines

While Canada Jetlines currently has a fleet of just two planes, they expect to expand their fleet size to 15 planes by 2025. In other words, they’re growing quickly. Canada Jetlines currently only flies to four cities: Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, and Las Vegas. They’re hoping to expand to other areas, including Florida, soon. 

8. Air Transat

A charter airline in Canada whose prices rival those of the big players, Air Transat has a substantial fleet and travels to many destinations. In addition to domestic flights throughout Canada, it can help you get to the U.S., the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.

Air Transat offers in-flight entertainment, and you’ll be able to bring a personal item and one standard-sized cabin bag for no extra cost. Checked bags will incur an additional fee.

Related: How flight cancellation compensation works in Canada

9. Swoop

**WestJet is shutting down Swoop by October 2023.

Swoop is being Born of Canada’s number two airline, WestJet, Swoop offers budget-friendly travel without frills. The airline flies throughout Canada, parts of the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean. Standard ticket prices include your seat and a small personal item (such as a purse, backpack, or laptop case). Any additional baggage will cost you a fee that depends on both the length of the trip and the time at which you purchased the extra baggage privilege.

While Swoop travels to some beautiful, warm vacation destinations, it’s best for those who are travelling lightly and travelling alone. If you want a guarantee that you’ll sit next to your travelling companion, you’ll need to pay an additional fee.

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What You Need to Know About Low-Cost Airlines

Travelling on a budget seems like an appealing suggestion for most people, but it’s important to remember that (like most cost-saving measures) it comes with a variety of considerations, both positive and negative. When you choose to buy cheaper airfare, you may be forsaking comforts many travellers take for granted these days.

For instance, many low-cost airlines don’t offer in-flight entertainment, and food and beverage services may be limited. You’ll likely experience smaller seats, condensed legroom, and limited amenities on these types of flights.

It’s also important to note that while the tickets themselves might be cheap, you can easily get hit with an army of fees if you’re not careful.

On many of these airlines, checked bags and even carry-on bags don’t come for free. Consulting the airline’s website to find out its fees before you book is always a good practice.

The other piece to consider is that budget airlines tend to offer more limited destinations than traditional airlines do. Additionally, some of these airlines fly into smaller airports, meaning your dropoff location at your destination may not be as convenient.

While low-cost airlines certainly benefit your wallet, it’s crucial to look at the whole picture.

Pros and Cons of Low-Cost Airlines in Canada

Pros

  • Saves you lots of money
  • Good for solo travellers
  • Good for travellers who are comfortable packing lightly
  • Go to many popular, warm destinations
  • Comprehensive travel throughout Canada

Cons

  • Limited destinations
  • Fees for carry-on and checked baggage
  • Less flexible cancellation policies
  • Fewer in-flight amenities

Are Ultra Low-Cost Airlines in Canada Worth It?

Whether or not flying on one of Canada’s ultra-low-cost airlines is worth it depends on your priorities and travelling style. If you’re travelling alone, be it for work or pleasure, and you’re comfortable with packing lightly, budget airlines might give you everything you need.

If you need to check multiple bags, are travelling with your family or a significant other, need above-average legroom or may need to cancel at the last minute, it’s possible that you could find better value elsewhere.

As long as you don’t make additional purchases or add-ons that raise your ticket price too high, these low-cost airlines will normally keep your wallet happy.

FAQs

Why is Lynx Air so cheap?

Lynx Air is so cheap because it uses an “a la carte” format, meaning that it allows passengers to pay for only what they need, without any extras. That’s how it can boast prices as low as $39 per trip – but that’s without luggage, food, or entertainment.

Is Air Canada a low-cost airline?

Air Canada is not a low-cost airline, but it does have a low-cost subsidiary called Air Canada Rouge. Air Canada Rouge is integrated into Air Canada’s booking system, but it flies to fewer destinations and offers fewer in-flight amenities.

What month is the cheapest to fly to Canada?

January is the cheapest month to fly to Canada. July is the most expensive month at this time. The price difference likely reflects the weather – in the winter, Canada is a less desirable destination for non-residents.

What is the cheapest, most reliable airline?

Some of the world’s cheapest, most reliable airlines include AirAsia, Air Canada Rouge, Southwest Airlines, Norwegian, and Sky Dubai.

Related: Cheap countries to visit from Canada.

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Author

Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu, personal finance expert, author, and founder of Savvy New Canadians, has written about money matters for over 10 years. Enoch has an MSc (Econ) degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. His expertise has been highlighted in major publications like Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC News, Toronto Star, Financial Post, CTV News, TD Direct Investing, Canadian Securities Exchange, and many others. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and recently created a practical investing course for beginners. You can read his full author bio.

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