Are you looking for the cheapest flights in Canada?
Or, perhaps, you’re looking to sit in the lap of luxury and enjoy first-class accommodations as you fly 35,000 feet high in the sky.
Whether you’re looking for premium service or trying to find the cheapest flight available, you’re in the right place.
Below, I’ll outline some of the best airlines in Canada, show you which airports they service, and outline some of the key perks that passengers can take advantage of.
Are you ready to book a flight?
Once, air travel was a luxury that only a select few could afford.
Today, most Canadians (even those on a tight budget) can book an in-country flight for the same price as they’d pay for a budget hotel room. You can save even more on economy flights by booking your tickets ahead of time and using travel rewards credit cards with generous cashback programs for travel expenses.
Granted, you will have to compromise some of your comfort on a budget airline. However, the trade-off is a super-affordable flight that allows you to spend more money after you land. This makes them an excellent choice for local flights, especially if you’re just flying a few hours away.
1. Canada Jetlines
- Operating Since: September 2022
- Key Perks: Ultra low-cost flights to Las Vegas, modern seating, great customer service
If you’re looking for an affordable flight to Las Vegas, Nevada, Canada Jetlines aims to please. As the country’s newest airline, Canada Jetlines launched its inaugural flight in September 2022 and plans to start offering regular flights in early 2023.
Although it will offer some domestic flights between major airports like Toronto Person and Vancouver International Airport, the airline will primarily focus on vacation destinations, classifying itself as a “leisure” airline.
Despite this, the accommodations are more in line with a budget airline. Although its fleet is relatively modern, the seats appear compact and are designed to save space on long flights, maximize the amount of passengers, and save them money on tickets.
2. Lynx Air
- Operating Since: November 2021
- Key Perks: New planes, fast customer service, complimentary snacks and drink
Formerly Enerjet, Lynx Air is one of Canada’s newest (and cheapest) airlines. It offers domestic flights to Toronto, Edmonton, Victoria, St. John’s, Winnipeg, Kelowna, Hamilton, Calgary, and Halifax. One-way tickets are often as cheap as $60, and round-trip tickets can be purchased for as little as $100.
In addition to affordable tickets, Lynx Air also has one of the most modern fleets in Canada, consisting entirely of Boeing’s latest 737 models. While seating is still a bit cramped, the seats themselves are quite comfortable for a budget airline, and customer service is both fast and efficient.
3. Jazz Aviation by Air Canada
- Operating Since: 2011
- Key Perks: Affordable domestic flights backed by Air Canada reliability, complimentary hot beverages and snacks, charter flights available
Based out of Halifax, Jazz Aviation is a subsidiary of Air Canada and often operates under the name Air Canada Express.
The airline uses smaller planes and focuses on providing affordable domestic flights between Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Jazz Aviation also provides private charters for small businesses, sports teams, and more.
I’ve only flown on Jazz Aviation/Air Canada Express a few times, but the service has always been friendly and straightforward. All passengers receive a complimentary hot beverage as well, which is a nice perk.
4. Flair Airlines
- Operating Since: August 2005
- Key Perks: Brand-new planes, friendly customer service, in-flight entertainment screens
Flair Airlines has been operating since 2005 and is one of Canada’s oldest budget airlines. Recently, the airline has undergone a complete “top-to-bottom” rebranding.
As part of this, all of its old Boeing 737-400 aircraft have been replaced by newer 737-800 models, and several extra-large Boeing MAX 8 jets have also been added to the fleet. Additionally, the old colours and logos have been replaced with bright green and easy-to-read logo fonts.
The airline is currently based out of Edmonton and offers affordable in-country flights to Abottsford, Waterloo, Toronto, Ottawa, Tucson, and Vancouver. The new planes are really nice on the inside, and Flair Airlines’ new fleet is nicer than some of the planes offered by WestJet and Air Canada.
There’s a thin line between “budget” airlines and standard airlines in Canada. The only difference is that standard airlines often offer an extra few inches of legroom in exchange for a few extra dollars.
However, these standard airlines may also offer additional perks like phone/laptop charging ports, on-flight screens for watching movies, or complimentary snacks and beverages.
Additionally, you may also have a little bit more flexibility when it comes to changing seats and may be able to take advantage of friendlier customer service.
5. Air Canada Rouge
- Operating Since: July 2013
- Key Perks: Affordable flights, complimentary snacks and drinks, alcohol available for purchase, complimentary wi-fi, entertainment system available
To bridge the gap between Air Canada Express (Jazz Aviation) flights and the more premium Air Canada service, the airline launched Air Canada Rouge.
The Airbus A321-200 planes are larger and more spacious than those offered by Jazz Aviation and feature amenities such as in-flight internet access and built-in entertainment that passengers can link to from their smartphones.
Additionally, Air Canada Rouge focuses on providing affordable flights from Canada’s largest airports to destination cities in the US, the Caribbean, Europe, and South America. To accommodate customers on longer flights, the seating is more spacious and there are plenty of food and drink options available.
6. Porter Airlines
- Operating Since: October 2006
- Key Perks: Low-cost flights between Canada and the US
If you don’t mind riding in an old-school propeller bombardier-style plane, then Porter Airlines offers reliable and affordable flights within Canada and to select US cities.
While passengers will have to put up with a little bit more propeller noise, you will be able to take advantage of complimentary meals and free alcoholic beverages on your flight.
The airline is based out of Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto but plans to expand to Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto Pearson in the near future, as the demand for affordable flights increases.
7. Air North
- Operating Since: 1977
- Key Perks: Delicious on-flight food, friendly service, flights to remote territories in Yukon
Air North is Yukon’s official airline and is one of the oldest in the country that’s still operating today.
Currently, it’s one of the only airlines that offers direct flights to the fly-in-only community of Old Crow, Yukon, in addition to regions like Yellowknife, White Horse, Mayo, and Inuvik. It also services Ottawa, Vancouver, and Calgary.
Air North doesn’t have the most modern fleet, but the service is outstanding.
For one, there are no baggage fees. Secondly, the on-flight food is actually good (and there’s dessert).
Flights also have some cool magazines and reading material, which you won’t find on other Canadian airlines. I wish Air North serviced more major cities, but I enjoy every trip I’ve taken with them.
8. Air Transat
- Operating Since: November 1987
- Key Perks: Extra leg room, fast and easy check-in, international flights
Air Transat is Canada’s third-largest airline. Although it’s often classified as a “budget” airline, there’s a fair amount of space on the plane and the customer service is up to par with its larger competitors.
Interestingly enough, Air Transat was named the world’s best leisure airline in 2018, thanks to its comfortable international flights.
Air Transat offers an extra one inch of leg space compared to its competitors (32 inches compared to 30 inches). This may not sound like much until you actually have to sit through an 8-hour flight.
Lastly, since it’s a major airline, the check-in process is always quick and easy, which is helpful if you’re in a rush.
9. Sunwing Airlines
- Operating Since: November 2005
- Key Perks: Low-cost international flights, access to priority boarding, good food
Sunwing Airlines offers flights throughout Canada and the US, but it’s mostly known for its affordable flights to Mexico and the Caribbean. If you’re hungry, the on-flight food selection is pretty decent.
My main qualm with Sunwing is that the legroom is rather cramped, especially considering the international flights the airline offers. However, you can upgrade to premium seating if you want an extra 6 inches.
If you have a long flight, have long legs, or just have some extra money that you don’t mind spending, then premium airlines give you the best experience you can get. The best premium airlines in Canada offer perks such as:
- Spacious seating
- Premier customer service
- On-flight meals, cocktails, and dinner service
- Pillows and blankets
- High-definition screens with movies and entertainment
- On-flight wi-fi access
- … and more
Granted, you will pay extra for these services. However, the trade-off is more than worth it for some of Canada’s top earners.
10. Chrono Aviation
- Operating Since: 2012
- Key Perks: Premium flight services, flights to hard-to-access regions
Chrono Aviation is a small, exclusive charter airline based out of Montreal. The company was recently ranked among Canada’s 400 fastest-growing companies and has been gradually expanding its fleet and service destinations over the past decade.
Its planes are easily identified from the ground, as they’re wrapped in satin-black.
11. Air Canada
- Operating Since: January 1965
- Key Perks: Spacious seating, premium customer service, in-flight entertainment, internet access
Air Canada is the country’s oldest and largest airline, with a fleet of over 200 planes. Although Air Canada was considered a “standard” airline for much of its history, Air Canada planes have been gradually upgraded to offer premium seating and accommodations.
The airline offers budget flights through Air Canada Rouge and its subsidiary Jazz Aviation.
12. WestJet Airlines
- Operating Since: February 1996
- Key Perks: Great customer service, in-flight meals, alcoholic beverages, charging ports, entertainment, and internet access
WestJet Airlines is the second-largest airline in the country, and although it offers cheap flights, customers also have the option to book more exclusive first-class and business-class seating.
Here, passengers will be able to enjoy in-flight amenities, personal service, and a cheerful attitude from the staff.
With service throughout Canada and internationally, WestJet is the closest competitor to Air Canada. Those looking for more affordable flights can book through WestJet’s subsidiary, Swoop (which I mentioned above).
Curious as to how I ranked these airlines?
I primarily used the following data points in addition to my personal experience with each airline:
- Customer service
- Availability of flights
- The number of domestic airport services
- On-flight features and seat comfort
These days, it seems like the cost of almost everything is increasing. As a result, low-cost airlines have become increasingly popular. Cheap flights from budget airlines make it easy to save on vacations and travelling.
Even the best airlines experience problems from time to time. Winter storms, icy runways, and mechanical failures are just a few things that can arise outside of an airline’s control. In these cases, an airline’s customer service is its saving grace.
Airlines that offer stellar customer service, listen to and work with their passengers, and go the extra mile to rectify problems when they arise will always come at a higher price. To many, good customer service is well worth spending a little bit more on a ticket.
Airlines with more planes can service more airports and have a wider variety of flights to choose from. If you’re looking for specific dates and times or need an airline that can offer flexible flights in case problems arise, major airlines like Air Canada or WestJet really shine.
Although comfort comes at a cost, it’s often worth the extra money you’ll spend. Having extra room to stretch your legs out or lean your seat back is often worth it to taller individuals.
Some flights may offer on-flight features, such as movies and entertainment, charging ports, internet access, or may offer complimentary food and drink.
Flying Private In Canada: What To Expect
While most Canadians are accustomed to commercial flying, a growing number of Canada’s wealthiest individuals are considering or have already taken to the skies in a more luxurious manner: private flights.
Whether for business, special occasions, or just the sheer pleasure of it, flying private offers a level of comfort and convenience unmatched by commercial air travel.
Here’s what you can expect if you ever have the luxury of flying private.
How Much Do Private Flight Charters Cost?
The cost of chartering a private flight varies greatly depending on several factors:
- Aircraft Type: A small turbo-prop plane will cost significantly less than a luxury jet
- Flight Distance: Short hops between nearby cities are more affordable than cross-country or international journeys
- Duration of Stay: Keeping a plane on standby can add to the overall cost
- Additional Services: Catering, ground transportation, and other concierge services will add to the total price
Typically, you can expect prices to range from:
- Turbo-prop planes: $1,500 – $2,500 per flight hour
- Small jets: $2,500 – $4,500 per flight hour
- Larger, luxury jets: $5,000 and upwards per flight hour
As you can see, the prices are far more expensive than what you’d get from a typical commercial flight. A ten-hour flight on Air Canada may only cost you $600, while the same flight on a small private jet could cost upwards of $30,000 or more.
That’s a lot of money to spend on a single flight!
Benefits of Flying Private
Not many can afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a single flight. However, the ones who can do so for very specific reasons.
These are some of the benefits of flying private that make it worth it to the 1%:
- Saves Time: You can skip the long check-in queues, security lines, and boarding waits. You’ll arrive shortly before your departure, drive right up to the plane in a private hangar, and take off on your schedule. If a million-dollar deal is on the line and time is critical, a $10,000 plane ticket could be worth it.
- Privacy: Whether you’re holding business meetings or spending quality time with loved ones, the cabin is entirely yours. Many celebrities also fly private to avoid unwanted attention harassment.
- Customize Your Experience: You can tailor the flight to your desires. You can book flights with a private movie theatre, private chefs/catering, or even book a jet with a full-sized executive table to host a business meeting in-air.
- Access to Remote Destinations: Private jets are smaller and aren’t subject to the same rules and requirements as commercial jets. This makes it easier for them to fly globally or access remote destinations like private islands and exclusive resorts.
What Type of Service You Can Expect on Private Flights
When you charter a private flight, you’re sitting in the lap of luxury. Here are some of the amenities you can get while flying private that you’ll rarely find on a commercial flight (even if you’re flying first-class):
- Personalized Attention: A dedicated crew will attend to your every need, ensuring a comfortable and pleasant journey.
- Gourmet Catering: Choose from various high-end catering options tailored to your preferences. It could be sushi, steak, vintage wine, or exotic fruits.
- Spacious Interiors: Depending on the plane, you’ll typically be able to enjoy spacious cabins, comfortable seating that can often be converted into beds, and lavish bathrooms.
- In-flight Entertainment and Connectivity: Most private jets offer high-speed satellite internet, so you can take care of business while you’re in the air and stay in touch without losing connectivity.
Fractional Jet Ownership And Jet Cards
Some billionaires and ultra-high-net-worth individuals may opt to buy their own jet if they fly frequently enough. However, even multi-millionaires usually can’t keep up with the cost of maintaining a private jet.
Private jets typically cost at least $5 million upfront and require up to $1 million per year just to maintain.
This is why most simply charter a one-time flight. Doing this often can become very expensive, though. Those who fly private frequently may opt for one of the following alternatives:
- Fractional Ownership: Similar to a timeshare, you own a fraction of a plane and share usage and fees with others. This ensures availability and consistent pricing.
- Jet Cards: Customers can sign up for pre-purchased flight hours on specific aircraft types or cabin categories. It’s like having a prepaid card, and simplifies the booking and payment process.
To wrap up, here are a few quick answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the best airlines in Canada.
Depending on where you’re going, and flight availability, Lynx Airlines, Flair Air, and Air Canada Rouge tend to be the cheapest airlines in Canada.
The cheapest airline today may not necessarily be the cheapest airline tomorrow, though. Prices and availability can vary between these low-cost airlines, depending on a number of factors.
With over 215 Boeing and Airbus planes in its fleet, Air Canada is, by far, the largest airline in Canada. In addition to the airline’s premium fleet, Air Canada also backs its lower-cost subsidiaries – Jazz Aviation and Air Canada Rouge.
The Toronto Pearson International Airport is currently the largest, busiest, and most modern airport in Canada. It’s arguably among Canada’s nicest airports as well, with luxurious lounges, upscale dining, and overnight hotels.
Canada Jetlines is the newest airline in the country. Based out of the Toronto Pearson International Airport, the airline began providing domestic and international flights in September 2022. It’s also known for its lower-cost flights, which has helped the airline garner even more attention in the press.
The three largest airlines in Canada are Air Canada, WestJet, and Air Transat. These airlines have the greatest number of planes in their fleets, offer the most flights, and service the greatest number of airports compared to smaller budget airlines.
The largest and most reliable airlines in Canada are Air Canada and WestJet. Both airlines have considerably improved the quality of their name-brand flights while also offering affordable budget flights through smaller airlines like Air Canada Express.
Want to make the most of your next flight?
A travel rewards credit card can help you earn extra cashback on your purchase, which can be used towards future trips and travel bookings. Keep on reading to see my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada!