6 Best Low-Cost Airlines in Canada (2024)

Do you love to travel but worry about the cost? Try one of these low-cost airlines In Canada.

These budget airlines offer cheap flights to destinations all throughout Canada and the U.S., and sometimes even further.

If you’re looking to skip the frills and save some money, these low-cost airlines need to be on your radar.

Rethinking Travel

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way everyone travels. From restrictions to masking mandates, getting on a plane and flying wherever you wanted without concerns for health and safety wasn’t the norm anymore.

With more individuals getting vaccinated and countries beginning to open again, travel, especially airline travel, is ramping back up.

The demand for air travel that is convenient and affordable is more important than ever, and low-cost airlines are hoping to cash in on the uptick in travel.

If you’re dreaming of getting away, even if it’s just for a weekend, check out these carriers coming in at ultra-low prices. While you might have to sacrifice a few amenities, you’ll get to your destination without breaking the bank.

1. Flair Air

Flair Airlines Logo

Destinations: Locations within Canada and portions of the U.S.

One of the leaders in budget travel is Flair Air. This might be a good way to go if you’re looking to get away and aren’t concerned with the frills typically attached to legacy airlines. Flair has locations throughout Canada, including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, and more.

The base fee includes a seat on the plane and one personal item stored at your feet. Flair Air is great for those that don’t have a lot of baggage and are just looking to get to their destination.

The airline does have a lengthy list of optional fees associated with added “perks.” They include:

  • Fees of $39-$59 for a carry-on bag.
  • A first checked bag costs $39-$59, with additional bags costing more.
  • Bookings and changes made through the call centre instead of the website will cost you $15.
  • Travelling with pets? It’ll cost you. Having your furry friend in the cabin will add $99 to your bill.
  • If you’re travelling with a companion and want to sit together, you have to pay $10-$20 to ensure you’re next to each other. Otherwise, the airline randomly assigns you a seat at no extra cost.

Flair Airlines heavily promoted its go travel pass established back in early 2020. For $700, travellers could book an unlimited number of domestic flights within a certain period.

At the time, it was a three-month window from February to May. The pass sold out quickly, and according to the airline’s website, they plan on developing similar perks like this one, so keep an eye out for more deals.

2. Air Canada Rouge

Air Canada Rouge Logo

Average cost of one-way ticket: Prices vary depending on destination, but fares are lower than its parent company, Air Canada.
Destinations: Throughout Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, and Europe.

Air Canada Rouge is a lower-tiered, low-cost offering from Air Canada. The airline offers cheap flights to many destinations not available from other budget-friendly brands because they are already integrated into Air Canada’s networks. Basically, Rouge is Air Canada’s budget airline that offers cheap fares.

The airline offers a premium economy section in place of business class. While it’s considered an upgrade, you’ll get more legroom than the typical economy section of the plane. Coach seats are tight, something to keep in mind if you’re tall, but the seat itself is wider than many other airlines.

Other differences from a usual Air Canada flight include no in-flight entertainment. Rouge does not have monitors on the seat’s headrests, meaning it’s crucial to bring onboard your own entertainment. You could always rent an iPad for $10 if you forget your own device.

Additionally, some of the Rouge aircraft do not have USB charging ports, a luxury frequent travellers have grown accustomed to.

Flights to Europe include a complimentary meal and non-alcoholic beverages. However, on shorter flights, you’re allowed to purchase food (pizza!) and alcoholic beverages. 

The flip side is that Rouge offers travel to many more destinations than usual low-cost carrier. South America and Europe aren’t available on other carriers, so if you’re looking to travel outside Canada and you’re on a budget, this might be the airline for you.

3. Porter Airlines

Porter Logo

Destinations: Select locations in Canada as well as parts of the U.S.

Porter Airlines is a regional airport located on the Toronto Islands. The airline recently returned to the skies after suspending flights for almost 18 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Porter started making a name for itself before the pandemic because of its low-cost prices and convenient destination locations.

The airline plans to add 80 more jets to its fleet and thousands of jobs by the end of 2022. With 3% of Canadians using the budget-friendly airline, the expansion increases the hopes of adding even more passengers to its booming business.

Fees are dependent upon which fare option you choose – Porter Airlines has four different ones: Basic, Standard, Flexible, and Freedom.

The Basic fare includes your seat and a personal item. All other items must be checked. The other three fares (Standard, Flexible, and Freedom) allow two carry-on bags.

As for checked bags, the Freedom fare is the only one with free baggage check. The checked bag fees for the other fares range from $27.50 to $42.55 for one bag checked at the time of booking. Fees increase the closer you get to departure.

One major difference between Porter Airlines and other budget-friendly ones is its complimentary services. No matter your fare, passengers can enjoy free in-flight beer, wine, snacks, and other refreshments while on board.

Are There Any New Airlines in Canada?

Starting a whole new airline takes a lot of money, which is why many that aren’t legacy airlines fail. To keep things moving and attract passengers, airlines need planes. Many low-cost operations only have a small number of planes they can fly, leading to delays and passenger aggravation.

Still, there are a few new airlines in the works throughout Canada. Here’s the scoop on them.

4. OWG

OWG Logo

Destinations: Toronto, Montreal, Cuba, Los Cabos, Mexico

OWG (Off We Go) is taking air travel to a whole other level. The airline doesn’t consider itself low-cost, instead, it aims to give passengers a positive flight experience, deemed “High Love.”

Not only will passengers experience gourmet meals and unlimited bar service, but they can choose their seating based on three different zones:

  • The High Zone for singles
  • The Love Zone for couples
  • The Heart Zone for families

The airline partnered with all-inclusive resorts in Mexico to become a package deal. The new airline experience launches in March 2022.

5. Canada Jetlines

Canada Jetlines Logo

Destinations: Sunny destinations in the U.S. and Mexico

The low-cost carrier’s path to flight finally took a better turn when it teamed up with GlobalX in 2019. With new team leadership in place, the airline hopes to connect winter-weary Canadians with sunny destinations like Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

6. Lynx Air

Destinations: Flies to destinations within Canada

Lynx Air is an up-and-coming discount airline travelling to locations throughout Canada, such as Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary. There are no hidden fees, and you only pay exactly for what you want, such as priority boarding and seat selection. The company uses the latest generation Boeing 737s. It’s a pretty new operation, but one to keep a close eye on in the future.

What’s The Difference Between Low-Cost Airlines And Major Airlines?

The most obvious difference between the two is, of course, price.

Cheap airlines like Flair Air and Porter Airlines are known for being more affordable than major airlines like Air Canada and WestJet.

What makes these smaller airlines cheaper, though?

The main factor that contributes to these budget airlines being more affordable is the fact that they use smaller planes. These smaller planes use less fuel, are cheaper to maintain, take up less space at airports, and don’t take as long to refuel and put back in the air.

Another key factor is that budget airlines don’t offer as many amenities.

When flying budget, you typically won’t get as much:

  • Legroom
  • Free snacks/drinks
  • Free blankets/pillows

Additionally, cheaper airlines tend to cram seats closer together, allowing them to sell more tickets per flight. This allows the airline to keep its profit margins while reducing the cost of tickets for passengers.

How To Save Money Flying: Tips + Tricks

Canada’s vast landscape means that flying is often the quickest way to travel across the country or outside of it. However, with so much distance between Canada’s major cities, airfare can get pricey.

If you’re on the hunt for the best deals on airline tickets, here are some tips and tricks that can help you save money the next time you fly.

Use Flight Comparison Apps

Similar to getting the best deal on insurance rates, one of the best ways to save on your next airline ticket is to use a comparison tool like Google Flights. This free-to-use tool is super simple to use:

  • Enter your desired departure date
  • Enter your departure airport
  • Enter the number of passengers
  • Enter the destination
  • Select a one-way or roundtrip flight

Within seconds, Google Flights will generate a list of every ticket that fits the filters you set, allowing you to compare prices side by side and get the best rates.

Another cool feature of Google Flights is that it lets you set price alerts, so you can get automated email notifications if the price goes up or down, allowing you to snag an incredible deal.

While Google Flights is my favourite flight comparison tool, there are many others. Check out my guide to the best hotel booking sites next!

Timing is Everything

Another hack to getting better prices on airline tickets is to time it right.

Generally speaking, the closer you are to the departure date, the more expensive the airline ticket is going to be. By planning ahead and purchasing your ticket early, you can save a considerable sum.

Here are a few rules of thumb to follow.

When to Buy:

  • Advance Purchase: Start looking for flights about two to three months before your travel date. This is often when airlines release the best deals.
  • Midweek Magic: Tuesdays and Wednesdays are often the cheapest days to book flights. Airlines frequently release sale fares early in the week, making midweek your prime booking window.

When to Fly:

  • Off-Peak Hours: Flights during off-peak hours, like early morning or late at night, tend to be cheaper.
  • Avoiding High Seasons: Try not to fly during major holidays or school breaks, as prices tend to surge.

Try A Smaller Airport

Big cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal have multiple airports. The city’s largest airport is often its most congested and expensive airport, which can drive up ticket costs and wait times.

Sometimes, flying into or out of a secondary airport can save you money:

  • Toronto: Consider flights from Hamilton or Buffalo
  • Vancouver: Check out fares from Abbotsford
  • Montreal: Explore options from Plattsburgh or Burlington

The downside of using these secondary airports is that you may need to pay extra money to a cab or rideshare driver for a longer ride. Either way, it’s still worth looking into as you weigh your flight options.

Travel Light and Be Flexible

The lighter you travel, the more time and money you’ll save. Most airlines charge baggage fees when you bring full-size luggage or additional carry-ons.

To avoid these, consider:

  • Travelling with just a carry-on to avoid extra fees
  • Be aware of size and weight limits (varies by airline)

Being flexible can also help you save on travel expenses. If you’re open to travelling on different dates or times, you’ll have a better chance of finding a deal. Some airlines have an option for “flexible booking,” which can help you save on your tickets.


Low Cost Airlines In Canada

The demand for low-cost airfare is constantly growing, and the Canadian airline industry is taking note. Whether you want to fly to a major Canadian city or a tropical destination, more lower-cost options are available now.

With new airlines in the pipeline and existing ones constantly adding deals and promotions, low-cost airlines are making a huge dent in the travel world.

If you’re looking to take off for a weekend trip or get in some relaxation time, check out these ways to save money for your next travel adventure.

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Wealthawesome.com. Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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