Canadian’s have always gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to cheap air fare, but that finally might be changing!
Swoop Airlines is a new discount airline that has launched in selected (smaller) airports throughout Canada, and they are offering some sweet ticket prices.
Living in Kelowna, I don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to direct flights. I’ll be honest, YLW airport sucks in its offering of non-stop destinations. When I first moved to Kelowna we at least had a direct to San Francisco and Los Angeles, but they slowly fizzled out and left us with just a few direct options.
However, Swoop Airlines just moved in and they are offering a few direct flights that caught my eye! Winnipeg for $79 and Las Vegas for $99. Those are some INCREDIBLY low prices for direct flights out of Kelowna.
My brother Cody lives in Winnipeg, but I can’t say I’m regularly tempted to fly over to visit him. (Sorry bro!) A one-way flight on WestJet or Air Canada is usually $250-$450 and all flights have at least one stop-over. The moment I saw I could get to Winnipeg for $79, I booked the flight instantly! $450 is a hard sell for me, but $79 I can do!
Now here is where people get concerned with a low-cost airline. They start to worry about the maintenance of the planes, how uncomfortable it might be in-flight, or how many extra fees will get tacked on for bags, water, or even breathing.
I’ve got you covered. Here is everything I experienced during my recent flight on Swoop from Kelowna to Winnipeg on September 18th 2019.
Swoop Airlines Review
Is Swoop’s website easy to use?
The site is super easy to use and very straight forward. It looks like any other major airline website and wasn’t sneaky or hard to understand in anyway.
They allow you to choose a seat (paid) add carry-on or checked baggage (paid) or you can hold off to do that at check-in or at the airport. Just know, if you buy baggage or seats DURING your initial booking, it will be cheaper. But more on that later.
Does Swoop have hidden fees in the fare pricing?
The price advertised was $79 and that’s what it was at the end of the day. The airfare was actually only $48, then after taxes and fees, came out to a total of $79. Great! No surprises there! I was half expecting it to double in price by the time I had just run through taxes, fees, and weird hidden surcharges – but thankfully that never happened.
Can you bring ANY type of luggage on Swoop for Free?
YES! They allow a free ‘personal item’ on board.
They classify this as something that can fit under the seat in front of you, like a small backpack, purse, laptop bag, or briefcase.
If you can pack a super smart bag, you could likely get away with just using this personal item allowance for a short trip.
Here are the official dimensions they allow for your personal item:
16” x 6” x 13” (41cm x 15cm x 33cm)
How much is CARRY-ON BAGGAGE with Swoop?
Now here is where you can start to rack up a bill with Swoop, but truth be told, it’s STILL cheaper than flying with Canada’s other two carriers, even if you buy all the add-ons.
Carry-on baggage starts at $35.
I was visiting my brother in Winnipeg on my way down south for the winter. Since I had to carry everything I needed for 6 months with me on this trip, I had no choice but to purchase BOTH the carry-on bag and the checked bag through Swoop. If I was just flying there for a weekend to see him, I could make it work with just the free personal item.
My carry-on bag from Kelowna to Winnipeg was $35 CAD.
Carry-on Baggage weight and size restrictions:
If you are considering buying a carry-on bag for a Swoop flight, know that it MUST fit within these dimensions: 21” x 9” x 15” (52cm x 23cm x 38cm).
But here is a fun tip –
Swoop does NOT limit how much your carry-on bag can weigh.
Fees for carry-on bags on Swoop:
The cost for carry-on baggage will vary depending on two things:
- If your flight is within Canada, or going to the states
- If you purchase it at booking, or later on at check in or at the airport
You can buy a carry-on bag for as low as $35 as long as you do it at the time of booking.
Each moment that your flight draws closer it goes up in price. If 30 seconds after you book your flight you decide you want to buy a carry-on bag, it’s now $40. When you go to check-in for your flight 24 hours before departure, it’s now $45. If you wait until you reach the check-in counter at the airport, it’s now gone up to $50. The worst price is definitely if you wait until last minute until the gate, about to board your flight – here they will charge you a whopping $70 for your carry-on bag.
How much is CHECKED BAGGAGE with Swoop?
Checked baggage is around the same cost as carry-on baggage.
It starts at $35.
Checked Baggage weight and size restrictions:
Your checked baggage with Swoop can weigh 50lbs MAX
Maximum dimensions: 157 cm (62 in.) total combined dimension (length + width + height)
You obviously get a bigger dimension allowance, but be warned, they are STRICT about their 50lb maximum weight policy.
As I was in line at the check-in counter I saw them make a girl who was only 2lbs over take items out of her luggage.
I was sweating with nerves because I knew my checked bag was shoved full of stuff for the next 6 months of travel. I don’t have a scale at home, so I crossed my fingers and prayed I would be okay.
When I put my bag up on the scale at the counter it weighed 55.3lbs. DANG!
She gave me two options: I could either find 5.3 lbs of stuff to take out of my checked bag OR I could pay the $106 overweight fee. There was NO way I was paying $106 for 5lbs, so I dug out 2 sweaters and my leather jacket and put them on over my t-shirt. Yep, I felt like Chandler from friends. I was still 1.5 lbs overweight, so I had to take out some items and shove them into my already brimming carry-on.
I put my checked luggage back on the scale and low and behold it came in at EXACTLY 50.0lbs. Success! The check-in attendant told me it’s better to buy a 2nd checked bag for $50 at time of booking instead of the $106 over-weight charge for next time.
Fees for Checked Bags on Swoop:
The cost for checked baggage will vary depending on two things:
- If your flight is within Canada, or going to the states (states is $5 more)
- If you purchase it at booking, or later on at check in or at the airport
Just like the carry-on baggage, the checked baggage is also on a sliding tier scale. You will get the lowest price ($35) for your checked bag at time of booking, and it will go up to $70 by the time you reach the gate.
How does Seat Selection work on Swoop?
You will be automatically assigned a random seat upon check-in. This random selection is free, so if you are budget conscious, just roll the dice.
To pick ANY seat on the plane ahead of time, even the worst one, it will cost you. Prices for seat selection at time of booking range from $10-$50, and if you wait until check in you will pay anywhere from $20-$70. (approx $10 more per seat if you wait.)
Since my TOTAL bill for a direct flight to Winnipeg was only $150, even after buying both a checked bag and a carry-on bag, I decided to really go all out and buy a seat in the emergency row. Of course, I waited until check-in so I could give Swoop some extra money.
The emergency row seat cost me $40 at check-in, 24 hours before the flight. The best part of buying this seat was that no one else on my flight decided it was worth the extra $40. I had the entire row to myself, including the row across the aisle. Most of the regular seats on the flight were full, which made it extra luxurious to have the entire area to myself.
Here is the pricing tier for seat selections on Swoop:
Are the seats really crowded on Swoop?
Swoop says their normal seats give 74-76 cm of leg room (that’s 29-30 inches).
If we compare that to other flights heading to Winnipeg, WestJet has one flight with 76 cm and one with 79 cm. Air Canada also ranges from 76 cm up to 81 cm depending on the type of aircraft.
So, if you’re on a Swoop flight with 76 cm in their ‘base’ seat, you might find the exact same leg room on certain WestJet and Air Canada flights also providing 76 cm. (Usually a Bombardier Dash-8).
If you fly a 737 or an a320 on WestJet or Air Canada, you’ll likely have 79 cm to 81cm, making them much roomier than Swoop.
Now, I did fly in the emergency row which gave me lots of extra room. Swoop’s website says their ‘extra-pitch’ seats give 86 cm to 96 cm of legroom (34-38 inches). While I didn’t whip out my measuring tape to see exactly what mine was, it felt extremely spacious.
By the way, seats have a USB plug and 110v plug, which makes any small seat a little more comfortable.
Does Swoop charge for water?
You bet! And I’m cool with that. I would rather score a ticket for $79 and have to pay for my own water than pay $450 for the same flight that offers free water or pop. In reality, we should all be bringing empty re-usable bottles through security and filling them up for free at the many water fountains.
Does Swoop serve food and drinks?
Yes they do, of course for a fee. The prices are pretty decent considering they are on a flight.
- Soft Drinks $1.99
- Juice $2.49
- Tea $2.99
- Alkaline Water $3.29
- Coffee $3.49
- Spirits $5.99
- Beer $6.99
- Wine $7.99
- Gummies $1.99
- Biscotti $2.49
- Brownies $2.99
- Chocolate Bars $2.99
- Pringles $2.99
- Hummus and Lentil Crackers $4.49
- Beef Jerky $4.49
- Oatmeal $3.49
- Mr. Noodles $3.49
- Instant Pho $5.49
- Snack Plate $6.99
You are allowed to bring your own water, pop, coffee and food on-board to consume if you don’t want to by airplane food. Most food you can bring through security but remember all drinks will have to be purchased post-security.
Is there Wi-Fi on Swoop?
There is Wi-Fi on Swoop flights, for a fee.
They don't have the prices listed on their website and some forums say it's based on the type/length of flight. Rates should be around $6.49/1 hour and $8.99/3 hours.
My Personal Swoop Experience
Everything was really equal to flying with any other Canadian airline. Booking, checking in, etc was all pretty similar. If anything, the below observations are because I am looking at Swoop with a very critical “I’m going to write a review about you” eye.
Here are the small differences I noticed flying with Swoop:
• They are hardcore about the 50-pound maximum for checked baggage. Don’t expect to get any leniency with Swoop.
• Post security, at the gate, they seemed a little behind schedule and disoriented. They called for families and anyone needing additional time/assistance to come up first and then held them there for a good 15 minutes without processing any of them through. The plane was there, and it was empty, so I am not sure what caused the delay.
• The flight did depart slightly late, but just a few minutes
•I guess it was a different experience to be nickeled and dimed with each tiny detail of the trip, but I still enjoyed a much lower fare than I would have with the full-service competitors.
• Service levels were not as hands on because the flight attendants don’t come through offering free drinks and pretzels to everyone. You really only see them for the safety demo and if you elect to buy something.
• Were the seats less padded? I couldn’t help but notice my butt didn’t feel as cushioned, but that might be me imagining things. Also, I am kind of a high maintenance flyer and I am usually doing everything I can to find a lay-flat business class seat, so I might just be extremely spoiled and biased. Sorry I have no data to confirm my suspicions on this one.
Once on board I didn’t notice anything different about the actual flight itself. The plane looked and felt like every other 737 I’ve ever been on.
Sometimes I think people suspect flying with a budget airline means flying on a lower end plane, but they are really all the same metal tube in the sky. We took off and landed without any events, which is always a blessing. Once we touched down in Winnipeg the plane went right to the gangway and we departed within a few minutes. Baggage came quickly. The entire experience went well!
Where does Swoop Airlines Fly
Swoop is able to keep their prices super low by only flying out of secondary and smaller airports in Canada. The fees and taxes are lower, which helps keep ticket prices down.
However, they still fly to some major airports and top destinations!
International Swoop Destinations:
- Las Vegas
- Fort Lauderdale
- Los Cabos
- Puerto Vallarta
- Montego Bay
Domestic Swoop Destinations:
My Rating of Swoop Airlines
I would give my experience with Swoop an 8/10. (taking into consideration it's a budget economy flight!)
I really didn’t have any kind of a negative experience at all, but of course the main reason for such a high score really boils down to price. I love a good deal, and when I can pair that with cutting my flight down from a 1-stop to a direct flight, even better!
Now that Swoop has a $99 flight from Kelowna direct to Las Vegas, I think that is a great way to get down to the US for cheap, even if Vegas isn’t my final destination. I’m looking forward to trying that service and seeing what it’s like.
Would I recommend Swoop?
I actually did today! My friends are looking to come and visit me in Mazatlan this winter and they can fly DIRECT from Abbotsford to Mazatlan for next to nothing. On WestJet their total cost for 2 round-trip tickets was going to be $1900 and with Swoop it will only be $800. 50% off!
I did not receive compensation of any kind for writing this review. In fact, Swoop didn't even know I was on-board! So rest assured knowing this review is 100% unbiased and my honest opinion.