The Best Cheap Airlines in Canada 2024: Fly for less

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Dreaming of your next vacation, but the cost is getting in the way? Have you considered looking at a budget Canadian airline? Depending on your vacation destination and needs, a discount Canadian airline might let you take that holiday sooner. Discount airlines in Canada have changed significantly in the last few years. We’ve seen some brands being rolled into their parent companies while other airlines have expanded their operations. Ready to fly? Here’s what to know about the best cheap airlines in Canada. 

The best cheap airlines in Canada 

For many Canadians, flights are the most expensive part of travel. Canada alone is a big country, and Canadians have to travel pretty far if they want to leave it. However, depending on your destination, cheap airlines in Canada might offer a more affordable option.  

However, buyers need to be cautious. While the ticket itself might be cheaper, you’ll often be charged for everything else, including baggage, seat selection, refreshments, and more. Another thing to be wary of is the airports that discount airlines in Canada use. They may not always be central, which can incur more costs in transportation.  

That being said, sometimes budget airlines can be a great option for a getaway. That’s because many ultra-affordable airlines fly to cities and provinces that aren’t served as much such as Victoria, British Columbia, and Hamilton, Ontario. Unfortunately, you won’t find cheap airlines in Canada flying to the Northwest Territories or Yukon. 

Here is a list of the best low-cost airlines in Canada to look out for when planning your next vacation.  

Flair Airlines

Cheap airlines in Canada Flair

Destinations: Canada, USA, Mexico, Jamaica, and Dominican Republic
Fleet size: 20
Airplanes used: Boeing 737 MAX 8 and Boeing 737-800

Flair is one of the cheapest airlines in Canada for Canadians who want to travel in North America. While they only have a few routes to the USA and Mexico, they do fly to a number of major Canadian destinations, making them ideal for a local getaway.  

The cost of your ticket only includes a small personal item that needs to fit under the seat in front of you. For more, you will need to pay. A carry-on size bag starts at $29+ tax while a checked suitcase starts at $44+ tax. For those with multiple pieces of luggage, there is a bundle option. Flair is very strict when it comes to luggage restrictions. There is no leeway at all.

You will also need to pay for seat selection which starts at $10+tax for a standard seat. There are higher-priced options if you want more legroom, an emergency exit, priority boarding, etc. Additionally, like most airlines, there are fees for booking via the call centre, changing or cancelling your flight. You can find a breakdown of all Flair fees here. 

Lynx Air is currently positioned to really make a difference in the world of ultra-low-cost airlines in Canada. They’re not tied to a major airline, and they have a good-sized fleet. They also cover some popular U.S. destinations, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Swoop Airlines

Low-cost airlines in Canada Swoop

DestinationsCanada, USA, Mexico, Caribbean
Fleet size: 16
Airplanes used: Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737 MAX 8

Swoop was a low-cost airline in Canada for warm weather destinations. They flew to destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean, parts of the U.S., and many Canadian destinations. However, when WestJet renegotiated the contracts with their pilots, it was decided that Swoop would be rolled into WestJet (their parent company)

Swoop no longer exists, but you can still see a few Swoop planes as they’re operated under WestJet. It’s unfortunate that this change happened, as Swoop offered fares at a reasonable price.

Canada Jetlines

Budget airlines in Canada Jetlines

Destinations: Canada, USA, Mexico, Guyana, and Jamaica
Fleet size: 3
Airplanes used: Airbus A320 

While not a major player right now, Canada Jetlines expects to expand its fleet to 15 planes by 2025, meaning they are a low-cost airline in Canada that you should keep an eye on. Right now, this budget Canadian airline only has three planes, so if they want to hit their target, they’ll need those planes to arrive quickly.

To distinguish themselves, Canada Jetlines doesn’t seem to be focused on Canada. Their hub is based out of Toronto, and they fly to Cancun, Las Vegas, Orlando, Georgetown (Guyana), and Jamaica.

If Canada Jetlines wants to remain competitive, they must offer really low prices or exceptional service to attract people from some of the other airlines on this list. This is one of the cheap airlines in Canada that I hope grows quickly.



Destinations: Caribbean, Mexico, USA, and Central America
Fleet size: 32
Airplanes used: Boeing 737-800, Boeing 737 MAX 8 

Sunwing is a name many Canadians likely recognize as a sun-destination airline. On top of flights, Sunwing also offers vacation packages to some of the most popular destinations. Destinations include the USA, Central America, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean destinations.  

Sunwing is a bit more generous with extras for customers who book vacation packages. In these situations, your first checked bag is included in the price. However, those who are booking flights only will need to pay for a checked bag. It’s $50 each way when you pay in advance. All passengers are allowed a personal item free of charge, but an extra cabin bag will cost you $25. 

Sunwing also has extra fees that you can add on for more perks and comfort, as well as additional baggage fees for unique items like scuba diving equipment, surfboards, and fishing gear. Be sure to check their pricing for breakdowns on these types of items. 

*Note that WestJet plans to merge Sunwing into the WestJet brand. There’s no announced date for this change yet, but Sunwing will eventually just be part of WestJet.


Porter airlines

Destinations: Canada and USA
Fleet size: 58
Airplanes used: De Havilland Canada Dash 8 Q400, Embraer E195-E2

Porter is considered to be one of Canada’s first low cost airlines. However, when it comes to service, they are definitely a step up from typical cheap airlines in Canada. Porter Airlines has multiple levels of fares, and what you choose will determine what you can bring in terms of luggage. 

The cheapest ticket, Basic Fare, will get you a personal item to stow under the seat. Standard, Flexible, or Freedom fares will allow you a personal item and a standard carry-on bag. Freedom tickets will also allow you to check in a bag for free. Otherwise, pricing for checked luggage starts at $27.50 if purchased at the time of booking your ticket.

What makes Porter Airlines a stand-out in terms of budget airlines in Canada is their onboard service. While most cheap flights will charge you for everything possible, Porter does offer a refreshment service free of charge, which includes snacks and drinks. Both wine and beer are included as free drink choices. This little bit extra makes them a top choice when it comes to low cost flights in Canada.  

Porter flies mostly out of Toronto’s island airport (Billy Bishop) to some major destinations, such as New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Quebec City, and Montreal. They also started flying out of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport with direct service to Vancouver, Orlando, San Francisco, and Los Angeles

Air Canada Rouge

low-cost airlines in Canada Rouge

Destinations: Canada, USA, Europe, Caribbean, South America, Central America, Mexico
Fleet size: 40
Airplanes used: Airbus A321-200, Airbus A320-200, Airbus A319-100

Air Canada Rouge is Air Canada’s budget airline. As part of the Air Canada conglomerate, it’s no surprise that Air Canada Rouge is the best-connected discount airline in Canada, with options not just within North America and the Caribbean but also to South America and Europe. While flights to these far destinations aren’t necessarily cheap, they are certainly less expensive than what you would pay with the parent company or other major international airlines. Most of their flight depart from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and Montreal’s International Airport.

European routes do include a free meal service, but other destinations will require you to purchase drinks and snacks. It’s also important to note that the airline does not offer in-flight entertainment. You can bring your own or rent an ipad for the duration of the flight. 

Passengers are allowed one personal item and one standard carry-on. Any checked luggage will depend on the type of ticket you purchased. If checked luggage is not included, you can purchase your first checked bag starting at $30 each way. Those flying in Premium Economy get free high speed WiFi access.

Air Transat

Air Transat

Destinations: Canada, USA, Europe, Mexico, Central America, South America, Caribbean
Fleet size: 36
Airplanes used: Airbus A321-200, Airbus A321LR, Airbus A330-200, Airbus A330-300

Another one of the best cheap airlines in Canada with a wide range of destinations is Air Transat. Technically speaking, they’re a charter airline, but they are still less expensive than the big players while also priding themselves on quality experience and customer service both at the airport and during the flight. 

Flights to Europe include complimentary meals. Otherwise, food and drinks can be purchased. Online entertainment is offered, though you will want to check ahead of time as soon planes require you to download an app in advance. As with Air Canada Rouge, checked baggage allowance depends on the fare you purchase, but all guests can bring one personal item and one standard carry-on. 


Play airlines

Destinations: Canada, USA, Iceland, Europe
Fleet size: 10
Airplanes used: Airbus A320neo, Airbus A321neo

Play is a low-cost carrier based out of Iceland. They only fly to Hamilton, which is about 45 minutes from Toronto. From Hamilton, you can fly to Reykjavík and then onto many destinations in Europe, such as Dublin, Brussels, London, Salzburg, Venice, Athens and more. In the summer, they’re adding a direct Hamilton to Amsterdam route. Note that the Play website lists the departure airport as Toronto, but it does indeed fly from Hamilton.

As a discount carrier, you still get a few options. The basic fare, which is the cheapest, only allows you to bring on a personal item. If you opt for the value fare, it includes priority boarding, a personal item, a checked bag, a carry-on bag, and seat selection from the middle to back rows (no XL seat). Generally speaking, it’s best to go with the value fare if you need to bring luggage, as a checked bag would cost you $140 CAD or $90 for a carry-on bag. Those costs are more than upgrading to a value fare.

Lynx Air – No longer operational

Cheapest airline in Canada Lynx Air

Destinations: Canada, USA, and Mexico
Fleet size: 9
Airplanes used: Boeing 737 MAX 8 and Boeing 737-800

Lynx Air was an ultra-low-cost carrier in Canada that went bankrupt and ceased operations on February 25, 2024. This is unfortunate as their service was good, and they served some decent routes. In case you’re curious, you can read my Lynx Air Toronto to Orlando review.

Loyalty programs for low-cost airlines in Canada

Loyalty programs are a huge perk for regular travellers, but they are not very common among ultra-low-cost carriers. In fact, only three of these airlines have loyalty programs at this time: 

  • Air Canada RougeFalls under Aeroplan
  • Swoop: Since they’ve been rolled into the WestJet mainline, you can now earn and redeem your WestJet Rewards when flying with them.
  • Porter: VIPorter

Are low-cost airlines in Canada worth it?

It depends. If you are going for a getaway, such as the Canadian Rocky Mountains, where you don’t need much luggage and can fly to exactly where you want, then absolutely yes- grab a seat on one of the best low-cost airlines in Canada! 

However, if you travel with a lot of luggage or can’t get directly to where you want and need to figure out ground transportation, well, maybe not. Cheap airlines are cheap because they provide you with just the basics. But once you start adding on those extras, the prices can creep up pretty quickly to the point where you may be better off going with a major airline that has more perks and benefits. So, before you hit ‘buy’ on the cheap tickets, do the math and consider any extra costs you may need to account for. 

What’s also appealing about cheap airlines in Canada is that they don’t fly out of every major Canadian city. They fly out of many smaller regional airports, which is more appealing to people who live nearby.

Budget airlines in Canada vs. Europe and the U.S.

While there are definitely some options, cheap airlines in Canada still have a long way to go compared to options in Europe and even the United States. In Europe, you can fly just about anywhere in an ultra-low-cost carrier for cheap. Canada’s low-cost carriers are well positioned for the future.

If you’re looking to save on airfare and live near the Canada/USA border, it’s possibly also worth your time to look at flying from an American airport. They tend to have lower airfares than we see in Canada. Buffalo, Bellingham, and Seattle are the most popular options.

Regardless of which airline you choose to fly, be sure to check out my articles on the best travel credit cards in Canada, and the best airline credit cards in Canada.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

1 Comment

  1. Andy Kuiper on March 13, 2023 at 1:26 PM

    I heard Porter was good – and Lynxx ‘might’ be ok. I’m nervous about getting cancelled…

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