A new low-cost airline is about to enter Canadian skies.
Swoop, WestJet Airlines’ new no-frills carrier, debuts Wednesday with its inaugural flight from Hamilton, Ont. to Abbotsford, B.C.
The country’s second-largest air carrier is betting on the ultra-low cost model popularized in Europe, advertising one-way flights as low as $29 in the week leading up to the launch.
While the introduction of a new ultra-low-cost carrier in Canada has been welcomed by deal-seekers, it has been a source of contention between WestJet and its pilots, mostly over who would fly Swoop planes. Shareholders have voiced their concerns too, questioning whether WestJet may be spreading itself too thin.
But for those interested in what Swoop has to offer passengers, here’s what you need to know.
Swoop is currently booking flights between Abbotsford, Edmonton, Halifax, Hamilton and Winnipeg. The airline will launch six weekly flights between Abbotsford and Hamilton and between Hamilton and Halifax on June 20. Five days later, it will introduce six weekly flights between Hamilton and Edmonton and between Hamilton and Winnipeg. Swoop will begin flying between Abbotsford and Edmonton on July 25, three times daily. And on August 16, the air carrier will begin providing daily direct service between Hamilton and Abbotsford. Swoop says it will add more destinations soon.
Fares for Swoop flights vary, depending on the route. Bob Cummings, the WestJet executive in charge of the Swoop launch, told BNN Bloomberg in February, when fares and destinations were first announced, that customers can expect fares that are 30 per cent lower than the “big guys.” The carrier was advertising one-way flights as low as $29 from Abbotsford to Edmonton as part of a seat sale the week before the launch, and introductory one-way fares on other routes ranging between $39 and $99.
Swoop will be flying Boeing 737-800 planes, which boast fuel efficiency and noise control. The aircraft has 189 sets, 39 of which will have extra leg room, and three washrooms – two at the back of the plane and one at the front.
In addition to cheap flights, Swoop is touting its in-flight Wi-Fi and entertainment system and seats with extra leg room – all at an additional cost. Travellers shouldn’t expect a free meal or water either. Food and beverages can be purchased through the airline’s on-board menu. And those who might be looking to get rid of their spare change should note Swoop doesn’t accept cash on board.
Passengers will be allowed to bring one personal item on board for free. But carry-on luggage will cost between $36.75 and $40.25 and the first checked bag will be between $26.25 and $28.75. The price for additional checked baggage goes up from there.
ONLINE BOOKING ONLY
Swoop doesn’t allow in-person bookings at the airport, and there’s a $15-fee for booking over the phone. Passengers can book online for free up until one hour before the flight.
NO PETS ALLOWED
Swoop won’t allow pets on board – whether in the cabin or as checked baggage. However, the airline says it will make an exception for emotional support animals.