Flair Airlines was the first airline to hit the ULCC (Ultra-Low-Cost Carrier) market in Canada. This airline manages to offer the cheapest prices in an already cheap market governed by Flair and its competitor, Swoop Airlines. One of its many benefits is offering one-way flights that start at $59 and cap out at $199, making them the cheapest flights in Canada. The only thing holding Flair back, as you'll learn in this Flair Airlines review, is its rudimentary website and the lack of international destinations and in-flight entertainment options.
If you’re looking for the cheapest fare you can find to get from point A to B within Canada, Flair is exactly what you need. What are you waiting for to get the best deals in Canadian flights?
Tired of feeling like you could get better prices for your flights in Canada? ULCCs (Ultra-Low-Cost Carriers) are here to offer a better, less expensive option for those frequent fliers who are always looking for the best prices out there. Hop on this Flair Airlines review as we dissect and understand how Flair can be a better option for customers on a budget looking to get from point A to B with no extra luxury.
Before we get to talk about Flair Airlines in more depth, though, we have to cover what ULCCs really are, so here’s a brief explanation.
What Are ULCCs?
ULCC is an acronym given to Ultra-Low-Cost Carriers, a whole new way of flying in Canada and North America.
ULCCs are an answer to customers wanting to pay less money on everyday ticket prices. However, ULCCs reach these low prices by stripping away some of the features included on regular flights.
ULCCs aren’t looking to replace regular carriers, they’re just coming to answer something customers have always and will always ask for: a cheap plane fare.
Maybe you’re one of those frequent fliers who would like to pay less in your everyday flights — after all, having to pay $1,000 for every flight adds up pretty quickly.
Related: you may also be interested to read about Air North, the biggest airline in Yukon, serving one of the most unique experiences when it comes to flights.
Flair Airlines: One Of The First ULCCs In Canada
Flair Airlines is one of the first airlines that started offering Ultra-Low-Cost fares and essentially opened the ULCC market in Canada. It’s based in Edmonton, Alberta, with its main hub in the Edmonton International Airport. It currently only offers domestic flights in Canada with 11 destinations in total.
Flair Airlines doesn’t belong to a bigger airline in the way that Swoop Airlines belongs to Westjet. It’s a privately owned company that started operations way back in 2005 as Flair Air, later providing cargo and passenger services between Cuba and Canada on behalf of Cubana.
It wasn’t until 2017 that Flair Air bought the discount travel company NewLeaf and rebranded itself as Flair Airlines. Flair had been the operator of NewLeaf’s flights until the deal was made and most of the staff was transferred to Flair as both companies merged.
Related: Air Creebec is an airline focused on the lesser-known native communities in both Ontario and Quebec.
Where Does Flair Airlines Fly To?
Flair Airlines offers really cheap flights to some of the most popular cities and destinations in Canada. Here is a list of the 11 destinations they fly to:
|Abbotsford||Abbotsford International Airport (YXX)|
|Calgary||Calgary International Airport (YYC)|
|Charlottetown||Charlottetown Airport (YYG)|
|Edmonton||Edmonton International Airport (YEG)|
|Halifax||Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)|
|Kelowna||Kelowna International Airport (YLW)|
|Saint John||Saint John Airport (YSJ)|
|Ottawa||Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW)|
|Toronto||Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)|
|Vancouver||Vancouver International Airport (YVR)|
|Winnipeg||Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG)|
Even though Flair Airlines is a ULCC, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have quality aircraft for its flights. In fact, as we were writing this Flair Airlines review, we were a little surprised by the quality of the aircraft they use.
Flair Airlines' Fleet: Up To Par With Premium Carriers
When we think of a discount airline we usually tend to believe that they cut costs on their aircraft or their security. This is one of the misconceptions that is talked about the most when talking about ULCCs, but it’s just that, a misconception. ULCCs like Flair Airlines don’t cut corners when it comes to quality aircraft. Take a look at Flair Airlines' fleet:
- 4 Boeing 737-400s that can carry up to 156 passengers each. These will eventually be phased out by more up-to-date aircraft.
- 4 Boeing 737-800s that can carry up to 189 passengers in one flight.
As Flair Airlines looks to expand into the ULCC market, they’ve announced that better aircraft will be replacing their 737-400s, most likely for more 737-800s.
Flair Airlines Flight Status: Rudimentary At Best
Most airlines want their website to be as simple to use as possible and most successful at that, but we think Flair doesn’t. The overall design of the Flair Airlines website looks and feels very rudimentary to use when compared to other carriers’ websites. We’re being completely fair here since other low-cost airlines like Swoop Airlines have websites that'll give those of premium carriers a run for their money, even though it's also a ULCC.
An airline’s website design directly influences how easy or hard it is to book or check your flight information. In this case, you can check your flight status in two ways. The first one is by specifying your route (departure and arrival) and the date on which you want to fly in. The search results should show all of the scheduled flights for that date and route. Here you’ll also find details like flight number, hours of scheduled and estimated departure and arrivals and the overall status of the flight.
The second way in which you can check your flight status is by using your flight number (if you’ve already booked a flight) and the date of the flight. The results will then only show the flight you’re looking for.
This rudimentary usefulness to Flair Airlines is an indirect way to check their flight schedule, but the thing is, they don’t offer an option to actually check it straight up. Either way, here’s how we managed to solve that issue:
Flair Airlines Schedule, Or Lack Thereof
Our experience with the only other ULCC has confirmed that they don’t offer their flight schedule. This is sort of bizarre since they probably want their customers to be as informed as they could be, but they don’t seem to have this philosophy. Either way, we have a solution that manages to work every single time we’ve used it (especially in this Flair Airlines Review), and it would be Airportia.
Airportia easily lets us check both arrivals and departures for Flair Airlines, even up to a week in advance. Here’s what it looks like.
Flair Airlines Flight Prices: Probably The Lowest In Canada
When it comes to comparing the only ULCCs we know of in Canada (Flair and Swoop Airlines), Flair probably offers the lowest prices overall. The cheapest deals that the airline offers are for the shortest routes, which start at 59$ for a one-way trip. The medium distance deals that the airline offers start at a little bit over $100, but they stay around that range. On the other hand, the longer routes cap out at $199 for one-way trips, and even then those are still some great deals.
Here’s a table detailing the price variations for one-way and round-trip flights and some example routes:
|Distance||One-way Price Range||Round-trip Price Range||Example Routes|
|Short||$59 – $89||$118 – $178||Calgary to Kelowna, Kelowna to Vancouver, Halifax to Toronto|
|Medium||$99 – $149||$198 – $298||Winnipeg to Toronto, Toronto to Halifax, Toronto to Edmonton|
|Long||$149 – $199||$298 – $398||Calgary to Toronto, Toronto to Vancouver, Kelowna to Toronto|
As you can see on the table, prices on round-trips can be as low as $118 and as high as $398. The starting point for prices is even lower than the one for Swoop Airlines (read more below), making this the ULCC with the lowest starting prices for flights.
As with all ULCCs, there are more things to booking a flight. You see, these carriers can get to offer such low prices because of their business model. This model consists of stripping away some features that you’d find on regular carriers like in-flight entertainment, food, free checked baggage, etc. That’s why we categorize regular carriers like Air Canada and Westjet as “Bundled Flights” and ULCCs as “Unbundled Flights”. Here’s what we mean by that:
With “Bundled Flights”, we refer to any flight taken with any regular airline like Westjet, Air Canada or even other more regional airlines like Canadian North. These flight fares include the cost of travelling on a plane to your destination, but they also include features like in-flight food and snacks, checked bags and carry-on bags. That’s why they’re considered “Bundled Flights” since they include other features rather than only the minimum fare needed to fly.
We call any flight that only includes the base fare to fly between points A and B as an “Unbundled Flight”. This includes most, if not all, Ultra-Low-Cost Carriers like Swoop and Flair Airlines. That’s why ULCCs are able to offer fares and flight tickets that are a lot cheaper than those offered by regular airlines.
It’s worth noting that as we’ve mentioned, “Unbundled Flights” don’t offer features like in-flight snacks or free checked and carry-on bags, so you will have to pay that on top of the fare you pay. Even though you have to pay for certain things that are included in other airlines’ flights, these flights still manage to be a lot cheaper than booking with any regular airline.
Knowing that, let’s see how Flair Airlines treats these features as you select your flight.
Once you’ve chosen your flight itinerary you’ll find that the first step that comes after that is seat selection. This process works the same as with Swoop airlines, meaning that you have to pay for the privilege of choosing which seat you want at the moment of booking. On the other hand, you could opt out of choosing any seat and saving that money, but then you’ll get a randomly assigned seat at the moment of boarding the plane. We would only recommend doing this for short flights since, if you end up in a terrible seat, you won’t have to endure it for too long.
Seats can go for as little as $12 – $13 or as much as $45 – $49 for the most comfortable spots in the aircraft, so it’s up to you if you want to secure a comfortable trip.
At the moment of booking, you will also find some “Baggage Bundles”. These work as an easy-to-play baggage fare for all the bags you’re gonna be bringing into the plane, and they’re quite a good deal.
There are 2 baggage bundles that Flair Airlines offers to all passengers, the basic bundle and the big bundle. Here’s what they offer:
|Baggage Bundles||Price||Bag Allowance||Extras|
|Basic Bundle||$40.85||1st Checked Bag||Priority Boarding and Travel Flex|
|Big Bundle||$61.95||1st Checked and Carry-On Bags||Priority Boarding and Travel Flex|
TravelFlex allows you to modify your itinerary once without paying change fees up to 24 hours before departure, the fare difference will have to be paid separately.
These bundles work as an easy way to not overwhelm customers with baggage fees, but if you’re bringing more than what they can handle it’s always better to know these fares. Flair Airlines is as strict as Swoop, so be prepared for your bags to fit into those categories or else pay a lot of money in oversized and overweight fees.
Flight Insurance: Always Good To Have In Mind
Flair Airlines also offers flight insurance covered by Manulife Flight Assitance. This works as a real-time flight disruption insurance designed to alleviate any frustration caused by delays or cancellations.
Manulife Flight Assistance has a cost of 39$, but it offers:
- Complimentary Airport Lounge Access
- Monetary Benefit
- Complimentary Hotel Room
- Flight Rebooking in the event of a cancellation.
This flight insurance service might sound expensive considering how cheap flights are with Flair Airlines, but we consider that they’re a handy Plan B to always have. Considering how common delays are with ULCCs, we always recommend buying this insurance, we’re sure that it’ll save you a lot of frustration when you least expect it.
In-Flight Entertainment, Or Lack Thereof
ULCCs are known for putting a price tag on everything, even water. That’s why it’s always recommended for passengers to bring their own food and water. It’s also worth noting that, unlike Swoop Airlines, Flair aircraft don’t offer any sort of internet or power outlet for phones or mobile devices, so bring your devices fully charged with a lot of entertainment in them.
Related: Calm Air is one of the most unique airlines we've ever seen, with what probably is the best reward system for miles/points in any airline.
Baggage Allowance And Fees
The fees in this section apply to you as a flier if:
- You didn’t purchase a bundle at the time of booking
- Your bag is overweight or
- You plan to bring more than 1 checked and carry-on bag.
Here’s how they will categorize your bags:
Flair Airlines permits one free personal bag item per passenger. Examples can include purses, small backpacks and even laptop bags. The dimensions for this category are: 16 cm x 33 cm x 43 cm or 6 in x 13 in x 17 in corresponding to length, width and height. Also, these bags shouldn’t surpass 7 kg or 15.5 lbs in weight. If they do, they’ll be considered a Carry-On bag and will be subject to a fee.
Flair is really not fond of Carry-on baggage because according to them it slows the boarding and deplaning process for flights, this translates into Carry-On bags being more expensive than checked bags. Some examples of these bags are small roller suitcases and small duffel bags. The dimensions for them should be 22 cm x 40 cm x 55 cm or 9 in x 15.5 in x 21.5 in. These bags shouldn’t exceed 10 kg or 22 lbs.
The same principle of “The earlier you buy them the better” still applies here. Carry-on bags have a set price of 35 + taxes at the moment of booking, but if you buy them either at check-in or at the boarding gate, they will incur a $15 fee in both cases.
When we get to checked bags, things get a little more complicated since fees per bag change depending on the number of bags you’re bringing and when you buy them. This table summarizes every important aspect:
|Checked Baggage Fees||Website||Check-in||Boarding Gate|
|1st Checked Bag||$30 + Taxes||$40 + Taxes||$50|
|2nd Checked Bag||$40 + Taxes||$50 + Taxes||$50 + Taxes|
|3rd and 4th Checked Bags||$70 +Taxes||$80 + Taxes||$80 + Taxes|
Dimensions for checked bags are 158 cm or 62 in. in total linear dimensions. These bags shouldn’t surpass a total of 23 kg or 50 lbs either. If your bag surpasses the weight limit, you’ll incur a $50 to $70 + tax fee. Instead, if your bag is oversized beyond the limits, you’ll incur a $50 + tax fee. If your bag is both overweight and oversized, only the overweight fee will apply.
The tax fees mentioned here will vary on the route you’re flying in. They’re actually never disclosed by Flair Airlines in any part of their website, so your guess is as good as ours.
Flair Airlines Vs Swoop Airlines
As we've mentioned throughout this post, in Canada, the only other ULCC currently in operation is Swoop Airlines. Let's take a moment to compare these two airlines head to head.
Flair Airlines Review: Limited, But Cheap
If you’ve read both reviews, then it’s no secret that Flair Airlines offers the cheapest flights when it comes to the ULCC market in Canada, but these come with some caveats. Here are some of the drawbacks that stand out the most:
- Flair only offers domestic flights.
- There are no WiFi or power outlets in aircraft.
- Baggage fees can rack your fare price up to astronomical proportions
- If you aren’t well informed, you might not know of all the fees and extras you can incur
- Delays are commonplace when booking with ULCCs
- The website is rudimentary when compared to Swoop’s
On the other hand, benefits unique to Flair include:
- Being able to buy flight insurance for a cheap price
- The cheapest prices in the ULCC market
- Baggage fees aren’t as expensive as in Swoop
Now let’s look at Swoop Airlines:
Swoop Airlines: More Features, More Expensive
Both airlines are really similar, but there are some key differences between the two. In our Swoop Airlines review, we found that this airline might offer the most expensive flights in the ULCC market, even if they’re still some of the cheapest in general, but they include WiFi (paid service) and power outlets in their aircraft.
One thing that Flair has to its advantage is that it offers flight insurance, something Swoop doesn’t mention on its website at all. And one of the most important things is that Swoop offers the more expensive baggage fees in the market, which can be a dealbreaker for some.
Flair Airlines Review: In Summary
In the end, both are great options, and it’s up to you if you want to spend a little more on WiFi and power outlets on Swoop or if you want to save the extra cash while bringing your own food and in-flight entertainment.
One thing we did note while writing this Flair Airlines review is that Flair flights tend to be delayed or cancelled on a more regular basis than Swoop’s, but that is naturally covered if you decide to get the flight insurance.
So, if you’re looking for the cheapest prices in an already cheap market, Flair Airlines is definitely the best option for flying with ULCCs. Why not start your experience right now while booking a flight?