When you’re over 30,000 feet in the air, you want to be able to sit back and relax. Not worry about if you picked the best airline in Canada. It isn’t easy to find the best price for your flight, or the right airline for your needs. Especially when the Canadian sky is full of them.
For many Canadian travelers who want to save money, airfare seems to be the sole determinant of which flight to go with. But cheap fares don’t always mean quality, and choosing a poor airline can make your journey anxiety-ridden and chaotic, a problem that can easily compound if you’re travelling with family.
Airlines in Canada vary in what they offer their customers. Yes, in-flight experience is important, but external factors such as the boarding process, luggage retrieval, delays are all part of the flight experience as well. To help make your decision easier, and to save money on your next trip, let’s talk about the 7 best airlines in Canadian right now:
Air Canada is hands down the largest domestic and international airline in Canada today, both in respect to fleet size and the number of passengers it carries. It serves more than 200 destinations across six continents, and is the founder of the Star Alliance group, an exclusive cohort of 26 airlines that work together to give their passengers easy connections and other rich perks to enhance their travelling experience. And its the official airline of one of Canada’s most beloved travel rewards program, Aeroplan.
Air Canada was ranked as the best airline in North America in 2017, based on a survey by Skytrax; a UK-based international air transport rating organization. It also received awards for the best business class lounge dining, best business class in North America and best airline cabin cleanliness in North America at Skytrax world airline awards.
Since it’s the most recognized airline abroad, Air Canada offers endless last-minute daily flight options both domestic and international travelers. This airline counts Calgary international, Montréal Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Toronto Pearson and Vancouver International Airport as its main hubs.
Air Canada offers 7 booking classes which includes Basic, Standard, Flex, Comfort, Latitude, Premium Economy, and Business Class. They also operate an airline called Air Canada Rouge which basically provides low-cost flights to vacation spots in Europe,the Caribbean, South America, Central America, Mexico and the United States.
Depending on your fare, flight and frequent-flyer status, some of the products that you will be able to take advantage of includes in-flight Wi-Fi access with Gogo, Advanced Standard Seat Selection, Maple Leaf Lounge Access, Same-day Airport Changes, Service for Unaccompanied Minors and more.
WestJet is Canada’s second major airline that, along with its regional airline WestJet Encore, takes passengers to more than 100 destinations within Canada, U.S., Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. Last year, over 66,130 travelers chose WestJet to fly places within and outside of Canada. Founded in 1996, WestJet Airlines has continued to operate independently and still is not part of any alliance.
WestJet is part of the RBC Avion travel rewards program, and they have their own loyalty program. WestJet Rewards encourages passengers to continue using WestJet’s services for their next vacation. The rewards programs incentivizes travelers with WestJet dollars when making travel-related purchases through WestJet. The dollars can be redeemed for future flights and vacation packages with WestJet.
WestJet is constantly expanding its destination routes. For example, in 2019 they added new pathways from Calgary to Austin, Texas and Calgary to Portland, Oregon. The main hubs of WestJet includes Calgary international, Toronto Pearson international, Vancouver international. In the 2019 Skytrax Airline awards, WestJet was recognized as Canada’s Low-cost Airlines. They recently launched their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners Fleet with private pods for a first-class travel experience. When it comes to sear types, there are 7 to choose from– Basic, Econo, EconoFlex, Premium, PremiumFlex, Business, and Businessflex.
Other features that come with WestJest seat, depending on the type, includes In-seat Power that lets you charge up your dying devices, Internet on board, access to a nice selection of music and movies to keep you entertained during long flights.
Air Transat is Canada‘s third largest airline that’s based in Montreal, Quebec. It was recognized as the World’s Best Leisure Airline at Skytrax World Airline Awards. Air Transat has also been recognized for its commitment to sustainable development; And for being one of the top 20 Airlines implementing energy efficient processes. Air Transat accepts travel rewards program points such as Areoplan and Air Miles.
Air Transat is owned by Transat A.T. Inc, which is an international tourism company that specializes in holiday travel. This airline serves more than 60 international destinations across 25 countries in the Americas and Europe. It’s major hubs are Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport.
Because it specializes in vacation destinations travel, Air Transat usually flies to warmer destinations during the winter months and European destinations during summer. This airline have two cabin types to choose from – Club Class and Economy Class.
For a fee, you can add more perks to your Economy Class to unlock features such as seat selection, priority services, checked baggage, a comfort kit, a set of natural wood earbuds, an alcoholic beverage, and an exclusive selection of meals and treats. With Club Class, you get more spacious and recline-able seats with pillows and other premium amenities, a carry-on and two pieces of checked baggage, priority services and on-board perks mentioned above.
To clear the air, pun intended, Jazz is not an independent airline. They are an Air Canada discount brand. Nonetheless, Jazz is a great lower-cost option for Canadian travelers, and they accept Aeroplan points too. Jazz provides both regional and charter airline services in Canada and the United States. It’s based in Halifax Stanfield International Airport and Halifax Regional Municipality. Although Jazz is the sole subsidiary of Chorus Aviation, it is also Air Canada‘s largest regional partner and operates using the brand-name Air Canada Express and Jazz charters.
Their offshoot, Air Canada Express serves 79 destinations across Canada and the United States. Since it’s Air Canada’s partner, Air Canada sets the routes and flight schedule for jazz and handles all the seat pricing. It’s main hubs are Toronto Pearson International Airport, Victoria International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport and Calgary International airport.
Jazz’s Charter services are usually booked by corporate, executive, investors or those belonging to the oil and gas industry, and hockey teams for both business and recreation trips. Each trip is personalized from start to finish to the client’s needs. Jazz Charters serves Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, St. John’s, United States and more.
Jazz offers two cabin types- Business Class and Economy Class. In 2019, Media Corporate Canada Inc. recognized Jazz Aviation as Canada‘s Best Diversity Employers for the eighth consecutive year. Also note that, Jazz offers technical services as well and is authorized to repair Canadian, US and EASA aircraft.
Central Mountain Air
Central Mountain Air is a popular regional airline in Canada that provides scheduled and charter flights across communities in British Columbia and Alberta. You can accumulate and redeem Air Miles with this airline too. They operate a fleet of Beechcraft 1900, de Havilland Canada Dash 8 and Dornier 328. In total, CMA currently serves 16 communities– Campbell River, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Kelowna, Prince George, Quesnel, Smithers, Fort Nelson, Fort St. John, Terrace, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, high-level and Lloydminster.
Central Mountain Air in partnership with Northern Thunderbird Air provide charter services to corporations, government agencies, oil and gas industry, individuals and other companies. They offer Expedia ate it passenger check-in and customizable schedule designed by the passenger. They also offer personalized meals and beverage options for the flight.
CMA is also a partner of Air Canada and offers seamless and convenient same airport-terminal flight connections to travelers flying to religions, national and international destinations. Fare booking types with CMA includes Econ, Flex, Flex+.
Northwestern Air is a domestic airline operating in Canada that’s based in Forth Smith, Northwest Territories. It offers scheduled flights to 7 destinations in Alberta and Northwest Territories— Edmonton, Fort Chipewyan, Fort McMurray, High level, Fort Smith, Hay River, and Yellowknife
Other than the scheduled flights, it also oversees short and long-term charter contracts for corporations in Canada and the USA. Northwestern Air fleet operates more than 100 flights per week, and their fleet contains around 15 aircraft with a mix of British aerospace jetstream, Cessna 172, Cessna 185 skywagon, Cessna 206, Cessna 210, and DHC-3 Otter.
They don’t offer online check-in. And because of being a smaller airline, they only offer 1 booking type- Economy Class.
Northwestern Air also offers cargo services by partnering with third-party airlines and careers like FedEx. Some of the Cargo service functions the undertake include local pickup and delivery, frozen and refrigerated goods, time sensitive shipment forwarding, transportation of domestic live animals, and transportation of dangerous goods. Along with that, they offer Fuel and Hangar services, and expert Aircraft Maintenance services.
Sunwest Aviation exclusively serves a small demographic of private business or leisure travellers needing charter services. When you charter with Sunwest, you get to control your schedule and the ambience of the flight. Instead of arriving hours in advance for check-in, you only have to come in 15 minutes prior to take-off. With Sunwest, you also get to pick from a wide range of airports, which isn’t an option that’s available in traditional airlines. This means you get the opportunity to land closer to your destination which is extremely valuable if you are travelling for business and don’t want to waste your precious minutes in commute.
Sunwest Aviation is based in Calgary International Airport in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and have a fleet of 31 aircraft. They also offer aircraft management services to both individuals and corporations. If you own an aircraft, you can rent it out to Sunwest and earn revenue from your asset even when not personally flying.
Sunwest also offers short-notice transportation that helps companies schedule last minute flights to transport crewmembers back and forth from worksites. Sunwest Aviation also offers an air ambulance service called Sunburst air ambulance. It is a full-service medical transportation solution that’s equipped with advanced life support systems. Sunwest aviation is a fixed base operator and as such they provide shell fuel, flight handling, aircraft storage, aircraft maintenance, and aircraft grooming services.
Which airline is best suited for you will depend on your travel needs and your destination. But the ones mentioned above take customer service very important and are constantly working hard to thrive in the competitive space of air travel in Canada.
Founded in 2006, Porter Airlines serves 22 popular destinations across Canada and the US. They’re based out of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport with 29 aircrafts, and plan to add 80 more. Porter offers convenient flights to major Canadian cities, warm US destinations, and will soon expand air routes to Mexico and the Caribbean.
Port Airlines are known for providing the same full-service feel of the big name carriers for a fraction of the cost, and a throw-back vintage look. All tickets include complimentary beer, wine, and premium snacks both in flight and in the lounge. Porter uses Embraer E195-E2 aircrafts which they claim are the most eco-friendly planes in the industry. Flights are more comfortable for passengers, producing up to 65% less noise than other aircraft models.
Porter Airlines is conveniently located steps from downtown Toronto and offers a free shuttle service between the airport and downtown core. Passengers can check-in much later and faster than the major airline carriers. Porter’s aircraft cabins are more spacious with full stand-up height and no middle seats for a less crowded passenger experience. If you’re looking for a tropical destination, Porter currently flies to Aruba, Cancun Mexico, Nassau Bahamas, Punta Cana Dominican Republic, and San Juan Puerto Rico.
Porter Airlines also offer an in-house VIP Program called VIPorter. Upon signup, members earn points on eligible travel purchases and can redeem points for travel. Basic air fare purchases earn 2 points per $1 spent. However, you must redeem points within 24 consecutive months or they expire. You can upgrade your membership to get access to priority check-in, a priority security lane, and priority boarding.
About The Author: Arthur Dubois
Passionate about personal finance and financial technology, Arthur Dubois is a writer and SEO specialist at Hardbacon. Since his arrival in Canada, he’s built his credit score from nothing.
Arthur invests in the stock market but doesn’t pay any fees because he uses National Bank Direct Brokerage online broker and Wealthsimple’s robo-advisor. He pays for his subscriptions online with his KOHO prepaid card, and uses his Tangerine credit card for most of his in-store purchases. When he buys bitcoins, it’s with the BitBuy online platform. Of course it goes without saying that he uses the Hardbacon app so that he can manage all of his finances from one convenient place.
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