The 8 Best Airlines in Canada for 2024

an airplane flying in the sky

    When you’re more than 30,000 feet in the air, you want to sit back and relax, not worry if you picked one of the best airlines in Canada. It isn’t easy to find the best price for your flight or the right airline for your needs. After all, the Canadian market offers many choices of how to fly.

    The best airlines in Canada vary in what they offer their customers. Yes, in-flight experience matters. However, external factors – such as the boarding process, luggage retrieval and delays – all play into the flight experience as well. To help make your decision easier, and to save money on your next flight,  let’s talk about the best airlines in Canadian.

    Best For
    Avion Rewards & Customer Service
    Aeroplan Rewards & International Travel
    Flying to Toronto
    Holiday & Vacation Travel
    Cheap Interior Flights
    Ultra-Low Cost Fare
    Travelling between BC & AB
    Travelling in the Maritimes

    WestJet: Best for Avion Rewards & Customer Service

    WestJet stands out as Canada’s second major airline. Along with its regional airline WestJet Encore, it takes passengers to more than 100 destinations within Canada, U.S., Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. Founded in 1996, WestJet Airlines has flown 300 million passengers during its history. Overall, it remains one of the best airlines in Canada, beloved for its personable, compassionate and top-notch staff.

    WestJet operates its own loyalty program, WestJet Rewards, which is further enhanced through its partnership with RBC Avion. Members can convert Avion points into WestJet dollars at a typical rate of 100 Avion points to 1 WestJet dollar, with occasional promotional bonuses offering more favorable conversion rates. These accumulated WestJet dollars can be redeemed for flights and vacation packages.

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    The company recently launched their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners Fleet with private pods for a first-class travel experience. Further, in-seat power lets you charge up your dying devices, access internet on board and choose music and movies to keep you entertained during long flights.

    Air Canada: Best for Aeroplan Rewards & International Travel

    Air Canada ranks as one of the best airlines in Canada. It also stands out as the biggest in respect to fleet size and the number of passengers it carries. With the largest selection of domestic and international destinations, it serves more than 200 destinations across six continents. Furthermore, it co-founded Star Alliance. This exclusive cohort of 26 airlines work together to give passengers easy connections and other rich perks to enhance their travelling experience. It also holds the status of the official airline of one of Canada’s most beloved travel rewards program, Aeroplan.

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    Skytrax, a UK-based international air transport rating organization, described Air Canada as the best airline in North America in 2017. Thanks to the same survey, it also received awards for the best business class lounge dining. Customers also chose it as the best business class in North America and best airline for cabin cleanliness in North America at Skytrax world airline awards.

    As the most recognized Canadian 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 International and Vancouver International Airport as its main hubs.

    Air Canada offers seven booking classes from basic and standard to business class. They also operate an airline called Air Canada Rouge, providing 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, you can tap into in-flight Wi-Fi, advanced seat selection, Maple Leaf Lounge Access, same-day airport changes, service for unaccompanied minors and more.

    Porter Airlines: Best for Flying to Toronto

    Founded in 2006, Porter Airlines serves 31 popular destinations across Canada and the US. Based out of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which is just a short distance from downtown Toronto, it’s one of the most convenient airline to fly to Canada’s largest city. This proximity allows passengers to enjoy the convenience of a quick and easy transit to the city center, a significant contrast to the longer commute required from Toronto Pearson International Airport.

    Port Airlines became renowned for providing the same full-service feel of the big-name carriers for a fraction of the cost – with a throw-back vintage look. All tickets include complimentary beer, wine and premium snacks in flight.

    Porter uses Embraer E195-E2 aircraft, the most eco-friendly planes in the industry. They produce up to 65 percent less noise than other aircraft models. Porter’s aircraft cabins have full stand-up height and no middle seats for a less crowded passenger experience. If you seek a tropical destination, Porter flies to Aruba, Cancun Mexico, Nassau Bahamas, Punta Cana Dominican Republic and San Juan Puerto Rico.

    Porter Airlines also offer an in-house rewards program called VIPorter. Upon signup, members earn points on eligible travel purchases and can redeem points for travel.

    Air Transat: Best for Holiday & Vacation Travel

    As Canada‘s third largest airline, Air Transat operates out of Montreal. Recognized as the World’s Best Leisure Airline at Skytrax World Airline Awards, it has become one of the best airlines in Canada for vacationers. Air Transat has also been recognized for its commitment to sustainable development and as one of the top 20 Airlines with energy-efficient processes. Air Transat accepts travel rewards program points such as Areoplan and Air Miles.

    Owned by Transat A.T. Inc, the airline fits into the international tourism company that specializes in holiday travel. This airline serves more than 60 international destinations across 25 countries in the Americas and Europe. Its major hubs are Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport.

    Specializing in vacation destinations, Air Transat usually flies to warmer destinations during the winter months and European destinations in the summer. This airline has two cabin types to choose from: club and economy class.

    For a fee, you can add more perks to your Economy Class. This unlocks 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. These include a carry-on and two pieces of checked baggage, priority services and on-board perks mentioned above.

    Jazz Aviation: Best for Cheap Interior Flights

    To clear the air, pun intended, Jazz Aviation operates as an Air Canada discount brand. Nonetheless, Jazz creates a great lower-cost option for Canadian travellers and accepts Aeroplan points too. Jazz provides both regional and charter airline services in Canada and the United States. Based in Halifax Stanfield International Airport and Halifax Regional Municipality, Jazz is the sole subsidiary of Chorus Aviation. As Air Canada‘s largest regional partner, it uses the brand-name Air Canada Express and Jazz charters.

    Its offshoot, Air Canada Express, serves 79 destinations across Canada and the United States. However, Air Canada sets the routes and flight schedule for Jazz and handles all the seat pricing. Its main hubs are Toronto Pearson , Victoria , Vancouve , Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Calgary international airports.

    Jazz’s Charter services usually get booked by corporate executives, investors or those belonging to the oil and gas industry. Fruther, hockey teams rely on this airline for business and recreational trips. Each voyaged gets personalized from start to finish based on the client’s needs. Jazz Charters serves Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, St. John’s, the United States and more.

    Lynx Air: Best for Ultra-Low Cost Fare

    Tim Morgan, one of the WestJet founders, started Lynx Air as a new ultra low-cost carrier in 2021. The airline aims to redefine low-cost carriers by offering ultra low prices, no hidden fees and à la carte travel services. Lynx Air, previously called Enerjet, offers flights to several Canadian cities, such as Vancouver, Kelowna, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, Halifax, and St. John’s. It plans to expand to additional destinations. Prices for one-way tickets can costs as little as $60. Meanwhile, round-trip fares sometimes start at a little more than$100.

    Despite being a budget airline, Lynx Air boasts one of the most modern fleets of Boeing’s latest 737 models. These ultra-reliable aircrafts are also energy-efficient fleet. While the seating may feel slightly cramped, they are comfortable, with fast and efficient customer service.

    Lynx Air offers affordable no-frills flights, so passengers choose and pay only for the services they want. They can add optional services, like priority boarding and seat selection, to the booking, but passengers also have the option to forego these extras.

    However, baggage fees for carry-on and checked bags, range from $39.99 to $135.59. If travelling with a baby under two years old, passengers can bring a diaper bag for free in addition to their personal items. Additional baggage, such as a car seat or stroller, may incur standard baggage fees.

    Passengers who wish to travel with a pet in the cabin will pay a one-way fee of $79.99 in advance during the booking process. Otherwise, the airport fee will be $99.99.

    Lynx Air also charges a Contact Centre fee of $20 (+tax) per transaction for phone bookings. However, the fee gets waived if you cannot book via the website. Overall, Lynx Air aims to provide affordable, no-frills flights with modern aircraft and friendly service.

    Central Mountain Air: Best for Travelling between BC & AB

    Central Mountain Air, a popular regional airline in Canada, provides scheduled and charter flights across British Columbia and Alberta. You can accumulate and redeem Air Miles with this airline too. It operates 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 and Lloydminster.

    Central Mountain Air, in partnership with Northern Thunderbird Air, provides charter services to corporations, government agencies, oil and gas industry, individuals and other companies. They offer Expedia at passenger check-in and a schedule customized by its passengers. They also offer personalized meals and beverage options for the flight.

    CMA also partners with Air Canada. Finally, it offers seamless and convenient same-airport-terminal flight connections to travellers flying to regional, national and international destinations. Fare booking types with CMA include Econ, Flex and Flex+.

    Pal Airlines: Best for Travelling in the Maritimes

    PAL Airlines, established in 1974, has its headquarters in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Over the years, it has emerged as one of the leading autonomous airlines in eastern Canada. Besides providing scheduled passenger flights, the airline also offers air charter and air cargo services.

    PAL Airlines ensures that its customers have access to regular flights to various destinations across eastern Canada. Additionally, passengers have the privilege of earning and utilizing Aeroplan points while travelling with PAL.

    The airline offers four fare classes to cater to different needs. The Basic fare class offers the lowest prices and comes with no frills and restrictions. On the other hand, the premium Freedom class allows flexibility, full refundability and perks like free checked bags and last-minute changes. The Compassionate fare class extends to those travelling for medical reasons or for a funeral. It offers a full refund, a free checked bag and allows for last-minute changes.

    PAL Airlines operates a diverse fleet comprised of four distinct aircraft models, namely the Dash 8-Q400, Dash 8-300, Dash 8-100 and Beech 1900D. These aircrafts provide passengers a dependable and efficient travel experience.

    In addition to its own services, PAL Airlines has established valuable partnerships with major carriers, such as Air Canada, WestJet and Air Borealis. Through this collaboration, passengers can seamlessly travel across the comprehensive domestic networks of these airlines, all under a single reservation. This integrated approach ensures that passengers can confidently rely on well-planned connection times for their convenience.

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    FAQs About Canadian Airlines

    What is the best airline in Canada?

    The best airline in Canada depends on a number of things like price, destination coverage, customer service, and more. However, Air Canada stands out as the largest and one of the best airlines in Canada due to its extensive network, fleet size and quality of service.

    How many airlines are there in Canada?

    There are more than 30 commercial airlines in Canada. These include major airlines like Air Canada and WestJet, regional airlines like Air North, Jazz Aviation, and Central Mountain Air, the new ultra-low-cost carrier Lynx Air, and the budget-friendly short-haul carrier Porter Airline.

    What are the cheapest airlines in Canada?

    The cheapest airlines in Canada typically arise from low-cost carriers. These include airlines like WestJet, Air Canada Rouge, Flair Airlines, Jazz and the new ultra-low-cost carrier Lynx Air.

    How to file a complaint against an airline in Canada?

    To file a complaint against an airline in Canada, you can use the Canadian Transportation Agency’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations complaint form. You can also contact the airline directly to file a complaint by visiting the Contact Us section of its website.

    What is the safest airline in Canada?

    Safety monitor Airline Ratings’s 2023 rankings of the safest carriers in the world only named one Candian airline: WestJet. The company reviewed 385 companies’ records for number of recent crashes and audits from aviation governing bodies. Its staff also assessed fleet age, pilot training and COVID-19 protocols.

    Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications