To summarize my Swoop airline review in one sentence, it would be this: As long as you know what you’re getting into, if you’re a ‘go-with-the-flow’ type of traveler and you want to save as much money as possible on your flight, you will have a good experience on Swoop.
As the number of international travelers grows year over year, so will the demand for cheaper flights.
And it’s no secret that Canada is one of the most expensive countries to fly in and fly to.
For example, it’s cheaper for me to fly to Amsterdam and Bali than it is within some parts of my own country (Halifax, I’m coming for you one day).
While Canada’s response to the growing demand of discount airlines has been slow, rough and plagued with bad reviews, they’re still hanging on.
Swoop Airline launched in 2018 and was WestJet’s answer to compete with Flair Airlines, which launched in 2017.
I have flown on Swoop Airline over a dozen times from within Canada and to the United States and to Mexico (to Las Vegas and Puerto Vallarta).
A quick Google search will show Swoop reviews with comments from travelers complaining about cancellations, unscheduled maintenance, delays, horrible customer service and so on.
Are these reviews legitimate? Is it really that bad? Is Swoop reliable? To answer these questions, here’s my experience and honest review of flying on Swoop airline.
*This post was originally written after my first time flying on Swoop in 2019. I have since flown on the airline over a dozen times and have provided updates where possible.
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I was in no way compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and I have no association with Swoop Airlines. There are a few product affiliate links in which I may make a small commission, at no extra cost to you.
Why We Chose Swoop Airline in the First Place
Sometimes you can score cheap WestJet flights and those are always gold.
But any time we chose Swoop airline over WestJet or Air Canada it was because it offered the best flight times for our travel dates and was much cheaper (even with paying for bags and seat selection).
This is where every traveler is different.
I try to choose direct flights as much as possible when traveling and I will even pay more for these flights in most cases.
Throughout 2021 and 2022, when Swoop flights were available where WestJet was flying, the Swoop Airlines flights were always 50% cheaper than WestJet.
My Experience Booking on the Swoop Airline Website
After we decided that Swoop was the best price and schedule, we went ahead and booked directly on the carrier’s website.
When we booked, it showed us there were only 2 remaining seats.
I know this is often a tactic airlines will use to encourage you to book immediately, but at this point I hadn’t had any experience with the Swoop airline, so we decided to go for it, just in case.
Since we were travelling with a group, I told my sister about the flight deal so she decided to check prices for the same flight as well.
Two hours after I booked my flights, my sister received the same “2 remaining seats” warning.
She she booked for her and her husband and got on the flight.
Again, this isn’t anything bad, but don’t be surprised if you encounter the same thing.
For more tips about how to find the best flight deal and which booking sites I use most often, check out my full travel planning guide.
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How Much it Costs for Bags on Swoop Airline (carry on and checked)
When you book a flight on a low cost or discount airline, you have to understand that everything will come with a cost.
This includes bags.
I hear so many avid and experienced travelers complain about this.
You have to realize in this day and age if you book a discount airline you have to expect to pay for everything, even water.
Swoop airline is no different.
For our flight, a checked bag was the same price as a carry-on bag.
We decided to pay for a carry on bag on the way to Las Vegas and a checked bag for flying home.
On the way to Las Vegas we used our bags as carry on because we wanted to hit the Strip as soon as possible and not wait for the baggage carousel.
On the way home we brought back extra items so we decided to check the bags.
Just make sure your bag does not weigh more than the 50 pound limit.
They will not allow you to bring a bag heavier than this.
So you can either remove items or pay the $100 CAD overweight baggage fee.
No joke, they made the woman in front of us remove three pounds of stuff from her bag to get down to the 50 pound limit.
There is no wiggle room here, people!
If you’re not sure how much your bag weighs, try this luggage scale for peace of mind.
And you can pack it with you to make sure your bag isn’t too full after everything you’ve bought on your trip 🙂
Tip – bring this travel blanket & pillow combo for the ultimate comfort on these planes. It also doubles as lumbar support.
Flying to Puerto Vallarta? Read this: Travel Guide to the Best Puerto Vallarta Beaches
No time to read? Watch my full review video on YouTube!
Carry On Bags
If you do choose to pay for a carry-on, err on the side of smaller if you’re unsure about how big it can be.
With these discount airlines it can seem somewhat subjective at times, and you don’t want to have to pay to switch to checked luggage as it’s cheaper if you pay for it at time of booking.
If you have to pay for your bags at the counter, it will be more expensive than if you prepaid.
My carry on bag of choice that fits airline dimensions is this roller bag, which I’ve used multiple times as a carry on.
It fits standard airline dimensions, and more importantly, it fits on Swoop.
I made a video about the carry-on bags I like to use, check it out here.
I also made this list of the best lightweight carry-on bags under 6 lbs (3kgs)!
Know the exact measurements and be prepared to show them if they question it.
You’re still allowed to bring one personal item free of charge, and this has to be small enough to fit under the seat.
According to Swoop, your carry-on size can be 52cmx23cmx38cm or 21”x9”x15.”
This should include the wheels if you have wheels on the bottom of your bag.
If you’re not a fan of the bag I use, this carry-on bag fits the dimensions and is one of the highest rated on Amazon.
And bags like this one will fit under the seat in front of you, but still big enough to hold all of your items.
Or for more of a travel tote style, this bag would work great as well.
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Seat Selection on Swoop Airlines
If you don’t pay for and book your seat at the time of booking, you will be assigned a randomly selected seat at check-in.
This wasn’t a problem for us, as we always book emergency row seats.
My husband is 6’9 so he literally wouldn’t fit in any other seat.
If you don’t want any issues, pay for your seat in advance.
We found that even buying emergency row seats were still cheaper than any other airline, so this is worth it in my opinion.
Emergency Exit Row Seats
Another thing to note is that after takeoff there were several other empty emergency exit row seats.
On other flights I’ve been on, the flight attendants are usually able to accommodate requests for moving passengers into the emergency exit rows if they’re empty and if the weight and balance calculations allow.
On this flight, however, they would only allow passengers to occupy these seats if they paid for them.
This is even after the flight was in the air!
So again, don’t expect this free perk that you can normally get on other airlines.
How Comfortable are the Seats on Swoop Airlines Planes?
As you can see in the photos, the seats on Swoop Airlines are comparable to any other 737-800 plane.
If you’ve flown economy on a WestJet 737 aircraft, Swoop seats offer the same level of comfort.
They’re not the softest and most plush, but for anything up to 3.5 hours, you’ll be fine.
We regularly fly to Puerto Vallarta with Swoop, and I find once we hit the 4 hour mark, I start to get a little sore.
Flying tip – grab some of my flying must-haves on my Amazon storefront that make any flight WAY more comfortable.
Like this foot hammock!
Cancellations and Delays
Swoop airline has been getting a lot of bad press lately for how they handle flight delays and cancellations.
This is usually due to unscheduled maintenance or not enough staff, resulting in several unexpected flight cancellations.
And since they don’t have a big enough fleet right now, they haven’t been able to offer new flights on the same day.
I would advise that if you’re choosing to fly on Swoop, ensure you’re flying to a regularly serviced destination by other airlines (like WestJet or Air Canada), so that if this does happen to you, at least you might have a shot at getting there or getting home.
We have flown on Swoop Airlines at least a dozen times without cancellation.
There have been a few delays by less than an hour, but this can happen with any airline.
September 2022 Update on Cancellations
We had our first flight cancelled on us in September 2022.
We had a return-trip booked from Edmonton (YEG) to Victoria (YYJ) and our return home flight was cancelled while we were in Victoria.
I got an email two days before departure that the flight was cancelled due to unplanned maintenance.
I was able to choose a refund or choose a WestJet flight departing the same day I was due to depart.
We were able to get on a WestJet flight that left an hour earlier than my original Swoop flight.
And surprisingly, we also managed to get the Emergency Exit row seats on the WestJet flight home, which we had originally paid for on the Swoop flight.
I still filed a complaint for compensation and 30 days later I received this response:
- “We have reviewed your claim and confirmed it is not eligible for compensation as your replaced flight arrived within 3 hours of scheduled arrival time.”
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Swoop Airline Staff
I had no issue with the treatment we received from the staff and flight attendants.
The service wasn’t over and above but it wasn’t horrible either. I would compare to most other airlines.
I will, however, give extra brownie points to one of the flight attendants who noticed that my sister was traveling to Las Vegas for her bachelorette party.
So she made a fun announcement on the plane after takeoff and most of the passengers clapped or cheered, and this made for a special little moment.
Food and Beverages on Swoop Airline
If you would like anything to eat or drink, you will have to pay for it.
This means water as well.
So if you know this ahead of time, pack a water bottle and your own snacks and you will be fine.
The nice thing about this is that most passengers on our flight didn’t purchase anything.
This made the drink/snack cart go by super fast, so no one got trapped in the aisle waiting to go to the washroom. I consider this a plus!
And if you bring your own snacks (which i recommend), like some dry noodles, they will provide you with hot water.
The good news is, is that if you want to purchase alcoholic beverages, they have the usual choices you will find on other airlines and they’re priced very similar.
If you’re Flying With a Disability or Mobility Issues
I did notice someone on our flight was able to get assistance from a staff who wheeled their wheelchair to the gate and then assisted them to their seat.
The person used a cane and the flight attendant stored it in the overhead bin for the passenger and retrieved it when required it.
So if you do have mobility issues, you should be taken care of.
I would just check in extra early to allow enough time.
A Few More Things to Know About Flying With Swoop
You can purchase WiFi for a fee. You will have to download the Swoop App and then look for the on board WiFi packages that are available to choose from.
It’s going to cost you around $10 CAD per hour, or a slightly cheaper rate if you purchase 3 hours.
You should note that streaming services like Youtube and Netflix are not supported through Swoop WiFi.
Can You Bring Your Pet?
Currently, Swoop does not allow you to fly with pets. Not in the cabin or even as cargo.
They do, however, allow service animals to accompany a passenger in the cabin, as long as they are fully trained and certified.
If you are planning to bring a service animal, you should contact the airline in advance and ensure you check-in as early as possible to ensure there are no delays.
Is Swoop Airlines Reliable?
As far as the reliability of Swoop airlines, I think there are a few factors at play. Delays can happen with any airline, and Swoop is no different.
If you’re on a tight schedule and must arrive at your destination by a certain time with no exceptions, I might be hesitant to book with Swoop.
However, if you’re traveling on vacation and can handle the possibility of a flight delay, then the cost savings are absolutely worth it.
Again, if you’re really worried about how reliable Swoop is for entire flight cancellations, just make sure you’re flying to a destination that has other airlines to choose from if you have to get home.
Is It Any Cheaper?
In my experiences, yes, – Swoop Airlines is cheaper than other airlines in Canada, but it depends on your flight.
It won’t automatically be less expensive, because this depends on seat sales and whether or not flights are full (or empty) on other carriers.
However, if a no frills flyer and aren’t picky about seats you can save a decent amount of money.
Like I mentioned earlier, compared to WestJet, it was cheaper for us to fly to Las Vegas on Swoop (with direct flights), pay for checked bags and exit row seats.
Our Las Vegas flights would have been more expensive even though I receive free checked bags with my WestJet credit card. So for us, it was a no brainer!
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My Bottom Line Opinion for Flying on Swoop Airline
If you’re booking a ticket for a short flight and happen to snag a direct route, there’s no reason why I wouldn’t fly on Swoop again.
I mean, I don’t think I’d fly to a place like Paris on any ultra low cost carrier.
For longer and connecting flights, the cost savings would have to be significantly less expensive than other airline options.
Keep in mind that with all the negative reviews and comments you may come across online, there are likely just as many positive experiences that you don’t read about.
This is because most people will never go out of their way to share positive experiences or when things go as expected.
But when something negative occurs, we tend to share those stories instead of the good ones.
Just something to keep in mind when reading reviews.
I do fear that as Flair struggles to stay afloat, that if it eventually goes by the wayside, Swoop will no longer have competition and won’t be around much longer.
In addition to being plagued by many recent negative passenger experiences making the news, who knows how long this ultra low cost carrier will last in Canada.
As a regular traveler who wants to see and experience every corner of my own country, I hope that flight costs continue to decrease.
This will only happen if we choose to fly on these airlines.
New airlines will always have bugs to work out. All airlines experience cancellations and unexpected delays.
So if we manage our expectations and plan ahead, we can all have positive flight experiences related to the things we can control on low-cost airlines.
Other Ways to Find Cheap Flights
Not interested in flying on Swoop or other low-cost carriers?
Sign up for FareDrop, which sends you amazing deal notifications when flight prices drop.
You select your airports you’re willing to fly out of and the regions you want to travel to.
Everything is based on your preference.
You can even find business class deals at insane prices.
Check out FareDrop here.
Read more about how I use it to find cheap business class flights (without credit card points).
Are you traveling soon? I’ve got a list of essential travel items that are a total game changer:
- A Scarf with a Hidden Pocket
- Soothing Tea Bags for the Plane
- Vicks VapoInhaler
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