You may have seen the low fares on Canada’s new discount airline and you may have wondered what it would be like to fly with the budget carrier called Swoop Airlines. We felt the same way. Our first flights were in 2018 from Edmonton to Hamilton return. The service wasn’t perfect, but it was cheap. Since that first experience, we have booked a flight from Las Vegas to Edmonton, a flight from Cancun to Edmonton and flights from Edmonton to San Diego. This Swoop Airlines review is based on six different Swoop airlines flights. Some of them went perfectly. Some didn’t. Read on if you want to find out what went wrong and what went right. We’ll also give you some helpful tips if you decide to book a flight with Swoop airlines.
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Delays Happen – and it’s a Bummer When They Do
Conversations turned grim in the departures area at Edmonton International airport. We were delayed on our Swoop flight by nearly three hours at that point. To pass the time, fellow passengers were talking about the worst flights they had ever been on. That’s never a good sign. Apparently some guy lucked out on one of his trips. He was on a plane that crashed, but he wasn’t injured. Insurance paid him $80,000 for that one. He considered himself lucky. He used the money to buy a new truck. I was really hoping he wouldn’t be lucky like that again. I’d rather make money without the imminent risk of death thank you very much.
Related: Interested in more articles about how NOT to travel? Check out our post about How Not to Get on an Aircraft.
Wish They’d Sent an Email – Swoop Airlines Review
We found out about the 3-hour flight delay when we checked in for our early morning flight. Truth be told, we got up at 5:30 am to make the drive to the Edmonton airport and be there 90-minutes prior to the flight departure time. When we checked in, the Swoop Agent asked if we had received an email about the flight delay. The plane we were supposed to fly to Abbotsford on had a cracked windshield and the airline was bringing in another plane, but it wouldn’t arrive until at least three hours after the scheduled departure time. The gate agent said the airline knew about this flight delay the previous night, but never sent an email to us or any of the other passengers. I really wish they would have. I like sleep. The failure to send an email notification was my biggest frustration with our first trip with Swoop and it definitely affected our Swoop Airlines Review.
Rating On Time Service Overall- Swoop Airlines Review
Our first flight with Swoop Airlines was delayed by three hours. Swoop knew the plane had a cracked windshield the night before and knew the morning flight would be delayed, but they failed to notify any of the passengers. Our other flights from Las Vegas to Edmonton and Cancun to Edmonton were on time. Our San Diego flights were cancelled- more on that below. We’ve also known others who have flown with Swoop and have been delayed.
Recommendation: Here’s our best advice about the on-time service of Swoop – If you need to attend a meeting or another event on the same day as your flight, you may be better off booking with a major carrier. Air Canada and Westjet have more planes and more scheduled flights. If your flight is delayed and you need to get to an important event, you’ll have a better chance of catching an alternate flight and still making it the same day with a major carrier. If however, you’re flying out on vacation and you don’t have an important meeting or event to attend, you may be just fine booking your flights with Swoop.
What You Should Know When Booking
Swoop is a discount airline and they charge for everything – including things that come complimentary with other airlines. Each passenger can bring one small personal item for free. Checked bags and carry-on bags cost extra and it’s substantially cheaper to purchase baggage online before you get to the airport. Interestingly, carry-on bags cost more than checked bags. They serve drinks and snacks for a charge, but you won’t even get a glass of water for free, so bring a water bottle. Expect to be on hold a long time if you call the Swoop toll free number (about an hour when I tried). If you reserve over the phone, you’ll pay an additional fee.
Recommendation: Make sure you factor in the add-ons (phone booking fees, seat assignments, luggage, snacks and more) when you’re considering flying Swoop.
A Little Snag with my Online Purchase
You can save up to 40 percent by purchasing checked and carry-on baggage allotment in advance online instead of waiting until you get to the airport. Since it was cheaper to purchase checked baggage in advance online, I did that the night before. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I was purchasing a checked bag for the return flight instead of the outbound flight. When I got to the airport, I was unable to purchase a bag online for the outbound flight and it took the check-in agents some time to be able to sort out the issue. They were on hold for a long time when they tried to call the airline. I guess there’s no discrimination when it comes to hold times.
Recommendation: Purchase checked or carry-on bags in advance, but be careful that you are adding them to the correct flights. It was easy to accidentally add the checked bag to the return flight instead of the outbound one. Carefully check things over before you make the purchase.
How Big Can Your Personal Item Be With Swoop Airlines?
Swoop Airlines allows you to bring one personal item. This could be a purse, a briefcase, a laptop case, a small backpack or a tote bag. You cannot bring a purse and a briefcase. It’s one item per person. The maximum size of the personal item is: 41cm x 15cm x 33cm (16” x 6” x 13”). On our first Swoop Airlines flight, they measured the personal item and if it was larger than the allowed limit, they made you pay for a carry-on or checked bag at the airport. There were several people who had backpacks that exceeded the recommended size and they were upset when they had to pay extra for a carry-on bag at the airport. On the other flights we took, they didn’t seem to be as picky about measuring the personal items. Some passengers got away with carrying on backpacks that were larger than the specifications set out by the airline.
Recommendation: Measure your personal item and make sure it is within the size limits that are recommended. This way you won’t have any worry at the airport that they will make pay extra for a carry-on bag. Make sure you only bring one personal item or you will have to pay extra.
The Worst Seats on the Airplane
If you don’t choose your seats in advance for a fee, the airline will randomly assign you a seat when you print your boarding pass. If you want to change the seat, you will have to pay a fee. I did the online check-in on the outbound flight as early as possible, hoping that might result in a better seat assignment. It didn’t. My husband and I were sitting together, but we were on the very last row of the plane. On the return flight, I checked in later and we ended up seating next to each other in the middle section of the aircraft. It really is random.
Recommendation: If you care where you sit, book your seats in advance and pay the extra fee. If it doesn’t matter, take the risk and let the airline randomly assign your seats. In our experience, when we were booked on the same reservation, we were seated together. That said, they do not guarantee that you will be sitting together with the other people you are traveling with.
Flight Went Smoothly – Swoop Airlines Review
We found the airplane to be comfortable and the service to be professional. Swoop is Westjet Airlines’ discount airline and the planes are similar to others in the Westjet fleet – except for the pink accents. There are plugins at every seat and you can watch in-flight entertainment on your own device. Normally there is a charge for entertainment, but it was free as part of an introductory offer on our first flight. On subsequent flights, there was an additional charge for the use of the entertainment system. There was food and drinks for sale at an extra charge. They don’t even give water for free.
Recommendation: Bring a water bottle and snacks with you. Many North American airports have water bottle filling stations near the fountains. Even the snacks and drinks purchased in the airport are cheaper then those purchased on the plane. Download a video on your mobile device or bring something along to read.
It was pouring rain and we had trouble finding our rental car in the airport parking lot when we arrived, but we can’t really let that affect our Swoop Airlines Review – no matter how much we want to.
Note: Yes I do need new luggage and this is not Swoop’s fault. This new bag should fare better when it gets wet.
Hi-jinks Getting Back to the Airport
Google Maps took us down every back road to get to the Abbotsford Airport. On a gravel road at the back of a runway, it said we had arrived. At that point, we needed to refuel the rental car, so I plugged “gas” into Google Maps. We headed to the first one on the list and ended up at the Shell Corporate offices. Then we headed to Esso only to discover it was a card lock for semi-trucks. When we finally found a Chevron station, we couldn’t figure out how to unlock the gas tank to fill the tank. We spent several minutes reading the owner’s manual. There was no time left for dinner, so we purchased some beef jerky and potato chips at the gas station.
Recommendation: Never type in “gas” into google maps. Type in “Petrol Station” instead.
The Drunk Guy on Our Return Flight
Our return flight was only ten minutes delayed – mostly because a drunken man had to be escorted off the aircraft by TSA officers. On the upside, he would have been sitting next to us, so my husband and I had an empty seat on which to spread our gas station snack buffet. We’re not sure if the drunk guy made our Swoop Airlines review better or worse.
Related: I travel a lot and Swoop Airlines wasn’t my first uncomfortable budget flight. Here’s one thing I always take in my carry-on bag to make any flight more comfortable.
Our Cancelled San Diego Flights
This Swoop Airlines review would not be complete without telling you about our cancelled San Diego flights. We had booked return flights for our entire family from Edmonton to San Diego in 2020. Then COVID happened. Swoop cancelled our flights and offered a credit. It was impossible to reach them by phone and almost impossible to reach them by email.
Here’s What We Did: In Swoop’s terms and conditions, it was specified that if they cancelled the flights, we would be eligible for a refund. It was the same stance that other Canadian airlines were taking. We disputed the charge on our credit card and won. Our money was refunded, because we paid for a service that we did not receive.
Recommendation: Be aware before you purchase a flight that it is very difficult to reach Swoop’s customer service if you run into any issues before, during or after travel.
Swoop Airlines Review – Final Report Card
Our first Swoop flights got off to a rough start – thanks to an unreported delay on the outbound flights and a drunk passenger sitting next to us on the return flight. The flight from Las Vegas to Edmonton was exactly as expected. The flight from Cancun to Edmonton went exactly as expected. Our San Diego flights were cancelled and no refund was offered, but this was in line with what was happening with other Canadian carriers. Trying to reach Swoop’s customer service was extremely difficult whenever we ran into issues. It was substantially more difficult than other airlines we have experienced. It must be said that once we were in the air, the flight was fine, the staff was professional and the pilots got us to our destination safely. Everything wasn’t perfect, but we paid a low price. Ultimately, it is a budget carrier and you get what you pay for.
Would We Fly With Swoop Airlines Again?
If the price was right, we would fly with Swoop again. Our first flights from Edmonton to Hamilton were okay. The next time we booked a Swoop flight, we were booking a flight for our daughter to travel from Las Vegas to Edmonton. We had the choice between a flight for about $600 one-way with a regular carrier or $159 one-way with Swoop. We went with Swoop and that flight went off without a hitch. We traveled with Swoop Airlines again from Cancun to Edmonton and that flight was cheaper overall and went fine. If there was a substantial savings, I would travel with Swoop again. If it was not a substantial savings or if I was attending a very important meeting, I would book with a regular carrier rather than a budget one.
Wish You Could Afford to Travel More? Check out our post, 10 Ways to Travel More and Pay Less.