Swoop, there it is. WestJet is rolling out their own Ultra Low Cost Carrier to bring Canadians a cheaper way to fly.

Travelling isn’t cheap in Canada. It’s especially frustrating if you’ve ever traveled over seas and find out that it’s just as expensive, if not cheaper to fly to places like London, England vs London, Ontario.

Speaking of Europe, a number of discount airlines exist like Ryanair that make it so you can travel to a different country for the same price as a Tim Horton’s double double and a doughnut. These are considered Ultra Low Cost Carriers (ULCC’s for short) and a relatively new concept to North America, that haven’t had the greatest of successes yet in Canada.


Looking at you NewLeaf.


Well WestJet is throwing it’s hat into the ULCC ring with their own company.


Introducing: Swoop.

“The name Swoop denotes exactly what we plan to do,” said Bob Cummings WestJet Executive Vice-President, Strategy and the executive member responsible for the launch of Swoop. “It’s a powerful verb that demonstrates we plan to swoop in to the Canadian market with a new business model that will provide lower fares and greater opportunity for more Canadians to travel.”

“If you’ve travelled, you know the drill. You plan your trip, book your flights, question the fare and wish there were more affordable options. Airlines are bundlers, which is great for convenience, but not so great for low fares.

Well, you can consider Ultra Low Cost Carriers like Swoop unbundlers. “

While Swoop’s parent company hasn’t released any details regarding pricing or flight routes for it’s promised 2018 launch, WestJet says that Swoop will make ” air travel simple, affordable and accessible for every traveler.”


So how are they going to keep the prices down? By making it a pretty ‘minimal’ experience. Swoop’s website describes it as a sort of a la carte style service that puts you, the traveler, in the driver seat. When you go to book a flight, all that will be included in the base price is what it costs to put your butt in the seat. You can add a snack, checked baggage or in-flight entertainment at an additional cost – your choice.


The fare is lower while flying a safe, comfortable fleet. To make the ULCC model work, we’ve standardized plane sizes, seating configurations and flight patterns, and kept the bells and whistles at airports to a minimum. It’s not going to replace other airlines – just complement the options available.

From my experience with discount airlines in Europe, this means you are going to get the BARE minimum and those extras usually come at a decent price tag. But if you really are just trying to get yourself and maybe a small carry-on from point A to point B, you’ll save yourself some serious money. But don’t be shocked if your knees are to your nose, with no complimentary snacks or drink, and you have to entertain yourself sans Internet for however long your flight is.


CBC reported from today’s press conference with Bob Cummings, WestJet’s executive vice-president of strategy, that Swoop’s model will be similar to ultra-low cost carriers in the U.S. Stating that American ULCC’s prices are usually, on average, “about 50 per cent lower than the fares for the Canadian mainline carriers.” Going on to say “That’s pretty indicative of what we’ll be aiming for.”


As for speculation on possible cities that Swoop will operate out of, Swoop’s fleet will only start with six Boeing 737-800 airplanes and it plans to expand to 10 planes in the first year.

In the press conference Cummings was tight-lipped about exactly where the airline intends to fly, but travellers can expect most flights to originate in southern British Columbia and Ontario.


Tickets for Swoop go on sale in February 2018.


PS, they’re also hiring if you’re looking for an even cheaper way to travel. I’ve heard WestJet has some pretty sweet employee perks.


Filed under: Airplane, bailey parker, Flying, Swoop, travel, westjet