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Tuesday, November 30th 2021

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from YYZ." - Chris Myden

Cheap Flights from Ontario to Western Canada : Spring & Summer Travel Edition


Despite what Sabrina at the National Post seems to think, flying within Canada has actually become significantly cheaper over the last few years.

It was not that long ago you would easily be paying a minimum of $500 roundtrip after taxes to fly from Ontario to Western Canada or vice versa. Those same routes are now routinely in the ballpark of $250 roundtrip.

Back then you had two choices, WestJet or Air Canada. Then Air Transat started flying certain domestic routes, which helped with prices between major cities, such as Toronto to Calgary/Vancouver. Then Flair entered the mix, starting with cheap flights from smaller Canadian airports, and gradually worked their way into the larger airports.

WestJet responded to this new upstart named Flair by creating Swoop to compete in the low cost carrier space.

And then there's Porter, who has been biding their time in Eastern Canada, but now appears poised to finally expand across Canada next year with their 80 new aircraft.

It's conceivable that by this time next year Canada will have 5 or 6 airlines competing on some domestic routes.

Yes, many routes within Canada are still dominated by 1 or 2 airlines, keeping prices high on those routes. Anywhere with less than 200,000 people is still going to have expensive domestic flights and limited choices.

But I think to say that Canada's domestic market has a real lack of competition is no longer true like it once was.

WestJet, Air Canada vs Flair, Swoop

When it comes to comparing prices between WestJet / Air Canada versus Flair / Swoop, if you have intention of bringing *any* luggage (checked OR carry-on), you should probably add about $100-$120 to Flair and Swoop's roundtrip prices, to give you a fair comparison.

Flair and Swoop's base prices will buy you just a seat on the plane, so don't be fooled by the first price you see on search engines. They're not telling you the whole story.

As a general rule, somewhere around $250 CAD roundtrip including taxes and fees has been the rock bottom price you'll find for non-stop flights between Ontario and B.C./Alberta with WestJet or Air Canada.

And with Flair or Swoop, the bottom price will be around $100-$125 CAD roundtrip *before* adding any luggage, and not by coincidence, around $220-$250 CAD roundtrip with checked luggage or carry-on.

So at the end of the day, if your grand total price is in the ballpark of $250 CAD roundtrip per passenger, you're doing very well. It's still a lot better than the $500-$600 roundtrip that Canadians have traditionally paid for summer travel within our own country over the years.

Are there any requirements such as a negative covid test result for flying within Canada?

There have never been any special requirements, such as having a covid test result or quarantine, when flying between any combination of Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, or Alberta.

Flying between these 4 provinces is essentially identical to pre-pandemic times, and always has been.

Starting October 30th, travellers will need to provide proof of vaccination in order to board a domestic flight in Canada.

Between October 30th and November 30th there will be a grace period where someone who is not fully vaccinated can provide a recent negative PCR test result instead of proof of vaccination. After November 30th this will not be an option.

Exploring for cheap flights

If you click on the links below, it will take you to an example Google Flights search you can start with.

When you get to Google Flights, you can click on the departure date box to open the calendar view and browse for the cheapest dates to fly.

If you open the calendar view on Google Flights you can adjust the trip length at the bottom.

British Columbia - Vancouver (YVR) or Abbotsford (YXX)

Abbotsford is east of Vancouver, and about a 45-60 minute drive into downtown Vancouver (depending on how bad traffic is).

Toronto to Vancouver $235 roundtrip on WestJet, Air Canada, Air Transat (November to June)

Toronto to Vancouver $183 roundtrip on Flair (November to August)

Kitchener-Waterloo to Vancouver $108 roundtrip on Flair (November to August)

Toronto to Abbotsford $112 roundtrip on Flair, Swoop (November to August)

Hamilton to Abbotsford $146 roundtrip on Swoop (November to April)

British Columbia - Victoria (YYJ)

Toronto to Victoria $119 roundtrip on Flair, Swoop (June to August)

Toronto to Victoria $231 roundtrip on Air Canada, WestJet (May, June, July)

Kitchener-Waterloo to Victoria not available

British Columbia - Kelowna (YLW) & Penticton (YYF)

Toronto to Kelowna on Air Canada, WestJet (not currently cheap)

Toronto to Kelowna $176 roundtrip on Flair, Swoop (May, June)

Kitchener-Waterloo to Kelowna $118 roundtrip on Flair (April to September)

Toronto to Penticton $235 roundtrip on Air Canada (November to March), 1 stop

Alberta - Calgary (YYC) / Banff

Toronto to Calgary $234 roundtrip on Air Canada, WestJet (November to June)

Toronto to Calgary $162 roundtrip on Flair (November to August)

Kitchener-Waterloo to Calgary $210 roundtrip on WestJet (November to June)

Kitchener-Waterloo to Calgary $88 roundtrip on Flair (November to August)

Hamilton to Calgary $228 roundtrip on WestJet (November to June)

Alberta - Edmonton (YEG) / Jasper

Toronto to Edmonton $233 roundtrip on Air Canada, WestJet (November to June)

Toronto to Edmonton $121 roundtrip on Flair, Swoop (November to August)

Kitchener-Waterloo to Edmonton $85 roundtrip on Flair (November to August)

Hamilton to Edmonton $120 roundtrip on Swoop (November to March)

Prince Edward Island - Charlottetown (YYG)

Toronto to Charlottetown $184 roundtrip on Air Canada, WestJet (January to June)

Toronto to Charlottetown $96 roundtrip on Flair (February to August)

Nova Scotia - Halifax (YHZ)

Kitchener-Waterloo to Halifax $88 roundtrip on Flair (November to August)

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