In February 2019, we flew with Swoop Airlines to Las Vegas. Swoop Airlines is the largest Canadian ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) owned by Westjet. Average cost from Hamilton to Las Vegas with Swoop ranges from $99-$129 one way. Those prices are hard to beat. Is it worth paying a low price? We say yes. Here’s why.
Check-In & Baggage
We always make sure we check in online right away, as soon as it opens up 24 hours before our flight. If you don’t remember, Swoop sends an email reminder. Online check-in was easy and done through their mobile app. Although usually, we check in right away hoping to get better seats, more to the front, they randomly assigned us seats that were all the way to the back of the plane. They kept us seated together which is good since we let them pick our seats, aisle, and middle.
As with most ULCCs being able to choose your seat comes with a fee. It’s the cheapest when you first make your flight booking and gradually increases in prices the closer you are to flight departure. Prices range from $15-70 depending on the type of seat, the time you reserved it, and whether the flight is considered a short or long haul flight.
The baggage fees are also to be expected with any ULCCs. You are allowed a personal item for free which needs to fit them under your seat (although they are not strict with allowing you to store your personal item in the overhead compartment). The dimensions for a personal item should be 16” x 6” x 13” (41cm x 15cm x 33cm). A good sized bag we always use is Ciao Rolling Bag from Costo. Swoop charges for all carryons and checked pieces of baggage.
As with seat selection, the prices are the cheapest when booking your flight and highest at the gate. Carryons and Checked sized bags are the same prices with the only difference being a carryon become more expensive to bring on at the gate. My advice if you need to bring a larger bag is to always have is checked in. Plan ahead with your baggage when flying with ULCCs – overstuffed heavy bags that you haven’t weighed beforehand can end up charging you a lot! Check-in with Swoop was a breeze. They weighed our checked bag but not our carryons and personal items. Although Carryon and Personal item bags need to be tagged as they are more concerned about the size of the bag than the weight.
As with most ULCC’s, Swoop doesn’t fly out of Toronto Pearson Airport nor Billy Bishop. The closest airport to Toronto to catch a Swoop flight is Hamilton International. Even though the commute is slightly lengthy, it’s a fantastic airport to fly from. Parking has a maximum of $65 if you fly gone for 7+ days. It’s a small airport and not as busy and hectic as Toronto Pearson.
We dropped our bags, passed security and got to our gate in less than 10 minutes. Boarding was done quickly. The only con about Hamilton Airport is that all the gates require you to walk outside and climb a staircase to board the place so bundle up at the gate when departing, and on the plane when arriving in the wintertime.
On our departing flight, Swoop announced way before boarding started that they were having issues with their in-flight entertainment and suggested to grab some reading material. I thought that was communication done very well. I was able to use Hamilton Airport’s free WiFi and download some offline episodes on Netflix before boarding.
Seats were fine as a 5”4’ lady, I was comfortable. Rishi (5”10’) felt slightly cramped but it was doable. The overhead compartments get filled up quickly that we had to store our bags plenty of rows away from where we sat. Due to it being a small airport, taxi-ing is very short and we were up in the air in no time.
The best thing about Swoop’s flight was their unusually low prices for in-flight items like food, drinks, ear-buds, and internet. I found their pricing cheaper than inside the airport.
On the way back home, we were able to experience their free in-flight entertainment, which can be used on their mobile app (make sure you download it beforehand). They had a great selection of brand new movies, shows, music, podcasts and more.
The Route: YHM – LAS
The roundtrip flight route of Hamilton to Las Vegas is a great affordable option. You can save more with the flight and spend more on Sin City. Flights depart Hamilton and come back from Las Vegas Sundays-Mondays and Thursdays-Fridays. The summer season changes it’s route slight by flight Sundays & Tuesdays and Thursdays-Fridays, removing Mondays. There is only 1 flight on those days always leaving Hamilton at 7:55 pm, arriving in Las Vegas at 9:45 pm.
Since there is no U.S Border Pre-Customs at Hamilton, it is done in Las Vegas. Since we were seated almost to the back of the plane, we were some of the last ones out and arrived at a huge long customs line. We waited for almost 2 hours in it. By the time we were done with customs, took the shuttle bus to get our car rental, checked-in to our hotel and got something to eat, it was almost 4 am. We were exhausted.
Coming back home is always a red-eye flight on this route. It leaves Las Vegas at 10 pm and arriving back at 5:30 am. By the time we passed Canadian customs and left the airport driving east toward Toronto, we caught the morning rush hour the whole way.
The route is will leave you somewhat exhausted but if you are aware of it beforehand, you can plan snacks and prepare yourself mentally for it.
We are so glad Canada’s got a great ultra-low-cost carrier. Despite the flight times being the only con, prices are some of the lowest to Las Vegas. Their check-in process is clean and easy. Their customer service and communication were great, letting us know that the in-flight entertainment wasn’t working ahead of time. Baggage fees and seat selection fees are standard and as expected. In-flight purchases were surprisingly cheap. We definitely will fly with them often and hope they will bring more competition to the airfare market!
To find more information on all things Swoop, please check out www.swoop.ca