Everything you need to know about travelling with a low-cost carrier.
Flying is a big part of who I am. I literally exist thanks to the Pearson International Airport, where my parents met; my dad was a baggage handler and my mom a supervisor at a now-defunct airline. Since then, we’ve lived all over the world — and today I reside in beautiful B.C. — but our home base has always been Toronto.
Late into the West Coast’s scorching summer, I felt a yearning for home and wanted to book an impromptu trip, but anyone who frequents this flight path knows that the Vancouver-Toronto route can get pretty pricey.Always on alert for the cheapest flights, I decided to give Flair Airlines a try.
Flair’s got unbeatable prices, but I had my reservations — I didn’t know what to expect, nor how a low-cost airline differed from a regular one. Well, now I’ve seen it all, and I’m ready to share my bounty of wisdom.
Here’s everything you need to know if you’re considering flying with Flair.
The Flair website, like the airline itself, is very much “no muss, no fuss.” It’s clean, clear and easy to use. I browsed through their destinations for fun — they fly to 37 different cities — and found that the website’s price comparison feature was super intuitive.
From special accommodations and insurance plans to hotel and car bookings, Flair provides you with options to customize your experience every step of the way.
The airline also offers different bundles that come with add-ons like carry-on bags, checked bags, priority boarding and travelflex, Flair’s $10 protection plan for folks who anticipate potential itinerary changes, which I opted into.
I also paid a little extra for a carry-on bag and seat selection. Having heard rumblings that ultra-low-cost carriers tend to have less leg room, I decided to err on the side of caution by booking seats in a spacious row for my partner and myself.
I downloaded two Flair apps in advance: one for checking in and managing my booking, the other for inflight entertainment.
24 hours before my flight, I received a notification that it was time to check in (the airline charges a $25 fee to do so at the airport) and, like the booking process, checking in was quick and easy.
The next day, I prepared my travel documents for my homecoming trip and got a ride to the airport. It wasn’t too busy, and because I was already checked in, I zoomed right to security using my electronic boarding pass.
Flair advises passengers to arrive at YVR two hours before departure, but I’m a cautious planner and tacked an additional hour onto that. Since I zoomed through security, I had some time on my hands. My partner and I stopped for a snack and a drink at Stanley Park Brewing as a mini pre-flight date.
About 30 minutes prior to boarding, we grabbed the cheque, filled up a water bottle (inflight drinks aren’t complimentary) and found our gate.
The passengers on the previous flight deplaned shortly before an overhead speaker alerted us that it was time for families and folks who opted into priority boarding to queue up. My partner and I belonged to the latter group, and we’d be two of the first passengers on board.
Walking into the aircraft, I was greeted warmly by flight attendants sporting purple-and-green ascots (which I would definitely wear in real life).
The cabin was spacious and bright, with a funky, colour-changing ceiling light that stretched along the centre aisle. My carry-on bag fit easily in the bulkhead, and I slipped my personal item under the seat in front of me before wiping down my own armrests and table with Lysol.
The seats looked pretty standard throughout the aircraft, but my row with extra leg room was something else — there was so much space! I spread out my legs and didn’t feel cramped whatsoever.
I was in 4F, a window seat at the very front of the aircraft that cost $36 bucks and was worth every cent. In the future, if I have a longer flight, I’d opt for this comfort again.
Even so, the standard seat really would be absolutely fine for me. Though the chair backs didn’t recline, the interior was very similar to other carriers I’ve travelled with before.
Taking Off & Refreshments
Just a few minutes after the scheduled departure time, a flight attendant performed the safety demonstration and we were jetting off into a baby-blue sky.
Once we reached cruising altitude, the cabin crew came by with a cart stocked with snacks and refreshments. My insatiable sweet tooth led me to the purchase of a Kit-Kat bar ($3.50, roughly the same price I’d pay at a convenience store).
It was a clear day and the view outside was like a topographic map of Canada. At sunset, the cabin lights dimmed to orange before turning off for any nappers on board.
As soon as the airplane WiFi is turned on, you can tool around on Flair’s entertainment app — sink a few hours into the available games, fill out a digital colouring book, watch TV shows and movies or browse the menu.
If you’re more into reading material, I’d suggest bringing your own as there are no provided magazines. I checked out a library book beforehand, taking the journey as an opportunity to catch up on my TBR list.
With all that to amuse me, the flight flew by. (Ha-ha.)
Landing & Deplaning
As the cabin crew prepped for landing, I got some gorgeous views of the celestial bodies overhead and city lights below from my window seat.
After a smooth touch down, we deplaned swiftly in a river of fellow passengers and I experienced another moment of childlike wonder when the cabin crew invited me to take a peek into the cockpit.
The captain asked if I’d like to sit in the co-pilot seat and I pretty much squealed with glee. It was as cool as you’d imagine, with glowing lights and Very Important Buttons scattered across an impressive control panel.
While filling out some paperwork, he told me a little bit about the brand-new aircraft. I was astounded to learn it’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars, with high-quality parts that make a front-of-the-line whole.
After that, I was down the catwalk and on my merry way through Pearson to grab a cab home.
From front to back, my trip went really smoothly and the cabin crew’s friendliness alone was enough for me to want to fly with Flair again.
Though there were a few key service differences between this low-cost carrier and other commercial carriers, the price difference means more to me at the end of the day.
Having a lower baseline cost with the option to pay for the things I actually want just makes sense for me, especially since I never travel with a checked bag and generally prefer having a meal before or after a flight anyway.
I also appreciate that Flair’s working towards the goal of becoming Canada’s most sustainable airline. Like many, I worry a lot about how to best care for the planet I live on, and it feels good opting for a carrier that takes its corporate responsibility seriously.
Flair actions this goal primarily through their aircraft — the Boeing 737 Max 8 — which delivers “savings in fuel and CO2 emissions by 14% compared to other 737s."
If you, like me, are looking to cut down costs (and emissions) when travelling across Canada, the States or abroad, consider flying Flair Airlines.
Everyone should be able to experience the joy of exploring a new city — or visiting their hometown — and Flair is making that a little more financially accessible for Canadians.
And hey, with the money you saved on the ticket, why not treat yourself to a special night out in the city?