This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Canada Jetlines had its inaugural flight from Toronto to Calgary on September 22, where I got a first look at the plane — but before writing a full review, I wanted to experience a typical flight on the airline without the added fanfare.
I booked a flight back to Toronto on Sunday, September 25 — and I was not disappointed with the experience.
I travel back and forth from Toronto to Calgary about three times a year to visit my family, so I'm pretty familiar with the short flight, and I almost exclusively fly it on Air Canada.
However, despite being a new airline, my Canada Jetlines flight ran just as smoothly as a more established and expensive airline at a fraction of the cost — and it's totally changed my view on budget airlines.
Here's what the experience was like.
Booking experience: 5/5
I booked my return flight pretty last minute on September 23, so prices were a little higher at $157 for the cheapest flight.
Prices start at $99 and go up depending on which level of comfort you choose, with options ranging from JetLite, JetPlus, JetFlex, and JetLines.
Booking my ticket online.Brooke Houghton | Narcity
I went with the cheapest option, JetLite, which is pretty bare-bones. If you have a checked bag or want to select your seat, you'll have to pay extra, and you aren't able to cancel or make changes to your reservation.
Since I was just travelling with a carry-on and don't ever preselect my seat, it wasn't really an issue for me and was worth saving the money.
I booked my ticket online, and the website was super easy to navigate and took a total of maybe five minutes.
All in all, I'd give it a solid 5/5.
Check-in & boarding: 5/5
Not to be dramatic, but this was the easiest check-in and boarding experience I've ever had in my life.
Jetlines check-in at the Calgary airport.Brooke Houghton | Narcity
I got to the airport two hours before my flight, but I could have arrived an hour later and still had time to pick up a caramel macchiato from Starbucks.
There was no line at the check-in desk and the employee helping me was so warm and friendly.
She even gave me the choice of a window or aisle seat, which I thought was pretty cool.
(I chose the window, FYI.)
After breezing through security, I had over an hour to kill at my gate, so I grabbed a coffee and relaxed.
Boarding took place on time, and I was comfortably seated on the plane within five to ten minutes.
With minimal lines and great service, check-in and boarding get a 5/5 from me.
I'm a seat snob — just thought we should get this out of the way.
My back and knees always hurt during flights, and whoever I'm visiting is usually forced to give me a deep tissue massage afterwards.
A row of seats on the plane.Brooke Houghton | Narcity
I was expecting a more affordable airline would mean less comfortable seats, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Despite not having a lot of cushion, the firmer padding on the seats was super comfortable, and I had a good amount of leg room to stretch out without even having to recline my seat.
The seats also went up fairly high, and instead of having a bulky headrest, that inevitability causes a knot in your neck. They were just slightly more padded near the top, which I found much more comfortable.
The only issue I could see people having with these seats is if you really prefer a more pillowy cushion as opposed to a firmer seat.
I also got pretty lucky because I'd been given an aisle seat despite requesting a window at check-in, but a flight attendant swapped me to an empty row when I asked if I could switch.
After the flight, my knees and back were totally fine, which is pretty unheard of for me.
Food & drink: 4/5
Canada Jetlines did not come to play on this flight.
Free coffee, tea, and juices were offered twice during the journey, and water was offered in between services. This was pretty special considering, in my experience, most airlines I've flown on only offer water twice unless you buzz and ask for it.
Brooke Houghton with a glass of water.Brooke Houghton | Narcity
Booze was also available on the flight for anyone looking for a mile-high happy hour, and there was a good selection of meals and snacks on the menu, from pizza to pringles, at a pretty reasonable price.
Canada Jetlines menu.Brooke Houghton | Narcity
Considering how cheap the tickets are, I would say the food and drink selection was impressive.
A small complimentary snack would have been a nice perk, but still wouldn't have been expected for the price.
Entertainment & service: 4/5
Is there anything more daunting than sitting alone with your thoughts for hours on a plane?
Thankfully I didn't have to find out because although the flight didn't have a TV console, it did have a QR code and WiFi to connect to stream movies, play games, and more on your device.
Entertainment page.Brooke Houghton | Narcity
I scrolled through the movie selection, which had a decent catalogue of popular films, shows and documentaries and landed on watching My Salinger Year.
The selection of entertainment wasn't bad for an affordable airline, but if your phone was dead or you didn't have a device you could stream on, you would be out of luck on this flight.
But there is a USB charging port in every seat, so you'll just need to keep your charger handy.
When it came to service, every interaction I had with a staff member was lovely, from offering drinks to just consistently checking in on everyone during the flight.
Overall score: 4.5/5 OR 22.5/25
Canada Jetlines gets the seal of approval from me.
The next time I book a flight out west to visit my family, you can bet I'll be using a low-cost carrier instead of Air Canada.
The value you get for such an affordable flight is definitely worth it, especially if you're flying out for a weekend and don't need to check a bag.
Despite being "value-focused," this flight had pretty much everything a larger, more established airline would have, just on a smaller scale, and I found it to be just as comfortable as a pricier flight.
The newness of the brand also plays to the customer's advantage with shorter lines and plenty of opportunity to snag an entire row of seats to yourself, which is basically the budget version of first class.
My only advice would be to plan ahead and to try and get the cheapest flight out possible at $99 to avoid paying more than you need to.
If you're headed for a longer vacation and need to check multiple bags, you'll have to upgrade and pay more to avoid getting hit with expensive add-on fees.