Everyone who loves to travel also wants to get the best fares. In North and South America, low-cost carriers have grown to fill this need. Our list of 14 airlines, from Canada to Colombia, offer those low fares that passengers crave.
You may not have heard of some of these and some fly out of smaller, regional airports, but to save money they are worth checking out. You may have to pay for checked luggage or bring your own food for the flight as these are no-frills options for the money-conscious.
Air Transat is Canada’s leading holiday travel airline. Every year, it carries some 3 million passengers to nearly 60 destinations in 30 countries aboard its fleet of Boeing narrow-body and Airbus wide-body jets. The company employs approximately 2,000 people.
Air Transat is a business unit of Transat A.T. Inc., an integrated international tour operator with more than 60 destination countries and that distributes products in over 50 countries. So, most often you will see Air Transat flights included in a package vacation plan.
Dubbed Minnesota’s Hometown Airline, this Minneapolis-based carrier flies to 40 destinations in the U.S., the Caribbean, Mexico, and Costa Rica, both seasonally and year-round. Sun Country also operates flights from Dallas-Fort Worth.
It operates a fleet of Boeing 737-700s and 800s. The airline is positioning itself to become an ultra-low-cost carrier with fares to match.
This low-cost carrier is based in Monterrey, Mexico. Viva Aerobus operates 115 daily flights over 60 routes including routes in the United States. They operate 21 Airbus A320 aircraft.
Like other low-cost carriers, Viva Aerobus offers rock-bottom fares and charges fees for things including baggage and seat selection.
This Dallas-based carrier is considered the granddaddy of low-cost carriers, starting service in 1971 when U.S. airlines were still regulated by the government.
Southwest avoided government regulation by flying intra-Texas flights, mainly to Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Today, Southwest flies to 101 destinations in the United States and eight countries with more than 3,900 flights a day during peak travel season, all using Boeing 737s.
It touts its low fares and two free bags on these flights, the last of the legacy U.S. airlines to do this.
This low-cost carrier is the first and only one to operate in Colombia. The airline started operating in 2012. It was created as a graduate business project at Stanford University by founder William Shaw, who wanted to build a 100 percent budget airline in Colombia.
The civil aeronautics agency granted its approval for the creation of VivaColombia. Since then, the carrier has built up a fleet of 10 Airbus A320 narrowbody jets, flying 23 routes within Colombia and four international destinations to Panama, Quito, Lima, and Miami.
Customers have made a game out of buying the very lowest fares offered by the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based ultra-low-cost carrier. Customers are enticed to buy a membership in their cost-saving program, the $9 Fare Club.
Airfares are low, but be prepared to shell out for items including checked and carry-on bags, food/beverage, seat choices, and boarding passes.
This low-cost, leisure airline based in Dorval, Canada, launched in December 2012, with flights commencing in July 2013.
The carrier has 44 aircraft in its fleet, including the Airbus A319, the A320, and the Boeing 767-300ER.
Air Canada Rouge flies routes within Canada, to the Caribbean, Mexico, the U.S., Europe, South America, Central America, Africa, and Asia and connects from anywhere Air Canada flies.
This Las Vegas-based low-cost carrier offers dirt-cheap fares from smaller and larger cities to popular holiday destinations like Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Phoenix. In 2017, it added service to 17 new cities.
Allegiant charges fees for everything from bags to check-in, but fares are still substantially lower than legacy carriers.
The airline flies a mixed fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-80s, Airbus A319s, A320s, and Boeing 757s.
Passengers can book fares exclusively at the airline’s website, which also offers other travel-related products including hotel rooms, rental cars, and attraction tickets.
This Toluca, Mexico-based low-cost carrier, which calls itself the JetBlue of Mexico, began flying in March 2005.
It now serves 52 destinations: 37 in Mexico and 15 international, including New York, Orlando, Miami, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.
For some fare levels, InterJet allows passengers to bring two bags of up to 25 kilos each (110 pounds) for free. It does not overbook flights on its fleet of Airbus A320s and Sukhoi SuperJet100 jets and offers a women-only bathroom.
Denver’s hometown airline transformed itself into an ultra-low-cost carrier after a new management team took over the carrier in 2013.
It separates itself from other low-cost competitors by promoting the tagline “Low Fares Done Right,” indicating cheap flights and customer service.
Frontier charges for checked and carry-on bags, along with food and drink. It flies to 55 cities in the United States, Mexico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, with a fleet of Airbus A320s and A321s.
This Mexico City-based ultra low-cost carrier began operating in March 2006. It offers point-to-point service in Mexico, the United States, and Central America.
It flies to 154 cities with a fleet of 63 aircraft, Airbus A319, A320, and A321 jets, connecting 40 cities in Mexico and 26 international cities.
The airline focuses on passengers who want to visit friends and family and business travelers who need cheap fares.
Passengers who fly this Calgary, Alberta-based airline, launched in 1996, have called it the Southwest Airlines of Canada.
The carrier touts its low fares and friendly customer service. Twenty years later, WestJet and its regional carrier, WestJet Encore, offer service to more than 100 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe with a fleet of Boeing 737 and 767 jets.
This Sao Paulo-based low-cost carrier began flights between its headquarters and Brazil’s capital Brasilia in January 2001.
Since then, it flies to seven South American countries and the Dominican Republic via 860 flights daily using a fleet of Boeing 737s.
The airlines has different pricing structures for extras depending on your level in the Smiles loyalty program.
Azul Brazilian Airlines
Based in Barueri, Brazil, this carrier, the brainchild of JetBlue founder David Neeleman, began flying in December 2008.
It offered free LiveTV at every seat, two-by-two seating with no middle seats, free beverages, and a choice of 12 snacks. Since then, the airline flies to more than 100 destinations, including flights to Miami and Orlando with a fleet that consists of Airbus A320s, A330s, Embraer E190s, and 195s and ATR 72-600 turboprop aircraft.
The carrier is now the third largest airline in Brazil, behind GOL and TAM.