The 11 Cheapest Airlines in North and South America

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. Below is a list of 11 airlines -- from Canada to Colombia -- that offer those low fares that passengers crave.

  • 01 of 11

    Southwest Airlines

    Boeing 737 wing
    ••• The wing of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

    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, it 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.

  • 02 of 11

    This low-cost carrier is the first and only one to operate in Colombia. The airline started operating on May 25, 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 on August 5, 2010. Since then, the carrier built up a fleet of 10 Airbus A320 narrowbody jets, flying within Colombia and to Ecuador, Panama, Peru, the vacation island of San Andreas and Miami.

     

  • 03 of 11
    Spirit Airlines engine
    ••• Spirit Airlines uses its engines to tout it's ultra-low air fares. Photo courtesy of Spirit Airlines

    Customers have made a game out of buying the very lowest fares offered by the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based ultra-low-cost carrier. It flies to more than 400 daily flights to more than 59 destinations in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean with its patented Bare Fares using Airbus A319 and A320 jets. Airfares are low, but be prepared to shell out for items including checked and carry-on bags, food/beverage, seat choices and boarding passes.

     

     

  • 04 of 11

    This low-cost, leisure airline based in Dorval, Canada, launched in December 2012, with flights commencing in July 2013. It flies to destinations in Canada, Europe, Mexico, the U.S., the Caribbean and South America. The carrier has 44 aircraft in its fleet, including the Airbus A319, the A320 and the Boeing 767-300ER. 

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11
    Allegiant Air Boeing 757
    ••• An Allegiant Air Boeing 757 at Las Vegas's McCarran International Airport. Photo courtesy of Aldo Bidini/Wikipedia

    This Las Vegas-based ultra 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’s adding service to 17 new cities. It charges fees for everything from bags to check-in, but fares are still substantially lower than legacy carriers. It flies a mixed fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-80s, Airbus A319s and 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.

     

  • 06 of 11

    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. It allows passengers to bring one bag of up to 50 kilos for free. It does not overbook flights on its fleet of Airbus A320s and Sukhoi SuperJet100 jets and offers a women-only bathroom.

     

     

  • 07 of 11
    Frontier Airlines Airbus jet
    ••• A Frontier Airlines jet parked at Tampa International Airport. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

    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 ULCC competitors by committing to the tagline “Low Fares Done Right,” offering cheap flights and customer service. It 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.  

  • 08 of 11

    This Mexico City-based ULCC 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.

     

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    WestJet

    WestJet Boeing 737
    ••• A WestJet Boeing 737 parked at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

    Passengers who fly this Calgary, Alberta-based airline, started in 1996, have called it the Southwest Airlines of Canada. The carrier touted 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.

     

  • 10 of 11

    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.

     

     

  • 11 of 11
    ••• An Azul Brazilian Airlines Airbus A330-200 widebody jet at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Photo courtesy of JT Occhialini/Wikipedia

    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 operates on 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 the country, behind GOL and TAM.