New Leaf Airlines is boasting about $59 one way flights to Edmonton, from Winnipeg. While they have a catchy headline, I'm reluctant to get on board with their low-cost, bare bones offerings. When things sound too good to be true, they often are.
First of all, they charge for carry on luggage. So, haul that shaving kit and a change of clothes with you in a sports bag and it will cost you a minimum of an additional $31 per one way flight. Now that flight is up to $90 per one way. If you didn't understand that you pay for carry-on baggage when you booked on-line, they will ding you an extra $10 or so at the airport check-in desk.
With this in mind, no doubt, Westjet has engaged in little price matching. They have done it silently and without big ads flashing $99 to Edmonton. But it's there. In fact, it's there every day in September. I looked.
You can book the Westjet bargain directly on their website, or, you can book yourself a package and get an even better deal through Expedia.ca. When you bundle flight and hotel, there's additional savings. It's like paying regular price for the flight and getting your hotel stay FREE. I looked.
So, in reality, you can take a weekend trip to Edmonton for $300 ($600 per couple) and that includes both flights and hotel, plus all that taxes. Kinda ridiculous, isn't it? And awesome!
Why doesn't the same flight deal apply to Brandon departures? New Leaf doesn't have a Brandon route, so there is no need for Westjet to undercut the price on this route.
Air Canada ignored New Leaf's entrance into the market, until just very recently. They had not previously acknowledged or discounted the matching routes….until now. I see today that Air Canada is also offering $99 one way YWG to YEG.
Why would you book with Westjet, or Air Canada and not New Leaf? Well, and this isn't just my opinion, it's fact. New Leaf doesn't fly each route every day. In fact, they only fly this Winnipeg/Edmonton route on Thursdays and Sundays. And since the same plane (they have a very limited fleet) works other routes, it could get stuck in Hamilton or Abbotsford, for example. If your scheduled departure is delayed, it could be affected for several days. So, in this case (fleet) size really does matter. Westjet and Air Canada can typically get you out within a few hours, regardless of the issue.
Secondly, I appreciate the opportunity to bundle hotel flight, for additional savings. Since New Leaf is only booking their own flights, and not using re-sellers like Expedia, there is no opportunity for package savings. Therefore I recommend the Westjet/AC/Expedia bargain like I have shown here in the photos. Expedia has all kinds of hotels at a variety of price points to choose from. I show a few in the screen-shot example.
Lastly, track record and customer service. I'm a low-risk traveler. I like the assurance of experienced pilots, mechanics and customer service agents. No problem should ever be 'uncharted territory' when I'm counting on people and equipment. I also appreciate the convenience of (multiple times) daily flights. I can't afford to get stuck in Edmonton (or anywhere else) because I got a 'great deal.'