Welcome to SWOOP and YHM's first report on this site!
In June 2018, Canada welcomed its newest Ultra Low Cost Carrier (ULCC), SWOOP. Owned by parent company Westjet, the airline based its Hub at John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (YHM). Its first route flown was between Hamilton, Ontario and Abbotsford, British Columbia. With a fleet of now 6 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, SWOOP has rapidly grown throughout Canada and has now tapped into the USA, Mexico and the Caribbean.
As the foundation of SWOOP's network, Hamilton airport has seen rapid growth within the past year. Its location is key as the airport captures passenger traffic from the Greater Toronto Area, Southwestern Ontario and the Niagara/New York region. Along with it's major cargo operations YHM, has become a source of great fares. The airport has further expanded its reach by announcing Norwegian Air Shuttle to Dublin, Ireland which begins in spring of 2019. YHM's linear terminal layout, plays a major role in efficiency from checkin to takeoff.
In December of 2018, SWOOP inaugurated US service to the sunshine state with routes to Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. The entrance of the airline to this market posed strategic as it offered traveller an affordable option to enjoy sun destinations during the cold winter. Having witnessed the airline's summer launch I was inclined to get an opportunity jet down to Florida for a quick winter's break.
This would be my first time flying on an ULCC. Kindly take a read and let me know what you think. Thank you.
AIRCRAFT, FLIGHT DETAILS
Aircraft Registration: C-FONK
Aircraft Type: Boeing 737-8CT
Aircraft Name: Jon
ETA: 9:55 AM
ATA: 10:45 AM
Flight Time: 2:27
I arrived at YHM around 4:30AM just before check-in had opened. The airport was already bustling as passengers were eager to get to their respective destinations. Having not seen YHM for a couple months, I realized that it had gone through a beautiful revamp of the terminal appearance. The new wall decor was a huge upgrade which gave the terminal a lively feel!
SWOOP has their own branded wall which runs adjacent to the check-in desks
Wall branding "Hamilton"
Norwegian to Dublin advert
The departure hall just before passengers filled in
Before flight WO810 to MCO, SWOOP had another departing flight to Winnipeg which began checkin about 40 minutes prior to that of the Orlando departure. This confused some passengers at first. As I had prepaid for all the necessary amenities I spent about 3 minutes at the desk with the agent.
During winter months the sun rises closer to 8am in Southern Ontario. Here you can see 2 of the 4 SWOOP aircraft prior to boarding. To the very far left of the photo were an Air Canada Jazz Crj-200 and an Air Transat 738.
As an ULCC, those passengers that purchased pre boarding were the first on the aircraft along with children and those in wheel chairs. YHM boards aircraft through air stairs and their paths to the aircrafts are well guided with bright colored barriers. The sun was beginning to rise when we made our way to C-FONK. To the far right AC's crj began to taxi as a UPS A300 had just arrived, a few hours late.
C-GDMP as WO808 to Tampa & C-FPLS as WO701 to Abbotsford were loading up for departure. YHM operations personnel were busy throughout the boarding and servicing period.
View from the boarding stairs
Boarding took about 20 minutes maximum. Passengers took some time to get in the aircraft as many snapped pictures of the beautiful sunrise.
The view from Seat 3A was stunning!
As expected here is the seat pitch between the seats of an unpurchased extra space seating.
This can be contrasted to seats 3 D-F on the opposite side of the cabin.
Despite boarding being finished, there was a lengthly delay which I assume was due to de-icing. I missed the crew's explanation as I dosed off. The stairs was removed right after the cabin door closed and remained like that for around 45 minutes.
Between checkin and departure, YHM's massive cargo operation was in full swing. One of Cargojet's 767s rested on the apron after arrival.
At the de-icing bay.
Momentarily, we began our taxi to the active. On taxiing on Taxiway C, we passed a stored Qatari Amari 747SP which had been at the airport for the past few months. Along with the 747 a stored 727 de-engined was also spotted.
We made a swift back track of RWY 10/30 and were on our way!
We cruised at 38,000 ft where the majority of the flight was overcast. The hot pink gave a nice contrast on the fluffy white clouds.
SWOOP offered inflight wifi service through their mobile app and snacks were for purchase. Quite a good choice for a short flight.
Food and drinks were available for purchase
Descent began over southern GA and continued into MCO. As we got below 12,000 feet skies began to clear.
Upon arrival to our concourse, the aircraft began taxiing into a wrong gate. This was corrected immediately and we pulled in next to EK220 bound for DXB.
Took a snap of the central area before headed for my transportation.
I enjoyed my first flight on an Ultra Low Cost Carrier. From departure to arrival, my experience was nice. Despite being delayed in the aircraft for an hour, the crew managed to get to MCO 50 minutes after our initial time of arrival. I've seen for myself how an inexperienced traveller may react when things don't go their way on ULC's and I truly believe they should understand the terms and conditions of which they've booked their flight. YHM is a relatively small airport and passengers use that as a leverage for cutting it tight with respect to closing check-in times. Everything experienced was what was expected. On the downside, since we were late, EK219 landed before us which caused immigration lines to be bad. I spent about 90 minutes waiting to see a customs as there were only 4 working for three international flights; EK220 from DXB and BW482 from POS. All in all, I'd recommend SWOOP to any of my friends wishing for an affordable quick getaway. The airline offers students another option to get back to their sunny homelands by avoiding the fares of the legacy carrier/s. Look out for new routes being launched in the near future.