Swoop Airlines review (San Diego to Edmonton): All the details!

Swoop Airlines review (San Diego to Edmonton): All the details!

Like a hungry squirrel to a freshly fallen nut, I couldn’t resist giving Swoop Airlines to try shortly after they initiated service from San Diego to Edmonton.

Basically what I found was that Swoop Airlines is the Spirit Airlines of Canada. There’s no first class, the seating configuration is really tight, they don’t serve free snacks, and everything (even the water) comes at an extra cost.

And you know what? It was an oddly enjoyable experience. Imagine that.

San Diego, CA (SAN) – Edmonton, AB (YEG)
Thursday, April 21, 2022
Aircraft: 737-8CT
Registration: C-FLBV
Duration: 3 hours 28 minutes
Seat: 5A (Main Cabin)

Swoop 737-800 side view
Swoop 737-800 side view illustration by Norebbo.com
WO721 flight track
Our route from San Diego to Edmonton this morning as WO721.

The video

My video review of Swoop Airlines flight number 721 to Edmonton was made easier by the fact that I had an entire row of seats to myself. There’s only so much video content I can get crammed into a tiny little seat on an ultra low cost carrier, but when there’s no one next to me, it’s game on.

As you can see in the video, the star of the show was the scenery way up there in northern(ish) Canada. It’s beautiful up there, and the window views didn’t disappoint.

My full review of Swoop Airlines flight 721 from San Diego to Edmonton

A nonstop flight from San Diego to Edmonton on any airline was something that I never could have expected to see. Is there really that much demand between these two city pairs? Obviously there is, because this review wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t.

Arrival at the San Diego Airport (SAN)

Swoop Airlines is located in Terminal 2 West at the San Diego International Airport. This is where all international flights arrive and depart from, so it only seems natural that they’d group them together with everyone else.

San Diego airport terminal 2 west main entrance
Here I go on my first international trip in 2 years! I’m also not wearing a jacket (for a trip to Canada in April), so I’m hoping that the excitement and adrenaline will be enough to protect me from my own stupidity. 
Airline sign San Diego airport
Who’s gonna tell them that Edelweiss isn’t coming back to San Diego this year? I totally understand having such a hard time letting go though, especially considering how much I enjoyed my flight from Zurich to San Diego on Edelweiss back in 2018. 

The Swoop check-in counter is located at the far end of the ticking hall, so be prepared for a decent hike once you walk through the main entrance.

Swoop airlines check in San Diego airport
The Swoop check in area here at SAN is located all the way at the far end of the ticketing hall. Only Air Canada has it worse.
Swoop airlines check in area SAN
Props to the girl in line who came prepared this morning with the Swoop-colored shirt (and shoes). My wardrobe is far too neutral for that sort of coordination!

Once past the security checkpoint, you’ll see that Swoop Airlines uses gate 50 or 51 most of the time. It’s the same gates that Air Canada and WestJet uses here in San Diego.

Gate 50 San Diego airport
Looks like it’s going to be gate 50 today.
Swoop 737-800 San Diego airport gate 50
Gate 50, by the way, is a pretty lousy place for aviation photography.
Inside terminal 2 west San Diego airport
I can’t hate on my home airport too much though. It’s beautiful here inside Terminal 2 West!
SANspotter walking through terminal 2 west San Diego airport
I really gotta do something about my neutral wardrobe though. It kills me that I’m not as Swoopy as that girl in the check in line was.

The boarding process for Swoop Airlines flight number 721 to Edmonton

Two days prior to this flight, the federal government announced the end to the mask mandate inside all US airports.

However, here at the gate getting ready to board this Swoop flight up to the Canadian north, the gate agents were quick to remind everyone that the mask mandate still exists in Canada (and on Canadian aircraft). You could almost hear the sighs and groans in the gate area when they made that announcement. 

Swoop boarding pass San Diego to Edmonton
Swoop boarding passes seem to be about as dull as my wardrobe.

I paid $20 extra for a seat towards the front of the plane when I booked my ticket, so I was blessed with a zone 2 boarding pass.

And despite not trying to look too anxious, I somehow managed to be one of the first passengers on the plane (even before the families with small children).

Swoop boarding gate San Diego airport
They just called for Zone 1 to board but there were no takers. When’s the last time you saw that happen on any other airline?
Boarding swoop airlines flight San Diego
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to keep your expectations low when you’re super excited about flying a new-to-you airline? My emotions were all over the place.
Swoop 737-800 up close
If you thought that the Swoop logo looked great from a distance, you should see it up close! I’ll bet it gave the aircraft painters heartburn for days.

My first impressions of Swoop 737-800 seats

Anyone hoping to see comfortable and stylish seats in this Swoop Airlines review is going to be disappointed. The seating configuration on the Swoop 737-800 is about as basic and tight as it gets on any commercial airline. 

It won’t seem all that uncomfortable if you go into this reminding yourself that it’s an ultra low cost flight experience, but otherwise, you may be disappointed.

Swoop 737-800 interior
Blue seats? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that hot pink vinyl was deemed to be too scandalous for a family-friendly airline.
Swoop airlines 737-800 seats
Seats 5A, B, and C. I’m a pretty thin guy but it looks like I’m gonna have to suck in my gut to squeeze into that window seat.
Swoop airlines seat pitch
Is there any way of saying “it’s so tight” without sounding like a perv? Because “cramped” just isn’t strong enough of a word.
Swoop airlines legroom
Honestly, “it’s tight, yo” is par for the course when it comes to the legroom on these ultra low cost airlines.
Swoop 737-800 safety card
Making a clever comment about how the safety card is all the in-flight entertainment you’re going to get on Swoop would be funny, but it would a lie. There are actually other options (which you will see below).
Swoop airlines power outlets at every seat
Power outlets and USB ports at every seat! You won’t find this kind of generosity on US-based ultra low cost carriers.
Swoop airlines legroom
Don’t get too excited though. The generosity of the power outlets is offset by the cruelty of the lack of legroom.
Video entertainment system control boxes under seats swoop 737-800
Adding insult to injury is the fact that there are large control boxes under the middle seats for a video entertainment system that doesn’t exist. I spy a stray peanut though. A hopeful sign that we might actually be served snacks on this flight?
SANspotter selfie swoop airlines 737-800
Although I may sound overly negative so far, don’t worry. It’s easy to be a critic, and the truth of the matter is that I’m only highlighting what I think people want to know. Other than the lack of legroom, it’s been a fun experience so far.
Swoop 737-800 seats
And really, how can I complain when I scored an entire row of seats to myself? Woohoo!
Swoop 737-800 bulkhead
Quick! Let’s get out of here before they move me back to a middle seat in row 31 for weight and balance purposes…

Long story short, everything seemed fine, but I have a feeling that anyone over 6 feet tall is going to be extremely uncomfortable in these Swoop 737-800 seats.

The departure out of San Diego

This flight up to Edmonton was scheduled to depart at 11:30 AM. True to their word, that’s exactly when we pushed off the gate. I love it when a plan comes together.

Swoop 737-800 taxiing at the San Diego airport
Pushing off the gate and heading out to the runway in what I believe to be the pinkest plane I’ve ever done this in.
Swoop 737-800 cabin
Check out the full takeoff video (embedded below) to see and hear this departure in it’s entirety. It’s a doozie!

Is there any in-flight entertainment on Swoop Airlines?

There are no video screens in the seat backs of any Swoop aircraft, so you’re going to have to use your own devices to stay entertained. However, they do offer Wi-Fi for an additional cost. I truly wasn’t expecting that on an ultra low cost carrier such as this.

Swoop airlines WiFi homepage
Once you reach cruising altitude, connect to the onboard WiFi to be presented with basic information about the flight (along with some persuasive arm-twisting to get you to purchase premium in-flight WiFi).
Swoop airlines in-flight tracker
Even if you’re strong enough to resist paying for internet access, you’ll still get complimentary flight (and destination) info. See what I mean and how stupid it was of me to not bring a jacket on this journey?

Also unexpected (but very much appreciated) was having power outlets at every seat. That’s not even something you saw in my review of the Spirit Airlines A320neo Standard seat experience. Well done Swoop. Well done.

swoop San Diego to Edmonton scenery
Really though, the scenery when flying from San Diego to Edmonton like this is all the in-flight entertainment you’ll ever need.

Are snacks and drinks free on Swoop?

You can’t see me, but I’m laughing hysterically as I’m typing the response to this question. No, food and drink is not free on any Swoop Airlines flight. Not even a small cup of water. If you want anything, you’re going to have to pay for it.

That said, I’m glad to see that they have the option to purchase food. It’s not much, mainly consisting of small snacks and soft drinks, but at least it even exists.

Food and drinks on swoop airlines
Looks like the people across the aisle from me chose to partake in the buy-on-board option for food and drinks.
SANspotter on swoop airlines
And because I’m a cheapskate, that concludes the food and drink portion of this review.

How comfortable are the seats?

I don’t mean to sound overly blunt, but Swoop 737-800 seats are not very comfortable. Then again, I went into this experience fully expecting that they wouldn’t be. Considering that I only paid $166.32 for my ticket, it wasn’t really fair for me to expect anything more.

Flying over snowy Canadian landscape
Whenever I started thinking of how bad my back hurt from sitting in these seats, I reminded myself that it was probably better than lying naked in a ditch somewhere down there. I’ll take a little lower back pain over hypothermia any day!

As I noted earlier, seat pitch is very tight. Not only that, The seat cushions are very thin and there’s not a lot of lumbar support for the lower back. I basically arrived in Edmonton crouched over holding my back looking (and feeling) like an old man.

Swoop 737-800 seat comfort
Honestly, these seats aren’t any less comfortable than the seats on any other ultra low cost airline. Just know that it’ll hurt more the taller you are.

The arrival into Edmonton

As we were flying over top of Calgary, I realized this is the farthest north that I had ever been in Canada. It’s beautiful up there. One the most interesting things about it was the fact that it looked snowy and cold around the Calgary area, but up in Edmonton, it seemed dry and very Spring like. 

Swoop 737-800 lavatory
Because showing you an unappealing pic of the loo before starting the descent is starting to become a tradition in my airline reviews.
Flying over Canadian Rocky Mountains
Now it’s getting serious!
Flying over Calgary airport
That’s the Calgary Airport (YYC) down there. Be sure to check out my WestJet San Diego to Calgary review if you want to see what it’s like. 
Landing at the Edmonton airport
Whoa. What happened to all the snow?
Landing at YEG in a swoop 737-800
We’re lined up with that runway just about as well as I can line up with any runway in Microsoft Flight Simulator. I’ll just stick to paying other people to fly me around, thanks.
Arrival at Edmonton airport
Welcome to a Edmonton!
Arrival at Edmonton airport YEG in swoop 737-800
Not gonna lie: Despite my lack of proper winter clothing, I was actually hoping to see some snow today. 
YEG airport terminal
We’re swooping on around to the back side of the airport it seems…
Gate 86 YEG airport
Come on, I had to use at least one “swoop” pun in this review. You’re lucky that I held off for this long.
Swoop 737-800 end of flight
And there you have it! The seatbelt sign has been turned off, and that’s pretty much a wrap on this flight up to Edmonton.
Edmonton Airport jet bridge
Knowing how tough Canadian Border agents can be, I’m not exactly looking forward to the next 30 minutes.
SANspotter arriving at Edmonton airport
Is there any rational way to explain to explain why I flew all the way to Canada in April without a jacket? I’m so screwed…

Pros and cons of flying on the Swoop Airlines 737-800

If all you need is a bare-bones experience between the US and Canada, it’s hard to beat Swoop Airlines. They’re not trying to be anything that they aren’t, and they do pretty well at offering a decent product at a really great price. Based on my experience flying from San Diego to Edmonton, here are what I see as the pros and cons:


  • It’s cheap! I mean that in the financial sense, of course. Even though my ticket was $166.32, it could’ve been $20 less if I hadn’t paid extra for a seat towards the front of the plane. That’s a pretty good price for a flight from Southern California to the middle of Canada IMHO.
  • There are power outlets at every seat. This is not something that I expect to see on an ultra low cost carrier such as Swoop, so it was highly appreciated.
  • Even though you have to pay extra for it, there is food available on the plane if you’re hungry.
  • The cabin crew on my particular flight was outstanding. They were extremely cheerful and helpful, which is something that I’m seeing less and less on mainline US carriers these days.


  • Leg room (seat pitch) in these seats is extremely tight. Anyone over 6 feet tall is going to be uncomfortable.
  • There’s no in-flight entertainment of any kind (except for the Wi-Fi you’ll have to pay extra for), so be sure to bring your own.
  • Unlike some other ultra low cost carriers, Swoop Airlines doesn’t offer the option to purchase a larger/more comfortable seat. All the seats on Swoop aircraft are the same (and they all pretty much suck).