After much anecdotal input on Sunwing from friends, family and clients with not all of it being positive it was with much curiosity and admittedly a little anxiety that I embarked on my first flight on this low cost carrier but despite the neutral to negative portrait they’d painted I came away pleasantly surprised after my flight to Huatulco, Mexico.

Having long heard about the tight 29-inch seat pitch in regular economy seats on Sunwing’s Boeing 737 aircraft I paid to upgrade to the Elite Plus seats on the outbound flight and selected an exit row aisle, 16D, for the 7+ hour direct flight from Edmonton with a touchdown Calgary.

The advantage of having a dedicated check-in line for Elite Plus passengers is lost if you check in so early that there are no line-ups but for those less anally early it’s a handy perk.

Considering the cost to assign a normal economy seat in advance is $20 per person one-way, the upgrade to Elite Plus at 2.5 times that amount to me isn’t too exorbitant given the extra creature comforts and priority perks which included my being the first passenger to board the flight.

Seat pitch in the emergency exit row aisle seat was excellent with a good 3 – 4 inches clearance to the seat pocket of the row in front.

The seat pitch was enough to allow the window seat passenger to step around me to access the aisle without my having to stand up.

The advertised “champagne” service was actually a small plastic cup of sparkling wine but I found the in-flight service from the crew to be very personable and attentive. The buy-on-board menu with dishes from Canadian celebrity chef Lynn Crawford is diverse enough to offer something for everyone. Seatmates enjoyed the pizza but having had a bigger breakfast before boarding in Edmonton I opted for the cashews and Mill Street Brewery Original Organic Lager for CAD$11.50 as I devoured a good novel.

Elite Plus passengers are to receive complimentary ear buds but failed to receive my set which wasn’t a big deal as I read the whole flight. The in-flight entertainment featured some recent movies on shared screens every few rows instead of seat-back TV’s.

My return flight was in a regular economy aisle seat, 12D, and my knees almost touched the seat pocket so the seat pitch is as tight as expected making the journey seem longer. As all passengers are dropped off at the same time at Huatulco airport making for longer check-in lines if I were to upgrade to Elite Plus only one-way I’d recommend confirming it on the inbound flight rather than the outbound flight.

I arrived ready to find fault but came away from my Sunwing flights with few complaints so wouldn’t be as hesitant to fly the airline again. I would however recommend upgrading to Elite Plus seats round-trip as to me worth it’s for the priority perks and extra legroom.