Culture

All about Canadian culture, from people and language to food, drink, books, music, and film

Daily Life

From health care and education, to local eating and shopping, to festivals and things to do, get the scoop on life in Canada

Housing, Jobs, & Money

Finding a home, working, saving, and investing in Canada – here’s how

Immigration

What you need to know to live in, work in, or immigrate to Canada. Citizenship information, too.

Travel

Travel ideas and tips for visiting, touring, and deciding where to live in Canada.

Home » Daily Life, Housing, Jobs, & Money

Why Canadians fly from US airports

Submitted by on January 30, 2011 – 10:56 am3 Comments

If you’re liv­ing in Canada and plan­ning a trip out­side the coun­try, do you con­sider fly­ing from an air­port in the United States?

If so, you’re not alone.

A recent Globe & Mail arti­cle, “An omi­nous flight pat­tern: Canadians opt­ing for U.S. air­ports,” reported that “Over the past decade, the num­ber of trips taken at U.S. air­ports by Canadians has more than dou­bled.

What’s dri­ving airport-​​bound Canadians to drive over the bor­der? That’s easy — sav­ing money.

As the Globe & Mail arti­cle explained, “one in six Canadians fly­ing to a U.S. des­ti­na­tion are now turn­ing their backs on Canada’s air­ports and tak­ing advan­tage of cheaper American fares.”

But what makes Canada’s fares so high? Here’s the Globe & Mail’s analysis:

With only Air Canada and WestJet offer­ing coast-​​to-​​coast ser­vice, Canada lacks the fierce com­pe­ti­tion among smaller air­lines that forces down fares in the United States.

But direct and indi­rect gov­ern­ment levies remain the biggest rea­sons for Canada’s sky-​​high fares. Ottawa charges mil­lions of dol­lars in rent on the fed­er­ally owned land that major air­ports oper­ate on; it also imposes secu­rity charges, fuel excise taxes and sales taxes.

The var­i­ous levies and charges have steadily risen in recent years and now account for up to 70 per cent of the total fare on domes­tic flights.

So what does that mean for Canadian travelers?

In Vancouver, it means they’re brav­ing the traf­fic and bor­der line-​​ups to drive to Seattle, where dis­count air­lines like Jet Blue and Virgin America have a grow­ing num­ber of flights from Sea-​​Tac International Airport.

It also means more B.C. trav­el­ers are con­sid­er­ing flights from Bellingham, Washington, where Allegiant Air whisks snow­birds south to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and sev­eral California cities.. As the CBC reported, “The num­ber of peo­ple fly­ing out of Bellingham International Airport has increased from 68,000 in 2001 to about 400,000 in 2010 and more than half of those are Canadian.”

Toronto-​​area trav­el­ers are fly­ing from Buffalo, and other south­ern Ontario res­i­dents book flights from Detroit.

South of Montreal, New York’s Plattsburgh International Airport even bills itself as “Montreal’s U.S. Airport,” lur­ing Canadian trav­el­ers with cheap flights on Spirit Airways.

It’s not all gloom and doom for Canadian trav­el­ers. Besides Air Canada and Westjet, some smaller car­ri­ers are begin­ning to make inroads in the Canadian mar­ket, notably Toronto-​​based Porter Airways. Porter flies between east­ern Canadian cities, includ­ing Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, and St. John’s, and to a few American destinations.

But in the same way that Canadian shop­pers look for other bar­gains south of the bor­der (see our recent post, “Shopping in Canada, or Why US Expats Miss Target”), it seems like dri­ving south to fly is a Canadian migra­tion that will be with us for some time.

Sea-​​Tac International Airport photo by pray­itno (flickr)

3 Comments »

  • Ruth says:

    We are in Kingston and always fly out of Syracuse. It is as close as Ottawa and always cheaper. Plus, cross­ing the bor­der here is a breeze. The high­way to Syracuse is fan­tas­tic. Smooth with very lit­tle traffic.

  • Maurizio Collini says:

    No wan­der! This is my why:
    Living in the east­ern Townships we are only an hour an half away from Burlington air­port a small regional air­port.
    You drive an hour and fif­teen min­utes to get to Trudeau air­port in Montreal but it never hap­pens, the bridge and the rush hour to get there can add up to an extra hour.
    Crossing a land bor­der takes at the most 10 min­utes, there is no rush hour between here and the air­port and no line to present the ticket, you are at the gate in sixty sec­onds.
    Try to get through our Montreal air­port maze, not to men­tion the delay to get to the US pass­port con­trol and the long walk to the gate.
    We are lucky that there is still a great num­ber of humans that like lines as a daily ticket in life!
    Ciao.

  • Tweets that mention Why Canadians Fly from US Airports | Living Abroad in Canada -- Topsy.com says:

    […] This post was men­tioned on Twitter by Alltop Canada, The Bellingham Wire. The Bellingham Wire said: Why Canadians Fly from US Airports | Living Abroad in Canada http://​bit​.ly/​d​I​F​bxd […]