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October 04, 2021

American airfare too cheap for Canadians to pass up: report

I have a set of parents that, in their ripe, old age, like to vacation maybe a little more than they did, say, a decade ago.

And when they do, despite living in London, Ont., smack dab in the middle of Toronto and Detroit, they always choose to fly from the latter.

But mom, dad, I would always say, the border waits! The parking! The hassle! Why do you always choose to fly out of the U.S.?

Shows what I didn’t know, and what the Conference Board of Canada confirms: now, and for the foreseeable future, you’d have to be silly to fly from a Canadian airport.

According to the latest report from the Conference Board, five million Canadians now cross the U.S. border by land each year to fly from the country’s airports.

*Bing: When’s the best time to buy airfare?

Why do they go? Because it’s about 30 per cent cheaper to do so, that’s why.

Thank once more Canada’s sky-high fees and taxes for pricey airfare; about 40 per cent of a Canadian plane ticket is made up of fees and taxes, by the Conference Board’s calculation.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has said Ottawa is “concerned” about the trend, but perhaps it’s only going to get worse.

Because much of Canada’s population lives so close to the U.S. border, enterprise has stepped up, and soon flying from the U.S. is going to be just as simple as doing so from Canada.

The key hurdles for a Canadian to fly from America, of course, are transportation and parking, costs that even on their own – even when a family, for example, would drive themselves a few hours across the border and pay to park for a week – still make flying from the U.S. cheaper.

But now, cross-border bus services are getting less expensive, and further easier for passengers to use.

And the U.S. airports? They see us coming. The one in Bellingham, Wash., is betting so big on the trend of Canadian travellers coming in that it’s more than tripling the size of its terminal.

“A recent study found that 62 per cent of the passengers coming out of Bellingham are Canadian,” Dean Zenk, director of aviation for the Port of Bellingham, said. “The fees are lower.”

Do you choose to fly out of the United States? If so, do the savings outweigh the hassle?
By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...