YYZ: Why Charity Begins at Home

Posted By: John Downs · 10/3/2012 5:00:00 PM

It must be a kind and patient soul who decides to fly into the United States from Pearson. After all, departing from Canada's busiest airport isn't just a chaotic headache, it's pricey. Kind of like paying a doctor to inject you with an infection.


The Conference Board of Canada says five million of us are crossing the border every year for cheaper flights. For some, traveling to the U.S. just isn't an option. But one has to question the sanity of the millions of others often paying double, or even triple to fly from our side of the 49th.


Until now, I felt as if I was doing the Canadian aviation industry a favour by flying from Pearson. I was paying a premium with the knowledge that somebody needed to subsidize Canadian carriers who can't be as competitive as American ones, who have an economy of scale to keep planes full and a heck of a lot more competition to keep their fares down. Canada is one-tenth the size with a whole lotta nothing between cities. It hardly makes for a competitive business model.


But my days of playing sugar daddy to Air Canada, WestJet and the rest are over. My change of heart came when pricing one-way flights to Las Vegas for January. Toronto to LAS: $300. From Buffalo: $122.


I have no idea how the heck I'm getting to Buffalo yet. But at a savings of $178 one-way, I'll make it happen. For $178 I'll shimmy along a high wire across the Niagara Gorge à la Wallenda if need be.


The return trip back to Pearson was a direct flight, ringing in at $190. More than I would've paid to fly back through Buffalo. But for the $50 extra I'll gladly take advantage of a better flight time and shorter trip. So it's not that I don't expect to pay more to fly out of Pearson, I just don't see value for money in a ticket that's 150% more expensive.


My conscience is a lot more clean with this kind of purchase than, say, buying poorly manufactured goods made in China from Walmart. American flight crews are hardly slave workers. And with the FAA the words "corrupt" and "exploitative" hardly come to mind.


So as much as I'll miss the gleaming new Terminal 1, the gate-side Tim Hortons and the one-hour TTC ride from downtown, it looks like I'll now be headed to Buffalo for more than just the occasional hockey game. If only solving the NHL's woes was such a no-brainer.


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  1. Mike posted on 10/04/2012 10:29 AM

    They are hip to the buffalo shuffle
  2. proton posted on 10/10/2012 10:50 AM
    The biggest single cost difference results from usurious taxes from Canada. Look at airfare quotes to see the level of taxes; they are sometimes more than 100% of the pre-tax airfare.

    The next biggest factor is Pearson. It's one of the most expensive airports in the world to fly in/out of.

    Having said all that the Canadian carriers have a very good safety record.
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