(james benedict brown) on the road

Air Canada: cheaper to the USA than Canada

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 15 September, 2006

Having been back on British soil for only five days, I am already planning my next trip to Canada. Unfortunately for the narrative value of this blog, it is not because I am desperate to emigrate or because I have a Canadian lover, but because I have a rather chunky pile of credit with Air Canada. £330 worth, in fact, which I have to use before June 2007 or I risk losing for ever. I could tell you how this came into my possession, but it is, to be honest, a bit complicated and won’t make the story any clearer. I did acquire it legitimately, so I’m not going to pass up on the chance for another trip. I’ve been sitting on this credit for some time, waiting for Air Canada to open up sales on their discounted winter seats. The first online sale has started, and now is a great time to book winter flights from the UK to Canada because, to be honest, few people want to go there when both scales on the thermometer are below zero. I have, of course, received words of caution from my Canadian friends about coming to visit during the winter, but since I’ve already been prepared by enduring one mild Canadian winter from start to finish, I remain eager to go back. Even frozen nostrils cannot mask the scent of an (almost) free holiday.

We are all experts of the airline booking process now. The best way to get a bargain is still to spend a couple of hours online researching different dates, different airlines and different flights to get the best price. My ideal itinerary would be from the UK into Montréal and then home from Chicago. A week or two in between would give me time to see friends, pick up some of the stuff I left behind when I left Montréal last weekend and then travel overland by my beloved Amtrak for a few days in the windy city (I am fully aware that anyone who knows what Chicago is like in the winter will be laughing out loud by now, but trust me, I quite like cold winters). I’ve been checking different combinations of flights and different itineraries this evening, and am delighted to tell you about an alarming difference between certain flights. And the title of this post does not lie. You can fly to Canada and then connect to the USA and pay less than someone on the same flight as you who is only going as far as Canada.

For example:

  • 28 Dec 2006: London Heathrow – Toronto Pearson – New York La Guardia
  • 12 Jan 2007: New York La Guardia – Toronto Pearson – London Heathrow… £270.70

Compare that with the following fare, which uses the same London – Toronto flights (AC869 and AC856) on the same days as the fare quoted above.

  • 28 Dec 2006: London Heathrow – Toronto Pearson
  • 12 Jan 2007: Toronto Pearson – London Heathrow… £582.70

It costs £312 (almost CAD$700) more not to continue flying onwards to New York. It seems that even Canada’s flag carrier is encouraging me not to come to Canada during the winter.

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