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More Than a Third of Canadians To Buy Airline Tickets in the U.S. in 2012

By SHANNON KELLY

Photo: K Nicoll

In a survey from the Hotel Association of Canada, more than a third of respondents said they intend to buy their airline tickets in the U.S. this year.

A smaller number (15 per cent) said they bought cheaper airline tickets in the U.S. in 2011 and 67 per cent said they knew someone who had purchased cheaper tickets in the U.S. in 2011.

Most of those surveyed who had bought tickets south of the border were Ontarians between the ages of 35 and 44.

Given the flight prices in Canada, you can’t blame them. As an example, a quick online search yesterday yielded the following—on Expedia.ca and Expedia.com, respectively—for a long Easter weekend round-trip flight:

Toronto (YYZ) to Vancouver (YVR): lowest price = $698

Buffalo, NY (BUF) to Seattle, WA (SEA): lowest price = $394 (adjusted for currency exchange)

A savings of $300 may be worth an hour or two of driving for some; and the incentive on international flights is often even higher—flying from the U.S. can save travellers upwards of $500 per ticket. (Been there, done that!)

One of the worst consequences of these high prices may be that they discourage Canadians from seeing their own country. Many a Canadian would love to explore the Yukon, but why spend $900 to fly there from Toronto when you could get to Miami for less than $400? (In fact, you could fly to Reykjavik for about the same price as flying to Whitehorse!)

Developments like WestJet’s new, lower-cost regional airline could provide some relief, but not fast enough. Until Canadian airlines start to consider U.S. airlines their competitors (it seems clear that they are) and the federal government makes it a priority to lower taxes on airfare, we don’t see this trend slowing.

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