Thursday, February 11, 2010

18% of Torontonians Crossing the Border to Fly

On the way home from work today, I caught some of the "LiveDrive with John Tory" on NewsTalk 1010 (, and he was having an interesting conversation in regards to "Border Airports".

So, it appears now that 18% of Torontonians (I believe that’s the number quoted from the radio show) decide to Fly to the US via the Buffalo International Airport as opposed to our beloved Pearson International, simply because it’s cheaper and it’s easier.

And who can blame them? Money and Convenience are key in today’s super-fast moving world.

As per the show, the Buffalo International Airport parking lot was surveyed (unofficially) to see the distribution of License Plate States/Provinces of the cars that park there, and they found that 36% of the plates were from Ontario! I guess we see who’s actually paying the bills down there!

At the same time, Merchants at Pearson have been complaining not only about the additional security measures taking away precious “shopping time” from the travellers, but also that the overall numbers of passengers have been steadily declining.

I guess things have now begun to catch up with the Airports and Airlines…

I first noticed this move of driving to Buffalo to fly, when some of my colleagues started making the drive to Buffalo to take their flights to New York every week. When I asked them why they go through the trouble (since the flights will be expensed to the client anyway), they respond that firstly, the flights from Toronto are just too expensive and above their travel budgets most of the time. And secondly that it’s actually faster to make the drive to Buffalo, deal with the security at the Border, and then cruise to their flight in no time at the airport over there.

I thought maybe they were just being extra-tight with the cash, but, after I heard the radio show and that 18% of Torontonians are doing the same thing, I finally realized that maybe they’ve got something here..


After years and years of rising Airline Surcharges, Airport Surcharges, and Relentless Taxes after Taxes after Taxes (especially at Pearson International, who’s Surcharges and Taxes are amongst the highest in the world), finally Torontonians have begun to throw their hands up in surrender…

I thought I would take a quick look online to see exactly how much these Surcharges and Taxes really do amount to, and how much they impact the cost of the overall flight.

So I visited to lookup a round-trip flight from Toronto (YYZ) to New York (LGA). I thought I would book it for 7 months in advance, just to ensure that I was getting the cheapest rate available (without promotions and etc.), so we could get a clear picture about how much the “Extras” really do impact the price.

So I entered the dates and locations and I hit go. And I was presented with a selection of flights at various times. I went with the cheapest earliest flight for our Monday morning departure, and selected a “Tango Plus” rate of $130.

I then went to the return flight back from New York, and I looked for a flight in the evening with the cheapest rate.

I found one for $130, and I selected it and hit next.

I was then brought to a summary payment screen, where I selected to see the details of the price quotation:

And there it was! This is what all of the fuss is about. $130 for the flight there, $130 for the flight back, and then a shocking $118.26 for Surcharges and Taxes…

Tax for this, Charge for that, fee for this, Surcharge for that… Airport Improvement Fee, US Transportation tax, and US Agriculture Fee (?????)….

(For a full description of all of the Taxes, Surcharge and Fees, visit this link:

They've so over-taxed and over-surcharged this entire trip, that the cost of the taxes almost outweighs the cost of a ticket!!

No wonder people are driving south to fly… They’re probably only paying maybe 20% of those “extras” in Buffalo..


Yes yes, Security. I agree that we need the security because of all of the nut-jobs out there.. But just because I agree, or just because Torontonians agree for that matter, it doesn’t mean that we won’t still try to find an easier more convenient way to fly (as John Tory was saying on the radio show, people always navigate to the most painless way of doing things).

Going into US Customs at Pearson on a Monday morning is a nightmare. And for those of you who do it on a weekly basis, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The line usually extends outside of the gymnasium size area, and it can take more than 2 hours at times (sometimes even worse) to get through it, and through all of the security checks along the way.

Unfortunately, Convenience and Security are on 2 opposite ends of the Spectrum, and with Security the obvious priority in this current era, it’s the convenience factor that suffers.

As a result, people have been deciding to drive south to fly, as going through security at the Border while driving is apparently much faster and easier than going through that nightmare at Pearson.

Once they’ve crossed the border, flying in the US is a breeze. You can actually still go to the airport in the US about 30 mins before your flight, and you won’t be super-rushed to make it. If you get there an hour early, you actually have time to hit up the stores, maybe grab some dinner and you can actually leisure your way to your flight.

Unless the Government, the Airports and the Airlines in Canada and in Toronto decide to do something about these egregious taxes and surcharges, they should expect that more Canadian Travellers will be flying via these “Border Airports”.


(Screenshots taken from:


IshDunThinkSo said...

I am booking now for a flight to vegas in May and am actually finding that it is cheaper to just go out of Toronto.
perhaps Buffalo is cheaper only for east coast flights?

jackandcokewithalime said...

Hey macbeth,

I'm surprised to hear that you're actually finding it cheaper to go via Toronto!

I guess depending on the cost of the actual ticket (and not the taxes), the prices can vary enough to still make it worth it to fly out of Toronto..

In any event, I wish you the best of luck in Vegas!!! I'm sure you're gonna have a blast! :)


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