Twice in the past few months Scott and I have tried, unsuccessfully, to plan a long weekend in Canada. Our first idea was to visit Montreal over Thanksgiving. The second trip idea was to travel to Banff over a long weekend in January. In both cases, we were shocked at how difficult it is to visit Canada.
I’m not talking about any border requirements or TSA nonsense, I’m talking about the oddly high airfare to visit our friends to our north. In the Montreal example, I had no problem finding affordable hotel rooms, even at really nice properties. Having visited Montreal before, I also knew that eating and sightseeing in the city would be what we were used to in the Washington, DC area and not absurdly high. The proverbial wrench in the works was the airfare. The cheapest I could find from the DC area was $600 per person! This isn’t a transatlantic trip here, this is a brief, hour and a half flight north. Out of curiosity, I also checked airfares to Dublin for the same weekend and they were the same.
The second trip is still in the works, and while it may work out the high airfare has once again taken me completely by surprise. It is true that the trip to Calgary, the closest airport to Banff, is a bit far from the DC area, but once again the airfare ranges in the $600-$700 range. It would not cost that much more to fly to London and almost as much time. I’m beginning to see a trend here.
Some will read this and say that these prices simply reflect an overall trend in higher fares; but that’s not quite true. In both time frames, I also searched for flights to Mexico, Cancun to be specific, and the fares were at most $300-$400 per person. A savings of at least $200 may not seem like a lot to some, but when you’re trying to do a quick trip on the cheap, that’s a significant difference. So why is it exactly that it is comparatively so much easier to visit our friends south of the border than it is north?
I’m sure several airline experts will chime in about capacity and the number of airlines servicing Mexico versus Canada, and I have no doubt that they are correct. What bothers me is why is this the case?
No, Canada does not have palm trees or warm, sunny beaches. But Canada has a lot to offer in all seasons and while I am not ordinarily a defender of my hockey-loving friends to the north, I have to say that there appears to be a real travel bias against them.
Rather than get into ALL the great things there are to do in Canada (there are a lot) I would instead encourage you to do your own research and see all that it has to offer.
Maybe if enough of us plan a trip there, the travel powers-that-be will make it easier for us all to do so.