A friend who lives here in Ottawa recently reported that she saved big on a recent vacation to Miami by flying out of Syracuse. The plane ticket on jetBlue from Syracuse to Miami for my friend and two of her family members cost her $650. The best prices she could find for flying out of Ottawa during the same period was $650 per person. Now, Syracuse is a three-hour drive from Ottawa and even accounting for parking at Syracuse ($70), gas and other incidentals, my friend figures she saved a total of more than $1,000 on her trip.
Of course, there are some risks involved. If the weather is bad, driving from Ottawa to Syracuse could turn out to be tricky. You may have to put up with unpredictable border-crossing times. Also, it is easier to deal with flight delays and cancellations when flying out of or back to Ottawa directly. And if you have a young family, you’d likely do anything to avoid driving three hours with the young ones in tow.
And it’s not just my friend. A number of Canadians have wised up to how much they can save by driving across the border. Vancouver residents are flying to U.S. destinations out of Bellingham, Winnipeggers out of Grand Forks, Torontonians out of Buffalo and Montrealers out of Burlington, Vermont or Plattsburgh, N.Y. A recent CBC news report said that an estimated 2.5 million Canadians cross the border and fly out of an U.S. airport. Canadian airports are blaming high rents charged by the Federal Government for the problem.