Oh, Canada!

I used to travel a lot for my work, logged a lot of frequent flyer miles and loved being upgraded. And I got spoiled. Very spoiled. So as long as we had the miles since retiring, we traveled business class on any long haul flight. Four or five trans-Atlantic trips ate quite a hole those accumulated miles. And we have discovered with each progressive year, it has become harder and harder to book European trips with miles, even when you’re willing to leave from any west coast city.

Meanwhile our desire to travel hadn’t dwindled. So here we were, looking at another big trip and needing to buy a ticket. I know, no sympathy for us.

A quick check of the online consolidators showed a huge range in fares, depending upon the airlines. Qatar Airlines looked promising with the lowest fare, but only out of Chicago or a few east coast cities which would have been an additional cost for us. And did we really want to fly to Doha? Emirates was the most expensive option, but what do you expect for your own cabin? We settled upon the cheapest, British Airways, which remained the best deal even including their outrageous fees for the privilege of landing in Heathrow.

After entering our destination, preferred travel dates, number of travelers, frequent flyer and trusted travelers numbers and all the other info the website wanted, we examined our choices. A ticket from home to South Africa with a stopover in London got us thinking about getting off the plane in London for a couple days and spending some time letting out bodies adjust to the change in time zones. So we re-entered all the info, this time asking for a multi-city ticket which would allow us to stay in London.

Opps. Price jumped by nearly 25%! For the privilege of leaving the airport we added nearly a thousand dollars to the cost.

We then tried booking two separate round trip tickets. Home to London. London to South Africa. Total price was even higher. We were about the reconcile ourselves to arriving in South Africa after two 10 hour flights and just skipping the layover in London when a friend suggested we look at Canadian departures. For us, just three hours from the closest Canadian airport, leaving from Canada was a viable option

A quick online check showed a couple flights a day out of Vancouver, including British Airways. We booked it, still a competitive price even with the taxes and additional cost for the layover in London. While reading the fine print, we realized the price quoted us was in Canadian dollars, a twenty-two percent discount for Americans at the current exchange rate.

Bottom line? Flying out of Canadian meant we were paying for one of the cheapest direct flights but getting the multi-city experience of four days to play in London. Or put another way, for the cost of a tank of gas, we were saving enough money to pay for our lodging and food in London for three full days. A no-brainer.

Why don’t more people do this? Even if you had to fly to your Canadian airport, you could still save money. A cousin had a similar experience on her last trip to Europe. By flying out of Canada on a plane that was routed through her US hometown airport, she saved $300.

So not only does Canada have better health care, a more sane approach to gun safety, it also offers better airfares! Oh, Canada!

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