There has been much talk in the Toronto star with regards to the number of Canadians choosing to start their travel from U.S. based “border” airports. I will detail specific trip costs in this blog between Southwest and other airlines out of Buffalo vs Air Canada and others out of Toronto. I would now like to address the “hassle” aspects of crossing the border via automobile, extra travel time etc. First off as NEXUS Card Holders our border crossing times are virtually eliminated. Even on a busy day our maximum time is less than 15 minutes and, has been as quick as 30 seconds. Best $85.00 ever spent. I have always been convinced that my total time – home to Buffalo Departure Gate is virtually the same as my home to Toronto Pearson Departure Gate. The following letter to the editor from Gerald Berish, published in the Toronto Star, spells it out beautifully and reinforces it’s not all about cost.
Travellers flocking to U.S. airports, Toronto Star Business, Feb. 17
Price is only one of the factors for my choice to fly from Buffalo over 50 per cent of the time I travel. My last flight arrived at Pearson’s Terminal One at 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2010. After flying all night with Air Canada from Santiago, Chile, we landed at Pearson and walked what seemed like kilometers from the gate to immigration. We arrived in a hall and zigzagged through the queue for about 45 minutes.
At the end of the line was a single agent directing passengers into one of 10 secondary lines of about 10 people each. Unlike modern airports, which we encountered in developing countries around South America, there was no electronic system to indicate the next free agent. Instead, you hoped that the secondary line you were sent to had nobody in it who would take a long time to process. One wonders what the GTAA does with the highest fees in the world.
After customs, we proceeded to the baggage claim area thinking that with the long line at customs our bags would be sitting there. Silly thought! An hour and a half after our plane arrived at the gate our bags came up the ramp. We would have been around Hamilton by then had we landed in Buffalo. By the way, there is no cellphone service in either hall so you can’t call the people waiting for you.
Our next trip is scheduled from Buffalo. A night at the hotel with breakfast and two weeks parking plus shuttle is about $130. Tax included. We will enjoy a day of shopping in Buffalo and wake up around 90 minutes before our departure time.
My personal repertoire of Air Canada/Pearson horror stories would fill a section of your paper. In any case, regardless of the price, one must provide service in order to retain customers and that is not happening now.
Gerald Berish, Richmond Hill