'Air Canada Airbus A330-343' by abdallahh, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
Recently, I read somewhere that Porter airlines is doubling their flights between Trudeau airport and Toronto City Centre. Big deal! I'd be more interested if they halved their prices maybe, not doubled their flights.
You know, it's hard enough living in Montreal with the kind of winters we get, what's worse is that you can’t get anywhere decent without spending an arm and a leg.
So I went on Porter's website, to check out what a weekend in Toronto would cost me, and found out that the cheapest return-ticket I could get went for $296. I picked a ticket two months down the line, leaving Friday evening and returning Sunday evening.
Now that's just nuts if you ask me! 300 bucks to go to a next-door boring city like Toronto (no offense). I go to New York once or twice a year, and I always pay around $400. A couple of months ago, I bought a return ticket from Montreal to Nashville, Tennessee for $750, and I booked way ahead of time.
These prices really don't make any sense. How is it that in Europe, you can find amazing deals to go to amazing cities, while we can't even go to Toronto for less than $300? Of course, you can go by train for around $155 (for the same weekend in June), but do I really want to spend five hours (times two) in a train just to spend a weekend in Toronto?
Since I've been living in Paris, I've traveled around a few times for great prices. Lately, I took the train to Amsterdam for 50€ (about $75). $75 won't take you anywhere from Montreal! To make things better (or worse for Montreal), the train system is so much faster here in France. Paris-Amsterdam takes just over three hours for a 500km trip, as opposed to five hours for Montreal-Toronto (also a 500km trip, 540km to be exact). Today I can buy a Paris-London return ticket for 77€ (about $115) for that same weekend in June.
And trust me; these prices do not even begin to scratch the surface of the kinds of deals you can find in Europe. I haven't even addressed the budget airlines, since it seems that's a concept that doesn't exist for us Montrealers, so there isn't even a basis for comparison. EasyJet and Ryanair, the two biggest European low-cost airlines, offer ridiculous flight deals every now and then. Also, Expedia.fr and other similar vacation brokers offer flight/train-hotel combos that make Expedia.ca look like a rip-off.
Typically from Montreal, we head off to Mexico or the Caribbean to help with our winter blues. Generally speaking, you won't find any packages under $1000 for a week in a four-star hotel or better. From Paris, on the other hand, not only do you have great choice for a sun-filled destination (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, ...), but you can find all-inclusive deals starting at 500€ ($750) or lower for four-star hotels.
My point is not to say that Europe is better than Canada. Even the States have more reasonable and affordable travel options than we do. I just want to know why there isn't more competition and choice for us. Is it that there isn't a big enough market in Canada? Maybe the demand is too small to take advantage of serious economies of scale? Do the big corporations have some sort of monopoly on prices?
I don't know, but right now I'm feeling very jealous of Europeans, and I'm definitely going to miss traveling around when I return to Montreal.