Travel

Why we don't fly Ottawa to Saskatoon

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  • Jan 28th, 2023 3:06 am
[OP]
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Oct 24, 2010
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Ottawa

Why we don't fly Ottawa to Saskatoon

We live in Ottawa. I grew up in Saskatoon, and we visit at least once a year (more now because my Mom has dementia). We're a family of 4, so flying is 4 airline tickets.

In this thread I asked for advice on the route from Ottawa to Mississauga a few weeks ago so that we could catch a direct flight from Pearson to Saskatoon. People questioned our decision to drive and then fly instead of just flying out of Ottawa.

I started looking at flights for the summer (July/August) to visit Saskatoon. I searched for 4 tickets, and chose the cheapest approximately 2 week block (13-15 days) over those 2 months on Air Canada or WestJet. The prices on the Ottawa to Calgary, Ottawa to Edmonton, and Toronto to Saskatoon would be lower if we wanted to risk Flair or Swoop.

This is why we search for flights out of Toronto or Montreal when traveling internationally, and why we make a drive (either to Toronto or from Calgary/Edmonton) when visiting Saskatoon.

We've lived in Ottawa for 3.5 years and have yet to fly Ottawa to Saskatoon as a family. We either drive to Toronto, or fly to Calgary or Edmonton and drive on the other side. We need to rent a vehicle in Saskatoon anyway, so having to rent in AB doesn't really factor in to the decision.

Ottawa to Saskatoon:
yxe.JPG

Toronto to Saskatoon:
yyz.JPG

Ottawa to Edmonton:
yeg.JPG

Ottawa to Calgary:
yyc.JPG
19 replies
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Feb 3, 2005
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Georgetown
Those are some big differences - definitely not great fares to Saskatoon. I'm no expert on this - but maybe flying into Regina and driving the rental car to Saskatoon would provide savings (as opposed to having to travel to Pearson). I didn't check this and have no idea if it would actually work - but... just a thought...
[OP]
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Oct 24, 2010
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Ottawa
Tiberius wrote: Those are some big differences - definitely not great fares to Saskatoon. I'm no expert on this - but maybe flying into Regina and driving the rental car to Saskatoon would provide savings (as opposed to having to travel to Pearson). I didn't check this and have no idea if it would actually work - but... just a thought...
We actually look at Regina and Winnipeg as well. Regina isn't much better than Saskatoon, probably because the airport is quite a bit smaller. Winnipeg would be a long drive to Saskatoon, so the savings would have to be significant.

The issue is really that both Ottawa and Saskatoon are small airports with limited competition, so trying to connect between them is expensive with few options. Flair and Swoop fly some routes in and out of Ottawa, and Flair has routes in and out of Saskatoon, but there's nothing connecting Ottawa to Saskatoon except with WestJet and Air Canada. WestJet's options have been historically terrible - only a couple of flights a day that will connect you through YYZ or YYC to Saskatoon. Air Canada used to have a few options a day though YYZ and a few through YYC, but they recently canceled all of their YYC to YXE routes. While they added a YUL to YXE route, the options on Air Canada are also limited.

Pre-pandemic there were directs from Ottawa to Saskatoon and Regina, but those have been gone for a couple of years.

Meanwhile, Flair services the Ottawa to Calgary and Toronto to Saskatoon routes, and Swoop has Ottawa to Edmonton and Calgary. That competition has made all of those routes cheaper. With Calgary also having flights now from Porter and Lynx, the competition has led to significantly reduced prices to and from Calgary.

Last April, we flew Ottawa to Calgary for $120 pp round trip on WestJet ($480 for a family of 4), right around when Lynx started offering service out of YYC. We rented a car and drove to Saskatoon, a route I know like the back of my hand having lived in Calgary for 8 years. The decision saved over $2k. In December, we drove to Toronto and flew to Saskatoon for $600 per person; flights from Ottawa would have been $950 per person. I'm not sure I'd brave that drive again in the winter, but we were successful and saved over $1k.

I just did the same exercise with a few Europe flights. Driving to Toronto or Montreal means $200-$400 per person cheaper with better or few connections.
Sr. Member
Mar 8, 2004
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Kanata
From Ottawa too.....we are ecstatic when we end up buying flights from Ottawa to wherever we are going overseas. Willing to pay a bit more but usually it's more than a bit.
Last 4 big trips have been Montreal, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto.
[OP]
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Oct 24, 2010
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Ottawa
gumby_ng wrote: From Ottawa too.....we are ecstatic when we end up buying flights from Ottawa to wherever we are going overseas. Willing to pay a bit more but usually it's more than a bit.
Last 4 big trips have been Montreal, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto.
Yup, and it adds up with multiple tickets.

We live fairly close to the Via Rail station on Trembley too, so training or busing to Montreal (or I guess Toronto, but connecting at Union makes that a pain, and it's not very cost effective as a family of 4) isn't horribly unreasonable for us to avoid the terrible YUL parking situation.
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Dec 7, 2011
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Whitehorse
My guess is that this route is mostly government travel, and other price-insensitive passengers.
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Feb 7, 2017
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sokolov wrote: My guess is that this route is mostly government travel, and other price-insensitive passengers.
Lol … NO

Issue is that during Covid … Canada only designated 4 Airports worthy of having International status
Vancouver - Calgary - Toronto - and Montreal

Taking it away from at least several other major airports across Canada
Including …
Edmonton - Winnipeg - Ottawa - and Halifax
As well as lots more in another tier as well

Things haven’t returned to quite normal yet in the airline industry
With staffing shortages etc

So things haven’t returned to normal at any of these second tier airports either
Ottawa, alongside Winnipeg, Edmonton, Halifax … all have had huge cuts in flights that once served them for years / decades

AC had twice daily flights (morning & night ) to & from Edmonton pre Covid
And they were always full
Now they don’t fly at all

I was just out west over Christmas
Every airport was packed
Every flight was packed
People are making alternative choices to get where they want to go
And everyone is talking about how cities are under served …
Including these big 4 …
Let alone … Saskatoon, Quebec City, Fredericton, Victoria … etc

Living in Eastern Ontario
We’ve always made choices based on pricing
Historically … majority of our flights have gone out of either Ottawa or Montreal
DIRECT to where we want to go
Unfortunately… since last year
Our Ottawa choices are fewer cuz of its being under served

It’s now come down to Montreal or Toronto like the OP
And even that’s not always great
Cuz far too often leaving from Montreal
Isn’t direct at all either
Only Toronto offers a direct flight

I’m happy to get where I want to go
But I’m not happy to do so on 2 or 3 flights
Which equals to far more time
Nor am I happy … if it also costs more too
So I understand OPs grief

If there’s one saving Grace for our situation over theirs (sadly )
It’s that we are retired … so we can pick our spots more easily
And don’t necessarily have to go over peak travel times

We also when faced with Montreal or Toronto
Will often take the train vs drive
Cuz both airports are easy to get to by train
Mind you … again there’s only 2 of us (seniors)
Versus 4 of them at full fare

In brighter news …

I was watching CTV News tonight
Porter has just announced they’ll be bringing the first of their new Embraer jets to Ottawa starting next week
First flights will be serving the Ottawa to Toronto route
But … Porter recognizes that Ottawa is currently underserved
And plans to expand service as more of the new jets get delivered

With Porters planned expansion west
Maybe it’ll be Porter who takes up the cause for the routes AC seems to have forgotten of late
Ottawa to …
Saskatoon, Victoria, Edmonton, Quebec City etc
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Sep 6, 2002
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Did this really need another thread? I don’t mean to be rude and am sorry about the dementia. However what do you plan to achieve here

It’s not a profitable route. If it were they’d be flying it.
Autocorrect sucks
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Oct 26, 2003
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There isn't much going on in Saskatchewan, I drive over to Saskatoon 4+ time a year and never fly.
WTB amazon gc @90%
[OP]
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Oct 24, 2010
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Ottawa
GangStarr wrote: Did this really need another thread? I don’t mean to be rude and am sorry about the dementia. However what do you plan to achieve here

It’s not a profitable route. If it were they’d be flying it.
Did this really need such a comment?

I don't mean to be rude, but it takes you less effort to move along than to be an ass.
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Nov 12, 2011
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Almost all international flights I’ve taken that originate in Ottawa are usually the same price as leaving from either Toronto or Montreal. It was actually cheaper for me to fly YOW - YYZ - DUB the other month than YYZ - DUB direct. This was also the case flying to Puerto Vallarta and Athens, as well as a few others.

Prices for regional travel on the routes you pointed out are ridiculous, but just chiming in to say that international travel from Ottawa isn’t always bad in terms of pricing (our routing options are horrible) - normally the same price as departing from YUL when I’m booking flights.

In the 10+ years I’ve been in the city I’ve come to accept that getting anywhere other than Toronto, Montreal, or Calgary is a nightmare Disappointed Face. Things used to be great with AC’s flights to LHR and FRA but those days are gone.
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Jan 9, 2011
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Fly to small airports with small markets? Pay up. I have friends in Moncton I've been wanting to visit. April 8-15 from Vancouver to Moncton will cost me $707. I can fly to Halifax instead on the same dates for $307, or 57% less. That's actually a really good deal, maybe I will!
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Mar 3, 2009
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Ottawa, ON
Typhoonz wrote: Almost all international flights I’ve taken that originate in Ottawa are usually the same price as leaving from either Toronto or Montreal. It was actually cheaper for me to fly YOW - YYZ - DUB the other month than YYZ - DUB direct. This was also the case flying to Puerto Vallarta and Athens, as well as a few others.

Prices for regional travel on the routes you pointed out are ridiculous, but just chiming in to say that international travel from Ottawa isn’t always bad in terms of pricing (our routing options are horrible) - normally the same price as departing from YUL when I’m booking flights.

In the 10+ years I’ve been in the city I’ve come to accept that getting anywhere other than Toronto, Montreal, or Calgary is a nightmare Disappointed Face. Things used to be great with AC’s flights to LHR and FRA but those days are gone.
I actually found that before COVID connections in YYZ and YUL worked really well and I hardly ever missed connections because of a delayed flight.

I also had clients in YYZ and I could fly in, spend the day, and fly back.

Now I'm lucky if I don't get stranded in YYZ when I fly from outside the country trying to get back to YOW. LOL.

However I'm hoping as we continue to get more and more flights resuming now things will improve. Either way I tend to do more remote work these days than on site work.
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Kiraly wrote: Fly to small airports with small markets? Pay up.
Bingo.
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I'd take the AC Ottawa to Calgary flight, do the 6 hour drive and use the $2,500+ savings to pay for the car rental and most of the rest of your vacation.
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It's hilarious it costs me less to fly to Europe and back (from the west coast!) than within domestic. Thankfully I only have family there and not in Canada.
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MrBungal wrote: It's hilarious it costs me less to fly to Europe and back (from the west coast!) than within domestic. Thankfully I only have family there and not in Canada.
Well, instead of flying West coast to Toronto, just fly from the West coast to Europe to Toronto for cheaper ... just think of the frequent flyer miles :)

What I find it interesting also is that it is usually cheaper to fly Europe -> Canada instead of Canada -> Europe.
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Sep 23, 2007
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Prices are dictated by supply and demand. I've considered visiting Greenland or the Arctic for example. These are not popular places so the prices tend to be high. Flying is a capital intensive endeavour. You need the planes, and pilots who can go. When you don't have a lot of passengers, you take smaller planes. But that plane still needs a pilot and crew.

Unfortunately, as a Canadian this is why I don't travel within the country much. Large distances make it not so attractive as an option. I've done a road trip from SK to BC. Frankly it's beautiful, but the economics don't measure up vs other destinations, whether you fly or drive.
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dr_torch wrote: Well, instead of flying West coast to Toronto, just fly from the West coast to Europe to Toronto for cheaper ... just think of the frequent flyer miles :)

What I find it interesting also is that it is usually cheaper to fly Europe -> Canada instead of Canada -> Europe.
That's because the Euro airlines need to come home from Canada. Meanwhile, there's no competition allowed in socialist Canada, and you only have Air Canada that flies to Europe (and WJ only flies to UK I think from Calgary).
BananaHunter wrote:
Unfortunately, as a Canadian this is why I don't travel within the country much. Large distances make it not so attractive as an option. I've done a road trip from SK to BC. Frankly it's beautiful, but the economics don't measure up vs other destinations, whether you fly or drive.
Only roadtrip worth driving is BC/AB through the Rockies. Everything else is just boring and unworthy of your time and money.
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MrBungal wrote: That's because the Euro airlines need to come home from Canada. Meanwhile, there's no competition allowed in socialist Canada, and you only have Air Canada that flies to Europe (and WJ only flies to UK I think from Calgary).
Nah. It's the capitalist free market that enables risky LBO which caused WS drowning in debts and forced it to retrench.

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