Well, I did it. I traveled to New York City by airplane and it was fantastic. Sure, it had its bumps; I had to take an Uber to the airport since the buses weren't running that early, the line at Tim Horton’s was too insane for me to get my morning cup and I had to navigate New York’s public transit. But when I arrived in Hell’s Kitchen I didn't feel like I had been in a 7 hour battle in a highway arena with distracted drivers wielding two tonne weapons. It was nice not feeling exhausted.
Anyway, let’s get back to the cost of flying. My breakdown takes into consideration that I fly into New York City every month which means I can take advantage of Air Canada’s 4-pack Commuter Pass for NYC (over 40% savings on a one-way flight). It also considers that I don’t mind using ‘Hidden City Ticketing’ for my return flight to Ottawa to get a reduced price ticket and that I book through a cashback portal to further reduce the price.
The Commuter Pass is fairly self explanatory. If you’re expecting to visit NYC 2 times within a year you should buy this package. The savings will be around 40-50% per return trip without using Hidden City Ticketing or Cashback Portals. You can also use the pass to buy one-way tickets and supplement the return with cheaper tickets (see below).
Hidden City Ticketing is when you get off at a connection node on an indirect flight and do not continue the itinerary. For this flight, and several others I booked in advance, I booked a ticket on an LGA -> YYZ trip that had a stop in YOW. This ticket sells for less than my Commuter Pass fare and when I booked it using a Cashback Portal I received $15 USD back.
Ticket - YOW -> LGA (Commuter Pass): $166
Ticket - LGA -> YYZ (Hidden City Ticket - stops in YOW): $105.04
Cashback Portal: $18.28 (deduction)
Uber to YOW:$20.59
NYC Public Transit: $6.70 (two ways)
Ottawa Public Transit: $0 (well, part of my monthly pass)
70 minutes (flight time) + 90 minutes (security check in) + 90 minutes (Uber, public transit) = 240 minutes or 4 hours and 10 minutes.
Taking OC Transpo instead of Uber on the return to Ottawa adds an additional 60 minutes making the total travel time 9 hours 20 minutes.
Limited. I am restricted to a carry on bag with no liquids unless I pay a $25 free to check the bag. Even then, I am limited by weight and the fear that beer bottles may break in flight.
Using a Commuter Pass, Hidden City Ticketing and a Cashback Portal put my flying costs at $280.05, driving costs were $395.96. Total travel time by flying (assuming no delays) is 9 hours and 20 minutes whereas driving would be over 14 hours. However, with a checked bag fee and weight limit my beer stash is going to suffer in the months to come.
Cashback Portals, Hidden City Ticketing may not work all the time, but if you're willing to do research you will most certainly find a cheaper fare than what's being offered by the airline.