If you think $1,545 is expensive for a domestic flight, you’re obviously not Canadian

If you think $1,545 is expensive for a domestic flight, you’re obviously not Canadian

In an effort to highlight the most expensive seats you can sit in to fly, U.S.-based Seats and Stools, a (you guessed it) retailer of seats and stools, took a cheeky approach to illustrate just how incredibly expensive it can be to fly.

Well… kind of.

Popping on Google Flights and scanning hundreds of airlines serving thousand of cities, the website tracked down some of the priciest flights seven-weeks-out from the time of booking. And as the voice coming from that clickbait megaphone in the clouds will tell you: their findings will make your jaw drop, you won’t believe it, it’s so shocking.

Setting aside the astronomically expensive (pun intended) US$35 million flight Cirque de Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté took to the International Space Station and the US$250,000 price tag for a flight on Virgin Galaxy’s space-kissing flight, the priciest flight they found was a round trip from Abu Dhabi to New York City in “The Residence” aboard luxury Gulf carrier Etihad Airways. This three-room penthouse in the sky comes with its own wine sommelier, unrivaled privacy and a US$64,000 bill.

But what’s most telling most about the study is Seats and Stools’ finding on the priciest flight in the U.S.: a $1,585 non-private flight from Portland, Maine to Billings, Montana. Expensive, eh? 

Sure, if you’re used to American fares. 

But in Canada, $1,585 for a cross-country flight is not unrealistic. A flight between Toronto and Vancouver meeting the website’s search attributes could easily sit in that price range. And we can do better, er… worse.

A five-hour flight between Toronto and Nunavut’s most populated city and capital Iqaluit, using Seats and Stools stipulations – Google Flights, seven-weeks out – will set you back $2,865.

Granted, a savvy airfare hunter would likely come across Fly Sarvaq, a new airline which announced in January it would be offering one-way flights from Iqaluit to Ottawa and Halifax for as little as $499. But the airline’s most expensive tickets – round trips between those destinations – still fall in the $1,800 range.

The simple explanation for why flights cost so much more in Canada than they do for our neighbours to the south is supply and demand. With only two major domestic airlines — WestJet and Air Canada — Canadians don’t have a ton of options when it comes to booking domestic flights, which results in less incentives for the airlines to push prices down.  

Then there’s the cost of operating. In a 2012 Senate investigation, Air Canada execs pointed out that fees are 230 per cent higher in Canada than south of the border. In addition to airline surcharges like fuel, there’s a score of other charges ranging from airport improvement fees to government taxes, duties and GST.

Case in point: between 1992 and 2014, the federal government collected more than $4.8 billion in rental fees from airports.

So yes Seats and Stools, we sympathize with your Maine to Montana woes. But next time, just add “Canada” to your search terms and we can set that bar a little higher.