'How To Get The Best Deal' Guides

Sunday, October 13th 2019

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from YYC." - Chris Myden


Tagged Pages Archive | Gtf

2013
14
January
The Official Guide For Canadians Flying Out Of U.S. Airports (from Calgary & area)


This guide will attempt to organize everything someone living in the Calgary area might want to know about flying out of U.S. airports.

If you see anything in this guide that looks incorrect, out of date, or could just simply be improved with better info, please don't hesitate to contact me and I'll fix / update it.

Flying out of Kalispell, Montana (FCA)

How long of a drive is it?

According to Google Maps, Kalispell airport is about a 5 hour drive from Calgary (479 km each way). map link

Don't forget to account for border-crossing times in each direction. You can find estimated wait times online.
estimated wait times at U.S. border
estimated wait times at Canadian border

Tips:

- If you travel to the States a lot you may wish to get a NEXUS card for $50 (US) for 5 years and eliminate the line ups at borders and airports. [Info on how to apply for NEXUS]

Are there good deals to be had?

Typically, the only good deals out of Kalispell are found on Allegiant Air. Kalispell airport also has flights on Alaska Airlines, Delta, and United.

strengths:

By far the most likely reason a Calgarian would want to make the trek down to Great Falls to fly somewhere is to get to Las Vegas for a lower price than out of YYC. Typically this would be using Allegiant Air. The only other destination that Allegiant flys to from Kalispell is Oakland (which could be used as a way to get to San Francisco, just across the bridge).

weaknesses:

Internationally, deals out of Kalispell are less likely to be much cheaper, or can involve more complicated and lengthier routes than flying out of YYC. It's a smaller airport, and it's only real strength, as far as someone from Calgary would be concerned, is for cheap flights to Vegas. Also, when comparing costs, be aware that Allegiant charges extra for absolutely everything, including even carry-on luggage now.

How much would I have to save for it to be worth the drive?

This is a tricky question, because the answer is different for everyone, based on the variables involved. But costs you should consider factoring into your comparison (besides the roundtrip flight price) include:

- extra fuel costs (how fuel efficient is your vehicle?)
- baggage costs
- parking your vehicle at the airport
- cost of hotel if it requires an overnight stay
- how much your time is worth
- extra vehicle depreciation

I've created an Excel spreadsheet to help calculate what the true savings are when flying out of Kalispell:
click here to download the spreadsheet in Excel format
or
try the U.S. Airports Savings Calculator via Google Docs

screenshot: (click to enlarge)

Go to the YYC vs FCA worksheet and enter in a few variables to calculate what your true savings would be. Using common averages, I've found that if the flight from Kalispell is about $375/person less than the flight from Calgary, the average person is only breaking even.

In my opinion, when the flight from Kalispell is at least $475 less per person than the flight from Calgary, it becomes worth the drive. This is based on my calculations using average factors, and 2 people in a vehicle. You can see the example in the spreadsheet that was used to draw this conclusion.

How much is parking?

Parking is currently $7/day, or $42/week, according to the Kalispell Airport website.

Is there any public transportation from Calgary to Kalispell airport?

There are no great options unfortunately.

Links

Kalispell Airport Website


Flying out of Great Falls, Montana (GTF)

How long of a drive is it?

According to Google Maps, Great Falls airport is about a 5 hour drive from Calgary (511 km each way). map link

Don't forget to account for border-crossing times in each direction. You can find estimated wait times online.
estimated wait times at U.S. border
estimated wait times at Canadian border

Tips:

- If you travel to the States a lot you may wish to get a NEXUS card for $50 (US) for 5 years and eliminate the line ups at borders and airports. [Info on how to apply for NEXUS]

Are there good deals to be had?

Typically, the only good deals out of Great Falls are found on Allegiant Air. Great Falls airport also has flights on Alaska Airlines, Delta, Frontier Airlines and United.

strengths:

By far the most likely reason a Calgarian would want to make the trek down to Great Falls to fly somewhere is to get to Las Vegas for a lower price than out of YYC. Typically this would be using Allegiant Air. The only other destinations that Allegiant flys to from Great Falls are in Arizona (Phoenix and Scottsdale). Frontier Airlines is also a low-cost carrier, and they fly to a number of U.S. cities, usually via Denver.

weaknesses:

Internationally, deals out of Great Falls are less likely to be much cheaper, or can involve more complicated and lengthier routes than flying out of YYC. It's a smaller airport, and it's only real strength, as far as someone from Calgary would be concerned, is for cheap flights to Vegas or Phoenix. Also, when comparing costs, be aware that Allegiant charges extra for absolutely everything, including even carry-on luggage now.

How much would I have to save for it to be worth the drive?

This is a tricky question, because the answer is different for everyone, based on the variables involved. But costs you should consider factoring into your comparison (besides the roundtrip flight price) include:

- extra fuel costs (how fuel efficient is your vehicle?)
- baggage costs
- parking your vehicle at the airport
- cost of hotel if it requires an overnight stay
- how much your time is worth
- extra vehicle depreciation

I've created an Excel spreadsheet to help calculate what the true savings are when flying out of Great Falls:
click here to download the spreadsheet in Excel format
or
try the U.S. Airports Savings Calculator via Google Docs

screenshot: (click to enlarge)

If you've downloaded the Excel file, please note that you will need to switch to the YYC vs GTF worksheet at the bottom of Excel.

Go to the YYC vs GTF worksheet and enter in a few variables to calculate what your true savings would be. Using common averages, I've found that if the flight from Great Falls is about $400/person less than the flight from Calgary, the average person is only breaking even.

In my opinion, when the flight from Great Falls is at least $500 less per person than the flight from Calgary, it becomes worth the drive. This is based on my calculations using average factors, and 2 people in a vehicle. You can see the example in the spreadsheet that was used to draw this conclusion.

How much is parking?

Parking is currently around $9.00/day, $35/week at Great Falls Airport.

Is there any public transportation from Calgary to Great Falls airport?

There are no great options unfortunately.

Links

Great Falls Airport Website

Conclusion

There are cities in Canada where it can make sense to drive across the border to catch a flight for a cheaper holiday. Unfortunately, I don't think Calgary is one of them. The 5 hour drive each way is the most prohibitive factor. To make any sense at all for a person to do it, I think at *least* one or more of the following would have to be true:

- you live far south of Calgary, with a shorter drive to one of Montana's airports. From Lethbridge for example, it's only about a half hour more to drive to GTF than to drive to YYC. This results in the flight from Great Falls only needing to be $50 less than the flight from Calgary to break even. Big difference.

- you don't value your time as being worth much. Or you consider the drive to Montana as having added value (perhaps as part of a golf or shopping trip)

- you have a minimum of 4 people in the car.

- the flight cost is at least $500/person cheaper than flying from Calgary. This is possible, but with Las Vegas or Phoenix being the most likely suspects for an extremely cheap flight out of Montana, and it being fairly common to see flights to Phoenix or Vegas in the $400-$500 roundtrip after taxes range from YYC, the flight from Montana would need to be practically free (or the airline paying you to fly) in most cases.

See Something Wrong?

If you see anything in this guide that looks incorrect, out of date, or could just simply be improved with better info, please don't hesitate to contact me and I'll fix / update it.



2011
18
May
Great Falls to Tokyo - $596 roundtrip after tax

All U.S. cities just experienced a massive price drop on flights to Tokyo's HND airport thanks to Delta.

Read more



2011
15
February
Great Falls To Places In Europe - low as $479 roundtrip after tax!

Delta just dropped an unannounced bombshell on prices to Europe out of the U.S.

Read more



2010
3
November
Great Falls to Greece - $800 roundtrip after tax - worth the drive?

Delta just drastically dropped the price of their flights to Athens, Greece from quite a few airports, including smaller ones like Great Falls, Montana.

Read more



2010
30
September
Great Falls to Denver - $180 roundtrip after tax

Probably not a whole lot of people will find this useful, but Great Falls is showing a last minute flight to Denver for $180 roundtrip after tax, October 2 to 4.

Read more



2010
12
August
Las Vegas for $150 roundtrip after tax - is it worth the drive to Montana ?

I recently posed this question to Calgarians on the Ycheap.com forums and the response was overwhelming...

Read more



   











Join The YYC Deals Facebook Group
    What happens when over 70,000 people from
    Calgary...

    * crowdsource the best travel deals from YYC?

    * offer up their unbiased travel advice?

    Join the group and find out!


(click the 'Join Group' button, when you arrive)