Christmas Travel Means Busy Airports And High Prices

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CHRISTMAS TRAVEL HIGH PRICES
Airport across Canada are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends of the year, but a lot of Canadians are also busy wincing at the price of their flights. | Alamy

Airport across Canada are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends of the year, but a lot of Canadians are also busy wincing at the price of their flights.

Vancouver International Airport spokesman Steve Hankinson says the airport has invested nearly $30 million in de-icing equipment since a massive snowstorm in 2008 left many stranded travellers in tears.

They are ready snow and for the holiday rush, says Hankinson.

"We expect about 60,000 customers, both arriving and departing, to move through the airport on any given day of the busy holiday season. That's about 30 per cent more than we typically move through the airport."

And while the cost of flying always goes up around Christmas, this year it's higher than ever according to airline analyst Robert Kokonis.

Canada's robust economy means airlines can charge more, and they are — between eight and 10 per cent more over this time last year, he says.

"Certainly prices are up this year. This is not something consumers are imagining. The ability of consumers to fill those seats at these prices is helping to keep prices up," says Kokonis.

Priced out of a flight

David Croal says he considered spending Christmas with his 92-year-old mother in Kitchener, but decided this year it was just too expensive.

In the fall when he flew out from Vancouver the flight cost him just over $500. But the price for the same flight during the holiday season is nearly $1,300, he says.

"Because we've got a holiday it turns into a $700-cash-grab on the part of the airline," says Croal.

Kokonis says his advice for holiday travellers is fly on Christmas or New Years when prices are cheaper, or wait until after the holiday rush when the airlines need passengers, and not the other way around.

And Hankinson says his advice to travellers who want to move though security checks quickly is not to put wrapped gifts in their carry-on bags.

"If you're bringing gifts, don't wrap them if you're taking them through security. Otherwise if you are wrapping them, put them in your bag so you don't have to unwrap them at security."

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