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I'm coming from Sacramento/San Francisco and I'd like to travel to Toronto, and then back a week later.

So far I've found round-trip flight tickets for $600. But a round-trip between SFO and BOS (Boston) is only $300.

Why is Toronto so much more expensive?

Any suggestions on how I might fly to somewhere NEAR Toronto for much less $ and then cross the border by other means? This is my first time travelling internationally so I have no idea.

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If you are headed somewhere westish - Mississauga, Hamilton, KW, etc - then you might like to use Buffalo and drive from there. Many TO people do that to save on airfare, though of course they can drive their own cars and you can't. –  Kate Gregory Sep 18 '12 at 23:11
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Toronto is so expensive because Canadian airport taxes are so high. So much so in fact that many in Vancouver will drive down to Bellingham or Seattle in Washington, fly to Buffalo, and then get a bus/drive up to Toronto. I kid you not. –  Mark Mayo Sep 18 '12 at 23:55
    
Taxes to fly return from the US to Toronto are around $120. The largest share of this is for Canadian/YYZ fees, but the US makes up a fair share as well. –  Doc Sep 19 '12 at 0:19
    
Isn't this question "too localized" by Stack Exchange standards? Can it ever benefit anybody besides the original asker? Is there any way to re-word it to apply more broadly or generally than to a space of one week beginning 5 days from now? –  hippietrail Sep 19 '12 at 0:32
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@hippietrail and marienbad, I've removed the localised stuff (dates) to make it more acceptable to our standards, and more useful to future users. Hope that's ok! –  Mark Mayo Sep 19 '12 at 3:09

2 Answers 2

As @KateGregory mentioned you could fly to Buffalo for around 400 USD (roundtrip price, 7 nights). The cheapest prices you will find in the first day of October at the moment:

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To get from Buffalo to Toronto you can use Megabus. I did the same journey 3 weeks ago and it is quite convenient and it costs at the moment only 12.50 CAD (one-way price). It will take between 3 and 4 hours.

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As has been extensively reported elsewhere, Canadian taxes and fees are considerably higher for air travel than American taxes and fees. On the one hand, the U.S. subsidizes its airports (for example, supplying TSA agents and FAA air traffic controllers) allowing them to charge lower rents and passenger facility charges than their Canadian counterparts; additionally, Canadian excise taxes, like most Canadian taxes in general, are higher than their U.S. equivalents. Air Canada being Canada's only major international carrier may also bear some blame.

When in Canada, do as the Canadians do: take ground transportation across the border and fly from a U.S. airport. Such is the business in tiny Plattsburgh (pop. 20,000) that PBG bills itself as "Montreal's U.S. airport" and has a French website, and by some reports 75% of the passengers through PBG are Canadian. Allegiant Air even began service from Grand Forks, North Dakota to capitalize on the willingness of Canadians to drive in from as far as Winnipeg to save a few hundred dollars going to Florida.

  • From Calgary: GTF or MSO (>5 hours' drive, but attested to online)
  • From London: BUF or DTW
  • From Montreal: PBG or BTV
  • From Ottawa: OGS or BTV
  • From St. John: BGR
  • From Toronto: BUF, ROC or SYR
  • From Vancouver: BLI or SEA
  • From Winnipeg: GFK

Megabus, as noted previously, has direct service from Toronto to the Buffalo airport, although it is not the speediest. You can also take Greyhound to the Buffalo terminal, then take city bus 204 to the airport. There are also a variety of premium shuttle and limousine services between Toronto and Buffalo, although these are quite expensive unless you have a group of 5 or 6.

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