Aircraft taking off at Bellingham Airport. Half of B.C. Lower Mainland air travellers report driving across the border to fly out of U.S. airports.

Half of Lower Mainland air travellers fly out of U.S., poll finds

Trend growing to drive across border to catch cheaper flights

A new poll shows half of Lower Mainland air travellers recently drove to the U.S. to catch a cheaper flight instead of using a B.C. airport.

The Insights West online survey found 51 per cent of respondents who flew anywhere in the last two years did so at least once by driving across the border to airports like Bellingham or Seattle.

“It was more than I expected,” Insights West senior vice-president Catherine Dawson said.

She said the trend seems to be growing, with 23 per cent saying they cross the line more often to fly now than they did three years ago, compared to six per cent who said they do it less often.

Lower prices offered out of U.S. airports were the overwhelming reason, listed as an important factor by 97 per cent of those polled, far ahead of considerations like airline preference, ease of border crossing, or whether they have friends or family across the line where they can stay or park their car.

Dawson said the 49 per cent who stuck to Canadian airports would include some who didn’t have a choice because they were flying to smaller B.C. towns not served by U.S. airports.

Had those been factored out, she said, it might well be that a clear majority of Lower Mainland flyers with an option to fly via a U.S. airport are making that choice.

The poll found most Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley flyers using U.S. airports were heading to U.S. destinations, while 19 per cent were bound for other international cities.

But one finding Dawson called “very surprising” is that seven per cent were crossing the line to take short flights of less than three hours to Canadian destinations and six per cent were taking longer flights back into Canada.

Dawson said the cost of flights is the “prime motivator” and air travellers polled were quick to blame both the airlines and the federal government but not themselves for using U.S. carriers.

Fully 97 per cent agreed, 72 per cent strongly, that Canadian airlines need to improve their pricing if they want to prevent Canadians from driving to U.S. airports. They also cited higher taxes and fees adding to Canadian ticket prices.

Dawson doubted whether that majority view is logical.

“Is the Canadian air industry ever going to be competitive in the way U.S. airlines are? I’m not sure they can. It sort of calls into question whether Canadians are being realistic or not.”

Insights West surveyed 450 Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley residents, and focused on the 77 per cent of local residents who took a flight of any kind in the last two years. For more details see www.insightswest.com.

The findings come on the heels of a February poll on cross-border shopping trends that found a large majority of the Lower Mainland’s residents regularly shop in the U.S.

Just Posted

Stealth finish winless at Langley Events Centre

Vancouver pro lacrosse team finishes with 0-9 home record

VIDEO: After the trees fell, Hunter Park reopens in Langley City

The rebuilding of the park “has turned disaster into triumph,” mayor says

VIDEO: Two Langley City councillors to run for mayor

Val van den Broek and Paul Albrecht confirm their candidacies

VIDEO: Rollover crash in Langley’s Walnut Grove neighbourhood

No serious injuries reported in Friday night crash

LCS students stage slapstick version of ‘Macbeth’

Farndale Avenue play runs April 25 to 28 at Langley Christian High School

VIDEO: Largest LEGO exhibition in British Columbia held at River Rock Casino

Hundreds of builders come from around the world to display their LEGO creations

Hockey for Humboldt charity game Friday

Event in Maple Ridge will benefit bus tragedy victims

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

B.C. parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

Sunset Beach Park to close for 10 weeks to repair damage from 4-20 event

Vancouver Parks Board said a fence will be placed around the damaged field for ‘major rehabilitation’

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

Police probe cause after skateboarder dies in collision with semi-truck

New Westminster police say its not certain whether the skateboarder was in crosswalk or near it

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Most Read