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Tuesday, July 25th 2017

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



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


This guide will attempt to organize everything someone living in the Kelowna 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If you see anything in this guide that looks incorrect, out of date, or could just simply be improved with better info, please don't hesitate to contact me and I'll fix / update it.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 Bellingham, Washington (BLI)

How long of a drive is it?

According to Google Maps, Bellingham airport is about a 4 hour drive from Kelowna (369 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?

Good deals out of Bellingham are typically found on 2 airlines, Alaska Air and Allegiant Air. (Although there has been the occasional deal on Delta). There's also Frontier Airlines which flys to various U.S. cities (Chicago, Dallas, Denver, etc).

strengths:

A lot of people fly out of Bellingham to get to Las Vegas, which can be significantly cheaper than flying out of YLW. Allegiant also started flying to Hawaii relatively recently, and there's been some pretty crazy deals, bringing stiff competition to Alaska Airlines, who flys direct to multiple Hawaiian islands. There can also be good fares to California and Arizona.

weaknesses:

Internationally, deals out of Bellingham are less likely to be much cheaper, or can involve more complicated and lengthier routes than flying out of YLW. It's a smaller airport, and it's strengths are serving the U.S. destinations listed above. 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 Bellingham:
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 YLW vs BLI 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 Bellingham is about $300/person less than the flight from Kelowna, the average person is only breaking even.

In my opinion, when the flight from Bellingham is at least $400 less per person than the flight from Kelowna, 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 $9 to $10/day, according to the Bellingham Airport website.

You can also park at WikiWiki Park N Shuttle for $8/day.

There is also a company called Designated Park & Ride which offers parking for $5/day, but it looks like you would also need to pay for a taxi ride of $8 each way, and reservations are required.

Is there any public transportation from Kelowna to Bellingham airport?

There are no great options unfortunately.

Greyhound - $120 roundtrip, 8 hours each way.

Links

Bellingham Airport Website


Flying out of Spokane, Washington (GEG)

How long of a drive is it?

According to Google Maps, Spokane airport is about a 5 hour drive from Kelowna (416 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?

Spokane is served by most major U.S. airlines, and a variety of international airlines. There can certainly be cheaper fares than flying out of Kelowna, it's just a question of whether they're cheap enough to warrant the 5 hour drive each way.

As you'll see below, the price difference would need to be significant to warrant the drive, meaning that it's likely only on very expensive international destinations outside of North America where the price differential can be great enough to make it worth it.

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 Spokane:
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 YLW vs GEG worksheet at the bottom of Excel.

Go to the YLW vs GEG 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 Spokane is about $375/person less than the flight from Kelowna, the average person is only breaking even.

In my opinion, when the flight from Spokane is at least $475 less per person than the flight from Kelowna, 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 $9.50/day, $67/week at Spokane Airport.

At Diamond Airport Parking the rates are $7/day

There are also various Park, Sleep, Fly packages available at nearby hotels.

Is there any public transportation from Kelowna to Spokane airport?

There are no great options unfortunately. Greyhound is very expensive, and takes more than 24 hours!

Greyhound - $300 roundtrip

Links

Spokane Airport Website

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.








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2 Responses to "The Official Guide For Canadians Flying Out Of U.S. Airports (from Kelowna & area)"


    Has Liana Yates been here?
       Liana Yates on January 22nd, 2013

    I find that you can save even more if you find an overnight hotel by the airport with shuttle included that will keep your car in its lot while you are away. Some will even do this for 2 week vacations as long as you stay an overnight at both ends of your trip (which you'll probably need anyhow.) We've never had a problem with vandalism or break-in when we do this but our car is just a regular Toyota Camry LE in a dull beige and doesn't attract much attention.

    Has Chris_Myden been here?
       Chris_Myden on January 23rd, 2013

    Great tip Liana, thanks!

Comments are automatically closed 30 days after the post is made.


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