If you’re a traveller living in the greater Toronto area; you’ve probably heard about cheap flights from Buffalo International Airport.
I had a chance to speak with Pascal Cohen, Sr. Manager Aviation Business Development at Buffalo International Airport. He explained to me how much money a family can expect to save, and how heading down to Buffalo may even be faster than flying out of Toronto Pearson International Airport.
How much can Canadians save by flying out of Buffalo International Airport?
It obviously depends on the destination and how many people are in the party. If you’re going to key destinations like Orlando or New York City there’s between 30 and as high as 60 percent (savings). For most families it ends up being about $500 dollars for a family of four on the low to thousands of dollars on the high end.
Besides the cheap prices, is convenience a major draw?
Absolutely, it’s more than that. We did a lot of testimonials because we thought it would be stronger to actually hear the voices of Canadian consumers. We asked why they chose our airport? We hear constantly it’s not just the money which is absolutely a big deal but it’s the convenience also.
Toronto Pearson Airport is extremely successful but it’s also extremely congested , it takes hours and hours to get not just into the parking lot, but into the terminal, to pre-clearance, to security and etc. The whole process at Toronto Pearson is easily 3 hours, whereas at Buffalo International Airport you show up an hour before your flight and you’re at your gate in 10 minutes. The convenience of the airport is just as important as the cost savings.
One hour sounds pretty short, does that apply to all flights?
Well it is, the only international flights we have are with Sunwing which was just announced a few months back. They’re going to start flying to Cancun, Mexico and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic starting in January and that’s going to run through the winter. For those flights you don’t cross customs at the airport when you leave, whereas at Toronto you do cross pre-clearance to go to to the U.S.
(At Buffalo Niagara Airport) it’s the same, it doesn’t matter if it’s domestic or international; your cut off time is about an hour. Most airlines still allow you to check your baggage 30 minutes before (takeoff) but we tell people be here an hour before just to be safe.
Money We Have tip: The Buffalo airport is located just 35 minutes from the Canadian border. Check the Government of Canada website for border wait times.
Are there any discount airlines that fly out of Buffalo?
Yes, JetBlue and Southwest. Southwest is our largest carrier and JetBlue is our 3rd largest carrier and they’re amazing. Southwest doesn’t charge for bags so if you travel with 4 people, each way 4 X $25 so your round trip is saving you $200 right there. JetBlue has free in-flight entertainment and great seats, so even though it sounds like discount or low fares means low convenience– but in fact JetBlue and Soutwest are some of my favourite airlines because they actually (offer) a high product.
Besides the low cost carriers we have the legacy carriers like American and United and U.S. Airways.
Money We Have tip: JetBlue recently announced they will start charging for checked baggage.
→Related: How I saved $1,450 on airfare
What are some of the routes Buffalo airport has service to?
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and Cancun, Mexico are the international destinations we service. Non-stop within the U.S. there are 22 airports which we have service to. About 100 flights a day so you can go as far west as Las Vegas and Phoenix; and south all over Florida, but besides that we have a ton of service to New York City; 23 flights a day.
New York (JFK), Chicago (O’Hare) and Atlanta are popular airports we fly to so what that means is, with a single connection you can get to anywhere in the world.
So you can use Buffalo as a hub and fly internationally cheap?
That’s right, even though our biggest strength is the non-stop destinations that we service; if you’re really looking at your budget and you’re willing to take a connection, you can get anywhere in the world at a much lower cost than you would at Toronto Pearson. Let’s face it, most people flying out of Canadian gateways typically have a connection to get the lowest fare anyways.
Money We Have tip: You can take Megabus from Toronto to Buffalo International Airport for $10 each way. Long-term Buffalo airport parking rates start at $45USD a week. At Toronto Pearson you’re looking at $15CAD a day.
What hotels are near Buffalo airport?
In the last decade, 7 brand new hotels have sprung up including; the Hilton Garden Inn, Courtyard Marriott, and Comfort Suites. There are about 7 hotels that cater to the Canadians who like to do park and fly.
Money We Have tip: Many hotels near Buffalo airport offer free long term parking and shuttle service when booking an overnight stay.
What can passengers do while waiting for their flights?
We have free Wi-Fi throughout the terminal. You get 45 minutes free but you can logout and log back in and do that all day long if you want.
We have a variety of restaurants in our food court where you can get anything from fruit shakes to hamburgers to pizza. We also have sit down restaurants like the Anchor Bar which serves the iconic Buffalo wings. The original restaurant was the birthplace of spicy chicken wings and now has an airport location. Throughout the terminal there’s plenty of food to go around.
Thanks to Pascal Cohen, Sr. Manager Aviation Business Development at Buffalo International Airport for taking the time to speak with me.
I decided find out for myself to see if cheap flights from Buffalo International Airport really exist. See below for the prices I found via Google Flights.
As you can see, if you’re a family of 4, flying out of Buffalo can offer a considerable savings to New York City. I have yet to experiment with other cities, but it looks like it’s worth checking out Buffalo Airport when flying to the U.S.
Image courtesy: creditwalk.ca