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Friday, November 24th 2017

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



2013
16
January
The Official Guide For Canadians Flying Out Of U.S. Airports (from Winnipeg & area)


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If you see anything in this guide that looks incorrect, out of date, or could just simply be improved with better info, please don't hesitate to contact me and I'll fix / update it.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

How long of a drive is it?

According to Google Maps, Grand Forks airport is about a 2 and a half hour drive from Winnipeg (240 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?

3 airlines fly out of Grand Forks, and they are Allegiant Air, Delta, and United Airlines.

strengths:

The most likely reason someone from Winnipeg would want to make the trek down to Grand Forks to fly somewhere is to get to Las Vegas, Florida, or Arizona for a lower price than out of YWG. Typically this would be using Allegiant Air, and those are the only 3 destinations they fly to. When comparing costs, be aware that Allegiant charges extra for absolutely everything, including even carry-on luggage now.

weaknesses:

Internationally, deals out of Grand Forks can certainly be cheaper, but usually involve routes that are at least as complicated or lengthy as flying out of YWG. It's a smaller airport, and it's biggest strength is usually flights within the U.S. It doesn't hurt to check though, as Delta or United can sometimes have flights that are significantly cheaper than flying out of Winnipeg.

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 Grand Forks:
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 YWG vs GFK 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 Grand Forks is about $175/person less than the flight from Winnipeg, the average person is only breaking even.

In my opinion, when the flight from Grand Forks is at least $275 less per person than the flight from Winnipeg, 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/day, or $45/week, according to the Grand Forks airport website.

Some of the hotels around the airport offer free parking, if you need a hotel.

Is there any public transportation from Winnipeg to Grand Forks airport?

Ride Booker has bus service for $143/person and only operates when at least 4 people are confirmed.

Links

Grand Forks airport website



Flying out of Fargo, North Dakota (FAR)

How long of a drive is it?

According to Google Maps, Fargo airport is about a 3 and a half hour drive from Winnipeg (356 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?

Fargo has essentially the same airlines flying out of it as Grand Forks, but with two exceptions. From Fargo, you can also find flights on American Airlines and Frontier Airlines.

Frontier is another low-cost carrier, like Allegiant, but offers flights to a large variety of U.S. cities, usually via their hub in Denver.

Prices and available destinations on Delta and United are likely to be similar as flying out of Grand Forks, so it's probably not going to be worth the extra driving distance in most cases.

From Fargo, Allegiant also offers flights to Los Angeles. Otherwise, the list of destinations they fly to is exactly the same as out of Grand Forks (Las Vegas, Florida, and Arizona).

Similar to out of Grand Forks, Fargo's strength is serving destinations within the U.S.

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 Fargo:
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 YWG vs FAR worksheet at the bottom of Excel.

Go to the YWG vs FAR 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 Fargo is about $275/person less than the flight from Winnipeg, the average person is only breaking even.

In my opinion, when the flight from Fargo is at least $375 less per person than the flight from Winnipeg, 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 $9.00/day, at Fargo Airport.

Some of the hotels around the airport offer free parking, if you need a hotel.

Is there any public transportation from Winnipeg to Fargo airport?

There are no great options unfortunately. Greyhound is ridiculously expensive, and takes nearly 3 days!

Links

Fargo 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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