Airline Pricing

Female Abroad

No one but airlines these days can really understand how airlines decide to price flights, sure they base it on how many seats are available and what they sold it for last year but when it comes down to the nitty gritty of calculating how much wages, repair, maintenance, fuel costs, food costs, etc only the airlines really know what their costs are. However the one thing that you can do to make sure you are getting the best deal is to read the fine print of the ticket price.

Depending on the ticket there are lots of different prices that create the base fair (cost of the flight before taxes and fees). How far out you are booking from the date of travel, the type of trip you are booking, the day of the week, length of trip, and even the time of day all come into play but lets break down some major deciding factors:

  1. Class of service: first class, business, premium economy, economy
  2. Age of traveller:
    1. Adult: 12 – 60 years inclusive
    2. Child: 2-11 years inclusive
    3. Infant: age 0-23 months inclusive
      1. how the infant will travel (ex. on someones lap) as well as where you are travelling also affects the price
    4. Senior: 60 years and older. Currently no fares for air travel
  3. Type of fare:
    1. normal: higher price but little to no restrictions (ex. refundable if cancelled)
    2. discounted: cheaper ticket and usually reserved for:
      1. Infant fare
        1. On a lap - travels for free of charge domestically or for cost of tax internationally
        2. Occupies a seat – no discount
      2. Children’s fare: Accompanied or Unaccompanied minors (5-11 years old) usually on international travel only
      3. Groups usually 10+ people travelling together on the same flight special: cheapest ticket available, usually very restricted, and the first class to be sold out.

If you can book your flight on website that is not Canadian based (ex. expedia Australia) or if you can use an out of country travel agency then you might save some money on the taxes of your ticket as tickets purchased in Canada get hit with the following taxes and fees:

CA – Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC) / Security Charge

XG – Goods and Services Tax (GST)

RC – Harmonization Tax (HST)

XQ – Quebec Services Tax (QST)

SQ – Airport User Fees also known as AIF, Airport Improvement Fee

Q – NavCanada Fuel, Insurance

While not all of these taxes are charged on every ticket bought they can be applied to any ticket travelling within that Canadian Taxation Area (ex. if you are flying from BC to Ontario you won't be charged the Quebec service tax). The Canadian Taxation Area covers any flights within Canada, Canada to the US, and Canada to the French Islands just off of Labrador (St. Pierre and Miquelon).

With the fees, there isn't a black / white % or price added onto the ticket as it varies depending on the airport you are traveling from as well as the country you are going to. To make paying these a little easier to swallow, it might be nice to know what your money is going towards:

ATSC: funds the cost of new security measures NavCanada

Fuel/Insurance: covers the airline's cost of the airport's operations cost as well as the airline's fuel

Airport User Fees: the airport's charge to let passengers to use their facilitates

With the taxes, it gets a little bit more complicated:

GST: an additional 5% calculated on top of the base fare including Navcan, AIF and ATSC. Charged on any flight that is sold within Canada or the first leg of the trip starts in Canada unless the flight starts in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

QST: an additional 9.975% calculated on top of the base fare including Navcan, AIF, ATSC, and GST. Only charged on flights that start in Quebec and are fully travelled within Canada.

HST: an additional 13% calculated on top of the base fare including Navcan, AIF and ATSC. Charged on any flight that is sold within Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Newfoundland on trips that are travelled fully within Canada.

These rates do change but at the time of this article they are accurate.