Sunday, June 14, 2009

First Air Just Loves Monopoly

Wow! I'm not even sure where to start with this one but I'll give it a shot.

Having decided it would be more desirable to head to Ontario for a spell rather than fritter away vacation time waiting here for phone calls from potential employers, I decided to check into booking a flight online here. I can only shake my head and laugh at the sheer greed and stupidity of First Air. Now, I've spent my entire career in the North and 6 of those years in Nunavut, so it takes a lot to faze me. Generally I expect to pay in the neighborhood of $3200-$3500 from Nanisivik to Ottawa return....but truly I'd love to know the rationale for the insane price I just looked up.

Are you sitting down?

I can wait.




Are these people insane?! Oh wait! Maybe I'll choose the $4497.50 fare instead. Yeah, I feel much better now. I'd love to know what formula these geniuses used to come up with these numbers. Honestly, last summer I flew return from Montreal to Zurich for a little over $1300. I know part of it has to do with weight but seriously, I didn't gain THAT much over the course of the last year. Honestly. Now, it could just be a typo of some sort. Goodness knows, I've seen some insane prices on the First Air website only to have a potential coronary prevented by calling a booking agent and hearing a (slightly) more reasonable price. While I've been around up here awhile now, I understand there are certain realities. But really, this is ridiculous. No amount of PR can gussy up this disgrace. Forgive me if I roll my eyes when airlines cry about declining revenues.

I have a running joke with my step-father that in the long run I'd be better off just stuffing my carcass into a plastic container and mailing me through Canada Post. I know for a fact that at my body weight I'd save a fortune. did I put that container?


Clare said...

Just did a little looking on line, and you can fly from Toronto to Dubai on the Emirates Airline's Airbus A380 (arguably the world's most luxurious airliner) in business class for $3665 return. Quick note on distance: Nanisivik to Ottawa is 3109 kms, Toronto to Dubai is 11081 kms.

The private suite on the airplane would set you back more than $10,000 though. Business class looks pretty swanky though, and it is three times the distance. The seat does fold flat and turn into a bed. I'm not sure if the shower is available to business class or just First Class but they do have "Dedicated shower specialists" on board.

unkleB said...

Just make sure you poke some air holes in the rough-tote and bring yourself some liquid refreshments so that you don't get dehydrated!
And some seal meat for protein!!

Lindsay Niedzielski said...

I know what you mean about first air - we are trying to fly home for July, and it is going to cost $7000.00 for me, my husband, and two kids (one who flies for free) just to get from Kugaaruk to Yellowknife...yet if we lived in Arviat right now, we could all get to Yellowknife for around $ with less than 3 weeks to go, we are sitting on our hands waiting to see if a seat sale comes out....glad they feel it is their right to make sure that once we fly out of here we can't afford anything else!

Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan said...

Ouch!! So are you going??

And what the heck is a dedicated shower specialist??

Jason said...

I knew this was going to happen to all small communities when Air Canada and WestJet came up north. Candian North and First Air have to stay competitive with these airlines who were offering discounted prices to fly from Yk to Edmonton: $200 one way. Of course what this means is that First Air and Candian North need some way to make up the difference in price cuz the cost of business has not changed. So the difference is made up from ticket sales in small communities. It sucks, I know.

The last time I can remeber something like this happening was when jets started flying up north. Companies who used jets slashed their prices. The other company (back then there were only 2 comapanies flying to Yk, Rankin and Iqaluit from the south) had to also slash their prices. All the other communities paid the price for it.

Want more reasonable prices? Get rid of stiff competiton in Yk.

Way Way Up said...

Clare/Kara - At first I thought that was "flower specialist" until I saw Kara's comment.


UnkleB - Good thing I have lots of plastic containers here with me. I might need some practice with making the air holes.

Lindsay - My room mate will be teaching in Arviat and was quite pleased at the much reduced cost it would take for him to fly from Arviat to Winnipeg, or even Deer Lake, NF.

Kara - I'm heading out eventually. It's crazy I know, though I did get wind of a possible seat sale so perhaps I might be able to hold out a bit longer.

Jason - I long suspected this was the case. Our MLA here is advocating for Resolute as the site of the proposed High Arctic Research Centre. With increased traffic, this could lure up a second carrier like Canadian North and help with the fare crunch.

I did fire off an email to my MLA after writing this post. He reads my blog to an a regular basis (ha, I'm famous!) Greed is the only real motive here. The arrival of a second carrier, the completion of the new airport here in Arctic Bay and the placement of the High Arctic Research Centre in Resolute will all hopefully help. Unfortunately, none of these things will happen in the course of the next week so in the meantime I just grin and bare it I suppose. I may also write a letter to First Air. It will do absolutely nothing I'm sure, although venting may make me fell a little better.

Kennie said...

While you are at it Darcy you should fire of an email to Ed Picco .. wasn't he "assigned" to be the nice person to deal between the people and First Air?

And I thought my plane ticket return NB to AB was expensive ... but that is just insane!

At least now my airfare isn't quite as bad ... but it's still pretty expensive - and I swear, if a seat sale goes on between now and when I leave for WH I will snap.

Way Way Up said...

Thanks for the reminder Kendra. That had totally slipped my mind. Ron never mentioned it when I emailed him so I'm not sure what the scoop is. He suggested contacting the airline and the Minister responsible for transportation and airing my views.

I'm not sure I'd want to write Pico. Given how long it took him to get the Education Act off the ground, I might be dead by the time I see reasonable airline fares here.

Clare said...

I have to guess that a dedicated shower specialist is a flight attendant whose sole job is to hand you towels as you enter the shower enclosure. Unless they also massage shampoo into your scalp.

I have to disagree slightly with Jason. Our fares have been extremely high even before WestJet entered the scene in the west (where airfares compete with roads etc). That is just another sorry excuse that First Air uses. First Air charges what they do because they can, there is next to no competition, we have no choice but to fly between communities (except the nearest ones in the spring when we can snowmobile - but you can't snowmobile to Ottawa), and no one (read Government) is telling them they can't. Between here and Iqaluit costs over 15 cents per km for a return flight. No where in the world does flying cost that much, including other northern destinations with the same lack of population and "costs" such as Greenland and Iceland. It is robbery pure and simple, and if the government really cared about the north they would see that its citizens could enjoy the same standard of living as those in the south.

Clare said...

And just for the record Economy fare Toronto to Dubai return is $1816, which works out to 8 cents/km return.

Ed Pico, BTW, is their government relations lobbyist... er guy. He's there to help Hamlets, Territorial and Federal governments with any problems they might have.

Aida said...

wow, that is insane, right now First Air is having some seat sale from Arviat to Yellowknife and Winnipeg so it isnt bad but factor in 3 of us, it will still be an ouchie.

But First Air is making Calm Air a little antsy.

Oh wait, those high First Air airfares to cover another fat bonus for the directors right?

I really hate the airlines up north, bunch of crooks really.

Amanda said...

This blog made me giggle. Good luck finding a cheeper flight;)

Lindsay Niedzielski said...

You got wind of a possible seat sale? Care to share???!!!

Way Way Up said...

I don't have any details yet Lindsay. My MLA just let me know he caught wind of some sort of possible seat sale in the next couple weeks but he didn't know any further details. Needless to say I'll be keen to find