Around Labor Day last year, it was brought to my attention that I have a wedding to go to, in Niagara on the Lake, the last weekend of November. Niagara on the Lake is roughly 20 minutes North of Niagara Falls, where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario, in the Canadian province of Ontario. It all sounded great until I realized that the last weekend of November is also Thanksgiving weekend and it isn’t my ideal time to go to that part of the US/Canada. G tried to remind me that I have always wanted to go to Niagara to which I said that she’s totally right, but that I have always wanted to go anywhere between mid-Spring to mid-Fall.
Knowing that I would be flying on Thanksgiving weekend and airfares were not going to be pleasant, I started looking at flights right away. I first looked at flying into Buffalo, but realized that I would be on my own to get to Niagara on the Lake and ground transportation options are very limited, if not non-existent. Flying to Toronto (airport code: YYZ) provides more flight options and I could meet G and her family there as they would be flying to YYZ and driving to Niagara on the Lake. However, as most people know, flying to/from Canada can be significantly more expensive.
Flight Planning to Toronto (Outbound)
I received a travel voucher last year on American which is good only on American flights. They fly to YYZ from multiple airports so I was in luck to use the voucher. There were some time constraints as far as flights go so I pretty much knew what I had to book – it was just a matter of preference and price. I knew that I had to arrive at YYZ in the late afternoon to meet up with G and her family. I knew it would be best to have a flight home later than 4:30 PM. That means that it would be either not possible due to curfew and/or quite expensive to fly into my local airport (SNA) thus flying to LAX. Because I knew I would be coming back to LAX, it would be easiest to fly from LAX as well.
Even though I knew I had to get to YYZ in the late afternoon, there were still a lot of options – despite losing time flying East due to the time change. I knew my origination airport was going to be LAX. I could either go via ORD, or do LAX to JFK then transfer to LGA which is far from ideal. There was also one option which was LAX – Palm Beach – LGA – YYZ which leaves LA shortly after midnight. It was about the same price as other options but it would earn me the most amount of miles. However, that makes for a very long day of traveling and all of the flights would all be on 737s and one regional jet.
There were numerous options flying through DFW. Not only does it offer the most flexibility as far as flight times, but there is a large variety of equipment types. American Airlines flies almost everything from 737s to 777s LAX-DFW, but it varies. One flight might be on a 777 and the next on a 737. I managed to find a flight in the early morning on a 767-300. It sounded exciting to me since I know that American will be slowly phasing out these planes. Also, the flight from DFW to YYZ is on one of American’s newest A319s. This routing and these flights allowed me to experience a variety of planes from newest to almost the oldest.
Inbound Flight Planning
Planning my return flight(s) was not as difficult. There were some wedding activities in the morning. Niagara on the Lake is about an hour from YYZ so I had to keep that in mind. I was to arrive back at LAX and would be driving home that day/night. All of the flights that are not non-stop left Toronto too early, got me into LAX too late or were too much money that I wanted to spend; so that left me with the non-stop flight. It seemed to be the perfect departure and arrival time.
The main factors in planning these flights were mostly flight times and equipment, followed by price. I wasn’t too concerned with price since I had my voucher, but it was a holiday weekend so prices were high. Having the flights nailed down and purchased I was able to enjoy my time in Niagara despite the Canadian winter weather.