My name is Mark Goodfield. Welcome to The Blunt Bean Counter ™, a blog that shares my thoughts on income taxes, finance and the psychology of money. I am a Chartered Professional Accountant and a partner with a National Accounting Firm in Toronto. This blog is meant for everyone, but in particular for high net worth individuals and owners of private corporations. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are written solely in my personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which I am affiliated. My posts are blunt, opinionated and even have a twist of humor/sarcasm. You've been warned.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cactus, Mountains and Air Canada


In the last month or so, I have posted on some heavy duty topics such as can you control your estate from the grave and Alzheimer's in the digital era. In addition, I have had some very detailed tax blogs on such topics as how to calculate the adjusted cost base of cottages and the the business and income tax issues in selling a corporation. Thus, today I thought I would lighten things up a little (and write a post that did not require much mental energy) and consequently, I am posting a mini travel review and a rant against Air Canada U.S. baggage fees.
View from balcony of Copper Wynd

Following the conclusion of income tax season, I quickly escaped for some R&R with my wife and two kids to Phoenix. We decided upon Phoenix because we like hiking (for those who have never been to Arizona, there are a surprising number of mountains such as Camelback Mountain), the golf is great and there is some excellent shopping and restaurants.

Previously, my wife and I stayed at the Boulders Resort just outside Scottsdale in Carefree, a high-end resort with two great golf courses on the premises and excellent spa facilities. I would definitely recommend the Boulders if you are willing to spend the money (since we go in May, the prices are typically reduced substantially).

This trip we stayed at the CopperWynd Resort, again outside Scottsdale in Fountain Hills. The pricing for this resort was more affordable than the Boulders, but the service and amenities are not at the same level as the Boulders. Unlike the Boulders, there are no golf courses on CopperWynd’s premises; however, SunRidge Canyon and the very highly rated We-Ko-Pa golf clubs are just minutes away. My wife reports the spa facilities were very good, but not as extravagant as the Boulders. We had an excellent dinner, but the dining room is only open for dinner. A huge plus for us was that at the Copper Wynd you could walk out of your hotel room door and be climbing a mountain within minutes. In addition, the view from our balcony was spectacular. Both these resorts have their pluses, but if you are the type of person that needs to be pampered and wants all your amenities self-contained, the Boulders would probably be your choice. However, if you are willing to drive ten minutes to the golf course and do not need a valet for your car, the Copper Wynd is a great, more cost effective alternative.

Anyways, the above was just a quick travel review for anyone considering Arizona; now to my Air Canada rant.

Sedona
The cost of our flight to Phoenix, which we booked a couple months in advance, was in my mind fairly reasonable for a Toronto departure, at $542 return. The usual surcharges, fees and taxes for the four tickets were another $575, essentially the cost of another flight, but I am not telling you anything you do not know already.

About ten days before the flight I remembered to call Air Canada to inform them that I was taking two sets of golf clubs (Air Canada always tells you to inform them you are taking golf clubs, but I am not sure what happens if you do not call in advance). I was expecting to pay $50 or so for the two sets of clubs each way. However, as I age, I tend to forget certain facts that I don’t want to remember. One of those little facts that slipped my mind was the fact Air Canada charges a baggage fee for U.S. flights. The baggage fee for four suitcases (one for each of us) and two golf bags came to $168 dollars each way, for a total of $336 return. So, we had to pay an additional 42% in various fees and baggage charges on top of our four flight purchase. (I realize that if I flew from Buffalo, the cost of the flight and fees would probably be less and on Westjet, the first bag to the U.S. is free).

For those fees we received the following:

  1. Mechanical issue delaying Toronto take-off about 50 minutes.
  2. A further 20 minute delay after the mechanical delay waiting for two passengers to be escorted off plane. I was told by other passengers who were seated in the area that one passenger had a severe peanut allergy and was not allowed on the plane for some reason. I have no idea if that was true or not, but all I know is we were over an hour delayed leaving.
  3. Upon arrival in Phoenix, there was a problem with the bridge door (a Phoenix issue, not an Air Canada issue) which would not open, so we had to be towed to another door. At this point I was now going to be nip and tuck to make my first golf game.
  4. The return flight was uneventful until we were informed there was a problem with the baggage door, it could not be opened; and we waited another 40 minutes to get our baggage.
All in all, we had an excellent family vacation. However, it would have been nice to not have wasted a few hours on various flight issues and the baggage fees are just a cost that is hard to accept.

The blogs posted on The Blunt Bean Counter provide information of a general nature. These posts should not be considered specific advice; as each reader's personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact a professional advisor prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained in one of the blogs.

4 comments:

  1. Over charging customers? What Air Canada thinks they are Bell or Rogers? The airline industry is a mess with all of it's hidden fees, I am sick of it. I would take Zeppelin if I could (or possibly a rabid llama).

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    1. BCM- In searching for my flight, I did indeed find a Zeppelin flying, it even had a Habs insigna on the side. However, they could not find a bilingual Zeppelin drive who was competent, so it was grounded. I then found Maple Leaf Zeppelin lines, problem was it started out fast, but then leaked air and we were grounded before our destination.

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  2. Baggage door stuck?They should,refund the baggage charge as theyndid not deliver the service as expected. Lol.

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    1. Anon, yes I thought it somewhat ironic, a fee for baggage I did not receive on a timely basis.

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