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Flights to Canada: Advice
Need to book flights to Canada? Here’s our guide to search websites, international airlines, and other things you’ll need to know in advance of your trip.
The variety of flights to Canada has expanded in recent years, and seasonal routes mean availability varies throughout the year. Researching the best option for you can help you save money, time, and stress.
In some cases, it may be cheaper to take indirect flights to Canada.
If your journey requires you to stop along the way, you may prefer a layover at a Canadian airport, rather than a US airport. This is because you may be required to collect your luggage and clear immigration and customs upon arrival in the USA, and then again when you arrive in Canada.
It’s worth considering nearby airports, particularly if you’re tight on cash or time. For example, Calgary and Edmonton are about 3 ½ hours from one another by bus, so if you’re flying to either of these destinations, it’s worth considering whether one works out cheaper than the other.
Additionally, flights to Vancouver can sometimes work out up to $200 more expensive than flights to Seattle-Tacoma in the US. The downside is that you will have an additional four-hour journey by bus and deal with wait times at the US-Canada border crossing, and if you need to get work permit or residency documents dealt with, your fellow passengers likely won’t appreciate having to wait on you for this to be completed.
- Make sure you don’t forget anything! Read this essential packing for Canada checklist.
Who sells flights to Canada?
Air Canada is the flag carrier and largest Canadian airline by fleet and passenger volume. Through its network of partner airlines, it offers flights to Canada from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the South Pacific.
WestJet is the second-largest carrier in Canada. You can book flights to Canada with them from cities across the USA, as well as Ireland (Dublin), the UK (London Gatwick, Glasgow), and parts of the Caribbean.
Air Transat is the third-largest airline in Canada, servicing Europe (including Ireland, the UK, and France), the US (Las Vegas and several airports in Florida), and Central American destinations.
Sunwing Airlines provides flights to Canada from the USA, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
A new batch of ultra-low-cost carriers are preparing for take-off in Canada, which it’s hoped will make flights to Canada more affordable, particularly for connecting flights from one Canadian city to another. Be sure to research their policies on baggage and in-flight meals and entertainment to ensure they meet your needs.
These include Flair Airlines and Swoop Air.
Many other international airlines offer flights to Canada. These include:
Europe: Lufthansa, British Airways, Air France, KLM, Brussels Airlines, Aer Lingus, Turkish Airlines, TAP Portugal, Austrian Airlines, Icelandair, Edelweiss.
USA: Delta, American Airlines, United.
Asia: Air China, Etihad Airways, Jet Airways, Cathay Pacific, Philippine Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Japan Airlines, Xiamen Airlines.
Africa: Ethiopian Airlines, Egyptair.
South Pacific: Air New Zealand, Qantas Airways.
If you register a Moving2Canada account and sign up for our newsletter, we’ll keep you updated on all the latest developments and provide tips to help plan your move to Canada.
Offsetting your flights to Canada
Growing concern about climate change has led more and more people offsetting their carbon footprint when flying to Canada or elsewhere. This is an option for those visiting Canada, as well as workers, students, and new immigrants moving to Canada.
There are plenty of options for people who wish to purchase carbon offsets before they fly to Canada — a quick online search confirms the myriad options available — but some vendors may be more reputable than others. Less.ca, a partner of Air Canada, has established a strong reputation in carbon offsetting, with plenty of green projects around the world receiving funding and expertise as a result. To learn more about offsetting your flights to Canada, visit Less.ca here.
Do you need an eTA or TRV?
Citizens from many countries require a Temporary Resident Visa before arriving in Canada. Most applications are completed in a matter of days or weeks, and typically visa-holders can leave and re-enter Canada without having to re-apply.
Visa-exempt foreign nationals who arrive in Canada by plane will need to complete an online form and pay a C$7 fee in advance of their flight, in order to receive an ‘Electronic Travel Authorization’, or ‘eTA’. This includes passengers who are transiting through Canada on their way to a final destination elsewhere. Note that an eTA is only required for flights to Canada — entry to Canada by bus, train, or boat does not require an eTA.
Permanent Residents of Canada, citizens of the USA, and passengers of a plane which makes an unforeseen stop in Canada, do not require an eTA.
You can learn more about Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) here. It is valid for five years, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.
TRV or eTA? Click here to get the answer for your country of citizenship
|Country||Document / Authorization Required|
|Antigua & Barbuda||TRV|
|Central African Republic||TRV|
|Congo, Democratic Republic||TRV|
|Congo, Republic of||TRV|
|Israel (passport holders)||eTA|
|Israel (holders of travel document in lieu of passport)||TRV|
|Romania||eTA (electronic passport only, otherwise TRV)|
|Sao Tome e Principe||TRV|
|St. Kitts & Nevis||TRV|
|Trinidad and Tobago||TRV|
|Turks and Caicos||eTA|
|United Arab Emirates||TRV|
|United States of America||Neither (travel document required at border)|
*Citizens of Brazil who have held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years or who currently hold a valid US Nonimmigrant (visitor) visa are able to fly to Canada without first obtaining a Temporary Resident Visa. They may instead apply for an eTA. Travellers who do not meet these criteria, or are travelling to Canada by car, bus, train, or boat, will still need a Temporary Resident Visa.
Do you need an ESTA?
If your flights to Canada transit through the USA, then you need to meet their entry requirements. Most citizens of the 38 countries who participate in the USA’s Visa Waiver Program do not need a visa to travel to the USA for business or tourism for up to 90 days. However, they will need to obtain authorization using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) system.
US Visa Waiver Program countries
There are currently 38 countries participating in the USA’s Visa Waiver Program:
- Czech Republic
- Korea, Republic of
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- United Kingdom*
*British citizens only with the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
NOTE: The citizens of the new countries of Curacao, Bonaire, St Eustatius, Saba and St Maarten (the former Netherlands Antilles) are not eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program if they are applying for admission with passports from these countries.
You can apply for an ESTA here. It is valid for two years, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. It costs US$14 per application.