Trip Introduction: Travelling 4,300 km to Purchase a Car – Toronto, Canada via Air Canada Signature Business Class


This different trip report outlined a trip that I took for a most unusual reason: to purchase a unique car all the way across the other side of one of the largest countries in the world. This report outlines the story of my unfortunate recent car accident, and my efforts to locate a replacement car. I would end up heading all the way across Canada to find the exact car that I wanted, along with my experience shipping this car back home for it’s new life on the West Coast.

This post is one chapter on our trip during the pandemic to Toronto, Ontario, Canada to Buy a Car. This trip was enhanced through Air Canada Aeroplan Elite Status and Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Trip Introduction: Travelling 4,300 km to Buy a Car – Toronto, Canada via Air Canada Signature Business Class

On my way back from a usual early winter weekend of skiing in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada my car ended up getting rear ended on the Second Narrows Bridge that separates the North Shore from Vancouver the rest of Canada. While the driver behind me swerved at the last minute, it took a giant gash out of the side of my unique and somewhat rare BMW 5 Series Grand Turismo.

Although I was able to limp the car home without a tow truck, the exhaust manifold was pretty finished.

I would later learn that as a result of a rare fender and a quarter body panel that would have to be shipped from Germany and take several months, the insurance corporation had intended to write off my car as a total loss.

While it wasn’t such a bad impact on the car accident scale, it was sad to see a car go based on what appeared to be a small area of damage.

Near the same time, there was an atmospheric river that resulted heavy rains and a in a massive flood within the nearby Fraser Valley that resulted in several hundreds, or possibly thousands of vehicles, being written off as a result of water submersion damage. This added substantial pressure and demand on the car marker in the Pacific Northwest.

Trying to Buy a Replacement Car:

In addition to the local flooding damage, the pandemic chip shortage also resulted in several difficulties in locating a new or used vehicle. After I had settled with the insurance company on my car in late January 2022, the model year switch over from 2021 to 2022 was also in effect.

I had several trips with appointments to the local car dealerships. In almost each case, any low mileage used cars were being bought out from underneath me; at times with only a few hours notice. The local Audi dealer even went so far to tell me that some Audi models were completely sold out for 2022, making ordering one not a guaranteed or timely solution.

During this process, I test drove a leftover 2021 Audi A6 model with 140km on the odometer. While it was a beautiful car, I was a little concerned with the small trunk space. We are typically loading up the car for a swervy trip up the Sea to Sky Highway up to Whistler full of ski and sporting gear.

I wasn’t completely sold on the white A6 model, which you can almost read on my face during the test drive.

I figured that if I was going to outlay that kind of money for a vehicle, I’d better get exactly what I want.

As a result of all these factors, I ended up checking the BMW, Mercedes and Audi websites every day for new and used inventory. I had my heart set on a European Wagon, which was only available by Mercedes, Audi or Volvo. The wagons are pretty rare in Canada as most favour a sport utility vehicle instead which comes with extra weight and fuel expense.

Deciding on an Audi Wagon:

In the end, I ended up putting down a deposit on a rare in Canada Audi A6 Allroad wagon at Audi Durham. The only issue was that the dealership happened to be 2,088 miles and 4,300 kilometres away from my home town in Vancouver.

While I could have just purchased the car outright and unseen, I still wanted to take a look at the car and give it a test drive. There could have been the possibility of odors or driveability that would be difficult to deal with after the car had been delivered across country. This resulted in a trip to inspect the car, and give it a test drive.

Planning the Trip:

The pandemic was still in some force in Canada with full vaccination required to step on board an aircraft.  While the country remained in the tail end of the Omicron variant, most of the provinces were in the process of reducing restrictions at the time of this trip. This translated into soft demand and low pressure on airfare pricing.

I was able to book an Air Canada Flex Fare ticket between Vancouver – Toronto at 8 days out for $565 CAD. The Flex Fare earned 100% Redeemable Qualifying Miles. There was a promotion on at the time offering double status qualifying miles (200% Status Qualifying Miles). In addition to the promotions, as an Aeroplan Elite 35k level (Star Alliance Silver) member, I earned a further 35% Aeroplan miles bonus on this trip.

I used Air Canada Aeroplan e-upgrades to upgrade into Air Canada Business Class. As the flight was over 1,500 miles, Air Canada sought 10 e-upgrade credits for this flight. These went completely to waste during my status last year in 2020 since I didn’t actually travel anywhere that offered a business class cabin. I figured that I would throw them down for use this year on the wide body aircraft with a proper executive class pod. The process for using an e-upgrade involves signing into your account and requesting it at any time before your flight. In my case, I was waitlisted for available business class space.

I would end up getting upgraded almost immediately at the 7 day mark each way thanks to soft travel demand. I returned to the site to select a new window seat. The e-upgrades into a wide body business class cabin is arguably the best use of these since it’s the same price to upgrade into a classic recliner seat on a narrow body aircraft which is a substantially less exciting and less spacious experience.

Hotel Planning:

I was only in Toronto for the sole purpose of inspecting the car. It didn’t really matter to me where to stay so I ended up staying close to the Toronto Pearson International Airport. There were a usual list of hotels at or near the airport in the Marriott chain. I bypassed the in terminal Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Toronto Pearson International Airport where we had stayed previously, as it was pricing at around the $250 CAD mark. Most of the other airport hotels also had soft travel demand and were pricing around the $100 – $140 CAD range. 

As I was going to have a rental car, I ended up staying at the Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel. I was able to find a rate for $129 that included free parking and a grab and go breakfast. As a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium member, I would also have M Club Lounge access at this property. This would be an advantage over staying at the Westin, the Residence Inns’ the Element, Aloft’s or the Four Points that did not offer any lounge.

For local transportation, I rented a car through my usual favourite Hertz at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The Hertz offers Ultimate Choice at Toronto Pearson International Airport. As a Hertz President’s Circle member, I was able to select any car from the rank and go.

While this was one of the more brief trips that I had taken, it certainly met the overall purpose of what I was trying to accomplish. It ultimately ended up in a car being delivered to Vancouver

Our points and miles redemption summary:

In summary, I earned and redeemed:

  • Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel: Paid Stay
    • Earned 3,006 Marriott Bonvoy Points (1,146 base + 860 Elite + 1000 Extra)
  • Air Canada Flights: Paid Flight
    • Vancouver – Toronto
      • Earned 2,076 Aeroplan Points plus 727 Elite Status Bonus
    • Toronto – Vancouver
      • Earned 2,076 Aeroplan Points plus 727 Elite Status Bonus
  • Redeemed 20 e-upgrade credits for an upgrade from economy into Air Canada Signature Business Class

I hope you’ll join us on an overnight trip, for a pretty unusual and unique reason.

If you have flown quick overnight transcontinental trips, what tips do you have to make the trip go smoother ?

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