What can $1600 buy you? It could buy you a very nice Mac computer. It is three or four monthly car payments. It is also almost a years worth of groceries for a single person. For some people in Calgary, $1600 is their monthly paycheque.

For me and thousands of other Maritimers who made the move across the country, this year $1600 is a plane ticket home for Christmas. Read it again if you have to, but it still doesn’t change the reality that for one person to make the relatively quick 7-hour flight to Fredericton, New Brunswick this December will cost them at least $1600. Broken down, that’s $605 each way, not forgetting the taxes and surcharges.

I stumbled across this horrifying sight just the other day. I thought that by buying my ticket three months in advance would be the smart thing to do. In the back of my mind I was a little worried that perhaps I was a little late, but I told myself not to stress too much. Imagine my surprise when not only were there lots of flights home, but that I would have to pay the equivalent of three months rent just to be able to go home and be with my friends and family during the holiday season.

It has almost been 12 months since I was home last. And to be clear, I understand that I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to be able to even go home, but when you live in the same country as your family there is certainly no way you expect to have to pay so much to see them. Let’s be honest, no one loves his or her family that much.

It’s really unfortunate that Air Canada doesn’t seem to mind that they are gouging so many Maritimers who, like myself, save up their vacation time just so they can be home for Christmas. Obviously Air Canada has a pretty tight grip on the air travel market. Unfortunately for me, the closest city WestJet flies to is more than a two hour drive away, which during a New Brunswick winter can be too risky to even consider.

So with still more than three months till Christmas, here I sit at my kitchen table. A big calculator to the left of me and pad of paper to the right. I’m left wondering how on earth I will be able to afford this flight. I have already called my part-time job for extra shifts. I mean who doesn’t like working 60-70 hour work weeks? And last I checked Blockbuster is still buying movies from its customers. I wonder how much my Buffy collection will get? I am also considering canceling my home phone. I only use it to call home anyway, and that way it will make the cost of the trip seem reasonable if I have more things to talk about when I eventually get there.

Maybe I shouldn’t worry too much. When I eventually get home, no matter the sacrifices, and I get that tight and comforting hug from my grandmother and raise a beer to my friends it will be worth it. The fact that I will be able to see my nephew and niece open their Christmas gifts is worth 4 part-time jobs. Christmas is about being with the ones you love, no matter how much you have to give up to be able to do it.

I hope Air Canada is happy with themselves. I hope they feel great that they are robbing people of the money that we moved out and worked so hard for. There is a special place for the “high-ups” of Canada’s largest airline.

Just ask Jacob Marley.

Mike Morrison