The True Cost of Travel Between Edmonton and Calgary

By Anonymous ; Posted Jan 16, 2018

A new year gives many of us the impetus to figure out how to make 2018 more productive and stress-free than last year.


For people who travel for business, and their employers, finding ways cut down on both time spent in transit and money spent on travel is a worthwhile exercise. Not only does business travel inherently cost time and money, there is the additional cost factor of reduced productivity while travelling.

A 2014 report by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation shows each travel-related mishap, like a flight cancellation, led to an average of 2.3 lost work days or $1475 (USD) in missed productivity and additional expenses. The report says 75% of business travellers experience this type of mishap at least once per year, the vast majority related to air travel.



Even if all goes smoothly on your trip, the money and time spent in transit quickly adds up to much more than just the fare you pay.


Flying from Calgary to Edmonton and Back


Money Time

Flight -  $295.80

(mean price of weekday direct flights in January)




Total: $295.80

Between 50 and 56 minutes on the runway and in the air.


1 hour to clear security and board.


Total: 1 hour 50 minutes 


Total round trip: 3 hours 40 minutes

Taxis between downtown and YYC - $40-$42


Taxis cost $3.40 plus approximately $1.50/km. Downtown to the airport will run you around $40-$45 (airport to downtown fares add an additional $2 airport fee)


Total round trip: $82

15 minutes each way without traffic delays




Total round trip: 30 minutes

Taxis between downtown & YEG $40-$45


In Edmonton, most taxi companies offer a flat rate from downtown to the airport of about $45-$50.


Total round trip: $90

33 minutes each way without traffic delays




Total round trip: 1 hour 6 minutes

Total money door-to-door:


One way: $230+


Total money door-to-door: $467.80

Total time door-to-door:


One way: 3 hours 26 minutes


Total time door-to-door: 6 hours 52 minutes


Some travellers prefer flying because it offers some ability to catch up on work while in transit. However, the ability to work uninterrupted while travelling by air on a short haul flight is limited.


Of the direct daily flights between Calgary and Edmonton, only one offers WiFi and only for part of the flight. Devices must be stowed during takeoff and landing, leaving about 20 to 30 minutes of inflight work possible, offline only unless you’re travelling on the one flight that offers in-air Wi-Fi.

On the CATSA website, the time to clear security on a weekday in Calgary varies from 5 minutes to an hour. In Edmonton, the time to clear security is usually shorter, about 5-10 minutes.


The combination of time and money lost on this short-haul flight may be why many business travellers choose to drive themselves up and down the QEII corridor. Intercity trips between Calgary and Edmonton are expected to triple by 2050, according to Transportation Economics and Management Service, a transportation consulting firm.


Driving Personal Vehicle Between Calgary and Edmonton


Money Time

Gas price between Calgary and Edmonton downtown:


Distance: 297.8 kilometers

Average gas price: 105.9 cents/litre


$40.52 in a small sedan

$47 in a small SUV

$69.81 in a pickup


Total: $50+ one-way, $100+ round trip

Travel time between Calgary and Edmonton downtown:

(Includes one 15 minute rest stop)






Total: 3 hours, fifteen minutes


Total round trip: 6 hours, 30 minutes

Parking cost, downtown Edmonton:


$20/day in a city parkade

Parking time, downtown Edmonton:


10 minutes to find and pay for a parking spot

Total money door-to-door:


One way: $60.52 - $89.81 depending on vehicle type


Total, round trip: $121.04 - $179.62

Total time door-to-door:


Time door-to-door each way: 3 hours, 25 minutes


Total, round trip: 6 hours, 50 minutes


As you can see, there are substantial savings to be made by driving, regardless of the type of vehicle you’re in, however the time it takes to drive nets out to essentially the same as flying. Flying takes about 20 minutes longer on paper, but the driving total doesn’t allow for any traffic slowdowns. Getting from downtown Calgary to downtown Edmonton is going to take you more than three and a half hours, no matter how you slice it.


What is Your Time Worth?


When the cost of productivity is factored in, driving yourself intercity fares much worse. You are at the mercy of a hands-free device to get any work done when you’re the one behind the wheel. Going hands-free makes it legal to be on the phone, but it doesn’t make it safe.


Research from the University of Sussex in 2016 showed people are substantially worse at responding to emergencies on the road if they’re talking on a hands-free device.


Subjects in a study were almost one second slower to respond to road conditions while on a hands-free phone. Highway speed is about 13 metres per second, which means during that lag, your vehicle travels the length of a school bus. As frequent travellers of the QEII know, a lot can happen in that short distance.


Traveller Friction


The cost of travel for a company can go well beyond the money spent purchasing a plane ticket or reimbursing employee mileage. Those who study corporate travel have been investigating a phenomenon termed “Traveller Friction.”


The phrase was coined by travel consultant Scott Gillespie. He defines it as the wear and tear, physically and mentally, that business travellers accumulate over time. Gillespie’s research demonstrates that this problem incurs a substantial productivity cost to businesses.


Furthermore, he believes that restrictive travel policies in the form of preferred travel partners and other cost-saving measures increase traveller friction because employees are limited to the travel times and methods they can choose.


This makes travel “less predictable and less comfortable,” thereby increasing employee stress. This stress increase further diminishes productivity, on top of the actual time lost while travelling, adding to the hidden cost of business travel.


Gillespie’s theory bears out in an ongoing study by CWT Solutions called “The Hidden Cost of Business Travel.” The study measures 22 causes of stress associated with travel that have an impact on an employee’s productivity before, during and after their trip. It found that an employee loses an average of 5.2 hours of productivity per domestic trip.



In response to its findings, CWT recommends employers shift from a “travel policy” to a “traveller policy,” recognizing that corporate travel is inherently stressful on a company’s most valuable resource: its employees.


CWT suggests the simplest way to ease this is to allow employees to choose and book their travel using their own best judgement. Increasing choice for travelling employees and eliminating, where possible, restrictive policies increase overall productivity.


Business travel is in many cases necessary, but some of the associated stresses are not. While an uneventful trip between Calgary and Edmonton will typically cost an employee about 3 hours by air or by road, the overall loss in productivity can add up to much more.




InOrbis Intercity offers luxury, sustainable, door-to-door transportation between Calgary and Edmonton from only $350 for a round trip. Check out how you can travel in-style on your next trip between Calgary and Edmonton. Visit to book your trip today!



About the author: 


Bridget Brown


Bridget Brown is a Calgary-based writer. She runs Create That Communications, a marketing agency specializing in compelling storytelling. Bridget is an award-winning former broadcaster; she spent 15 years reporting and producing for stations across Canada.



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