How to score cheap airline tickets

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There are simple strategies to reduce costs, even in times of rising prices

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With Canada easing travel restrictions effective February 28, many Canadians are ready to get back on their feet. But, when you start your search for flights, you might be surprised by some prices. The cheap fares widely advertised during the pandemic are gone.

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This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as there’s more demand now. As more and more people book flights, prices generally increase. Additionally, fuel prices have risen, so airlines have had to adjust fares to manage operational costs.

Although you may not be getting a bargain, there are still plenty of ways to save on airfare.

Instead of spending hours searching for the cheapest fare every day, you can simply create a price alert. Just go to a site like Google Flights or KAYAK.

Once there, you would enter all your flight information, including dates, route, number of passengers and class. You will then see an option to follow prices. Once you enable this option, the site will send you a notification if the price drops.

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These alerts may even include information about the upward trend in the price you are following. Once you see a price that suits you, you can book it immediately.

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Finding flight deals is easy if you are flexible. You can search for sales for a specific destination or specific dates. Unfortunately, getting a deal for the exact location and dates you’re looking for is rare. That’s why it’s best to keep your options open.

For example, let’s say you want to go to Barcelona and you don’t have any fixed dates in mind. Most websites allow you to search for flights using a monthly calendar. This will allow you to quickly find the cheapest time to travel.

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Alternatively, let’s say you have specific dates in mind. If you head to Google Flights and select the Explore option, you can search for your dates. Your search results will then show all the cheapest flights available.

Peak seasons such as Spring Break, Summer and December Break will always be more expensive as there is more demand. However, you could save a lot of money if you could plan your trip on off-peak dates.

If you see higher than expected prices even during off-peak hours, it’s worth checking to see if there are any major events going on, as that could be the reason for the increase. For example, there is probably more demand if there is a major sporting event or festival.

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Remember that the day of the week and time of your trip can also make a slight difference in your costs. Generally speaking, Tuesdays through Thursdays are less popular travel dates than Fridays through Monday. As far as timings go, if you’re willing to travel in the middle of the day, you might be able to save a little.

No one likes receiving more emails. That said, if you’re looking to save on airfare, it’s worth signing up. Each airline has a mailing list and they will alert anyone who has signed up to the latest promotion.

And it’s not just the airlines that have a mailing list. Some websites are dedicated to finding ridiculously low airfares and alerting their loyal readers first. Very often the offers displayed are price errors, so you should book them immediately before they disappear.

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Low-cost carriers have been around for decades in Europe and Asia, but they’re relatively new to Canada. In recent years, new players have entered the market, providing more options for Canadians.

Swoop and Flair Airlines have already established themselves and both offer low fares to destinations such as Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. Lynx Air is also scheduled to take off in April to select Canadian cities.

These airlines often offer advertised one-way fares for less than $100. That said, you will have to pay for extras such as seat selection and baggage (which also applies to major airlines).

There is also Porter Airlines based at Toronto Island Airport. They have great prices for destinations in Eastern Canada and the Northeastern United States.

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Now is the time to cash out if you are one of those who have accumulated their loyalty points in the past two years.

Bank travel loyalty programs will allow you to redeem your points like cash. That said, every program is different. Some will require you to book your travel through their travel portal, while others will allow you to apply your points to any travel purchases made with your credit card.

When it comes to your credit cards, some co-branded travel rewards cards give you perks like free checked bags, airport lounge access, and companion vouchers. All of these perks have real value associated with them, so when you get them for free, you’re putting money back in your pocket.

It’s also worth mentioning that some credit cards still offer generous welcome bonuses to entice you to sign up. For example, American Express is offering new welcome bonuses for its Aeroplan and Aeroplan Reserve cards. You can earn up to 60,000 and 110,000 Aeroplan points respectively if you meet the minimum spend requirement and maximize the increased earn rates.

These points can be useful as you can use them to offset the cost of future trips.

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

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