This article was originally published in Urban Male Magazine:
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, flying is often costly and uncomfortable. The term ‘cheap flight’ is a bit of an oxymoron lately, but travelling on a dime isn’t impossible – it just takes some planning and flexibility.
Chris Myden runs Ydeals.com, a popular Canadian travel site. I frequent Chris’ site on a regular basis and have booked many vacations thanks to his advice and the deals he features. I asked Chris to share some of his best secrets to find cheap flights in Canada. Here’s what he said:
Avoid Peak Seasons
It may be tempting to plan a tropical getaway in the winter, but it’ll cost you. Myden warns, “Don’t even bother looking for a great deal around Christmas. Also avoid July and August: Europe is hot, crowded, and expensive; central America is in their rainy season; hurricanes are starting up in the Caribbean, and airfares are sky high because everyone has vacation time.”
Timing is Everything
Have you ever wondered if it’s better to buy a ticket early or wait for a deal? “If you purchase far in advance, you’re likely paying more than you should. On the other hand, if you wait too long you run the risk of the plane filling up to near-capacity, and that’s when the airlines really jack up the prices. I find that the sweet spot is around 8 weeks before departure. Exceptions to this rule are the charter airlines who generally make their biggest cuts 4 weeks before departure,” says Myden.
Everyone knows that being flexible with your dates can help, but to get the really good deals, you should be flexible with your destination as well. As Myden points out, “Opportunity traveling can significantly improve your odds of finding a great deal. If you limit yourself to just one destination, the odds of finding a great price are pretty low.”
You may be tempted to use a travel agent, but chances are you’ll end up paying more. “Travel agents don’t get any ‘secret access’ to prices that aren’t available to you online. Also be aware that there’s the bias that an agent brings, as they will naturally want to sell you more to earn a higher commission.”
Get a Free Upgrade to First Class
Most airlines only give free upgrades to their award program members, but you can try asking for an OSI (Other Significant Information) to be put on your reservation. OSI’s are used to tell airlines that you’re a VIP, CEO, or travel writer and should be taken care of accordingly. This doesn’t always work, but the fact that you know what an OSI is immediately improves your chances of getting a free upgrade.
Check out Chris Myden’s travel deals site: Ydeals.com (Canada only)
What To Wear
In the early days of airplane travel people got dressed up to fly. Men would wear suits, and women would wear their finest dresses or skirts. Nowadays, with all the various lines, checkpoints, and cramped seating arrangements, it’s smarter to dress practically.
Layer Up: Crowded check-in and security lines can be sweaty and hot, while airplane cabins are notoriously over-air-conditioned. Be prepared for both climates by dressing in layers that can be easily added or removed as required. Thin hoodies and light jackets are perfect for travelling, and both can be easily stored in the overhead compartment.
Avoid Tight Clothing: Skinny jeans may be stylish, but they’re far from practical on a long-haul flight. Instead, wear clothing with a little give to let you comfortably travel with minimal legroom.
Wear Slip-On Shoes: Most airport security checks require you to take your shoes off to be x-rayed. To avoid having to untie at every checkpoint, try wearing slip-on shoes. But remember, unless you enjoy walking barefoot through the metal detector, you probably shouldn’t wear sandals.
Bring a Travel Kit: Leave a little room in your carry-on for a homemade travel kit. Pack things like earplugs, moisturizer, hand sanitizer, gum, and a pen so you can fill out the customs declaration card before you land.