You’ve got a ticket to ride: getting the best deal on your airfare

The Merits of Travel-Heather Malazdrewicz
The Merits of Travel-Heather Malazdrewicz

Photo by Adam Selwood

You have decided what country you are going to visit – now to purchase your airline ticket. What airline to travel with, what route to take, where and if to do a stopover along the way, when you should purchase your ticket, what city to fly in or out of – these are all questions to ask before making the big decision.
There are a number of factors that can affect the cost of your ticket. The price can vary depending on which of the three travel “seasons” you’re departing in: low, shoulder, or high. For example, if you are traveling to Europe and you depart in February, that would be considered low season – whereas if you left in July, that would be high season.
Other factors that affect the cost of your ticket may include the day of the week you travel on: midweek versus the weekend. Generally weekends are more expensive.
The validity of your ticket, meaning the length of time you are staying at your destination, could also influence your ticket price. Some tickets may have a maximum validity of three or six months, or they may be valid for up to one year. If you want a flexible ticket allowing you to change the date after departure, it might mean that the price of the ticket could be higher than one that is totally nonrefundable with no changes allowed.
Choosing an airline
Your decision on which airline to choose may be dependent on whether they fly to the destination, if they belong to some sort of frequent flyer program, if they offer convenient connections and non-stop service, and of course – the big one – price.
When traveling to your destination, it may be possible to do a “stopover” along the way. This would give you an additional city or country to add to your travel itinerary, or may be a way of breaking up a long flight. For example, when travelling to Australia, you could travel via Asia and do a stop in Hong Kong, or go via the South Pacific and do a stop in Fiji.
When purchasing a ticket, it is important to know all of the “rules” of your ticket. What would happen if you needed to change your ticket, either before or after departure? Are there fees involved? What would happen if you need to cancel the ticket: is it totally nonrefundable, or do the airlines have a cancellation fee?
This is also important information to know as it can affect the cost of your travel insurance.
Are there “extra” fees associated with the cost of your ticket, such as advance seat selection, meals or baggage costs?
One-way ticket to paradise
One-way tickets may be an option depending on your travel plans; however, you need to make sure that the country you are visiting allows you to enter on a one-way ticket. You might be required to hold a work visa, or show proof of onward travel after a certain amount of time in the country.
One-way tickets may also be used to piece together a more complex itinerary.
When purchasing a “return” ticket, it is not necessary to fly home from the same city you flew into. The airlines use the phrase “open-jaw” to refer to this type of ticket. This may save you time and money in not having to backtrack.
If it’s an option for you, a Round the World ticket or RTW ticket for short would allow you to fly completely around the world. Prices for RTW tickets are determined by the total mileage flown, the city you are departing from, and whether you are travelling in economy, business or first class.
Booking an airline ticket can be a complicated process as well as a big investment! The merit of booking with a travel consultant would be to ensure you get the ticket that is right for you and your travel plans.
Heather Malazdrewicz is the manager of Merit Travel at the University of Manitoba. She has worked in the travel industry for 24 years, while gaining her own experience of countries all over the world. Merit Travel delivers authentic travel experiences to the world’s top destinations, with help from a team of passionate and dedicated travel consultants at over 25 offices across Canada. For help planning your vacation, contact Heather at HMalazdrewicz@MeritTravel.com, or call 204-269-9530 ext. 6108.

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