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How to find Cheap Canadian Flights

Your flight to Canada might be the biggest expense of your whole trip. Unfortunately, Canada is not famous for discount airfares. Compare different airlines and routes to find a great deal.

Cheap Canadian Flights - Aklak Air
Flying in the Northwest Territories

There is no single best way to find cheap Canadian flights! It all depends on where you start your journey, and where in Canada you want to go to. It also depends on how flexible you are with your schedule, how long you want to stay in Canada, and what you are planning to do while you’re here.

Travelling light, with carry-on only can save you a fair bit of money on certain flights. It also makes check-in and transfers much easier.

What You Should Know about Flights to Canada

The biggest airport in Canada is Toronto Pearson International Airport and you can fly direct from many worldwide cities. All the cheapest flights to Canada arrive at Canada’s largest airports, Vancouver and Calgary in the West, and Toronto and Montreal in the East. Return flights to those destinations offer the biggest flexibility regarding schedules and connections.

In Canada, travel distances between cities are huge, and Canadian domestic flights into any backcountry region are expensive.

It is not always the best option to book a return flight to and from the same airport. Sometimes, flying out of a different airport makes more sense. It can save you money and precious time if you don’t have to travel a long distance back to the airport where you first arrived.

When to Book a Return Flight

  • You only want to see Western Canada – Return flight tickets to Vancouver and Calgary are fairly affordable and are your best bet.
  • You only want to visit Eastern Canada – Check on return-flight deals to Toronto or Montreal.
  • You will stay in Canada for more than just a couple of weeks to work your way around on a working holiday visa.
  • You are on a tight budget but you know how to get around Canada cheaply. In this case, you are best off booking a cheap return flight from the same airport.

Timing and Season

Start shopping around early for a cheap flight. Don’t hope for last-minute flight deals to go to Canada. The longer you wait the more expensive the flights usually get. Book ahead and don’t leave it until the last minute!

  • July and August – This is the main tourist season in Canada. Here we have two months of school holidays and that’s when Canadians travel. It is also the time when flights are the most expensive.
  • May, June and September – This is my favourite time to travel in Canada and it’s easier to find airfare deals during that time.
  • Christmas and New Year – Crazy, busy and not a good time to look for a cheap flight. Domestic flights are taken by Canadian travellers who are visiting relatives living in different parts of the country. You can be sure to pay for holiday inflation. The same goes for any other national holiday as well. To come to Canada during any holiday, book early!
  • Check for Canadian official holidays before you decide on travel dates.
  • Winter month – This is the cheapest time to fly (apart from the holiday season).

Cheap Student Flights

STA Travel is an excellent company if you are under 26 or if you are a student. The company offers discounted airfare as well as travel passes that save on attractions. Make sure to check out their website.

Canadian Airlines

Air Canada is the flag carrier and largest airline in Canada and offers the most options and packages that combine international with Canadian domestic flights. They have partnered with other international carriers. From my experience, if I fly Air Canada and have an inland connection and get stranded because of delays, they look after me well.

WestJet is also a Canadian airline and a low-cost alternative to the country’s competing major airlines. Their schedule covers most domestic destinations in Canada in addition to their International flights to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

International Airlines

British Airways offers some of the cheapest flights to Canada if you don’t mind travelling through London. From London, they fly to Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.

Lufthansa, KLM and Swiss all have a good reputation with travellers. Edelweiss Air offers direct flights between Switzerland and Canada during the summer season.

You can save money flying to Canada through the USA. Taking those routes means longer travelling time and more stops on the way. I tried it once but it was not worth the hassle for me. This option might be worth it if you want to rent a car for your trip. Car rental prices in the US are cheaper than in Canada as well.

My favourite search engine to find a cheap flight is Kiwi.com. Check out Travel Resources for deals as well.

Should you always go for the cheapest flight? It depends on the route you prefer and the travelling hours. For me, paying a bit more sometimes is sometimes worth it.

Domestic Flights

Inland flights in Canada are expensive. The two major airlines with inland connections are Air Canada and WestJet. Both airlines also run international flights.

Flair Airlines is a low-cost Canadian airline that was founded in 2018. It serves several destinations in Canada, including Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton as well as well as some International destinations.

Most reasonably sized towns in Canada have an airport and can be reached by air. Inland flights are expensive. Renting a car may be a cheaper option if your destination is a smaller city.

For many communities in Northern Canada, air travel is the only way of transportation. The Territory Nunavut has no roads at all but air service is available to all of its Inuit communities for a high price. Most of the Arctic is served by First Air. but small local air service is available through the north.

Check for flight specials! Make a habit of checking for specials at least twice a week. Try to book your flight for mid-week, which is usually cheaper than flying on weekends. Apparently, airlines update prices up to 5 times a day, so it’s best to check early morning and late afternoon.

Booking Online or with a Travel Agent

Unless you’re a seasoned traveller, booking a flight to Canada can be a complex affair. This is especially the case with at least one stopover and with different ports of arrival and departure.

Additionally, you may be better off choosing a package that includes domestic flights.

It depends on how much time you have for your trip and how flexible you are. If you only have two weeks and are restricted in arrival and departure dates and this is your first trip to Canada then you might be better off booking with an experienced travel agent.

Additional Tips

  • Spend enough time to do your research before you book your flight.
  • Before your search, always clear Cookies on your Web Browser to find the cheapest flights.
  • Use Google Flights to check out all the dates, as far as you are willing to move them. The prices are different for every day of the week.
  • Experience with arrival and departure ports if you can. Sometimes longer flights are cheaper.
  • Any good travel agent knows the best options and is aware of any special deals. This can save you lots of time digging through various online services at flight search engines.
  • Don’t assume that there is no flight because the travel agent can’t find one, or your favourite online resource doesn’t show one. Phone the airlines directly to find out. Airlines never make all the seats available to agents.
  • Plan for plenty of time between transfers. At the first port of arrival in Canada, you have to pick up your luggage and go through customs. At large airports like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, this can take lots of time.

Related Links

How To Travel Stress-Free With Air CanadaWhat you should know about Car Rental
How to find the best Airfare dealCamper Rental in Canada
Getting Around CanadaBackcountry Accommodation
How to travel light with carry-on only13 Best Travel Apps for Touring Canada

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