Date: August 16 – August 26, 2018
Route: YYZ – YVR | YVR – YYZ
Booking Class: Economy
Total Cost: $128.84
This is a simple booking I made as I have an Alaska cruise coming up this August – so I just needed to be in Vancouver for a week and back to work the next. Normally for short hauls, especially within Canada, it is not worth it to use Aeroplan to for these bookings (Westjet dollars are fine since they have a fixed value).
This is because the only airline you can use to fly intra-Canada is Air Canada which charges fuel surcharges (albeit not a very big one). A very average price for the YYZ-YVR route is around $600 (non promotional price, which can be lower).
Using Aeroplan, we would need to use 25k miles and a fuel surcharge of $160. This means we used 25k miles for a $460 saving, giving us a CPM of 1.8 cents.
Not a very good deal and we can certainly do better.
Therefore, I decided to pay for a revenue ticket and save my miles for long haul business class seats.
Now for revenue tickets, I think the timing of when you purchase is very important, as airlines are always using excuses to run promotions (airline birthday, Canada day, boxing day, etc) and you have to catch them at the right time.
You can use the app Hopper to set up a alert to monitor your flights and it will notify you when the price drops. From personal experience, it seems 2 weeks – 3 months before travel seems to yield the best prices (rather than too far out like 6 months prior to travel).
I’ll also share a not well known online travel agency (OTA) called skiplagged. This site leverages fuel dumping to create mistake fares, often resulting in very cheap tickets. The caveat here is that you cannot have any checked baggage. Prices also varies wildly day by day (sometimes even hour by hour) as new dump fares are created and closed. If you find a cheap fare you like, you can replicate the route and fare on google flights or the airline website itself (the cheap fares is due to the route and not because of the travel agency). This can give you better modifications and cancellation policies.
You can see that in my case it would be a couple hundred dollars cheaper than normal google flight fares.
In my case, Air Canada ran a sale about 5 months before the travel date. Unfortunately, as is normally the case with these sales, there were blackout dates and my outbound trip fell in it. I had to be in Vancouver on August 16 and that date counts as peak season (back to school dates?), hence I just booked the return flight first.
The one way flight ended up costing $202.5
To pay I used my new HSBC World Elite Mastercard. The card came with a $100 annual travel credit and I used 25k points for $125 off travel. This bought my grand total of this flight to $-22.5.
Now for the outbound flight, I waited until there was another promotion that I could use for my flight. Westjet had a random sale 3 months before departure so I decided to bite. Since the date is peak season, I knew it wouldn’t be as cheap as the return flight, and it ended up costing $271.34.
To pay, I decided to use my CIBC Aventura for Business card – which comes with a $120 travel credit. Since I know CIBC just uses Expedia for pricing and Expedia reflects all airline sales, I called in and got the exact same price I found online. This gave me a total cost of $151.34.
Putting it all together, I paid a grand total of $128.84 for economy round trip between Toronto to Vancouver.
If I search on google flights today and book the cheapest tickets available for my set of dates, I would need to spend $686, giving me a total saving of $557. Not too bad of a cost savings, and also gives me a way to use up all the travel credits on my cards!