I wanted to share the experience I had recently in booking my flights from Toronto to San Francisco. One thing I have learnt from living in North America for the last 2 years is that air travel within this continent is not cheap. Especially when you are flying from Canada, and especially when you are booking less than 3 weeks before you fly. Booking well in advance would solve a lot of my problems, but that’s just not how I roll.
As I mentioned in a previous post, The Clock is Ticking, I am heading to San Francisco for a visit before I fly out to Europe. Using the ever popular Kayak website, brought back results which were not to my liking.
The longer you wait to book, the higher the price, and the more stop overs you will have to face. The cheapest flights I found were over $300 with 2 stop overs, amounting to well over 10 hours of travel.
I was not completely satisfied with this, so I went in search for something better. What I found is that sometimes searching for 2 one way flights is better than simply searching for flights from your departure point to your final one.
Searching for a flight from Toronto to Chicago gave me a direct flight for $143. Then a direct flight from Chicago to San Francisco came up at $129. In total it saved me around $50 as well as hours of travel time. The only thing I would say about using this approach is that you will most likely be changing airlines, so you need to be sure to give yourself enough time to claim your bags and checkin to your second flight.
So you probably think I went ahead and booked these flights, right? Wrong!
As I mentioned earlier, flights from Canada are more expensive than they are south of the border. If I had to fly from Toronto, I no doubt would have booked these flights. OK, I admit it, like usual, I procrastinated until those prices were no longer available.
However, many Torontonians cross over the border into the US city of Buffalo to engage in cheap retail therapy. Shopping however, is not the only thing thats cheaper in Buffalo. Flights are also. Flying from Buffalo to San Francisco, via Chicago, saved me around $100.
If you are in Toronto and are flexible, it’s worth flying from Buffalo on most occasions. Both Greyhound and Megabus have trips from Toronto to Buffalo airport and will cost anywhere between $6 – $18.
I wrote this post to make the point that you don’t have to view what the flight search engines give to you as the be all and end all. Searching different combinations of flights, as well as nearby airports can bring more favourable results. It requires more time, and effort, but if like me, you class yourself as a budget traveller and are flexible, it’s definitely worth it.