Holiday air travel tips from CTV’s Lynda Steele

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Let’s face it: Air travel around the holidays can be an unpleasant experience. Between sky-high ticket prices and overbooked flights – not to mention delays and cancellations— it’s enough to lose your holiday spirit.

Last year, B.C. flyers were hit with Christmas-time airfares jacked up as much as 300 per cent because major airlines sold a record amount of tickets, and that caused a shortage of seats. Staring down a $1,900 ticket price, one frustrated flyer decided to fly to Halifax through Seattle for Christmas to save herself hundreds of dollars.

CTV Vancouver’s Consumer Reporter Lynda Steele has provided these great tips to save money – and frustration – if you’re planning to get away this year.

Book ahead

Flight Centre recommends booking holiday flights three to six months in advance to get the best deal. Airlines price flights based on how many tickets are sold, so fares go up as seats are sold.

Last-minute deals, especially around Christmas, are becoming few and far between – so book early!

Be flexible

Flight Centre travel expert Allison Wallace says you can sometimes save money by avoiding flying on a weekend, or peak travel days.

Flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday can save you cash, as can flying on the actual holiday, like Christmas or Boxing Day. If you can adjust your holiday celebrations to off-peak travel days you can save hundreds of dollars (and maybe buy nice presents with that extra cash).

Pack smart

Before leaving on your trip, make sure to check the airline’s website for size and weight restrictions for baggage. And weigh your bags: the last thing you want is to arrive at the airport and be saddled with paying extra fees for oversize or overweight bags.

Save on bag fees: if you’re travelling with family or friends consider sharing space and consolidating your luggage. Eliminating one or more bags could save you as much as $100 roundtrip on some airlines.

If it’s possible, just bring a carry-on sized bag, and skip the baggage fees altogether. And slim down that bag and speed through security by leaving your bulky toiletries at home.

Protect yourself

Travel insurance can be pricy, but it can save you a fortune if you have a last-minute change of plans. Check with your credit card company to see if you have any benefits through your card.

Insurance isn’t just for flight cancellations and flight fees: it will likely also cover any unexpected medical expenses or financial losses incurred on your trip.

On this week’s episode of Steele on Your Side, we’re chatting with Allison Wallace from Flight Centre about how to save money on your holiday travel.

Lynda Steele’s ‘Steele on Your Side’ half-hour consumer series airs Sunday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. on CTV B.C. Check your local listings or the CTV website for more information.

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Darcy Matheson is the founder of PetFundr, a crowdfunding site for animal welfare projects. Her first book, "Greening Your Pet Care," is available on Amazon and in major book and pet stores.
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