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Can ‘EYE’ afford my summer vacation?

By Krishika Jethani

As the final stretch of the winter semester approaches, booking an end of year getaway is on the horizon. Let The Eyeopener guide you through finding affordable tickets that won’t break the bank or the vibes across borders.

Purchasing flights can be stressful with the ever-changing prices and limited seating on certain routes. Luckily, there are some online programs to make this process easier.


Skyscanner is a travel search aggregator that provides users with ticket price comparisons from multiple airlines. The program pulls flight sales information from public websites and guides users to the best available prices.  

Some airlines—such as Delta, American Airlines and Lufthansa—have student discounts that can be found after choosing your flight through the aggregator. 

With flight prices fluctuating daily, the time and place you choose to purchase your tickets are crucial to finding the best deal. 

Frédéric Dimanche, the director at Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), calls this variation “dynamic pricing.” 

“Dynamic pricing means that the airlines may change the price depending on demand and depending on availability of seats,” explained Dimanche. “So the situation today will not be the same as the situation tomorrow.”

Moreover, some airline websites monitor your search history by using browser cookies which can result in more expensive tickets. The company may use their website to determine whether you’ve been looking for a flight to a specific destination.

Wayne Smith, a professor in the same department at TMU, suggests clearing your cookies or using a different browser while looking for tickets—which will hopefully diminish how much of your algorithm they can track and use.

By planning far in advance, it’s possible to avoid such drastic fare changes. “You’ll see the prices start to go up because the algorithm is trying to push you to book on the first time and they don’t want you shopping around [at other websites],” said Smith., similar to Skyscanner, offers you the best rates and reservations which can be instantly confirmed on the online platform itself. Although aggregator websites are useful to find the best deals, they could come with very bare bones perks.

Sean Doherty, a professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University specializing in travel behaviour, compares the prices on this website directly with the airline’s to see if they are offering the same flights.

“In my mind, I’d rather go right to the source because I’m worried that there’s some small print missing in some of the other sites that may put a limit on my flight…so I’m always a little anxious about booking through secondary sites unless it’s a significantly lower price,” he said.

For example, a seat may not be as good in terms of flexibility, luggage allowance might change and meal preference may differ. You need to pay attention to those “little things” because they can make a difference, he explained. 


Dimanche said it’s important to consider the airport you fly in or out of. Logistically, considering airport fees, it may be more expensive to fly from your closest airport rather than from another one farther out.

Airport Improvement Fees are fixed into the price of each ticket. Pearson International Airport charges $35 CAD plus taxes for departing passengers and $7 CAD plus taxes for connecting passengers. 

Students in Toronto may find cheaper tickets if they cross the border and fly out of Buffalo, [New York], said Dimanche. “Of course you’re not going to have the same range of destinations, but you may find some destinations and some tickets that are cheaper, so that’s something to consider,” he said.


Smith added the suggestion of using a traditional travel agent when purchasing flight tickets. 

“They’re all licensed through the [Travel Industry Council of Ontario] so it means they have to provide certain levels of service and they have certain types of insurance…they’ll get you to the front of the line,” he said. 

Although some may think they are tech-savvy on the internet, a travel agent can help you find more opportunities that you wouldn’t be able to find on your own, said Dimanche.

“They may have opportunities to sell a stock of tickets for a particular airline for a [specific] destination at a cheaper price. [Students] would not be able to get this on the internet on their own, so sometimes a travel agent could be good advice,” he said. 

Travel agents can also help when a connection is missed, if there is any type of flight cancellation or to assist you with their travel insurance plan.

“They call the airline and deal with everything and then they call you back,” said Smith. 


Doherty acknowledged the importance of accommodations, which can be more expensive than the flight itself. 

“I’ve travelled a lot, including when I was a young [undergraduate] student and early in my career… Most often, the accommodations are the most expensive part,” he said.

Kiwi is an online travel agency that allows you to consider different factors to get the best deal. This may include routes to a variety of cities from multiple starting points and includes the transportation to get there.

The site allows users to plan their flight details in combination with transport and accommodations all on one site, making it an easier travel process. 

However, Doherty said although it can be  a “bit of a pain,” it’s important to shop around before booking a hotel through websites.

“It’s cheaper, but you don’t get breakfast or something included,” he said. “Whereas if you went right to the hotel [website], you might get better options.”

Therefore, he often considers the option of staying with a friend or family member to keep his accommodation costs down.

“Your host is likely a local and local knowledge is incredibly valuable when you’re travelling around to learn about great places, to go have fun, or eat or be entertained.”


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