Charter Flights from Canada
What are they and how can I get a great fare?
The world of travel is full of jargon, confusing terms that the everyday tourist just does not understand. Charter flights, for example, can be slotted into this category. Is a charter flight to Europe the same as a flight with Air Canada? Simply put, no. Air Canada and other big names such as British Airways or American Airlines are scheduled airlines. They operate according to a strict schedule – flying from Vancouver to London each weekday or from Toronto to Orlando on Saturdays.
Charter flights are synonymous with summertime travel. Tour operators who put holiday packages together will charter or lease an aircraft from an airline and the tour operator will sell the seats to the travellers, usually through a travel agent. The passenger’s contact is with the travel agent, not the airline.
As the tour operator will want to make sure the airplane is full, changes in the days of operation, type of aircraft and itinerary may be more likely than on scheduled flights. Also, the terms and conditions of carriage are established by the tour operator, not the airline.
One of the biggest charter airlines operating in Canada is Air Transat, a subsidiary of Transat A.T. Inc, the tour operator, which flies to the Caribbean and the United States during the winter months, and to popular destinations in Europe during the summer (London, UK, for example).
To secure the cheapest charter flight, follow these tips:
- Think strategically. Delay buying a ticket until just before you want to travel. The price generally drops a day or two before the flight because charter airlines must sell seats or lose money on the flight.
- Do lots of research by telephone or online before you commit your cash.
- Know where you are flying into. Charter flights often land at small or out-of-the-way airports. Travellers on an all-inclusive holiday will usually have transport arranged as part of the package, but flight-only travellers may not. Check out local transport links or taxi companies to avoid being stranded or hefty taxi bills.
- Make sure you know exactly what is included in your ticket. Will you get a meal? Do you have to pay for in-flight food? What is your baggage allowance? Can you pay extra for a seat with more legroom? Is there a fuel surcharge / credit card charge / ticket on departure charge?
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