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Sunday, October 26th 2014

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from YUL." - Chris Myden



2013
4
February
Montreal to Greece | How To Get The Best Deal On Flights


Guides >> Europe >> Balkans >> Flights from Montreal to Greece

The Ydeals Noise-Free Guide To Getting The Best Deal On Flights From Montreal to Greece

Ydeals logo There are thousands of travel sites out there, all wanting you to believe they have unique or special prices on airfares from Montreal to Greece. They don't.

They use marketing noise to hide the fact that there are really only two sources of unique prices on flights to Greece.

This guide will remove the noise and show you what those sources are, so you can stop wasting so much time when searching for the best deal.

What are the unique sources of prices on flights from Montreal to Greece?

Unique Source #1 - The Major Airlines

There are 10 major airlines that offer fares from Montreal to Greece and they are: Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, KLM, Lufthansa, Swiss, United Airlines, and US Airways

How many airports does Greece have?

From Montreal, the most common airport to fly into would be Athens (ATH). But there are some other fairly popular airports, such as:

  • Thessaloniki (SKG)
  • Heraklion (HER)
  • Corfu (CFU)
  • Mykonos (JMK)

Flying in and out of Athens is typically the cheapest.

Where should I look to get the best Greek flight deal?

All you need to do is search all the major airlines, preferably at once. My current favorite way to do this would be using Google Flights Explorer because you can just enter 'Athens (ATH)' into the 'To' box, and see current airfares from all the major airlines, at one time. Not to mention how easy it is to browse through different date combinations.

Even if you're planning to go for a longer date range than Google Flight Explorer supports (currently up to 2 weeks), it will give you an excellent idea of what the typical bottom price is right now, and which airline(s) it can be found on.

Unfortunately, at the moment, Athens appears to be the only destination in Greece that Google Flights Explorer supports from Montreal.

To search other destinations in Greece, and to explore fares to Athens more thoroughly, I would recommend Kayak. It has all the sort and filter options I need, and searches all major airlines. Click on 'Make my dates flexible' and set it to '+/- 3 days'. You may be surprised how often being a little flexible with your dates can result in a better price.

In the 'To' box, enter in the destination in Greece that you're interested in, likely to be served by one of the airports listed above.

What about the thousands of other sites that have airfares to Greece?

This is the noise. There is no shortage of travel sites or brands trying to convince you that they have the cheapest flights from Montreal to Greece. The truth is though, there's only one unique source of prices that they're gathering their prices from, and that's the major airlines themselves. They can't offer a lower fare than the airline itself, as there's already virtually no markup.

There's a few reasons why I think Montreal travelers waste an enormous amount of time checking multiple websites, hoping for a better deal than the one they already found (studies show it to be an average of 22 different sites over 10 periods of research!). The first reason is just human nature. We all want to compare prices and make sure we're getting the best deal.

But I think the biggest reason is simply the noise of travel marketing. With so many Canadian travel sites and brands competing for your attention, all hoping you'll book through them, combined with the fact that not one of them will *ever* admit to you that their source of prices is the same as everyone else, it's little wonder travelers waste so much time searching.

What about searching the airline's website directly?

There's nothing wrong with doing that. It's usually just a lot easier to search all of the airlines at once, with a better interface using a good search tool. It's amazing how poor many of the airline's search interfaces are. The fares found on any half-decent search engine will be the same as the fares found on the airline's own website.

One thing you can do is just use a search tool to search all the airlines at once, and then go to the airline's own site to book it once you've figured out exactly which flight you want, and what the price is.

Another thing to be aware of is that the more sophisticated travel search engines can combine flights from multiple airlines to find cheaper options, especially on international flights, that you won't find on the airline's website.

What about my local Montreal travel agency or independent travel agent in Quebec?

They're seeing the same prices you are. Depending on the agency or agent, they may or may not charge you a 'booking fee' on top of the airfare price, for their time. As there's virtually no markup on the cost of flights, they can't offer you a price that's any cheaper than from the airline, or from a search tool that properly searches the latest airfares.

When should I book a Greek flight to get the best price?

This is never an easy question to answer, as airfares are not 100% predictable. Airlines start by setting their price at a level they think will fill the maximum number of seats, based on the demand they expect to see. If they experience less demand than they expected, they may decide to lower them. If they experience more demand than they expected, they may raise them. Unfortunately, a lot of factors that influence demand can be unpredictable.

How long a person can wait it out in hopes of a better price is a personal decision. Personally though, I am usually not afraid to watch prices on the major airlines up to about 8 weeks before departure in hopes of a better price without fear of the price rising. But everyone has a different tolerance for risk.

What about last minute deals to Greece?

Last minute airfare deals to Greece on the major airlines don't really exist. Typical of most airfares on the major airlines, as you get fairly close to the departure date, if the airline has done their job correctly, and filled most of the seats on the plane, they feel the last remaining seats become more valuable, and often decide to raise the price.

But later on, under 'Unique Source #2 - The Charter Airlines', we'll be taking a look at last minute fare possibilities, which are more common on the charter airlines than on the major airlines.

What's a decent price to Greece on the major airlines?

From Montreal, flights to Greece on the major airlines tend to bottom out around $900 - $1000 roundtrip after taxes. This is just a general guideline though, based on average demand periods of the year. And note that we're talking about the major airlines here. Charter flights can be cheaper, as we'll see in Unique Source #2.

Airfare prices are highly affected by demand. So anytime you can think of a reason that there might be higher demand than usual for travel to Greece (such as dates when many people in Montreal have holiday time) you can expect prices to react accordingly.

What about one way flights to Greece?

One way flights to Greece on the major airlines can be a terrible deal. They can even be more expensive than a roundtrip flight! This is often the case with international flights overseas on the major airlines, unlike flights to destinations within Canada and the U.S. where prices are generally 50-60% of the roundtrip cost.

To get a good one-way price from Montreal to Greece, you'll likely need to look at 'Unique Source #2 - The Charter Airlines'.

What about direct flights from Montreal to Greece?

From Montreal, Air Canada is the only major airline offering direct flights to Greece, on their non-stop flights to Athens (ATH). The flights take about 9 hours there, and 10 hours back.

What about a multi-city flight? Such as into Athens and out of another city in Greece?

Searching for multi-city flights in travel is still a bit of a pain. Even Google Explorer currently can't handle it, as there's too many possible combinations. I'm sure eventually someone (likely Google) will put enough processing power behind it and create something useful for searching multi-city fares.

But for now, you're stuck with searching one departure date at a time when it comes to multi-city fares and experimenting with different destination combinations. Most of the decent travel sites will offer a multi-city option (it should be right next to 'one-way' and 'round-trip').

Kayak would be my preferred option here. Just click on the 'multi-city' option and in the first box, enter in Montreal (YUL) to Athens (ATH), or whatever airport you want to fly into, and then in the second box, enter Thessaloniki (SKG) to Montreal, or whatever airport you want to fly out of.

You never really know what you're going to get with a multi-city fare. From Montreal to cities in Greece, it can often be around the same price as a typical roundtrip fare to the same destinations (or an average of the two). Sometimes it can be slightly more. In rare cases it can even be cheaper. Of course, you're still left with figuring out the cost of getting between the two airports.

One little trick I've learned with Kayak is to keep it on the 'roundtrip' option, and make your dates flexible (3 days before and after). And then in the 'To' box, enter up to a maximum of 4 destinations, using the 3 letter airport codes, separated by commas. For example, you could enter: ATH, SKG, HER, CFU

This will search flights to all 4 of these popular Greek cities at once, and look for cheap multi-city combinations into one city and out of another. Many of the results will just be the typical roundtrip flights, but when you scroll down the results, look for the airport codes that are highlighted in pink. These are the flights involving two different cities.

To use this method effectively, you need to get to know the 3 letter airport codes for the destinations you're interested in. Just Google the name of the city, followed by 'airport code' and you should be able to find it quite easily. (Google usually shows it at the top, or on the right hand side of the page).

Is it possible to get flights with a free stopover in Europe?

Yes, KLM usually allows you to book a flight with a free stopover in Amsterdam. Air France usually offers a free stopover in Paris. You may wish to read the guide: Montreal to Europe | How To Get Free Stopovers.

Unique Source #2 - The Charter Airlines

There is currently only one charter airline that offer fares from Montreal to Greece, and that is Air Transat. Air Transat flies in and out of Athens (ATH).

Where should I look to get the best deal on a flight to Greece?

In 'Unique Source #1 - The Major Airlines', I showed you how to search the major airlines in the best way possible. Those same techniques will cover the latest charter fares on Air Transat as well, as they are usually included in the common search engines.

BUT, over the years I have noticed that the prices on Air Transat's own site, www.AirTransat.ca, on rare occasion can be different than what is listed in the common search engines. It's usually worth a separate search. After searching, hit the 'Flexible Dates' tab to make it a little easier to see what's available.

What about the thousands of other sites that have charter airfares to Greece?

This is the noise. There are *many* travel sites and brands that sell Air Transat's charter airfares to Athens. Most of them are based in Canada. You may already be familiar with some of the sites & brands that spend the most on advertising, such as:

RedTag iTravel2000 Flight Network Sell Off Vacations Tripcentral
Flight Centre Signature Vacations Sears Travel Escapes Marlin Travel

This is by no means a complete list of all the Canadian-based travel sites. The only important thing you need to know as someone searching for the best deal from Montreal to Greece is that they are all retrieving their prices from the same source, and all trying to sell you the exact same flights at the exact same prices.

One site or vacation brand can't offer a lower price than their competition, as there is virtually no price markup on flights, and they can't legally change the airfare prices themselves anyways.

In other words, it is a huge waste of your valuable time to check any more than one of the Canadian-based travel sites. (And if you've checked out prices using the search engines I already mentioned, it's a waste of time to check any of them, as those searches already cover the current charter airfares to Athens).

A large number of Montrealers out there have been fooled into thinking they are comparison shopping, since no travel site or brand will ever admit that their prices are identical to their competition.

When should I book to get the best price?

The advice I gave in Unique Source #1, about 'when to book' on the major airlines applies to charter flights as well. The one big difference though, is that there is a greater possibility of charter airlines offering a significant price drop around 4-6 weeks before departure (sometimes even less). The major airlines pretty much never do this, so you can typically 'wait it out' longer when watching charter airfares than when watching fares on the major airlines.

Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that a charter airline will drop their price, as it depends on whether or not they end up with some seats that they couldn't sell, which is an unpredictable event.

What are the drawbacks to flying to Greece with the charter airlines?

Compared to flying one of the major airlines, the biggest drawbacks to the charter airlines are usually:

  • The seats are more cramped
  • No seat-back entertainment (Air Transat is working on upgrading their fleet to offer this)
  • If something happens with your plane (cancellation, delay, etc) or flight plans, the charter airlines probably won't be able to do anything for you, since the number of flights they have is limited. Contrast that to the major airlines who typically have more flights on a regular basis, and might be able to do something about it.

What about one way flights to Greece on the charter airlines?

On Air Transat you can usually find one way flights to Athens for about 50-65% of the cost of a typical roundtrip flight. You may recall reading earlier in the guide that the major airlines usually have terrible one-way prices on international flights overseas. Charter flights can be of great benefit here.

What about direct flights to Greece on the charter airlines?

From Montreal, Air Transat flies direct into Athens (ATH), and the flight takes about 9 hours there, and 10 hours back.

What about a multi-city flight on the charter airlines? Into Athens and out of somewhere else in Europe?

Air Transat offers flights to and from a variety of destinations in Europe, so it can be worth exploring multi-city flights on Air Transat's site. Athens is the only airport in Greece they fly in and out of though, so you would need to return from a different country.


What about finding budget flights to somewhere else in Europe, and then finding a cheap flight to Greece from there?

You may want to read the guide: Montreal to Europe | How To Get The Best Flight Deals, which contains ideas about which cities are typically the cheapest to fly into, to see if this would save you any money.


What about cheap flights to Greece from U.S. airports close to Montreal?

If you've ever read my guide about flying out of U.S. Airports within driving distance of Montreal, you may know that I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see an airfare from a U.S. airport to Greece that's at least a certain number of dollars less per person than the airfare from Montreal.

How much cheaper it needs to be depends on which U.S. airport you're flying from. Below, I'll list how much cheaper I feel it should be from each U.S. airport, to be worth the drive.

From Plattsburgh, New York (PBG)

There are not currently any airlines that offer flights to Greece out of Plattsburgh airport.

From Burlington, Vermont (BTV)

I feel it could be worth the drive, if you ever see an airfare from Burlington to Greece that's at least $225 less per person than from Montreal. Typically though, airfares from Burlington to Greece are about the same as from Montreal.


I think I've found a great deal on a flight to Greece!

Excellent! Please share it with your fellow travel lovers, they will appreciate it and thank you for it! You can post it in the YUL Deals Facebook group (click 'Join Group', at the top-right, when you arrive), where thousands of people from Montreal are crowd-sourcing the best deals, and sharing great travel advice.

Or if you prefer, you can always give me a shout through the YUL Deals contact form or on Twitter @YULdeals or through Google Plus. Great deal finds are always appreciated.


Why should I trust this Montreal guide to Greek travel?

Chris Myden Ydeals The info in this guide is based on my observations of the travel industry over the years, including all the thousands of websites out there, and where all the different players get their prices from and how they interact with each other.

The goal is to remove the noise of travel marketing, so people can stop wasting so much valuable time searching the same prices over and over.

But, as social proof of it's accuracy, feel free to join the YUL Deals Facebook Group (click 'Join Group', at the top-right, when you arrive) and publicly disagree with any of it, or make a comment below. Critiques are always welcome!


I think I have some info that could help improve the Greece flight deal guide!

Great! Please post your info in the Facebook group above, or contact me directly. Suggestions for improvement are always appreciated. Let me know if you see something that seems inaccurate or outdated.

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