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Wednesday, December 7th 2016

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



2013
20
February
Calgary to Houston | How To Get The Best Flight Deals


Guides >> United States >> Texas >> Flights from Calgary to Houston

The Ydeals Noise-Free Guide To Getting The Best Deal On Flights From Calgary to Houston

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

They use marketing noise to hide the fact that there is really only one source of unique prices on flights to Houston.

This guide will remove the noise and show you what that source is, so you can stop wasting so much time when searching for the best deal.

What are the unique sources of prices on flights from Calgary to Houston ?

Unique Source #1 - The Major Airlines

There are 7 major airlines that fly to Houston from Calgary, and they are: Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines, US Airways, and WestJet.

Note that WestJet does not actually fly their own planes to Houston, but offers fares through their code-share partner, American Airlines.

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

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 'Houston' 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 this tool supports (currently up to 2 weeks), it will give you an excellent idea of the typical bottom price to Houston, and which airline(s) it can be found on. Use it as a starting point, and then use a tool with more precise search options, such as...

My second favorite way would be to search using 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 'Houston (IAH)' as your destination.

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

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

There's a few reasons why I think travellers 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 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 flight search tool to scan 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 that you may not find on the airline's website.

What about my local Calgary travel agency or independent travel agent in Alberta ?

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 to Houston that's any cheaper than from the airline, or from a search tool that properly searches the latest airfares.

When should I book a flight to Houston 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 flight deals to Houston?

Last minute airfare deals to Houston 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.

What's a decent airfare price to Houston?

From Calgary, flights to Houston tend to bottom out around $525-$625 roundtrip after taxes. This is just a general guideline though, based on average demand periods of the year.

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 Houston you can expect prices to react accordingly.

Why are flights between Calgary and Houston always so expensive? They never seem to go on sale!

A lot of oil companies have major offices in both Calgary and Houston. As a result, there is a large amount of business travelers flying between the two cities. These business travelers tend not to be overly price conscious, as their company is often footing the bill, which means the airlines never have much incentive to drop fares.

What about one way flights to Houston?

You should be able to get to Houston (IAH) for about 50-60% of the cost of roundtrip flight. Use the same search techniques as for round-trip flights, and just change the search option in your favorite search tool to 'one-way'.

What about direct flights to Houston from Calgary?

Air Canada and United Airlines offer direct flights to Houston from Calgary. The flight time is about 4 hours each way.

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

Searching for multi-city flights 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 Calgary to Houston (IAH), or whatever airport you want to fly into, and then in the second box, enter Dallas (DFW) to Calgary, or whatever airport you want to fly out of.

You never really know what you're going to get with a multi-city fare. 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: IAH, DFW, AUS, SAT

This will search flights to all 4 of these popular Texas destinations 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).


What about budget-priced flights to Houston from U.S. airports within driving distance of Calgary?

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

From Kalispell (FCA) or Great Falls (GTF), Montana

I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see a flight from Kalispell or Great Falls to Houston that's at least $500 less per person than a flight from Calgary.

Flights from Great Falls can get down to around $350 roundtrip after taxes, which is cheaper than from Calgary to be sure, but I still don't think that's cheap enough to warrant a 5 hour drive each way.


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

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

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


Why should I trust this Calgary guide to Houston airfares?

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 vacationers 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 YYC 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 Houston vacation 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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3 Responses to "Calgary to Houston | How To Get The Best Flight Deals"


    Has Luke been here?
       Luke on February 25th, 2013

    I've also been looking on google flights and you're right, flights to Houston are around $550 and up. I was wondering why you can get a flight from YYC to St. Louis for instance that stops in Houston both ways for $350? Could I just not get on the second flight to St. Louis and stay in Houston?

    Has Chris_Myden been here?
       Chris_Myden on February 25th, 2013

    If you book a roundtrip flight to St Louis that connects in Houston, you're free to walk out of the Houston airport on the way there, but the airline will automatically cancel your flight home if it's on the same ticket.

    Airlines also sometimes threaten to take away your loyalty points if they catch you doing this.

    Has hj been here?
       hj on March 2nd, 2013

    @ Luke - To answer your other question, the reason you can get a flight from YYC to St. Louis that stops in Houston for $350 is simply due to supply and demand. As CM said in his post, there is no shortage of demand for the YYC-IAH route, so no incentive for the airlines to lower the price. Even at a price of $350 for St. Louis, United/Continental is still making a profit. Imagine how much they're profiting for the YYC-IAH route at $200 more (for one less flight segment!).

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