You are currently viewing My plane tickets to Las Vegas: $195 instead of $392 (part 2: outbound flight)

After sharing the general tips I used to save money on my 25 flights this fall, I’m finally diving into more concrete examples. I’ll continue with the rest of my trip to Las Vegas, a very popular destination. I paid $195 instead of $392 for the outbound flight.

As mentioned in the previous part of this special feature about my return flight where I paid $296 instead of $617, it’s still expensive obviously compared to the deals in the $200s roundtrip from Canada to Las Vegas that Flytrippers spots almost every day on its cheap flight deals page.

But $195 is better than $392. There’s always a way to save on flights when you want to. 

Here’s, concretely, how I saved several hundred dollars on plane tickets for my trip to Las Vegas.


My trip to Las Vegas in October

To find out why I went to Vegas even though I don’t like it at all, it’s explained in part 1. on the return flight.

What was special about this particular trip was that my outbound flight was from Chicago instead of Montréal (I was a speaker at a travel rewards event there the weekend before).

But even that doesn’t change the universal principles of how to save money on plane tickets.

Just try out the 31 tips to save money on plane tickets, one by one. No matter the flight, where you’re going, or where you’re leaving from. Simple.

In my case, I hadn’t yet decided on my departure date, even after I’d finished giving my 2 conferences; one on the Marriott Bonvoy program and the other on how to use travel rewards to visit every country in the world.

By the way, I’ll be converting these into a video or webinar soon, especially with the awesome new Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card increased offer.

I was able to give myself the option of waiting until the last minute to buy my ticket because I’m flexible on every aspect of the flight! Zero stress, I had the whole week to get from Chicago to Las Vegas, and by being flexible, it’s always possible to save. Literally always!

On one hand, it was the Vegas effect: I really didn’t want to have to spend any more time there than necessary. My initial plan was to stay as long as possible in Chicago, a city that’s so much nicer. However, I hesitated because another thing I don’t like… is the cold. 

As much as I wanted to convince myself that staying in Chicago would be better (I really tried hard, since it’s usually so easy)… it was October and I was freezing.

I really wanted to escape the cold and wind (the Windy City lives up to its name), so I decided to leave as soon as possible, the day after my conferences. Especially since last-minute hotels on Hotwire were much cheaper in Vegas than in Chicago too.


Chicago-Las Vegas plane ticket at $392 one-way

Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) is in the top 10 busiest airports in the world, so there are often affordable flights thanks to all the competition.

Plus, tickets in the U.S. are much cheaper than in Canada, of course. That’s right, taxes are around US$18 (C$24) each way, which is less than half of those in Canada.

But affordable tickets are available if you buy them in advance once again! Often, Chicago-Las Vegas is C$66 one-way.

Chicago-Las Vegas price in advance (image credit: Kiwi)


But not the day before! 

It’s important to remember that last-minute flights should be avoided whenever possible. There’s a persistent myth that it’s a good idea to save money, but for 99% of destinations, it’s not true.

Doing my research on Skyscanner, the flights for the next day were C$392 one-way; that’s $352 for the flight and $40 for the full-size carry-on (Spirit is a ULCC, an ultra low-cost carrier).

Chicago-Vegas prize the next day (image credit: Skyscanner)


I obviously didn’t pay that.


My Chicago-Las Vegas plane ticket at $195 one-way

Well, $195 instead of $392 is still half the price (like for my return flight), even if it’s just $196 saved!

This allows me to share a few tips with you and…saving $196 is literally equivalent to 5 full days all expenses paid on my next trip to Southeast Asia.

Yes, 5 full extra days of travel! That easily! Just by saving on half the roundtrip!

It’s always worth saving if you want to travel more, even if it’s small amounts because traveling is so cheap in so many countries (list of countries coming soon).

So I paid US$115 (~ C$155) for the Chicago-Tampa-Vegas ticket.

My $115 bill for my ticket (image credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)


It’s C$195 total because I’m also calculating the cost of the full-size carry-on as I did for my return flight, so I won’t repeat everything about the carry-on that I explained in part 1.

But this carry-on cost is not on this bill, because I’ll explain another very niche pro tip below (it’s not even in our guide of 31 tips to save money on plane tickets).

The 3 main tips I used for this specific ticket are:

  • I flew from an alternative airport
  • I took the cheapest airline (a ULCC as for my return)
  • I had a transfer

Firstly, by “alternative airport” I don’t mean an airport in a neighboring city, as was the case for my return flight for example. It’s actually another airport in the same city. If I had only compared prices for departures from Chicago’s main airport (ORD), I wouldn’t have seen the lower prices for departures from Chicago-Midway (MDW).

These 2 airports are served directly by the L, Chicago’s elevated subway system. So there’s no difference in terms of cost to get there. And like many secondary airports (like Plattsburgh for Montréal, Hamilton for Toronto, and Bellingham for Vancouver), the experience at Midway is more pleasant, since it’s smaller, less crowded, and more efficient. It’s also easier to get to and through.

In Midway’s case, it’s even a little closer to downtown than the main airport (ORD) and it was even closer to where I stayed in Chinatown at the SpringHill Suites Chicago Chinatown with a Marriott free night certificate from my father’s Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card that he couldn’t use before it expired (it expired that same day; otherwise we really don’t recommend using them in North America).

Then I took the cheapest flight, which was on the American ultra low-cost carrier Frontier. If you want to save money, don’t be picky and don’t pay more just to get an airline that’s good instead of less good bad instead of more bad.

By the way, this trip to Las Vegas and my trip to Alberta in the winter were the only times I took ULCCs in 2023, a record for me in terms of few ULCC flights.

Finally, I chose a flight with a transfer. I survived. Like all the times I’ve made a transfer. Not the end of the world.

I’ve already covered transfers in the general tips, but your time is money, so trade a little of it to save a lot of money. For this one, I’ll add another very minor bonus tip at the end.


How I booked and paid for my plane ticket

I booked directly on the Frontier site, as you should always do when the price is the same as on third-party sites (and also in this case for the niche tip I’ll explain later).

I paid with cash again, because it was not a good use of points of the more valuable type. I saved them for better uses to maximize them. And I was in Chicago for a conference; company expenses are easier with cash than with points in terms of accounting.

With my Aeroplan points, the guaranteed fixed price on the 48 partner airlines (including United Airlines in the U.S.) depends on the distance. And the distance between ORD and LAS is 1514 miles, just over the 1500 limit to pay only 10,000 points.

So that was 12,500 points (≈ $188 at our Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ 1.5¢/pt) and with taxes/fees, that’s not a good use compared to the cash price on Frontier.

My Avios points could have been good too, but there was no availability for the next day (Chicago is a big hub for American Airlines, an Avios partner).

I could also have paid with my Scotiabank Gold American Express Card to avoid the 2.5% foreign transaction fee, but I was comfortable paying an extra US$2.88 (2.5% of US$115) with my Amex Platinum Card.

Why? As always, I was hoping for a flight cancellation, so I would have had $1,000 with the flight delay insurance, instead of just $500 on most other cards.

If this had happened, I probably could have at least spent one night (because Frontier has fewer flight frequencies as a smaller airline) in a nice expensive hotel at the insurer’s expense as I did 12 times. Unfortunately for me, everything was on time.


Sidenote 1: Another niche tip

It’s a topic we’ll be covering more in the coming weeks, in our new types of content.

I took advantage of a status match to save on my Chicago-Las Vegas ticket… and my future flights in 2024.

In short, I have Air Canada Aeroplan elite status. Disclosure: I didn’t earn it the normal expensive way, I got it by winning a knowledge quiz about this program at a media event.

I matched this with the highest level of Frontier elite status with the Frontier status match promotion. That promotion is now over for the time being, but will surely come back. But it was a status match promotion that had a cost (often status match promotions are free).

The cost paid for itself immediately because full-size carry-on fees are free for elite members (but I still included that amount in my calculation of how much my Chicago-Las Vegas ticket cost me to be representative).

Regarding Frontier’s status match promotion, I didn’t mind paying a little more for status match at all, because I essentially prepaid for future discounts.

Knowing how to count and understanding that sometimes paying any kind of fee is just pre-paying for travel… that’s the key to being a travel pro.

The best example is the Marriott annual certificate mentioned above. If someone needs to book a cheap motel for a trip to Old Orchard next summer (C$120 taxes included), the person will prepay $120 without even hesitating for a second. They pay $120 to get the motel night later. Makes sense.

But the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card, even though we’ve been saying for 5 years that everyone should have it AND keep it every year, there are still people who close it!

“I don’t want to pay $120!”

It makes no sense, because the card comes with an annual certificate for a free night every year, and that certificate is worth ≈ $315. The value of the certificate is actually unlimited (Kevin got a $1000 night in an overwater bungalow in Fiji). But at the very minimum, it’s sure that it’s worth so much more than $120.

It’s the same principle: prepaying $120 for trips later, but so many people have trouble understanding it, and it’s an absolute obstacle to becoming a pro. You have to know how to count well — or rather take the time to do it.

In short, I’ll be taking at least 2 one-ways on Frontier in 2024, and in addition to not paying the carry-on fee, elite members get free access to their Discount Den. This is the Frontier membership that normally costs money and gives you discounts on every flight. 

The status match also gave me seats with extra legroom for free. In fact, I even had a whole row to myself for the 2 flights, since no one on Frontier wants to pay for that and this fall, flights finally started to stop being full for the 1st time since the end of the pandemic!


Sidenote 2: A minor tip for late arrivals

I’m not talking about THE most important thing: always pay for your flight with a credit card that has flight delay insurance to get $500 free for hotel and meals. We’ve been saying this for 5 years, and I think you know it if you follow us. 

That’s major, not minor. Arguably THE single most important tip for flights.

I’m currently reworking the complete guide on this subject. And one of the minor aspects of this tip is one that I used for this flight to Vegas and that you can also use to save a few dollars.

It’s really very minor, but hey… $20 in your pocket is better than $0.

On a previous trip, my flight was delayed. I was able to eat a very good free meal at an airport restaurant. I went there, even though I already had free meals in the Air Canada Maple Leaf airport lounge: I love maximizing everything.

I was entitled to $1000 with my flight delay insurance (that of the Amex Aeroplan Reserve Card for flights booked with Aeroplan points). However, I didn’t go overboard at the restaurant, in case the delay became a cancellation and I needed the rest of the $1000 for a free hotel.

However, I did still ask for meal vouchers at the Air Canada counter because they often give them out during delays (I have a priority line at customer service as an elite member, but if I went there after having eaten for free, the long normal line would be over anyway).

I simply didn’t use the vouchers right away, because these vouchers are good for 1 year! And flight delay insurance only works during the delay!

These $20 vouchers are very minor, but it’s to show you the importance of being strategic and maximizing. That’ll save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars if you learn.

I should point out that according to credit card insurance certificates, there is no exclusion that makes you ineligible for insurance if the airline offers you a meal or hotel. It’s good to know the details to maximize everything!

That’s why we always tell you never to take that ugly hotel that the airlines sometimes give you for free when you’re delayed. Book your own expensive hotel, which will be much better and, above all, will earn you lots of points because you pay in cash and get your money back. Plus, you won’t have to waste time waiting in line to beg the airline.

Anyway, I figured these meal vouchers (Air Canada gave me 2 for $10 each) would come in handy later, in a situation where I didn’t have access to an airport lounge or something.

Back to my transfer in Tampa (TPA) en route to Vegas: this is one of the few airports that doesn’t have airport lounges part of the networks accessible free of charge with credit cards.

It was the perfect time to use the Air Canada vouchers for meals! That’s right, pro tip: they work outside Canada, and they work even if you’re not flying on Air Canada.

The icing on the cake: even though the vouchers clearly indicated a value of $10 CAD, the cashier at the Tampa airport restaurant gave me $10 USD worth of free food. Minimal profit, but fun nonetheless, since I love to maximize EVERYTHING!

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See the flight deals we spot: Cheap flights

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Explore awesome destinations: Travel inspiration

Learn pro tricks: Travel tips


Featured image: Las Vegas, United States (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 71/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Catherine Sanderson

    Hey Andrew,

    Recently my husband and I were flying back from Costa Rica through Montreal to Halifax and our flight was cancelled and rebooked for the next day. Soooo, we, of course, followed your advice and stayed at a nice hotel and had some nice meals AND I called TD because I had booked the flight using my TD Aeroplan Infinite Visa card and they told me the actual limit for my cancellation was $1,000. $500 for me and $500 for my husband. Sweet!! And when I went through the on line process to submit my claim, I received the payment within 5 days!! Amazing. The only weird thing was that when they asked questions online about my claim I had to prepare a word document with an explanation and upload it on their upload document function. But it worked and it was a great first time learning experience about how it works. Got reimbursed $438 and earned MB points since we stayed at a MB hotel and I used my MB American Express card. Gotta love it!!

    All the best,

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      That’s awesome, yes I’ve had great experiences with TD for those claims! So glad we could help, the tip makes delays a little less unpleasant 😀 Hope you enjoyed Costa Rica!

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