How To Save On Flights To Europe


By Brandi Savitt – June 9, 2014

FlyingtoEurope

A Little Leg Work can Save Hundreds!

I’m always shocked at how much the airlines jack up the price of tickets to Europe in the summertime, and this season is particularly outrageous!  Experts say that airfare has gone up 10% since last year due to increased fuel costs and a fewer number of transatlantic flights.  And because of less flight inventory (and therefore competition), the airlines have been able to raise their fares and people seem willing to pay the price…

So, in my search to find the best deal possible, I came across this fantastically informative article in the Independent Traveler by Elissa Leibowitz Poma.  Check out Elissa’s money saving highlights!

Travel in August

Trends seem to indicate that flights from the United States to Europe are cheapest in August (the later in August, the better). According to the Bing Travel predictor tool, trips from the East Coast to Amsterdam are around $1,200 in June and July, with a brief dip in mid-July, and then hover around $1,000 in August.

*Reality Check – Find a price below $1,000 anywhere in Europe – grab it fast! We doubt you’ll see it go much lower.

Flexibility Is Key

Unless there’s a specific and unchangeable reason why you have to be in Europe on a certain day, be flexible with your travel dates. Use a flight search site such as Kayak or TripAdvisor Flights and select the “flexible travel dates” option. For example: When I searched for a flight from D.C.’s Dulles International Airport to Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris during the first two weeks of July, the difference between the lowest and highest prices was $232.

*Keep in mind, you may need to book an extra night at a hotel or budget for additional meals if you end up extending your trip for better airfare. Do the math to determine if leaving earlier or returning later is worth it — or if an earlier-than-planned return home would save you even more money.

Fly Tuesday or Wednesday

Mid-week flights tend to be cheaper across the board. Aim for Tuesday or Wednesday departures and returns!

Fly to a Gateway City

This rings especially true if you’re planning to go to central or eastern Europe — flying to western European cities tends to be much cheaper, and then you can connect with flights on one of dozens of European discount airlines.

London is one of the most affordable hubs in Europe, with a plethora of no-frills airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair. Frankfurt and Amsterdam are two other main hubs to consider. Check out Skyscanner.net or Europebyair.com.  They’re the best sites to compare flights within Europe.

*Of course, there are a few caveats. Flights from the United States usually land at London’s Heathrow International Airport, while Ryanair flies out of Stansted Airport 65 miles away — so you’ll have to connect via shuttle bus and plan on extra travel time. And the budget airlines tend to have much stricter luggage weight limits and smaller maximum sizes for carry-on bags than the big airlines.

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2 Responses to “How To Save On Flights To Europe”

  1. Molly says:

    On a trip within France a couple of years ago, a friend and I needed to get from Monte Carlo to Paris. I wanted to fly Air France, but my friend insisted on flying Easy Jet because it was cheaper. Actually, I wanted to take the train because it was cheaper, a pretty ride, much more relaxing, and we’d arrive in the center of Paris, not the airport. But she said we’d lose half a day in Paris.

    Easy Jet was a nightmare! First, it was difficult to find their terminal in the airport, it was in the basement. Then, my friend’s luggage was overweight, and since a lot of it was perfume, she couldn’t carry it onboard. I ended up putting a lot of it in my luggage, and then schlepping my clothes on board stuffed into my carry-on, in order to bring her $300. luggage fee down to “only” $190. Next, our flight was 5 hours delayed, so there went out day in Paris. No reason given, no excuses, no apologies – they had a “tough S**T” attitude. Once the plane arrived, since there is no assigned seating, people started pushing and shoving their way through the door in the same manner as trying to get out of a building on fire. Stepping on toes, arms pushing you out of the way, hurt children, and running to get seats as if there weren’t enough for everyone (there was, they don’t overbook). It was truly a disgusting experience, and I wouldn’t fly them again even if the flight were free.

    I’ve renamed them, “Easy for us, Hard for you Jet”

    I hear Ryanair is just as bad.

    The Air France ticket with her luggage would have been cheaper, on time, had a civilized boarding, and a free snack on board. Honestly, even at $100. more, it would have been worth it.

  2. brandi says:

    Thanks for the tip about Easy Jet Molly! I haven’t flown on them, but I have flown Ryan Air a few times with no problems.

    I will agree with you, that the idea of actually lining up for a flight does not exist in many countries. It can be quite the free for all ;) .

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