Make It Simpler To Find
Your Best Flights to Europe
How do you find the best prices for international airline flights to Europe?
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That’s a good question…there are now so many different booking systems that it should be easy…but it can be confusing. Each system has its own benefits and drawbacks.
To see what’s best for you, your first question should be…
How much time do I have available and how much time do I want to spend searching all the web sites…
Before we give you information for booking flights to Europe, let us give you some tips and warnings about making your reservation online. This applies to hotels as well.
- Always read the small print very carefully. Watch out for terms like “starting at” or “as low as.” Taxes and other fees may or may not be included and add a lot to your cost. One-way prices are listed but…on a round-trip basis; which means that if you only want one-way and not round-trip, it will be higher than half of a roundtrip.
- Don’t count on a definite price until you have a confirmation. Prices quoted by these systems don’t mean anything with an airline unless you have their confirmation in your hand or on your computer.
- If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Never be pressured to make an immediate purchase with a credit card. Be especially careful with ads for “cheap flights” in daily newspapers or on the Internet.
- We suggest reading the information on “cancellations” and “making changes” very carefully. Airlines are not very accommodating when you make an error in the date or flight number. Cancellation fees are very high and many tickets are not refundable at all.
- “Cheap air” often means you’re on your own with any problem. Many who were in Cancun during the hurricane a few years ago had a hard time because the toll free assistance offices were abroad…making it even worse.
Different low airfare options for your flights to Europe
- Meta search sites
Kayak, Mobissimo, Farechase, Sidestep are “travel aggregators.” They save you time by searching through a multitude of sites to find the best price and most convenient itineraries for your flight to Europe.
When you select a flight – or hotel, or car – you’re automatically redirected to the supplier’s booking site. You book directly with them, not with the aggregator…they get a booking fee.
Kayak is now part of Priceline.
- Online agencies
Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz – are the three major online booking sites for airline tickets, hotels and cars. (As off 2015 Travelocity and Orbitz are part of Expedia.)
These are independent entrepreneurs that buy seats in advance at a good price and then sell them to you at a profit. They offer tickets on regularly scheduled airlines at rates well below the posted tariff prices.
When I was a travel consultant I used them a lot for flights to Europe. You’ve probably seen the small ads in daily newspapers.
If you plan to use a consolidator, I would strongly recommend booking your flights via a travel professional. Not all consolidators are reputable. Travel consultants deal a lot with them and know which companies can be trusted.
Consolidators go by the rules of each different airline and those can often change. Be sure that you know all stipulations…penalties for flight changes, cancellations and refunds before you give your credit card number.
Savings with consolidators can be great, but you should not always trust the newspaper ads.
- Discount airlines
Airlines such as Norwegian, Air One and Air Berlin, to name a few only fly a few routes from selected cities. They are less expensive than the regular airlines.
Because they only have a few planes, companies can often terminate their services on very short notice, I would recommend using a good travel agency instead of booking directly.
- “Cheap air” booking sites
The Internet offers you thousands of choices…but remember when you reserve your flights to Europe on these sites, you’re on your own - no matter what happens with the airline, weather, delays or cancellations.
Yes…you can use all the above options…or you can book your flights to Europe directly with the regular IATA airlines such as British Airways, Air France or KLM to name a few.
Their fares are now very competitive with the above booking sites, especially for Internet bookings on a round-trip basis. Others are Aer Lingus and Swiss.
If you’re planning to go to Scandinavia from North America you should check with Icelandair. It is often less expensive for flights to Europe, plus the airline offers you a free stopover in Iceland…however you’ll have to pay for your hotel as well as other services.
Iceland is a fascinating country and you can stop off going to or coming from Europe. I recommend the westbound stopover. (Flights from North America arrive very early in the morning, those from Europe in the afternoon)
So…how do you simplify booking your cheap flights to Europe?
- If you have the time... and like to look up all the flights and fares yourself, you may find some bargains. But check and re-check the
small print before you give your credit card number.
- If you don’t have the time... or don’t enjoy looking at all the web sites (most travelers check at least four or five for booking a flight to Europe)…and you want to be sure that you have the correct information at a good price, visit a GOOD travel consultant.
The small booking fee that they charge for a flight to Europe can save you a lot of problems and remember…it’s only a very small part of your total European vacation cost. We often go from Boston to Amsterdam and we do it ourselves, because we've done it so often. But for many other trips I visit my travel consultant, too.
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