Avoiding Bankruptcy When Shopping For a Summer Flight To Europe

As I shopped for my flight to Europe this upcoming May, I read article after article about how to score the best-priced flight. Some experts told the day, the very hour in which you should book your flight overseas. Others recommended going in the off-season. The flights will be cheaper and so will the accommodations, car rentals and meals.

I didn’t want to go in the off-season. I wanted to experience Europe in the summer, when places are actually open and the scenery can be at its most bright and vivid. The true challenge of shopping for a flight to Europe is scoring a good deal in the summer. Rather than picking up my search and taking it to late fall or winter, I resolved to find the best possible price when everyone and their mother wants to go to Europe.

Ahh, summer in Europe and its overpriced flights to get to this...

Ahh, summer in Europe and its overpriced flights to get to this…

Be Flexible with Locations and Dates

I don’t mean you should be the best yogi in your class in this case. Flexibility with travel to Europe is almost essential for scoring the best deal in the summer. Since we didn’t really have set dates to fly in and out of Europe, we could find a better deal even in the high season. As I searched for flights, I was not only flexible with our time frame but also with where we wanted to go. It might be hundreds of dollars cheaper to go with another location and take a train or plane down to where you want to be. For example, we wanted to fly into Spain, but we just couldn’t get it to work money and miles-wise. Instead, we are flying into Rome, because Rome always seems like a good idea. If you can exercise some flexibility in your flight to Europe in location and date, you can easily save a few hundred dollars here and there on a summer flight.

European Boarding Pass

Use Miles Even If Just One-Way

If you are flying to Europe from the East Coast, it isn’t always worth it to use miles for your trip. However, in my case, we were trying to get from the middle of America to Europe. The average flight cost was about $1,300 per person. With two travelers, this was a tough amount for me to swallow. There had to be another way.

Rather than buying two tickets, we essentially bought one and got one free. We both had enough miles for a one-way ticket to Europe. It seemed to make the most sense to use the miles to lighten the financial load of a summer ticket. Also, if I plan on going to Europe in the off-season, the ticket will be a fraction of what it is in the summer and I will make up the miles in the process. Using miles in the off season in Europe doesn’t always seem worth it.

Flying on Italy's Wings

Also, depending on your airline, getting the miles for a one way ticket can be as simple as switching your cable provider (an offer I saw recently on United) or finally applying for that travel rewards credit card for its mileage sign-up bonus. Even if you don’t think you have the miles to go to Europe, you should dig around a bit to see if at least a one-way ticket is possible through other means.

Mileage flights for Europe in the summer come and go quickly. In my case, there were loads of reward travel flights in May to various cities in Europe. Throughout June, July and August, those tickets quickly diminished. Also, before you use your miles one-way to go to Europe in the summer, you need to already have an affordable one-way ticket back home in mind. Icelandair seems to be the winner for cheapest one-way tickets from Europe, as most airlines can charge in the thousands for a one-way ticket to and from the continent.

Take The Stops and Fly When No One Else Wants To Fly

 European Summer Flight Shopping

I frequently look for non-stop routes or at least as few flights as possible. With Europe, the non-stop flights will cost you. For example, our flight back to Denver on Icelandair was certainly the cheapest one-way from Europe. However, the non-stop flight was a good $150 more than flights with stops. One of those stops included an 8-hour layover in Boston. In this case, I see the non-stop flight as worth the extra money. If you are willing to make all the stops rather than selecting non-stop versions of flight routes, you will almost always save a pretty penny. In addition to selecting flights with stops, you can also save on your flight by flying at less than desirable times. Sometimes the early bird gets the cheapest flight and the most bags under their eyes too.

What are your tips for scoring the cheapest flight to Europe in the summer?

Comments

  1. says

    I’m interested in this because we are trying to get the best deal possible to Brazil for July. hear it’s best to avoid buying tickets on weekends and instead to wait until a Tuesday to buy. Also, I was surprised to find cheaper prices on Expedia than on Skyscanner, so I guess it pays to look around at a variety of sites.
    I LOVE the new look of your site!!

    • says

      Interesting tip about Expedia vs. Skyscanner. I have also heard the Tuesday rule but I haven’t tried booking on a Tuesday to see if it actually works. We definitely had better luck with flights scheduled on Tuesdays through Thursdays. Weekend fares were always more. I hope to hear about you scoring a good deal to Brazil. And thanks for your comments about the redesign!

  2. says

    I also love the new look of your site! My friend and I are starting to look for tickets to Spain in July. I’ll definitely be sending him this post. I usually fly standby since my mom worked for AA but if I find a deal, I want to grab it. Thanks for sharing.

    Happy travels :)

    • says

      Thanks Lauren! I was desperately in need of a new look. Let me know if you find a deal to Spain. I will be in Spain I believe throughout the month of June!

  3. says

    Since I’m constantly flying back between Canada and Europe, I love using Hipmunk to look for the cheapest flights. I usually fly with Air Transat and they usually have some $200 one way flights to Europe (although you have to be really flexible with your dates and location!) My cheapest flight to Europe was a roundtrip from Toronto to Paris (with a layover in Montreal)….paid about $700! :)

  4. says

    Hey Suzy,
    Norwegian Air is definitely where it’s at for cheap flight from Ft. Lauderdale, NYC, LAX to Scandinavia and really anywhere in Europe this summer. I’ve seen flights from LAX to Stockholm for 200$.
    These are definitely great tips! Cheers for sharing.
    -Leif

  5. says

    some great tips! I find that to find the cheapest prices in Europe is a mission in itself compared to so many places around the world. I use skyscanner a lot. They have an everywhere search feature. I once got flights from London to Warsaw on 16 pounds return but typing in from London to anywhere and they then list the places by price. Just another way being flexible helps!

  6. says

    Great article – one to bookmark and read again just before we go searching for cheap airfare prices.

    My tip if you are in the UK and want to travel to continental Europe is to look at RyanAir fares – if you are prepared to pare your luggage down to cabin luggage and to forego inflight meals.

    Our bank has an arrangement with American Express for what used to be called AirMiles and is now Avios. Use the card and the points mount up. And with big purchases like car hire, the supermarket, electronics, etc – the points mount up fast.

    And of course, there is Eurostar – there are some good bargains if you book ahead and take the train from London to Paris or Brussels. The comparative ease of getting on a train rather than taking a flight is a big plus.

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