Cheap flights to Europe this fall

If you’ve been on the fence about that trip to Paris, airlines are trying to entice you. Current prices on U.S.-Europe flights are almost unbelievable.

Here are some recent fares, round-trips, all found last week on FareCompare (but likely available on other fare comparison search sites as well):

  • San Francisco-Dublin, $615
  • Chicago-Rome, $567
  • Los Angeles-Paris, $540
  • Boston-Shannon, $432
  • New York-Copenhagen, $393 (this fare recently jumped into the mid-$400s)

How to find these deals

Finding low fares to Europe isn’t difficult — not this fall, anyway — if you keep the following deadlines in mind.

I recently conducted an analysis of airfare data for trans-Atlantic flights and here’s what the numbers say: Cheap fall fares will only be available to travelers who can begin their European jaunts by Dec. 19. Flights departing Dec. 20 or beyond will generally see hefty holiday increases.

  • Dec. 19: Last day to depart for Europe before fares rise an average of about 30%.
  • Dec. 20: Higher fares kick in and stay higher through the end of March.
  • April 1: Fares rise again, an average of about 20%.
  • June 16: Final price hike for the peak summer season with an average increase of 40%.

Deadlines for shopping: Begin shopping for Europe now. Do not wait until the last minute to purchase airfare because prices will reflect that procrastination and will be higher. Book tickets at least 30 days before departure.

Add a stop to itinerary: In most cases (though not all), non-stops are more expensive than connecting flights, so add a stop to your route. I recently checked October flights from Dallas to Rome for a week-long trip:

  • Non-stop price: $1,243
  • One-stop price: $567

Fly the right airport: Even if you favor one local airport over another, expand your search to see all your options. Here’s a good current example:

  • LaGuardia to London: $790
  • JFK to London: $550

It should be obvious by now, but I’ll say it anyway: Now is the time to fly to Europe.

FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney is an airline industry insider and top media air travel resource. Follow Rick (@rickseaney) and never overpay for airfare again.


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