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Traveling to Europe in 2011 – Finding Cheap Flights

USA Today Column Travel to Europe Cheap Flights

Hope you had a chance to see my latest airfare column at USAToday.com. My topic: how to find cheap flights to Europe.

Let me give you the condensed version here:

Will prices to Europe be higher this summer?

Yes. In the summer of 2009, you could find flights to Ireland for well under $500 roundtrip total; this summer, that’s your starting point – and by that I mean you’ll pay about $500 just in taxes, fees and surcharges – before you add in the actual airfare.

Will a nonstop flight cost more?

In most case, expect to pay a premium of from $150 to $350 for a nonstop; avoid those if you want to save.

Does it matter what day of the week I travel to Europe?

It does. Most of the airlines to Europe file two different price points: one for travel on the so-called “midweek days” which are Monday through Wednesday, and another for travel on what the “weekend days” (Thursday through Sunday). If avoid travel on “weekends”, you’ll save about 40 bucks each way.

What about a Saturday night “stay-over”?

Many of the cheapest European fares do require a Saturday night stay; if you don’t follow this rule, you could wind up paying hundreds of dollars more.

What can you tell me about Europe’s seasons?

I can tell you that the best time to fly to Europe depends on the season; some are cheaper than others:

  • Cheapest: Winter 

Begins mid to late November — Ends mid to late March

  • Less Cheap: Fall 

Begins mid to late August — Ends mid to late November

  • More Expensive: Spring 

Begins mid to late March Ends late May/first week of June

  • Most Expensive: Summer 

Please see my complete column for more money-saving tips on Europe travel.

When to Buy Tickets for the Best Deals to Europe this Summer

May 11, 2010 | Posted in: Deals,Europe | 1 comment

tickets deals europe

Cheap airfare to Europe is so last year. Literally! It was cheap then, but as shoppers are discovering, travel to Europe this summer is much higher.

But you’re going anyway. Should you buy your tickets now – or wait?

That is the question I explore – and answer – due to overwhelming demand from readers. Check it out – “Summer Airfare to Europe – Buy Now or Wait?”

I think it will answer all your questions (but if not, leave a comment).

Quick Note to Anyone Flying to Athens (or already there)

May 5, 2010 | Posted in: Delays,Europe,News | 4 comments


Just a brief heads up:

As you know, these are tough times in Greece – and massive shutdowns are occurring, including at the Athens airport – and even tourist attractions like the Acropolis.

I have some updated information for you and links on where to get more – in a new report called, “Attention: Passengers Traveling to Athens, Greece”.

Stay safe.

Volcano Ash Over Europe: Still Affects Flights, Airports

May 4, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Europe,News | 0 comments

volcano ash europe flights airports

I know – it seems like we put those terrible days behind us, but Mother Nature has a habit of turning our expectations on end, doesn’t she?

In other words, the ash is back.

To a much lesser extent, to be sure, but it was out there today, and airports in Ireland and Britain had to cancel some flights.

I’ve got more on this ongoing phenomenon – plus tips on dealing with canceled or delayed flight due to ash, snow, thunderstorms or even your own late start.

Going to Europe this summer? Be sure to take a look.

Find Cheap Flights to 50 Best Restaurants in the World

April 28, 2010 | Posted in: Deals,Destinations,Europe,List | 0 comments

cheap flights best restaurants world

Did you hear about the World’s 50 Best Restaurants? It’s the annual list presented by S. Pellegrino (of bottled water fame), cobbled together by chefs, food writers and expert eaters.

Number one restaurant in the world?  A place called “Noma” in Copenhagen. In fact, here’s the top five (and see all 50 restaurants here): 

  1. Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark)
  2. El Bulli (Roses, Spain)
  3. The Fat Duck (Bray, England)
  4. El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)
  5. Mugaritz (Errenteria, Spain)

Some totally random observations: 

So how to get to these restaurants? Easy. Just head for FareCompare’s Where-to-Go Flight Finder and click the destinations for the restaurants you want to try. For example, The Fat Duck is just outside London, so click on “top cities in Europe” and then, “find my deal”.

Right now, I see a cheap flight from New York to London for under $700 roundtrip total.

Fair warning: I can get you a flight for a good price, but when the waiter brings you the bill – you’re on your own.*

*The Fat Duck’s “tasting menu” is 150 pounds ($227)

Nightmare Airport Parking Fees for Some Stranded Fliers

April 27, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Europe,News | 2 comments

airport parking fees stranded fliers

We’re hearing a lot about scary airport parking fees awaiting travelers on their return from wherever they were stranded when that Icelandic volcano began spewing The Ash That Shut Down Europe.

However, on the whole the news is pretty good on that front – for example, the gentleman I wrote about – the Brit stranded in Vegas – finally got back home this past weekend (on SAS – paid for out of his pocket) – but his extra parking fees in London were waived.

 His biggest problem, according to his latest email to us, is his airline: “Only Virgin Atlantic let us down and or tried to milk extra cash out of us. Let’s see how forthcoming they are at picking up our hotel receipts!”

Are you listening, Sir Richard?

Ryanair Sees the Light on “Ash” Compensation

April 26, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Europe | 0 comments

volcano ash compensation from Ryanair

Last week, Michael O’Leary, the often out-spoken chief executive of Ryanair, said the airline would only be reimbursing passengers affected by volcano-related cancellations for the cost of their tickets. This went directly against what EU air regulators had called for. At the time, O’Leary seemed to revel in this fact:

“Mr O’Leary said yesterday: ‘I’m pretty sure the regulator will be taking court action against us, and we will look forward to seeing that in court. This is a great opportunity for the airlines to expose this nonsense.’” (from Times Online)

After all was said and done, though, O’Leary changed his mind, and has agreed to adhere to Article 9 of EU Regulation 261, which requires a carrier to provide food and hotel accommodation for passengers who are forced to stay overnight.

As reported in the same Times Online article, despite O’Leary’s claims that they’d be coming after him in court, Ryanair’s PR people were quick to dismiss that:

“A spokesperson for the airline denied that the threat of legal action was responsible for the climbdown, saying: “Michael O’Leary just realised he got it wrong.”

Hmmm. Maybe he’ll realize that the whole charging people to use the toilet thing is wrong, too.

EasyJet: “Ashback” to Ease Pain of Ash-Delayed Flights

April 23, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick,Europe,News | 0 comments

easyjet ashback ash delayed flights

We’re starting to see a trickle of “thank-you-for-your-patience-during-the-ash-shutdown” promos, and one of the first is from London-based discount carrier EasyJet.

They’re offering an ‘ashback promotion (and for my non-Cockney readers, that means “cashback”) – type in the promo code sent via email when you go to the EasyJet website and you’ve just lopped $15 (10 British pounds) off the price of your airfare.

We have more details on the FareCompare Deals Blog – and just so you know, the promo code is EASYASH.

Okay, what are the rest of you airlines waiting for?

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