We have tours set up for May 2022 in Italy, which were canceled in 2020 and 2021, so we are really looking forward to going in 2022. Final payment on the tours is in 5 weeks, and then it's completely nonrefundable - I am okay with that. But, this means I need to get airfare very soon. My preference is to not get airfare through the tour company, in order to allow me the most flexibility by booking direct with the airline. I prefer to fly Premium Economy and I am completely shocked at how expensive it is. Last time we used PE was in 2019 and roundtrip JFK to Athens was under $1600. Looking at roundtrip to Rome for example is now close to $3000. And Delta wants another $300 for refundable option. Which I do need it to be refundable, just in case the tour is canceled again. Is this high pricing something temporary or have flights just gotten ridiculously high? I guess I'm wondering if I should wait to book. Really nervous about this price. Thoughts? Another question: what are thoughts about nonstop flight from US versus connecting in another country? Is it risky to add a connection in a country different than destination? I'm not worried at all about the return to the US, if our return is delayed due to COVID restrictions/connecting complications, that's ok. But getting to Italy on time is critical, since the tour has a start date. Is adding a connection at LHR or CDG a concern due to COVID considerations? I know we cannot predict the future, but I am wondering in principle.......and as a practical consideration. And if we connect do we need a larger window than pre-COVID days? CDG does have "Easy CDG" explained on their website and it really does look easy. LHR, however, does not look easy. We are flying multicity from East Coast (any city is ok) to Naples (one person in our family is flying to Florence, not Naples) all are returning to US from Venice. Really appreciate anyone's insight. Thank you.
In October I purchased refundable international tickets for two separate European tours - one in July and the other for August/September. Since then I’ve monitored the costs hoping for something cheaper. Instead one ticket price has more than doubled. The other price has gone up by about twenty-five percent. Additionally the cost of my domestic December holiday ticket has increased significantly. I’m hoping that prices will go down. Refundable is the way to go. You can change to a cheaper and even non refundable ticket closer to the travel date.
In regard to connecting flights in Europe my experience has been outstanding. I’ve used at least eight different European carriers with dozens and dozens of connections since 2007 without issue - on time and efficient. I’m thankful that all has gone well so far.
I have no experience with transfers during Covid. I’m preparing for that in July.
I'm planning a trip to Italy as well in May of 2022. I've been watching airfare for awhile now, about 6 weeks daily, using various airports. I've only watch the flights go higher. They may drop a tiny bit for a day or 2 & then they go up again. I was using Google Flights trackers.
I settled last week on a direct flight from Boston to Rome. I didn't think they would go down again based on what I was seeing. I'm lucky in that I can stay with family in Boston & had already planned on being there before going to Europe. I'm regular economy on Delta & paid more than I ever have before with 2 prior trips to Europe since 2016. (One of those was business class too.)
I chose direct to Italy, which is my destination, because I wasn't crazy about trying to figure out multiple European airports during Covid.
I am wondering if there may be a dip in demand with the change to 24 hour testing before re-entry & what that will mean for prices. Plus Omicron. No way to know right now. Like you I've been shocked at the cost.
Yes I've seen much higher fares over the last few weeks. I'd be looking for a connection in Italy, i.e., in the same country as your destination.
Since early in the pandemic, airlines have been waiving change fees and issuing vouchers or credits for nonrefundable fares, and I think they generally still do. The credits have been good for future flights through the end of 2022, and that period seems likely to be extended as the omicron variant affects more travel plans. So a non-refundable airfare may not be a dead loss if your tour is cancelled or you decide not to fly next spring. It's not surprising that fares have been rising since demand has risen with vaccination rates. But again omicron might suppress demand. No one has a crystal ball, as you recognized.
To keep your trip simple, I suggest you look for nonstops from the US to Italy. There should be multiple choices from the east coast (we have none from here). That way you're not trying to deal with more than two countries' Covid rules (US and Italy), whatever they may be next May. And, if conditions permit, you might consider an independent trip even if your tour is cancelled, without changing your flights or even seeking a refund from the airline. .
If the price is too high for the flights, then hold off and continue to track them over time. I don't think it's a deal breaker whether you add a connecting flight or not - many people have no choice but to take connecting flights. Tours advise that you arrive a day or two before and that's a good idea (plus it makes the connecting issue almost moot, since you're not likely to "miss" the first tour day if you give yourself a little cushion). I know it's nerve wracking to see high prices, but try not to bite...I would be patient, airlines are having a really tough time predicting demand so prices are out of whack...and will continue to be so with the new variant news, etc.
You can look at Google Flights and set up alerts to track prices. You can also look at graphs of price fluctuations, prices differences between days of the week, etc.
Most of the airlines currently have free change policies.
Many flyers here have not recommended transferring at CDG, saying it takes longer to navigate that airport. Also, France is prone to those ever-present labor strikes.
Check Flight Aware to make sure the flights you want are currently being flown. The airlines have a pesky habit of selling flights they HOPE to be flying. We learned this Sept, 2021 when our flights for Switzerland were changed 6-7 times.
Direct flights to your European cities are advantageous. Some countries MAY have restrictions based on the countries you transferred through. This also also happened to us fall, 2021, when Italy required a quarantine for travelers transferring thru the UK Heathrow. We canceled the Italy segment of our trip- then by the time of the trip the requirement was dropped.
We purchased Business Class to Germany for $1800 RT a few months ago. Wait for a sale, IMHO.
FWIW: I was tracking an open jaw Spain flight in premium economy for spring (I held off because it could only be a 7 nights trip and I just wasn’t sure it was enough days to bother). In the last 3 weeks the price increased 4 times to now $6000, more than 5 times the price it just had been. Business class is cheaper than premium economy.
Emirates has a direct flight from JFK to MXP in May for $700.00 economy. We did this flight and it was the best flight we have taken in a long time.
If you following the airline industry, there are several factors at work as we emerge from the pandemic -- none point to lower fares within the next couple of years. Number one -- capacity -- most airlines are about 30 to 50% less capacity than two years ago. So there is no excess capacity to sell at discount. Two -- no balance. Airlines like and need an equal number tourist going both ways. For the last 18 months the US has been pretty tough on anyone wanting to come here. When you walk off that plane in Europe, someone needs to be in your seat going back. Three -- price of oil is back to records levels and will continue to be pricey for the near future. Four -- pilots are a problem -- some were force out, retired, took early retirement, and no one was in the pipe line for replacement. When you add a plane to the capacity you need to add three to five pilots to the fly that plane nearly 24/7. Lack of pilots can have a huge impact on expansion of capacity.
To have deep discounts, you need airlines with excess capacity competing on the same routes. There is little indication that the days of deep discounting will return soon. The airlines need to recover lots of cash. I will not tell you what we paid for first class on United when we return from Hawaii this past Monday. The plane was packed and the price was close to three times higher than the exact same flight three years ago. That is the future. At 79, I don't have the time to wait for future lower fares. The sons' inheritances just get smaller.
Do you need refundable? Or would changeable, meaning you'd get a credit, be ok? I had a lot of credits built up for the last couple years. It seems to me Delta, at least, has been fairly generous with allowing a pretty wide window to use the credit. Some of my credits were for almost 2 years. I rescheduled a trip to Hawaii 4 times with Delta, with no issues.
I think Schipol or Zurich is easier/quicker than CDG
I won't do it for international flights but for domestic, even to Hawaii, I'll buy the economy ticket, especially when I'm flying alone. Prior to COVID, I was always able to get Delta to give me a credit for tickets that were supposedly not changeable. I'd be curious if anyone has any recent experience with this. They seem to be taking a pretty firm stance that the economy tickets are not changeable.
I wouldn’t book a connecting flight through another country, just to remove one layer of stress should policies change at the last minute.
I can’t comment on flights from America, but within Europe, often prices are cheaper between Christmas and New Year.
We are traveling in June 2022 and I booked my changeable flights back in October because they were already high and I was afraid they would just go higher, and they did. I've never paid that much for a flight before but at least it is cheaper than it is if I was buying right now. We had to book our flights with a connection in another country, there was simply no other choice. We are flying through Munich to get to Prague.
We have reservations for Italy in March and I was concerned about transit through Heathrow, so I changed our outbound flight so we go directly from JKF to Milan on Emirates. There are other airlines that fly directly from East Coast cities to Italy but we like that airline and I could get it with miles.
I just checked their website and saw the following prices for a RT in May, JKF to MXP:
Economy Flex, $800 per person
Economy Flex Plus, $1800 per person
Economy Flex Plus outbound, Economy Flex on return, $1349
Business Class outbound and Economy Flex on return, $2298
This page shows the differences in the 3 levels of Economy:
You need to use the arrow under “Economy” to open the window that displays the comparison chart. Touch “Services” at upper left on the chart to open the whole thing.
Note that is says “No charge” under Refund Fee. But you would need to check the Terms and Conditions to make sure you understand that fully, as to the conditions that allow for a refund.
I know how you feel. We cancelled 2020 and 2021, also. Rescheduled our non refundable tours totaling $2k to May, 2022. I started seriously looking at airfare yesterday and am also shocked. $2k+ per person from Indiana to Milan, via JFK. It was $4,500 for all 4 of us when I purchased air 2 years ago. We just can’t stomach $8k for airfare, so not sure what to do. I’ll keep looking frequently, but we may have to cancel. I’m just so disgusted.
Frank, thank you for that explanation. It does help understand what is going on.
Wow!! I guess I spend so much time on the other side of Europe I just loose track of prices in the West. My multi city trip in March is $645 RT from Texas. If I wanted to, I could pop over to most major Western European cities in about 1:30 for another $150 - $200 rt. I am sort of shocked at your prices. How would trip insurance play into your thinking?
perhaps look at driving to a major airport that has more competitive routes. I sometimes purchase tickets to Europe from Chicago and just drive the 6 hours or use points to fly in the day before my flight. It's not ideal but you may be able to make a substantial saving on 4 tickets.
I am glad I got family tickets to London for June 2022 back in September. At the time, I had been watching the prices and they were just getting more expensive from every airport I looked at. Even the airports with direct competitive routes. So good luck, check flights often and frequently and consider a number of airports to get yourself to Europe.