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Airfares from US west coast to Europe

Hello everyone, I am gearing up for another trip to Europe, and starting a preliminary look at possible airfares for May 2014. We are planning to fly from Seattle to London in early May and fly back from either Amsterdam or Copenhagen three weeks later (again, this is all very preliminary and with the exception of London, our destinations are flexible). What I am hoping to gather is some kind of reference point for what price range we can expect for our airfare this time. For our last trip in fall 2010, we booked really early and got round-trip flights to Amsterdam for about $650. Of course, I am expecting prices to be higher than that now, several years later and at a different time of year. Right now, the cheapest flights I am seeing for my timeframe are SEA-LON; CPH-SEA for around $900. Since I have zero reference for roughly how much we can expect to pay, I can't tell if this is something to jump at or wait it out. I know that it is traditionally too early to book a flight this far out, but we did book way early last time and got a good deal. Has anyone booked flights to Europe from the US (preferably west coast, as I imagine it may be cheaper from the east) in the last year or so? Alternatively, does anyone know of online resources where I could see airfare trends for the last year or two?

Posted by
3181 posts

We haven't booked in the past year but I have been watching prices. They are very different now than in 2010 ( much higher). Also Seattle is a limited market so only Seattle prices are relevant --- don't compare to LAX or SFO. With that in mind, I'd say $900 for early May is very good. Is that on Iceland Air?

Posted by
873 posts

Thanks, Sasha! Yes - this is on Icelandair, which is the same airline we used in 2010. I was expecting airfares to be way higher than our previous trip, which is why anything under $1000 seems like a good deal, but this is based on my unqualified assumption only. Unfortunately, I stopped frequenting this board and other travel resources after the last trip, so I haven't been in the loop at all.

Posted by
7050 posts

Alternatively, does anyone know of online resources where I could see airfare trends for the last year or two? Occasionally newspapers will publish trends of some specific flight pairs over time, but prices are so dynamic and specific to a host of variables, that whatever you find will not be of much use. It's also not categorically true that you could not find a similar or even lower price for a flight pair several years apart (in other words, fights don't always get more expensive, although the added fees/taxes seem to); sometimes competition actually improves with a low cost entrant and an airline can make a seat available for a low price (provided you are extremely flexible on time, dates, stops). What I would do is look on www.itasoftware.com and leave your dates/times as flexible. It will enable you to look a month out. If you see a fare now that's even close to the $650, by all means book it, but I would just wait it out and start tracking a bit later month by month.

Posted by
3181 posts

The price of a seat from DC to LA is not relevant to the cost to fly from Seattle to Europe. I have gotten cheap fares from here on domestic flights too but Europe from Seattle is a different animal. Once I followed the advice of someone on this board--- someone with thousands of posts who was very confident in his advice. Before that we always booked 8 to 11 months in advance, and paid around $1100 to $1200 for summer travel. He said to wait until the "sweet spot" 2 months out. Guess what --- the price kept going up. It cost us an extra $1200 for our family of four, over what I would have paid if I booked on our usual schedule. We paid $800 to Paris in April nine years ago and that seemed great. May would be a bit higher than April, but is getting close to high season. I personally would not expect to find that $900 price going lower, and would book it. Iceland Air is a good flight. Maybe, if you are willing to fly a US carrier with a weird itinerary with long layovers or a stop in Philadelphia, you could find something cheaper, but I would never book a flight like that.

Posted by
3181 posts

OK, I just checked Kayak. Iceland Air is over $400 less than the next priced flights ( over $1300), most of which have weird flight times. The Iceland flights are good, 12 hours or less in each direction, even with the brief stop in Iceland. I will repeat that I would not expect that price to go lower, Nd I don 't think other airlines can match it in May. Just remember that your meal costs extra if you are in Economy class.

Posted by
873 posts

Thanks again for the advice, Sasha! I agree that Icelandair is a good flight - I had zero complaints about using them on our previous trip. I don't even remember what it's like to get free food on a plane at this point, so that doesn't bother me at all. Plus, we are considering doing the Iceland stay-over on the way to Europe anyway.

Posted by
3580 posts

I'm flying from San Francisco on United to Heathrow, late in September. My ticket was about $1200.

Posted by
2081 posts

Anna, I went to Europe 2x last year. March and Oct. My first trip had 2 layovers and it was about 1k but took an additional 6 hours to get there. The 2nd flight direct from PDX to AMS, the fair was about 1200. Im going back in 2 weeks and my R/T to AMS direct from PDX is 1300 ish. i prefer direct flights so i have more time on the ground. the flights from PDX to AMS is about 10 hours. for what its worth (fwiw) i book my flights ASAP. Why? because I WANT TO GO, not stick around in dodge. and my "early" is 6+ months out. when i get back from my trip in Sept, i will chill for about 2 weeks and get back into my sleeping routine and then start on my trip for 2014. Again, i will be booking my flights ASAP! its up to you how/when you want to do it, but as i said, i prefer to book ahead and go then to chance it and either spend more $$ on going by buying/chancing buying a later ticket. happy trails.

Posted by
993 posts

We are going in early June, so more "summer" than you, from SFO. The best prices I saw were $1400-1500... this is from SFO. We are going to end up using miles, but I was looking at prices too. I would jump on a $900 flight ASAP. Kim

Posted by
2779 posts

From SEA also check with flights from YVR, e.g. Air Transat. Then start subscribing to the newsletters of relevant airlines who serve both cities you mentioned. So e.g. Lufthansa fly SEA via FRA to LON and CPH via FRA to SEA. So they qualify and usually they offer great sales via their newsletters. Also one advantage of Lufthansa could be that instead of having to go through UK immigration at Heathrow airoprt (lines can be as bad as at US immigration at LAX) you can fly from Frankfurt to London City airport, where lines are very, very short. In Frankfurt you'd stay in transit. This is one example and can be applied to many other carriers, e.g. my new favorite KLM. SAS Scandinavian might also work, however their service has become rather basic in recent years...