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Flight Advice Needed from Knoxville to Europe

Hi All,
I would sure appreciate any advice how to approach buying tickets for our 21 day Best of Europe (June-July). Our tour is confirmed but airfare is super expensive flying in and out of Knoxville (~1600 RT open jaw). Atlanta is within driving distance, but for an open jaw on Delta out of ATL, we're still looking at $1500. I'm considering flying out of a major eastern city (e.g., any NYC area airports), but to get from Knoxville to NY area, it will still be at least $300 RT. For those of you who have experience flying out of smaller cities, what do you recommend?

Is it ill advised to purchase a separate ticket to the major US airport (e.g., roundtrip Knoxville to JFK or Nashville to JFK)?

First, is it too early to purchase a ticket? Should I just be tracking prices?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
2507 posts

It’s way too early to purchase your tickets. That is why you are seeing such high prices. Wait until January or February and the prices should drop. Please also consider arriving a day early for the tour to adjust to the time difference.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you. We were planning on leaving 2 days prior to the start of the tour and a day after the tour ends.

Posted by
6379 posts

We have the same problem, flying out of Tulsa. Buying separate tickets to your less expensive departure point is risky; if the first flight is late, the airline is under no obligation to see you get to your final destination, or so I've been told. I would either drive to your departure point, or just keep shopping for a bargain.

I looked at Air France today; they were offering really cheap business class tickets RT New York to Paris - under $1000, but from Tulsa to Paris was about four or five times the price. Bummer.

Posted by
422 posts

Did you know that British Air started a direct flight from Nashville to Heathrow in May 2018? Even if you are not interested in flying British Air, I recommend you check out the fares to see if that makes Delta (and other airline's) flights overseas a little less expensive from Nashville than Knoxville.

I know there are valid differences of opinion on this, but I choose to buy my overseas on Delta tickets way in advance because I want to select a seat in the 1st or 2nd row of Economy comfort. I like being near the front of the jet during the flight.

Posted by
11 posts

Exactly. We usually fly from Atlanta to go anywhere because it's so much cheaper domestically. However, I don't know if it's just coincidence, but in looking at international fares from ATL for the last several months, it seems like it is cheaper to fly from the major northeastern cities. Ideally, I would rather leave out of Knoxville to avoid any driving.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you, Elizabeth! I didn't know that BA flew out of BNA!! That's might be reasonable too!

Posted by
2768 posts

It's not too early to buy IF you find a good fare. Right now it does sound high, so keep monitoring - but if a good deal comes up tomorrow, buy it and don't worry about being "too early". I have had luck buying this far out, but not always. It's definitely in "look but don't feel rushed" territory.

Regarding buying a separate ticket to NY or another major airport - this can be a bad idea if you time it too close. If your flight to NY is delayed or cancelled then you miss your international flight and are stuck. You'd have to pay last-minute fares for the next flight, and that is super expensive. I'd leave many hours or even a day. And consider a major Canadian airport, if Knoxville flies to Toronto or Montreal. The exchange rate is such that often you can get amazing deals out of these cities. Regardless, do the math - is it enough cheaper to pay for a flight to NY (or Boston, or Montreal) AND an international flight?

What I've done is longer drives to major airports. To me driving to a bigger city is better than messing with extra flights. Is Charlotte, NC within a reasonable drive? I have seen decent deals out of there.

Posted by
11 posts

Hi Mira,
Charlotte is a reasonable drive. We would be willing to drive Nashville, Atlanta or Charlotte. I'm glad you've seen reasonable fares out of Charlotte because I have not (it might have been my timing when I searched for it). I'll add that to the list of airports to monitor.
Thank you!

Posted by
920 posts

Hi, I know it’s a distance, but I think Raleigh-Durham also has some direct flights over. You could check that in addition to Charlotte.

Posted by
985 posts

Your flight shouldn't cost that much from TYS. We flew from K-town last October and sister's ticket was $1200 for Delta comfort to London and back from Amsterdam. Price was about the same as if we had flown out of JAX. Just wait and keep checking prices on Kayak. If you do decide on purchasing a separate ticket make sure you allow yourself plenty of time in case of delays or cancelled flight. It would be awful to miss your expensive flight and get stuck with buying a new, last minute ticket, assuming there were seats available.

Posted by
7209 posts

"Too early to buy your tickets..." Hogwash! I've already bought airfare TYS->LHR and BCN->TYS for June 2019 for $650. Good prices come along when you least expect and no one can tell you when that will happen. Yes, you should already be tracking airfares. But you don't have to fly into the city where your tour begins. Just get airfare to somewhere decently close by, and also arrive at least a day or two before your tour departure. Flights are delayed and cancelled all of the time. Give yourself a buffer.

If you choose to fly to JFK on a separate ticket then you'd best arrive a day BEFORE your departure to Europe. I would never take a chance by flying into JFK on the same day of departure. What would you day in the event your flight to JFK was super delayed or cancelled or you were bumped because of overcrowding. It can and does happen all the time.

Nashville is a much nicer and easier to navigate than Atlanta. Don't forget to check fares from Chattanooga, Asheville, Charlotte, Cincinnatti.

Posted by
14285 posts

I'd also add that you might want to sign up for BA (and Delta) emails. They will announce flight sales so you can grab something right away if good prices pop up!

I am glad you are going 2 nights ahead. This give you some flex time in case there is a flight delay plus gives you time to get your self recovered from jet lag. I'd try to get your extra nights at the tour hotel in Haarlem. There is a lot to see in Haarlem! I did not plan well on this and just went in one night ahead, so missed the interesting things there.

Staying 1 extra night in Paris is fantastic. You'll have lots of ideas on what to do on this day.

I will tell you this is a trip where it's worth being in shape. Start ahead of time so the hills in Rome don't kill you....altho you have your vacation from your vacation in Monterosso after that so you can rest up before Switzerland!

Ohhh, reliving this fun trip!

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you all for your great advice. Went over your responses with my husband. We're getting excited for our trip! Will consider everything mentioned!

Posted by
108 posts

I generally fly from TYS, but have used BNA when a great fare came up. The key is really just watching fares, knowing what the going rate is, and being prepared to jump when you see a good one. I’m watching TYS-VCE/MXP-TYS for our Village Italy tour next year. We usually fly Delta - that trip is around $1900 for Comfort plus. Steep compared to past trips, but I’m not too concerned at this point. Keep watching!

Posted by
3903 posts

For those of you who have experience flying out of smaller cities,
what do you recommend?

I'll give you my experience. I fly out of GSP (Greenville-Spartanburg, SC). I use Delta exclusively because I'm in the top tier of their frequent flyer program and because I truly love flying with them (weird to say about an airline, I know). "Published" fare sales come out every Thursday morning, but random 12-24 hour non-published sales can pop up any time and can be highly market specific (for example, I once found deeply discounted fares on a Tuesday evening that lasted only for that evening and applied only to the GSP, CLT, and CAE [Columbia, SC] markets). If I see a reasonable fare, I snag it. Once you get to 120 days before a flight, fares tend to rise and fare sales become highly targeted (often requiring a Tues-Thurs departure/return).

My typical strategy is to check prices morning and evening every day once I have a trip finalized. I just check the Delta website but you can cast a broader net with Kayak. On the Delta website, you can click on the "Flexible Dates" link at the top of the fare result page to see fares for a week around departure/return dates. Sometimes a day or two can make a huge difference in the fare.

I'm willing to pay a bit of a premium to fly out of GSP but have also driven to Atlanta for cheap fares. This year, I've noticed that fares have been significantly higher out of GSP and ATL than in years past (like $400-$600 higher). My theory is that since there are no discount trans-Atlantic carriers in the region, Delta (and the other US airlines) are pushing up fares here to counter the lower fares in other markets with discount trans-Atlantic carriers.

So... for a trip this past May, I had the option of flying to Berlin for $800 r/t out of JFK or $1600 out of GSP/ATL. I went for the former. On the day of the Berlin flight (5:30 pm departure from JFK), I flew the early-morning GSP to LGA flight (paid $200 for it), arrived at LGA at something like 8 am, went into the city to visit with my travel companion's sister, and then headed out to JFK. It worked fine. For our return home, we gave ourselves 5 or 6 hours between our arrival at JFK and departure at LGA, caught a cab after arriving at JFK, and waited a really long time to catch our flight home from LGA. I was willing to take the risk because (1) we built a lot of extra time into the schedule between flights if things went wrong, (2) there is a lot of redundancy in Delta's system from GSP to JFK, and (3) Delta overall is so reliable. I'm doing something similar this Saturday for a round-trip flight to Frankfurt ($800 out of JFK vs $1800-$2000 out of GSP/ATL), only this time I'm flying into JFK from GSP via ATL. I'll let you know how it works out this time. :)

Posted by
889 posts

I agree with Tim. Just moved from Knoxville to Nashville and must admit that the move has been an added extra in our travel plans! There are some INCREDIBLE prices on Cheapo Air right now if you just watch their site......flew to Milan a year ago round trip for about $700! We use Southwest Airline points ( on their promotions the prices are great, too! ) and fly to LaGuardia from Nashville........Uber over to JFK and fly to Europe from there. You are close enough to check out Chattanooga, Cincinnati and Charlotte. We have wanted to get to Europe bad enough to try some crazy routings but it has worked for us! Just get yourself to a large city however you can!

Posted by
8245 posts

As far as I can tell, BNA is.the least expensive airport in the southeast. I attribute that to Southeast, Allegiant and.Frontier.flying.out.of.there domestically.
We have been flying to Europe out of Orlando, Boston and New York City area on Norwegian Air Shuttle. Even springing for round trip flights to the above cities, we often come out ahead.
But that British Airways flight BNA-LHR is attractive if the price is reasonable. Sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren't. Lowest price is not always the best value if you have to spend the night coming and/or going.
If you go in May, the airfares are usually much cheaper than the Summer High.Season.

Posted by
1103 posts

Delta/Air France has a nonstop flight from Cincinnati to Paris. The tour starts in the Netherlands, which is a short train ride from Paris. The tour ends in Paris, which would be convenient for the flight home.

Posted by
996 posts

If you're looking at the BNA to London route on BA, you can get some great prices depending on the month/day. I think that it's still just one flight a day, so keep that in mind when looking at that route.

Posted by
2765 posts

Knoxville's just a problem. (I grew up there and still have family there,) not as many options.

I have done the "separate ticket" deal. Flew ATL to Orlando last year spent a night in Orlando and then flew Virgin to London (got a great deal) I would only do this if you allow lots of time (I had 24 hours... if worse came to worse I could have driven from Atlanta to Orlando!)

I would check Nashville to London. You could add a few days on London to the front and end of the tour and get fairly cheap flights from London to Amsterdam and take the train from Paris to London. London's a great city to recover from jet lag in!

Posted by
3903 posts

Just a quick update on flying on separate tickets last week on Delta: ticket #1 from my home airport (GSP) to JFK and ticket #2 from JFK to Frankfurt. All went well. I flew out of GSP around 8:30 am and had a layover in Atlanta. I got to JFK around 2 pm (on time) and my flight to Frankfurt departed at 7:36 pm (on-time). In case of delays, I could have caught 2 or 3 later ATL to JFK flights and still made it for my international flight. My travel companion decided to check her carry on bag at GSP, and the ticket counter agent went ahead and checked the bag all the way through to Frankfurt, even though we were flying on 2 separate tickets (so no need to pick it up and recheck it at JFK).

For the return flight, I scheduled 5 hours at JFK between the arrival from Frankfurt and the departure for Atlanta. We got in a little early and were able to get moved to an earlier flight to Atlanta (and to GSP), getting us home about 2.5 hours earlier than scheduled.

So... I'm 2 for 2 on flying to Europe on 2 separate tickets this summer. This time, it saved my travel companion and me about $1000 each on airfare.