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Flying to Europe from Boston

Going to Barcelona Sept. 2019. Is it cheaper to fly to London, or another city, then take an internal flight to Barcelona?
Someone suggested Boston to Madrid then train to Barcelona?

Posted by
4933 posts

Check Google Flights - that's how I always answer these questions myself. (I have done it a few times to fly to Europe though not to Barcelona). If you get a screaming deal on a ticket to London, you might save some serious money if you find a cheap flight on to Barcelona. Depends on the time of year, etc.

You also have to weigh the extra risk and hassle you are trading in exchange for saving some money. What if your flight into Europe from Boston is a few hours late? You'll lose the second ticket booked separately. So unless you want to plan a long layover, even an overnight, you have to factor that in. Flying to Madrid means you can just take the next train to Barcelona of course, though the last-minute train fare may not be cheap. Check it out.

But it's probably too early to be determining this for September 2019. Some "internal" flight schedules in Europe aren't available yet for 11 months from now. Check out say May 2019 and guess it may be similar by September.

Posted by
21086 posts

I'd just go to Google Flights and see what's available. From my origin, there is usually not much difference in costs to Barcelona vs. Madrid, and in 2016 there was at least one non-stop a day to each city.

Tickets to London can be a good bit cheaper, but keep in mind these issues before planning to fly to a place you don't want to visit, then travel onward by train or plane:

  • What you are describing is an unprotected connection. Neither airline has any responsibility to see that you get to your ultimate destination. All the risk is on you.
  • You cannot predict when your flight to Europe will land or how long it will take you to get through the immigration process. I believe the usual advice is to allow at least four hours before the departure time of an onward flight departing from the same airport, but even that is no guarantee that you'll make the connection. I haven't done this, but it's my understanding that if you have checked baggage, you'll normally have to retrieve it and re-check it, which means going back through security.
  • If you opt for an even longer layover to reduce the risk, your probably sleep-deprived/jetlagged self will likely have a very miserable X hours sitting around an airport, making no progress toward reaching your actual destination.
  • If you miss the onward flight or train, that ticket will be worthless unless you have bought a pricey refundable/changeable ticket, and you'll have to buy a replacement, at what is probably the high, walk-up price.
  • If the onward flight is part of a round-trip ticket (probably quite a bad idea) and you miss the outbound flight away from your landing point, the rest of the ticket will be canceled.
  • If you opt to spend the first night at your European gateway to eliminate nearly all (but not 100% of) the risk of missing the onward flight/train, that will significantly delay your arrival at your true starting destination.

I'd want to see really substantial savings before considering anything other than a connecting flight to my true starting point. Substantial as in a net savings of several hundred dollars each way. And I'm quite sure that when they time came for the actual flight, I'd be regretting the decision to try it. Sort of like what happens when you buy a super-low-cost airline ticket that requires you to be a the airport at 4:30 AM--doesn't look so good when it comes time to set your alarm the night before.

Now, if you think it would be nice to spend some time in London at the beginning of this trip, that's a completely different story.

Whatever you do, if your trip includes destinations other than Barcelona, don't forget the option of a multi-city flight that takes you into Barcelona and out of a different city. Don't try to piece together two one-way transatlantic flights on legacy carriers.

Posted by
11 posts

Lots of info and good ideas from all of you. The connection issue is something that would take some planning I agree.

In the end it might just be easier to fly directly to Barcelona. Need to do some more research. Thanks.

Posted by
6880 posts

You are very fortunate to have Norwegian Air Shuttle flying from Boston, as they're Europe's third largest budget airline. From Boston Logan Airport, they fly into London Gatwick and into Paris Charles de Gaulle for very low airfares. From Gatwick, you may can take a Norwegian Air Shuttle connecting flight into Barcelona. From CDG you can catch a very inexpensive EasyJet flight into Barcelona.
There is a new air carrier flying from Boston into Barcelona called Level. Due to their being a relatively small and very new operation, I would be hesitant to fly with them.
We've flown Norwegian 5 times including connecting flights, and had no problems of any kind.

Posted by
11 posts

I've checked into Norwegian air, because we are not going till Sept. 2019, flights are not yet available. I believe they fly direct to Barcelona, will check the difference in prices if I land first in Europe then catch an internal air flight. Curious about this new airline Level. Thanks for all the good suggestions. Victoria

Posted by
225 posts

Just to chime in on the uprotected connection issue, we booked tix through Iberia from Boston to Barcelona. The agent chose and booked our flights, including the connections (from MAD to BAR). There was a considerable line though the passport control (customs? Immigration?), and we missed our connecting flight. We fought with Iberia and still each had to pay $200 to book another flight. So, don't believe for a minute that there is such a thing as a "protected connection." Pay attention to the amount of time necessary to make the connecting flight. Do research and plan accordingly, even if the airline is telling you otherwise. Good luck!

Posted by
11 posts

The more I read, the less I am inclined to go with an internal flight once in Europe unless we decide to break the trip in London or Paris. Seems just too risky. Thanks, Victoria

Posted by
2917 posts

I usually fly the BA day flight to London, and then head out to my destination the next day. You could take this day flight, stay overnight at an airport hotel, and then fly BA or discount airline to Barcelona. This is what I do. By doing this, if there is a problem with your morning flight out of Boston, you have a myriad of flights to London throughout the rest of the day to fly into London and still catch your next day flight, so you have less exposure to loss if you fly on a different airline. Note, BA partners with Iberia and AA into Barcelona, also. I don't like overnight flights or more than one airplane change, so I pretty religiously stick with BA, but I have glanced at some of the discount possibilities. However, I think I save money and peace of mind by flying BA and collecting FF miles or Avios, and cutting the cost of my flights in that manner, rather than taking a less than perfect flight just to save money. YMMV

Posted by
11 posts

Read an article about Norwegian air that it's 20% cheaper if you book in Norwegian! Has anyone done this and how? The journalist had photos in the article but I haven't seen where to do this on the website. Still going from Boston to Barcelona. Thanks

Posted by
11289 posts

It is often cheaper to book DOMESTIC flights in Europe on their domestic websites. You can use Google Translate if the website does not have an English option (this is built into the Chrome browser; for others, go to https://translate.google.com/). For instance, I found that Alitalia's Italian website (no English option) and their "international" website (had an English option) had the same prices for flights within Italy, while their US website had much higher prices for the exact same flights.

However, international flights usually don't vary this way. They definitely do vary by origin. For instance, New York to Athens round trip, starting in New York, may cost more than Athens to New York round trip starting in Athens. But you can't do much about that.

So, you can try using Norwegian Air's Norwegian website with Google Translate - but don't get your hopes up.

Posted by
3193 posts

On the other hand, it's a good way to spend a little extra time in London if you plan an overnight and schedule plane to final destination for late afternoon the next day.

Posted by
1066 posts

We have never had a problem with connecting flights, assuming that the connection time is adequate - at least two hours. I would stick with the major carriers. Also, it is a bit too early to shop for flights for next September.

We are booking separate flights for our next trip - RS Village Italy tour. I found a very good fare for a Boston to Paris flight. Since we enjoy Paris a great deal, we will enjoy spending time there before and after the tour.

Posted by
470 posts

Last Spring we flew from Boston to Barcelona via Munich on Lufthansa. At first I thought going to Munich and then backtracking to Barcelona wasn't the best idea, but the price was good and the schedule met our needs. It worked out great. It was the first time I'd been to Munich Airport and was pretty impressed with it. Going through passport control was a breeze and we had no trouble making our connecting flight. I should add, though, that I don't like short layovers, so I always prefer at least two hours between flights, but that's just my opinion. I'm sure you'll work it out to fit your needs.

Posted by
13106 posts

My sister and her husband fly Norwegian and use the Norway website for booking. It does save them money.

https://www.norwegian.no

I just did a test run on that site, BOS to BCN, for random dates in April. Theybonly fly once a week on that route on April. You have to book one way at a time. For April 6, the "lowfare plus" was 3770 NOK, or $436. The US site shows $512 for the same date and class of service.

I did not check the return flight price.

And of course you need to be able to figure out the Norwegian. I suggest you read everything about the various classes of service and booking conditions in English, so you understand exactly what you are getting, then go to the Norway page to do the booking.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks to everyone for all the great information, especially how to book using the Norwegian language site which is cheaper. I wasn't able to figure that one out myself. For anyone booking on other sites such as Alitalia apparently, it's the same thing.

Doesn't seem right that they can do this but that's business!

I found this information on a website/blog, www.thepointsguy.com a newsletter written by travelers who want to make the most of their money etc.

Posted by
11289 posts

I just remembered that all Norwegian Air flights are priced as one way flights rather than round trip. Maybe that's why (or part of why) they are cheaper on their Norwegian site than their US one.