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Help with airfare to Athens

Can you help?
Looking for airfare from Anchorage, AK to Athens, Greece on October 5th, 2019 returning on October 20th, 2019. Would like to pay $1,000 or less. I have been looking for the last 9 days and my head is spinning. We are meeting up with a RS tour on the 7th.
Important to us*
No long layovers (more than 3-4 hours)
The fewer the stops the better
Preference given to Alaska airlines partners (Emirates, Aer Lingus, American)
We don’t mind the cheapie seats!
I realize we have lots of time, hoping prices go down from what I am seeing now.

Posted by
21307 posts

I'm an east-coaster and my only experience with fares out of Alaska was paying for a colleague's trips to Washington DC at $900 round-trip--not purchased far in advance, but it was a government rate.

I am afraid that if you wait for a sub-$1000 fare you will end up paying a great deal of money at the last minute.

Perhaps someone knowledgeable about the budget transatlantic carriers (Norwegian, WOW, Condor, Icelandair) can suggest a two-ticket solution, but those are not risk-free, and I'm guessing the expense of getting from Anchorage to the Lower 48 will be substantial. Plus you'll most likely have an extra overnight in a hotel, probably in both directions. Plus most likely extra time off work.

Perhaps a two-ticket solution through Canada should also be considered, if you're willing to take on the two-ticket risk.

You don't by any chance have family members you could crash with in a major US gateway like NYC, Chicago or LA, do you? That would at least avoid the cost of hotels before you even get to Europe.

Posted by
2216 posts

Thanks! Really hoping to avoid having to get a hotel on the way and back. We would rather just keep going and get to our destination even if that means we are zombies when we get there.

On my recent trip to North Sulawesi, we had to do an overnight in Singapore. Some of our group were lucky and were able to overnight at a terminal hotel (so they did not have to exit the airport). I was not one of the fortunate ones as the terminal hotel was full when I went to book. So we ended up at a hotel about 20 minutes from the airport, which wouldn't have been so bad, but we waited in 3 lines.........customs, immigration and a looongg taxi stand line. I was so envious of those who did not have to go through all that and got to sleep at the airport!!!

Posted by
5756 posts

Although I dislike booking two separate tickets for longhaul travel, in this case you might save some money doing so...

Watch Aer Lingus for sales, they run them regularly. They now have a nonstop from SEA-DUB (not every day, 3 or 4 times week IIRC), with good onward connections to the continent (I believe they do fly to ATH). Then just grab Chester for the hop to SEA - they're running a flash sale right now, I think (they have them all the time).

The only reason I suggest looking at two separate tickets here is that I suspect a booking all the way from ANC (or wherever you are up there) through to ATH might carry a premium price - certainly compare the different options. Good luck!

Posted by
1787 posts

I hate to say this but we paid more than $1000 to Athens from ft lauderdale last year at the same time. That said, my son, daughter, and husband each paid $850 out of Atlanta in Turkish air. Interestingly enough, Turkish air was more than $1000 out of Miami which we also fly out of.

My experience in tracking flights for monthes in our market was there were no bargains . I even tried flying into different cities in Europe and buying a separate ticket. It just didn’t work well.

Beth

Posted by
5756 posts

On my recent trip to North Sulawesi, we had to do an overnight in Singapore. Some of our group were lucky and were able to overnight at a terminal hotel...

I've slept in that Changi Airport inside-security hotel, it was great. I love that airport.

BTW, would love to hear about your recent Sulawesi adventure sometime (PM me if you don't feel up to posting a trip report). I'm starting to sniff around for a SE Asia dive destination for a week around Christmas next year. We've been to Sulawesi before (and loved it).

Stay warm up there.

Posted by
3330 posts

I am going to repeat some advice often given on this site. Start by checking frequently on sites such as Skyscanner.com. to get a sense of what is a typical price. Then start checking daily to catch the occasional fluke. By doing so I caught a fare that was less than half of what had been showing for several weeks. By the evening of the same day, it disappeared.
One big caveat is don’t use 3rd party sellers. With as complicated an itinerary as you are bound to have, it is more than usually important that you deal directly with the airline.
Out of curiosity, I just looked on Skyscanner and saw a couple of fares a bit over $1000, $1200 and $1300. I would wait and see, as these involved some compromises; e.g., several changes or use of poorly-rated carriers such as Aeroflot.

Posted by
5756 posts

Beth's suggestion for Turkish Air is a good one. They fly from SFO and LAX nonstop to IST and they're quite good. If you can snag a decent fare for that, then AS to the departure point separately for a reasonable cost and you're there. (Or, if you have UA miles, those work for TK flights.)

I keep hoping that Turkish will start flying to SEA (or even YVR) some day, it would be awesome to add a good option to get to the eastern end of the Mediterranean on a nonstop from the NW. They've ordered a bunch of new long range planes so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that will happen eventually.

Posted by
21307 posts

No hotel would, for me, mean no separate ticketing, because I would not be willing to take the risk of a problem on the first leg that caused me to miss the second flight (and the return leg on the same ticket). That means I would be choosing from the options offered by Google Flights or the like, and they are currently at $1800 and up. I assume that's the same ballpark you found. I would be watching those fares daily all through the holidays and past Martin Luther King day, at least, to get a feel for what is going on. Maybe something really good will happen.

It appears that the Anchorage origin, more than the Athens destination, is what is driving up the fare. I see lots of options from Washington DC to Athens on your dates for under $800--though they may be Basic Economy fares.

Posted by
2216 posts

Sometimes I really hate being up here in the frozen far north! It's so dark now..........our recent earthquake and the fact that we are so far from everywhere!!! And seems we ALWAYS have to stop in Seattle or Portland to get anywhere! And very few airfare bargains! Big sigh.

Posted by
5756 posts

No hotel would, for me, mean no separate ticketing, because I would not be willing to take the risk of a problem on the first leg that caused me to miss the second flight...

You need to understand how firmly Alaska is connected to Seattle (and the rest of the US west coast) via Alaska Airlines. "Anchorage is a suburb of Seattle" is one tongue-in-cheek statement I'm sure diveloonie knows well, and in some ways its really true. Alaska Airlines has oodles of flights every day between Anchorage (and smaller Alaskan cities) and Seattle (the airline's name is deceptive - it really should be call "Seattle Airlines" since SEA is where they have the majority of their operations). So while your concern about "no separate tickets" is a good one to keep in mind generally, in this case, given the OP's criteria (price), I think it's worth considering. Even when they have a serious earthquake that would knock most cities air service out for days, in Alaska they carry on (the 7.0 magnitude quake they had last week only briefly disrupted flights from ANC).

It appears that the Anchorage origin, more than the Athens
destination, is what is driving up the fare.

Which is exactly why I suggested considering two separate tickets. You can get from ANC to SEA pretty cheaply (under $150 right now). If you can coordinate with an Aer Lingus sale (from SEA - DUB - ATH) you can potentially sneak one past the goalie. No guarantees, but the ANC-SEA flights are a milk run for Alaska Airlines (literally a milk run - they fly milk up, and fresh fish back down, on this route), like clockwork. Nobody does better flying in awful weather and earthquakes than Chester, they are amazingly reliable. I too am averse to taking chances with separate tickets, but to potentially save a bunch, I'd investigate this option given Alaska's reliability. Just me. Good luck!

Posted by
7991 posts

Doesn't Norwegian airlines fly to Europe out of Seattle? Once in Europe, get a shorter flight to Athens.

Posted by
11 posts

I've found the best rates by signing up for two particular fare finder sites (they scour all the deals out there and email them to me; I follow their instructions for how to go get that deal). I'm not sure if it's okay to share their business names here (I'm a newbie), but they've saved me about $1800 so far, just on two bookings. They have quite a few low rates showing up right now.

Posted by
21307 posts

Kristen, there shouldn't be a problem with naming your preferred websites--unless you own them!

Posted by
11 posts

Oh, good! I don't own them and I don't receive any kind of compensation from them. Yay. Here they are:

Pomelo Travel has a free email list and a paid email list (annual rate about $35). The paid email subscribers receive the flight alerts before the free email list subscribers. Pomelo finds the best deals I've seen so far. They will often say the deals appear good for certain date ranges, yet every time I've found those deals last a bit longer (stretched out to more dates), which is great. I'm guessing they are a bit conservative in estimates, which is wise.

Scott's Cheap Flights offers a free and paid subscription (about the same price as Pomelo). You have to set your account up, though, and specify regions you want info on (whereas Pomelo sends everything automatically). I don't think SCFs finds are quite as good (not as cheap, without bags always included) as what Pomelo finds, but SCFs sends out many more finds. Either way, I find it wise to keep them both, due to the sheer volume they produce and how much money it saves.

I've wanted to share this info with the Rick Steves team, too, as I noticed at some of the free travel classes the presenters have either said they didn't really know the cheapest place to look for flights or they've mentioned Skyscanner, but I've not found the best deals searching Skyscanner on my own.

I really like a good deal and tend to research endlessly, so I hope this helps someone else find a good deal, too.

Posted by
21307 posts

I'm not certain, but I think skyscanner is especially recommended for intra-European flights because it seems pretty comprehensive in that sector. I've never tried to use it for transatlantic flights.

Posted by
13213 posts

Condor will put it on one ticket, with ANC to SEA on Alaska ( aka Chester), then Condor for the long flight, and Aegean to Athens. 26 hours total time (ugh). And it is not cheap—-$1600 per person. But you would not have the risk of separate tickets.

Posted by
3699 posts

Usually a fare-search site will put together a complicated itinerary more efficiently than the traveller can paste it alone. But you do not have ordinary ambitions.

Hoping for minimum stops yet under $1000 is contradictory from Alaska. Trying to engineer some combination of trans-Atlantic to Euro budget line will almost guarantee complications because most do not connect to each other.

I looked at what I think is the most comprehensive site (none covers everything)

matrix.ITAsofware.com

and saw nothing with less than two stops and the cheapest was $1600. But it is too early to find bargains for nearly nine months ahead and risky since schedules may change.
That's also true for what you will find on skyscanner, which is very useful for European budget lines but not so complete for trans-Atlantic. Some of the airlines you will find on skyscanner do not usually show up on American-oriented search functions such as the Matrix.

So you have a tough nut to crack and all you can do, other than amending your budget, is stay vigilant.

Posted by
2216 posts

Thanks everyone! Especially those who actively searched sites for me.
Kristen, I might try those fare searching sites! Thanks!
Ok, maybe $1,000 is too low. $1,200 might be more realistic. I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than that for an international flight.
One thing??? Why do you call AK airlines Chester? I have not heard that before.

Posted by
6950 posts

Ted Stevens Airport is pretty small. There's only one U.S. flight into Athens, and that's seasonal United Airlines through Newark.
Only flight going toward Europe non-stop would be Icelandair seasonally flying to Reykjavik–Keflavik. I don't know if seasonal means they go as late as October. But you'd have to connect to another European gateway airport from Iceland to get to Athens.
In other words, you cannot get to Greece easily from Alaska.

Posted by
5756 posts

One thing??? Why do you call AK airlines Chester? I have not heard that before.

The smiling face one sees on the tail of all Alaska Airlines planes. For years, it's been kind of an inside joke, referring to the airline as "Chester."

The short version: The model for the paint job was Chester Seveck, an Eskimo dancer and reindeer herder from Kotzebue.
Full story (and photos of the real Chester) here:
The story of the Eskimo: Who is on the tail of Alaska Airlines’ planes?

(Disambiguation: AK is the abbreviation for the state, per the post office and others. AS is the code for Alaska Airlines, per the IATA and ICAO).

Stay warm up there, Loonie, it's cold outside tonight here even in tropical Seattle.

Posted by
11 posts

Wishing you great luck! Lots of tickets from Seattle to Europe right now in the $300s (on those sites). Mine was direct and included baggage. This is that prime time to buy, it seems. =)

Posted by
13213 posts

Must be Norwegian Airlines from Seattle to ??? Norwegian won’t get you to Athens, however.

Posted by
809 posts

I’m just following up on the comment from Kristen about Scott’s Cheap Flights. There is a free email, and I’ve been subscribing for about a year now. Through through them, I found tickets from Washington DC to Amsterdam last March for under $400, and I’m going again next week for $424. You buy your tickets directly from the airline; I prefer United, which doesn’t seem to show up quite as often as some of the other carriers. But I’ve gotten some great deals nonetheless, as you can see.

It’s good that you are looking now, but no surprise that the prices are so high. Just use those alerts - I also use hipmunk.com alerts and the Hopper app - and keep looking. Good luck!

Posted by
2216 posts

Ok spoke to my husband who has been flying on Alaska Airlines for over 35 years. Neither of us have ever heard AK airlines referred to as Chester! Lol

Posted by
11 posts

I just edited my response above (both Pomelo and Scotts Cheap Flights have free and paid subscriptions). Typing on tiny screen...sorry!

Pomelo appears to have the best rates. My most recent purchase, from a Pomelo alert: Direct SEA to Manchester for $300 on Thomas Cook, includes baggage (and United, Delta, etc. deals also come through at similar rates). Even better locations (to London, etc.) have come through since then. Once you watch the details flow through your inbox, you start to get a feel for what's best for you.

I never anticipated I'd go direct to Manchester. I just knew we wanted to be in Europe then. When that cheap rate came through, we went for it, realizing we could then cheaply fly from Manchester to just about anywhere else in Europe (for less than $100), once we decided on the itinerary.

But not everyone needs to be that flexible. There have just been a chunk of good Europe deals lately. So thought I should share.

P.S. Last year I waited longer to buy my tickets, not realizing I'd already missed the best rates. It appears this might be prime time for spring/summer deals. Just worth watching the daily alerts, I've found.

Posted by
3709 posts

And seems we ALWAYS have to stop in Seattle or Portland to get anywhere!

If you flew end of August to mid-September there would be nonstop flights to Iceland and Frankfurt. October is what us driving up the fare since you have to fly south first (and longer). There are also a few daily Delta flights ANC to MSP that connect to nonstops to Europe, but that’s not Alaska Air.

Posted by
11 posts

I second the idea of being open to grabbing a cheap Alaska Air flight to SEA (I even look at SFO or LAX). Whichever airport/deal is cheapest/most convenient. I get to know those rates.

(I use my credit card points for those odd hotel needs because it's rare to find a reasonably priced hotel that is also as safe/close as I'd like it to be. And, for some reason, I dislike paying for hotels...but I want a nice one when I need one.)

I then watch the PomeloTravel and ScottsCheapFlights deals that depart from those (or from your local) airports.

You will get a feel for what is best!

Posted by
5756 posts

diveloonie, you've got a number of things working against you, as already noted. Add to that: specific travel dates, plus flying outbound on a Saturday and returning on a Sunday. If you have some flexibility, you might be able to save some money.

I note that United is having a flash sale on right now to many cities in Europe. Some fares are crazy cheap, although I don't see a fantastic deal on flights to Athens. What I am seeing may be worth checking, but do that quickly, as I'm sure this "sale" won't last (maybe be gone by the morning).

I see round-trip from LAX to ATH on your dates for $895 ("basic economy") to $988 (classic economy). That's on Air Canada (and Air Canada "Rouge" their low cost variant), with one stop (ironically, in Canada). Similar prices from SFO.

Another challenge you will find is getting from ANC to a west coast gateway for the outbound TATL flight in time for the departure. You would need to leave the night before to catch any of the daytime departures from SEA/SFO/LAX.

But, hey...looking on United (because I see they're having a sale) I see this: round-trip, ANC to Frankfurt, on your dates for $1073 (basic economy, one stop but a long one).

IME if you're fighting a loosing battle getting all the way to where you want to go, try getting almost there, and then grab a separate ticket. $1073 R/T to Frankfurt ain't bad from ANC. Easy and cheap to make the last hop between FRA and ATH (yes, there's that "2 separate tickets" thing again).

Point is: there are fares in your price range (in fact, near the bottom of your price range), but those require some creativity/flexibility.

Posted by
3709 posts

California is REALLY out of the way.

If the Condor flight were still going in October the flights would be 13 hours in the air via Frankfurt all the way to Athens.

Going via LAX is 8 more hours of flying. Try to stick to a northern city with nonstops to ANC that have nonstops to Europe like Seattle or Chicago or Minneapolis (or a city in Canada) that will add fewer hours to the trip.

Posted by
2216 posts

Yes, Condor would be great! They are seasonal to Frankfurt and have stopped by my travel date.😂
And overall travel time IS a big consideration for us!

Posted by
3709 posts

Delta is offering your exact dates from Chicago O’Hare for $690. Can you get to O’Hare?

Posted by
2216 posts

Yes, we could, ok let me check that deal out! Thanks Tom! Oh and I will come back to this thread and report what we end up paying.

Posted by
1075 posts

Emirates flies nonstop from Newark EWR to Athens for $650 on your travel dates.

Posted by
2216 posts

Thanks Bob! I booked the Newark to Athens direct flight on Emirates. It looks like we will have to overnight on the way back as the flight gets in at 9:20pm. We will probably use Alaska (aka Chester) miles to get to Newark and home to Anchorage. Two seperate tickets, didn’t see a way to avoid it and one overnight.
But even using miles well within the budget.

Posted by
3709 posts

Hi diveloonie:

I'm glad you will get to experience Emirates, but Anchorage to Newark looks expensive and has a change SEA or PDX. I think the O'Hare suggestion would have been cheaper, ANC>>ORD>>JFK>>ATH, Alaska and Delta Airlines. In case you want to change your mind. Although if you have miles that work it doesn’t matter.

You are going to have to spend the night @ Newark both ways, as it’s risky with 2 connecting feeder flights to try to catch a transatlantic flight the same day. You are in the peculiar situation where your positioning for the transatlantic flight is the more arduous journey.

Maybe you’ve got some hotel points for a Newark airport hotel.

Posted by
2216 posts

Hi Tom,
Yes we will use miles to get to Newark. We like Emirates because we get AK miles and we have flown them before.
We get in at 4:30pm to Newark and flight to Athens is at 11:55pm. Don’t you think this is enough time? We were not planning to overnight.

Posted by
3709 posts

Hi:

I thought Delta got you Alaska miles but maybe that relationship has soured too much.

I can’t say about the same day 2 tickets thing, never tried it. If you misconnected what happens, and if it means you end up at JFK do you have a plan to get to Newark?

Posted by
3709 posts

Because Alaska flies to both EWR and JFK so say you missed the EWR flight they might suggest it, if it's an alternative.

Posted by
2216 posts

Ok, I see. Hopefully, that won’t happen. Keep your fingers crossed for me. It’s going to be a long haul, but after my 17 hour flight to Singapore, maybe I am getting used to it!

Posted by
3709 posts

I've got two 15 hours flights next month (Auckland). Do you take something to sleep? Considering Ambien.

Posted by
2216 posts

No, Tom I don’t take anything to sleep. I can sleep almost anywhere. It’s a gift!

I do take some Aleve as sometimes I get restless leg syndrome.