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How to purchase airfare

I often see the advice to get your self to a major European airline hub (London, Paris) and then take a low cost carrier to your destination.
My question is do you still purchase the low cost carrier flight while you are still in the US or do you buy it upon landing at the airport you are at in Europe. Hope that makes sense. Is Skyscanner the best tool to use?

Posted by
1705 posts

I have used skyscanner to find flights within Europe, and I definitely haven't waited to get to Europe to buy them.

Posted by
1653 posts

Unless it's a final destination that an alliance carrier doesn't fly to, I book right through - the add-on destination price is minimal - way less hassle - I'm too travel worn to do the airport terminal hustle (because the discount carrier will most-assuredly be in another terminal.)

Posted by
1 posts

At the arrival city you may still have to go through customs before sending your checked luggage back through to the domestic final destination- pack what you need. Less us more.

Posted by
4862 posts

often see the advice to get your self to a major European airline hub (London, Paris) and then take a low cost carrier to your destination.

I don’t think that is good advice unless you plan to stay a night or two in that major European airline hub city. Separate tickets put you at a big risk (and hassle) if your first flight is delayed and you miss the onward flight.

I frequently start European trips in London before flying on a discount carrier to another location. However, I always spend a few nights in London before I continue on.

Posted by
1428 posts

This is usually done to save cost, but you have to weight that with convenience and just how much you will save.
This will require you to do lot's of searches and start to compare, then hope your original flight is not delayed.
Much more effective to just search for your final destination and take what if offered as I have found that the cost savings is not worth all the Hassell, the what if's, the possible change in terminals.
Now if your talking inter-Europe flights during your travel, like say you want to end the France part of your trip and start the Italy part then I usually just purchase a one way flight, while still in the US, but not on a budget airline as the mainlines are not much more and you usually do not have to pay for luggage and leave from a major airport.

Posted by
3322 posts

On the (rare) occasions when I've booked 2 separate tickets, I've pre-booked the low-cost carrier before leaving home. But I have given myself a night (or 2 or 3) in my European arrival city - minimizing any risk with missing my onward flight on the separate ticket, which would have resulted in losing it.

The one time I booked one European ticket to my hub and a same-day, separate ticket from there to home, I gave myself a 6 hour layover. I either found that risk to be acceptable, or, more likely, I hadn't really thought through the risk.

Posted by
11045 posts

I've only done a LCC flight when I've been in a city for a few days and am going to transit to a location that is further than a train journey will take me.

Coming from AK, I'd probably book straight thru on your main airline, unless as others mentioned, you are going to stay over for a few days at your European hub.

Posted by
22266 posts

There is a fair amount of risk of booking an on-going flight. If you miss the connecting flight you have no recourse. It is a wasted ticket ticket. Now -- we have done it. But on our last flight to Europe we booked an EasyJet tickets six hours after our arrival. The big problem -- Our flight in the US was cancelled so we lost that ticket. Personally would not do it unless it is absolutely necessary because of the travel schedule.

Posted by
149 posts

"The one time I booked one European ticket to my hub and a same-day, separate ticket from there to home"

What a madman! Surely this was before the age of overbooking :D

Posted by
832 posts

You can get some decent deals going into say Dublin or London - Both are great hubs to get to somewhere else but I would only do this if you are staying a night or two before your budget European flight to your ultimate destination. As others have said, the cost-saving and hassle (and there are lots of restrictions on seat selection and carry-on size) that it is hardly worth it. Also, many budget airlines don't use main airports. I actually have a trip scheduled for London in June. I am staying with family there, then getting a European budget flight to Greece. I am then staying a few more days in London on my return from Greece before catching my flight back to the US. It is certainly a lot cheaper for me to do this than to do a multicity on American Airlines or Delta for all these flights. So, in some instances it makes sense. If you do book a European carrier, search on skyscanner and then go to the airline website to book in advance from the US. EasyJet, and RyanAir, Aerlingus, British Airways, etc. Always avoid booking a same-day flight - way too expensive!

Posted by
1469 posts

I've booked discount or inter-European airlines well ahead of time, and sometimes same day. I find the price for well-in-advance tickets to be much cheaper. I definitely monitor my flights, allow plenty of time between different tickets on same-day travel, and also make sure I can change for free or a fee acceptable to me, in in case I miss one (not happened yet.) I also make sure I have looked at the flights after my ticket so I know what my options are, also in case.

Posted by
7417 posts

I prefer to purchase airfares open jawed--into one city and out of another. Then I'll use rental cars or trains or budget airlines to get to the cities we want to visit. It's a judgement call. I use ITA Matrix Software to research flights, and I use Wikipedia to see which airlines fly out of or into a specific city non-stop.

I've flown on EasyJet (the most), Norwegian Air Shuttle, Ryanair and Vueling over the years. Most flights are cheaper the earlier you purchase them, and you'll want to purchase them ahead of time. Same with railroads in some countries, but I usually buy the tickets the day before my journey to avoid the hassle of standing in lines and buying tickets as the train's leaving the station.

Posted by
515 posts

We have done this on our most recent and upcoming trips. We have booked business class airfares from Australia to Heathrow and then economy tickets from Heathrow to our European destinations. Booking business class all the way was too expensive. We would rather spend some time on the ground in Heathrow waiting for our connecting flights than add an extra $2000- to an already expensive airfare.

We book the last economy leg in advance so that we know what connection time we are looking at and are guaranteed a seat on the connecting flight.

Posted by
2265 posts

As someone who’s done this quite often, because frequent flyer, mileage tickets are often much cheaper to London. I do have some advice. You need to give yourself a minimum of four hours between your arrival in Europe and your next flight. And you need to be willing to pay the price,

so for example, I looked at doing this earlier next year. I’m heading to Spain. If my flight is delayed and I miss my flight to Madrid I’ll have to buy a one way walk up fare. for the flight back I get to London the day before my flight home. I would also book this as 2 one way tickets to reduce the risk of my return flight being cancelled if I miss my first flight

Posted by
3810 posts

The days of unsold tickets being cleared out cheap through bucket shops, as they were called in London, are pretty much gone. International computer links make a sale in Upper Rubber Boot the same as in a gateway metropolis. Be aware of two things: Most of the budget lines require not just advance sales, but also completion of such things as luggage fees and checking in on line well before the day of departure. Also, few of the cheap carriers have connections to long-distance haulers. You probably will have to go through the immigration process at landing, retrieve checked bags and check them in to the new flight. If your first flight is delayed and you miss the connection, the budget line will demand a full-price replacement with no refund. On a single ticket route, the airline will take responsibility.
Considering the hassles, a single-ticket itinerary is less stressful and probably little more expensive than buying the rides separately.

Posted by
3322 posts

What a madman! Surely this was before the age of overbooking :D

It was surely before the time when I began reading the forum :-)

Posted by
14 posts

Surprised no one mentioned VPN here. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Use incognito mode to do research and check prices, since some of these booking websites are designed to increase its price as you visit it multiple times. Always close an incognito window to start fresh.

  2. Use a VPN and connect to your destination, then book a tour. Try different countries as well and see which ones are cheaper. Make sure to use a fresh incognito window (close all existing incognito windows) then connect to a new VPN server.

Posted by
2265 posts

Oh the cookie myth again..

The airlines increase fares every time you look

Hmm.. I've been watching flights ATL to SJC for a while now. The flights I want have consistently been $618. Yesterday... $558. WAIT, I thought airfares only went UP when you checked LOL!

Posted by
2448 posts

We routinely fly into Heathrow from Denver, spend a night in one of the airport hotels in order to recharge our batteries, then proceed on to our final European destination around mid- morning the following day. We feel a lot more refreshed doing it that way and the relatively cheap Premier Inns at the airport make it an attractive option for us.
Wouldn't try to continue on the same day, however - would make it too long (and too exhausting) a day for us, and as others have said the risks involved are too great to attempt it just to save a few euros.

Posted by
6387 posts

Tammy is a very experienced traveler, so if she is considering this, there must be a good reason. I do like the idea of staying in the hotel overnight at the hub airport and continuing the journey the next day. My sister and I are doing this on our trip next week. We are stopping off at London for the night (plan on visiting Christmas at Kew Gardens) and then heading off to Spain the next day. We are using FF miles so there was no cost saving, but we wanted a more relaxed pace on our journey.

Posted by
2491 posts

Thank you all for the replies. It seems if you are staying overnight at a hotel and then taking the low cost flight the next day, it doesn’t work out to any cost savings. It might however, be a more relaxed trip as Carol Now Retired stated above. For us, I think we would rather just get to our destination. My husband is not yet retired ( early next year I hope), so we are usually still on a shorter time frame. We can’t wait for the days of longer trips!

Posted by
7356 posts

diveloonie, sometimes saving time is more important than saving money.

Posted by
1469 posts

Tammy, I hear you on wanting to just 'get there.' We had a longer arrival day this summer when we went to Greece- but as our initial destination was an island to chill out on and get over jet lag, it made it worthwhile. I can definitely see a time in the future when a long arrival day will be too much for us, and a more relaxed trip is standard, but we are also in the same boat of having less time right now.

Posted by
142 posts

I use Sky Scanner and then book directly with the airline