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Struggling with Very Expensive Flights

I fly out of IAD and most often fly United since they have the most options for direct flights to Europe and have always been able to snag a flight for under $1000 (it usually averages to $800 dollars per ticket for the four of us since my two kids flights are a little cheaper). This year I am planning a Germany trip in June 2019, and the flights are around $1900! They have not budged since August when I began searching. I realize that there cheaper one stop options that I could go with, however, I am curious as to why the flights on United are so expensive this year (the same flight last year was considerably less expensive, but we opted for a different itinerary). Any insights? Wait it out, or just go for the one stop options at this point?

Posted by
1075 posts

Those fares from IAD are puzzling. Direct flights from Newark EWR and JFK are under $800.

Perhaps things will get better in January. Otherwise, your best bet from IAD is probably a one-stop on Icelandair.

Flirghts from IAD to Paris or Amsterdam are under $1,000, so why is Germany so much more expensive?

Posted by
9921 posts

OK, now some people will say this is nonsense and voodoo....but clear your cookies each time you search. Really, I do that with Delta and feel like if I don't I continuously get the same fares especially if they are running on the high side.

Posted by
7263 posts

Clearing the cach cookies; I don't think so as I see the same $1900 direct flight to Frankfurt and $2000 to Munich fares from the 3rd week of June through August

Government business travel demand drives up the price perhaps?

Posted by
2149 posts

Are you tracking flight prices on Google flights? You will receive messages when the prices change, [both lower and higher. ] Often the prices change several times a day.
Safe travels.

Posted by
852 posts

Pat, I do have a price tracker on Kayak, but as noted, prices for United have not budged, and the one-stop options have remained steady and reasonable so far.
Pam, I don't think the cleaning of cookies thing is nonsense and do it myself. In this instance, it has not helped. I have also used multiple different computers/devices with the same results. Oh well! I'll give it to the mid-winter sale United usually has (but who knows this year), and then go to Plan B. But, other thoughts are welcome!

Posted by
4740 posts

I would wait a bit longer. I also fly out of IAD. I usually travel in May and buy tickets in January/February. I usually set up an alert and start monitoring. There have been some years where I have seen prices go down in January after we are out of the holiday season.

To what cities are you flying? And what dates?

Posted by
1075 posts

We are going to Italy in April 2019, and are flying Boston - Paris nonstop on Delta for under $500 (including checked bags and advance seat selection). Then we are taking a separate Air France flight from Paris to Venice. There is a five hour layover between flights to allow for the collection of bags and making our way through security at a CDG. There is a chance that the Delta agent in Boston will allow us to treat the two flights as if they are on one ticket, since Delta and Air France are part of the Skyteam Alliance. On the way home, we are travelling from Milan to Paris on Air France, staying overnight at a CDG hotel, and continuing on the next day from Paris to Boston. The total airfare for all flights is $740, although I should really include cost of the CDG hotel.

If we hadn’t been to Paris recently, we might have included a stay in Paris on the way to or from Italy.

Posted by
4698 posts

Which airport in Germany? Are you bumping up against some of the public holidays that month? Maybe there’s a major event at that time?

Posted by
6950 posts

Sometimes you have to go to Plan B, especially since you're taking the family. You might check into catching flights from Dulles or Baltimore up to New York City or Boston where more competition overseas brings cheaper flights. Often, the difference is way more than the additional flight costs.

And yes, the government so often pays full fares for their employee flights, and you'll notice that not many low cost carriers fly into Washington, DC. It's not the best place to fly out of internationally.

Posted by
50 posts

Have you considered Condor? They fly out of Baltimore starting in June to Frankfurt every M,W,F,Sa.

Posted by
31522 posts

Maryam,

I'd suggest waiting a month or so before checking for flight costs. I suspect that prices will come down eventually. You could also have a chat with a travel agent as h/she may have some insight on why the prices are so high at the moment.

For comparison, I checked Air Canada fares from Toronto to Frankfurt, using a departure on 10 June and return on 24 June. Economy round trip fares were listed at $1025 PP. At today's exchange rates, that's about US$755, which is close to the previous fares you had.

Posted by
852 posts

I am hoping to fly into FRA and out of MUC from June 12-June 23. Usually flights are very reasonable out of IAD, but not sure what is going on with this particular itinerary. If we have to go with a one stop option, I might switch to going into Berlin and out of Munich. I’ll wait it out and see what happens in January and February. If a no go, then I think I prefer the one stop out of IAD than BWI (getting to BWI would be such a pain for me as comapred). Thanks all for your replies so far.

Posted by
3347 posts

I am hoping to fly into FRA and out of MUC from June 12-June 23.
Usually flights are very reasonable out of IAD, but not sure what is
going on with this particular itinerary. If we have to go with a one
stop option, I might switch to going into Berlin and out of Munich.
I’ll wait it out and see what happens in January and February. If a no
go, then I think I prefer the one stop out of IAD than BWI (getting to
BWI would be such a pain for me as comapred). Thanks all for your
replies so far.

I understand not wanting to trek to BWI. Consider alternatives like flights to STR or DUS if United even offers them nonstop from IAD. They are closer to Frankfurt than Berlin. Lufthansa is a United partner under the Star Alliance. Check out their fares to FRA, STR, & DUS as well.

Posted by
672 posts

You might try looking on the Icelandair site, as that airline may not show up on the aggregating (or whatever they are called) sites. It is not United, but it is reasonably-priced, and I believe it services Dulles. Checked yesterday for a friend and the standard fare from south Florida to CDG in early March was +/- $700. We're going to Germany (connecting for elsewhere) in May for $700.

Posted by
6511 posts

I would also consider Iceland Air for $986 for that route (into FRA, out of MUC on those dates). It's a pretty easy and efficient connection at KEF airport and the total travel time isn't a lot greater than the non-stop. Depends on how the cost for your chosen flights drops in Jan/Feb. For that amount of savings I'd consider the one-stop.

Posted by
3709 posts

I don’t think government tickets have anything to do with the higher fares. Government isn’t booking tickets 6 months in advance.

Fares are high this year, it’s being repeated in many posts.

I wouldn’t put off booking Condor or Icelandair past early January, their prices rise but rarely fall. Condor also offers the cheap rail add on to transatlantic tickets called Rail Fly to get you to Munich from Frankfurt, in addition to a Lufthansa connecting flight.

You could book separate tickets, the Frankfurt nonstop on Condor then the Munich one stop on Icelandair, at no penalty.

Unless you’re in Fredericksburg BWI isn’t such a sacrifice. Some of us are never offered sub-$1000 legacy airline nonstop fares and are always connecting somewhere, with children.

Icelandair provides free food for children, the age break varies by demand, ie teenagers are fed if there are enough meals. Condor has free meals but they are just passable.

Posted by
242 posts

Maryam,

I suggest you start the booking process on the United flight(s) that you are most interested in and view the seat chart within. If the majority of the seats are empty, that is a sign that prices will come down in the next 60 to 90 days. Airlines want to sell their seats for the highest amount possible that we will pay for. If seats on the flight remains largely unsold, they will lower the prices.

Posted by
1019 posts

Although I agree with the above poster that airlines want to maximize their loads, seat maps are a notoriously poor indicator of how many seats are actually sold for a given flight. Not everyone who buys a ticket reserves a seat at time of purchase (and, with the Basic Economy fares, you most often can't select a seat.)

I do agree with other posters to at least wait until the first few weeks in January to see what shakes out. As previously noted, ticket prices have appeared to be higher in general for the upcoming travel season.

Posted by
852 posts

Jay MN, that is an interesting thought. If I recall correctly, United has always required choosing a seat and it is free to select a seat in economy. Maybe I’ll give it a try.

Posted by
2526 posts

All us very wise and incredibly helpful posters have no skin in the game as to your airfare. While the number of apparently vacant seats on a possible itinerary may have some value, there are many more factors airlines use to set prices.

Posted by
3699 posts

Suggestion: Try a different search engine, and stop making United a priority. I like the range that is available on matrix.itasoftware.com (although it does not sell the tickets.) It shows one-stop flights to Frankfurt in mid-June at around $1,200 with Icelandair or Finnair. With airlines enjoying relative prosperity, which means nearly full passenger loads, they can charge extra for the luxury of non-stop travel.

Posted by
1 posts

It's better to wait for some days until the cost decreases. Sometimes due to the load ar high demand, they increase the cost of flight that's why I recommend you to wait

Posted by
130 posts

I'm seeing the same issue, that is $1700+ flights from CLT to Munich, Zurich, Vienna, Salzburg next June. I've searched Kayak, Google, etc. and have daily price-change emails sent showing prices up-or-down $100 but that's it. I decided not to wait it out and bite the bullet.