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Tips for finding best deals on airfare to Europe from US.

I'm planning a trip to Paris this summer and am experiencing some sticker shock with airline prices. I haven't flown in years, so I'm not used to seeing such high prices. We're looking to leave Boston for Paris, then coming home via Rome. The total cost is around $6k to $7k for a family of 4 (we're looking at non-stop since we have kids and it's their first time flying). I'm constantly checking out the Google/Explore site in incognito mode as well as Kayak and the price isn't budging. I realize June is the busy season, but we're locked into our dates.

  • Are there any other sites to check out?
  • Realistically, is there any hope for a deal, or should we just bite the bullet and buy now?

Thanks for your insights, from a travel newbie.

Posted by
3991 posts

We trying to decide on tickets to Paris home from London for this April. We usually have our tickets already but we weren’t 100% sure we were going. Anyway, yes it is expensive. We’re looking at around $5,000 for two on delta comfort +. But my husband is looking at economy on Norse Airlines for around $3,000 for two. So your $6-7,000 for 4 people may be a bargain. Just curious, where are you flying from, we are out of JFK in NY.

Posted by
4 posts

Hi Barbara. Since we're in RI, and this is our first time flying with kids, we decided to leave from Boston since it's closer. We figured that the hassle of getting us to JFK wasn't worth the amount we'd save on the plane tix. That would be a super long day for the kids.

That said, YIKES. It's hard to know when to know buy tickets. Feels like gambling.

Posted by
2495 posts

We got open jaw tickets premium economy from Reno into Oslo and out of Bergen in July for around $2k each and a really good routing. I booked these tickets the first week of January. I would suggest checking Google flights daily. Yes, I know that’s obsessive. But the fare I got was about $500 less each than what I had been seeing for each of us so worth it. You don’t have to do this incognito. Google flights then allows you to book directly with the airline.

Posted by
679 posts

For an upcoming trip to Italy and Germany, we decided it was cheaper to fly round trip from San Francisco to Frankfurt, and then just do one-way flights in Europe. This would take away a nonstop issue, but it might result in cheaper flights -- RT to Paris, and then fly from Rome to Paris.

Posted by
27407 posts

I agree with Mary: When I'm flight-shopping, I check Google Flights at least once a day, and often more than once. If you don't do that, you may miss out on a good opportunity.

That said, demand is up now, so fares may not trend down. I have no crystal ball.

Posted by
1081 posts

I recently bought my tickets for flights to Greece and back and I looked everyday to see if the prices were going to drop for over three months and finally decided that I needed to get in gear and get our tickets. I guess what I'm saying is that the prices are not going to come down and may increase because the increased demand for travel has made it possible for airlines to ask whatever they want.

Posted by
208 posts

There are occasional good deals flying Boston to London. You could try that. Then Eurostar to Paris. Or multicity. Into London & out of Paris. Check every option.

Posted by
453 posts

Here is one other tip not mentioned. If you are searching for 4 tickets it may find you only 4 in the same fare category (there are many fare categories even within the same cabin) so they will all be in the higher fare category. If you search instead for 1 or 2 tickets at a time you may get at least some of them in the lower fare category. Then when all booked call the airline to have your reservations linked so that if any reschedule or other changes you all will still be addressed together.

Posted by
174 posts

I would suggest going to individual airlines sites and checking fares there because occasionally there will be fares that Google flights doesn't catch. The biggest way you could hope to save some money is to alter your inbound and outbound cities. Paris is extremely popular, but if you flew into Brussels or Amsterdam both of which are very short train ride from Paris, you might save some money. But if you're not flexible then I would go ahead and book! I have already booked my summer flights and I don't think they're going to go down.

Posted by
2495 posts

I don’t know your dates per se but I am seeing some economy fares for $764 open jaw on Google flights. That being said they are not nonstop. The fact that you want nonstop is limiting your options for a lower price fare.

Posted by
184 posts

I understand your shock at prices. This trip will be our first since covid. I have been flying since I was a child and am not new to researching and planning trips.

My husband and I just purchased tickets on American round trip into and out of Zurich with connections in Philadelphia. This was after I carefully researched flying Preferred Economy Plus (or something like that) with United.
I spent hours researching flights and airlines. We always pay extra, if necessary, to book with a human vs online. We walked through the reservation procedure with a friendly res agent. Then we got to the payment part which ended up much, much higher, thousands of dollars higher, than I had researched. We cancelled the whole thing. I'm glad we did. The fee was $25 to use a human to make the reservation. And the flights we had chosen had not flown in a week. I just checked and the flight numbers now have all changed and were not listed as late as Sunday. Still, after learning on this forum about flights that are sold but have not flown in a long time, I was a little relieved that the United reservation did not work out.

Back to the research process. We typically fly American as our main credit cards give us points on American. We decided on American Economy Main Plus. The res agent we worked with was friendly and very helpful. And there was no fee to use a human to make the reservation.
The prices are higher than we have ever paid for a ticket to Europe. The postings on this forum helped to to accept the higher prices. While my husband and I aren't ancient, we are at an age where we may have limited years left to travel. So we pay the price of airline tickets to do something we love.

Good luck in your research and I hope your family has a fantastic trip.

Traveler Girl

Posted by
16866 posts

You are looking at multi-city (open jaw), not two one-way flights, correct?

You might compare prices flying into London, out from Rome. It is a nice trip from London to Paris by Eurostar train, and tickets bought well in advance can be quite inexpensive. You would overnight in London to rest from the flight, and have the afternoon of arrival to explore London a bit. If the kids are Harry Potter fans they might enjoy visiting Track 9 3/4 and the Harry Potter shop in Kings Cross Station.

https://harrypottershop.com/pages/platform934

This station is right next to St. Pancras which is the Eurostar departure station. Lots of hotels in the area.

Posted by
2 posts

We are looking to fly one way into Prague in September and seeing high prices also. We usually fly out of Washington DC (but live in SC). Tried looking at flying out of Charlotte Raleigh, Atlanta but more expensive. Flyi g out of NewYork is cheaper but not enough to justify cost of getting to NY.

Wife even looked into flying to other cities in Europe first but not seeing any great bargains. Think we will wait until April to book flights in hope they go down a little.

The only cheaper price flights we’ve found are TAP airline but have never flown them and not sure how comfortable a flight it will be since it seems lower cost airline.

We are like you and probably just need to get used to more expensive flights.

Posted by
918 posts

I have found that flying from Boston to anywhere in Italy (or back from Italy to Boston) is always WAY more expensive than flying to other parts of Europe. I recently booked my flight Boston to Rome (non-stop) and back from Naples (with a stop) for June and paid close to $1600. I had been watching fares for several months and the price didn't change much for the flights/dates I wanted.

Posted by
2016 posts

I think people can forget bargain airfare for the foreseeable future. Demand is still high for travel even in the shoulder months. My April trip airfare was paid by miles and even then I had to change my itinerary due to no awards miles being available on a particular day or week. I will also say that the well-reviewed hotels are booking up quickly and all that seems to be left is the higher priced rooms.

With China and Japan opening up, this year is going to be another crowded year in Europe and I think the travel industry knows they don't have to have sales to get people to travel anymore.

I still look at my $350r/t on United to London back in the 2000s and marvel.

Posted by
1970 posts

I think the best and safest deal is booking directly with your airline of choice.

Have you got a credit card that is partnered with an airline such as Citi American or American Express Delta? It really helps when using or earning rewards. You can also join their rewards program or whatever they call it.

Are you booking multi cities through one airline? You want to fly home with the same airline that you go with. I did not realize there is a multi cities option.

I realize that June is expensive but I am flying from Austin Tx to London and then Lisbon home to Austin in October. Flying American, it is about $1100 total and Delta about $1300 total. That includes insurance.

Posted by
854 posts

Non-stop flights may well be the determining factor in the fares you're seeing. At least you're on the East Coast, so overall duration isn't all that long. Adding a stopover may be necessary to travel within your price range, but it could also give your kids a break to get off the plane.

Have you looked at Aer Lingus from Hartford/BDL? They connect in Dublin for Paris. In Italy they fly from Milan to Dublin on way back to States. Prices in June look reasonable compared to what you've quoted. It may not be what you want, but could be what you need.

Posted by
16866 posts

I just checked British Airways for a set of random dates in June (12 to 27). The multi-city price for flights into London and back from Rome is $1121 in Economy Basic ( no checked bags). If you don’t need to check any bags, that fare is fine. You will pay extra to choose your own seats, but you will do that with regular Economy if you want to choose before on-line check-in.

Boston to London is a non-stop flight. Rome back to Boston with a stop to change planes in London.

If you want regular Economy it is $1271, still not bad compared to what you have found.

If you want the all-daytime flight on the way over, instead of an overnight flight, it is $28 more. That might be a good choice with kids, rather than having them sleep on the plane.

If you check the roundtrip options first, BA will show you prices for each day for a week—-they vary. For the outbound trip, the fares were lowest for flights on Monday thru Thursday. Makes sense, as most people want to fly on the weekend. For the homeward flight from Rome, Tuesday the 27th turned out to be cheapest, but that will vary depending on your actual date.

If anyone is curious, the fare for Boston-London-Boston on those June dates is $927 in Economy Basic.

Posted by
982 posts

Be sure you are looking at MULTI CITY tickets - always the best way to book when flying in and out of different cities which we always do when going to Europe. We've also found it best and cheapest to book on the first day you can-- which is 330 days from your RETURN flight back home. We always get the best price using that 330 day mark. We also price compare AA vs Delta.

Posted by
4586 posts

Google Flights doesn't just give prices, it has months worth of historical data. And also a simple way to experiment with different dates to see what it does to pricing. Use the tools.

As noted, it's now looking like revenge travel is not yet over and this year will be pretty crazy (again). Unless there's yet a newer variant that takes off. Buy refundable tickets, and some sort of travel insurance.

I would HOPE your flight from Boston to Paris is nonstop ...

Posted by
104 posts

I've been watching for an open jaw flight from the west coast to Athens and returning from Venice for months. The prices haven't budged much. I checked daily, and kept a spreadsheet. I narrowed it down to about 4-5 carriers I wanted, and had it in my head what I thought I would pay "extra" for.

I finally booked yesterday, via Iceland Air. The routing is a little clunky but we saved $2000 and some of the inter-European legs are actually in business, so we get lounge access on layovers.

One thing I noticed about Google Flights, for some reason British Air flights don't show correctly. They always come out much higher than they are priced on the BA website. Skyscanner seemed to be more accurate.

Also, you didn't say how old your kids are, mine are 11 and 15 and have been on some really long flights to Asia and Europe. They seem to prefer to break it up a bit anyway.

Posted by
1970 posts

ChinaLake67 or anyone else

I am trying to decide between AA and Delta.

I am flying to London and returning from Lisbon in October.

Do you have a preference and if so, why.

Posted by
1224 posts

I have sticker shock too, and we flew last year. Before Covid hit we could get a round trip flight O'Hare to Paris for $700 per person, or round trip to London for $1200. Our flights last summer for the BOEE tour was $1400 per person (yowza) O'Hare to Prague and Venice/London to O'Hare. This coming June to go on the Sicily tour it is going to cost us $2000 per person O'Hare to Zurich to Palermo and Rome to O'Hare. We'll do Catania to Rome on a separate ticket. I have never paid that much for a flight in my life, and I fervently hope I never have to again. I feel like $7000 for 4 people is a bargain.

Posted by
375 posts

Use google flights and ITA Matrix by google,I found economy flights from Austin to Spain/Portugal RT for about $780 for April, funny thing is after Mid April, the prices jump to $1000

Posted by
125 posts

Having traveled internationally when my kids were little, I do recommend the non-stop flights. This flight will be longer than they are use to so non-stop just seems to work better. Be sure to take an extra set of clothes, drinks, food and some entertainment for them. We had each kid be responsible for their luggage so they would do a backpack for the plane and then a roller bag no larger than 22 inches. One splurge I would do for Paris is to prearrange airport transportation for a pickup from the airport to your hotel. It is so nice when traveling with kids internationally to see that pickup person with our last name sign. The pickup person was also good for helping us with our luggage and pointing out sites during our drive. It just makes your arrival less stressful. (In Vietnam it was no more than $20 so we did it for every flight).

With respect to pandemic travel, I found booking in October for my May-June Europe trips both last year and this year yield the lowest prices. I paid last year and this year $3300 for first class open jaw tickets from California to Europe. I use Kayak and the American Express travel website to research fares. Sometimes the found fare doesn't come up on the airline website but if I get the fare on Kayak and then click the Kayak box that takes me to the airline website, I can get the cheaper fare. If you are going to do a connection, try to have the connection be in the U.S. because I found that easier when traveling with my children. One "trick" I use to get cheaper fares is to play around with dates and I try to fly out during the middle of the week because that is usually cheaper.

Posted by
4586 posts

Just to mention, I've set some flight alerts on Google for the spring and sure enough they are already pinging up and down by about $500 on a daily basis. For premium economy.