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When do the Spring airfare "sales" start?

We have to babysit a home in Provence for three weeks during the first weeks of April ( I know, this is going to be a tough job, but someone has to do it...) and I was wondering when the Spring airfare sales are going to start? We really want to get the best price, and I usually need "Economy Comfort" type legroom. I have auto notices set up on a few sites, but they don't cover all of the possible routes, so I need to do my own monitoring.

We will fly from PDX (Portland Ore) to Paris (or Marceilles?), and are looking for the best "one stop" option. We have flown Delta from Portland to Amsterdam, and then on to other locations in the EU, but I was wondering who else has good one stop options to Paris, from this area. Icelandic Air would be good choice also, but they don't start flying out of PDX until May. We don't like flying across the US to grab a plane on the East Coast; we prefer to be in the air for the shortest amount of time, and don't want to do an "overnighter" anywhere on our transits.

Currently, R/T prices on "good" flights are around $1400 P/P. Last May we got Economy Comfort seating on Air Canada for $1400, but it was two stops. I was hoping for a better price, and one stop.

Posted by
16883 posts

From other recent Travel Forum discussions with Portland, I got the impression that Delta was the only airline flying direct from Portland to the European continent. Other options that we have from Seattle (not necessarily from Portland) include Delta to Paris, British to London, and Lufthansa to Frankfurt. It shouldn't be hard to confirm on an airline search engine. Connections through US airports like New York are not our usual preference, either.

We don't track fare sales, but in my memory, I would expect them to be announced either closer to Christmas or shortly after New Year. I would keep watching the Delta site through mid-January.

Posted by
507 posts

Have you checked Air France, a partner of Delta? They do have a flight going into CDG Airport from Portland. Expect to pay more for nonstop as opposed to one stop on E Coast. :-)

BTW, I was looking at the last M-T-W of March.

Posted by
2081 posts


i cant answer your question directly but will give you my experience in the last 3+ years.

I fly from PDX to AMS N/S & R/T and sometimes beyond. its been my experience that what you are things/expecting to pay is in the ball park. I started around 1200 and its been going up about 50 USD/year just to AMS. Im going back to Europe this Sept and I'm looking in the 1300 USD range. Also, on my first trip over there i wanted to save a few hundred bucks so it added 2 stops into my flight. Those extra two stops added 6 hours in the air or warming a airport seat. What i learned about that is that no more (for me) if i can avoid it. Others my like warming a airport lounge seat, i dont. I spending a lot of $$ to get somewhere and the last thing i want to do is to sit and warm an airport seat. Also, those N/S flights are about 10 hours in length. Leave from PDX around 1300 and arrive in AMS about 0830 the next day.

As mentioned Delta/KLM is about the only game in town for direct and N/S flights so far.

If you choose to drive/fly up to SEATAC you will have more options. In my opinion, taking a puddle jumper from PDX to SEATAC isn't a big deal and then you would already be at the airport to catch your flight. Im looking at going to Portugal on my trip next year, so I'm looking at doing that but I'm still in my homework stage. What it comes down to is what floats your boat. Do you want to make your first connect there or here? Would you rather break up your long 10+ hour flight into two 5 nourish flight or one long and one short? choose your poison.

this is how I'm wired and how i think. You may not agree and others may not either, but again, this is how i think. Id rather get overthere by a direct N/S fight. I do this so that if my connection (over there) goes bad, I'm already on the continent and can take a train, bus or taxi. Or if i want to spend the night, i can and get an early flight out if possible. Whereas if i have a connecting flight here and if something goes wrong, I'm still here. If i take a train, bus, taxi, I'm still here. Again, this is the way i think and may not be for everyone.

No matter how you cut it, you are going to be in the air to get there and the total time will be about the same unless the flight takes a different route. if you dont like long hauls, then you will have to break them up somewhere. They havent perfected mid air transfers - yet. about the only thing you may have some control over is WHERE you decide to have that layover.

Look at and see what you think about where and when and what stops. Note that where you decide to go to will make a difference in where your stops are. you maybe better off flying into Paris and taking a train from there to your final destination. I have only used CDG for my airport, so far, but others may have a better idea. Just a note, using an out of the way airport may work for you, but then there is the transportation from there to where you want to go.

happy trails.

Posted by
507 posts

Should Steve book his connecting flight in Europe through the airlines that he uses to cross the pond?

Please post when the mid-flight transfers are close to being a reality. ;-)

To Steve
What is your secret to obtaining such a nice job?

Posted by
6838 posts

The Spring airfares presently posted online are at an all time high--despite the substantial reduction in the price of jet fuel. We have not seen any news that airfares will be reduced. 4 airline alliances are controlling the supply and prices of European airfares, and they're pretty good at what they do.
If many travelers like myself refuse to pay such airfares, maybe reductions in fares will be seen after the first of the year.
Out of the northeast, Vancouver airfares are by far the cheapest. It may be a viable option for Seattle travelers, but I understand you're a little farther away. From certain U.S. gateway cities, Norwegian Air is stirring some feathers as a budget/low cost airline.

Posted by
333 posts

I booked my airfare for next April to Europe nearly two months ago already. The costs will likely only be getting more expensive from here on out. So if you at least want the luxury of picking your seats, you might want to consider booking soon. In the 3 years I've been tracking European flights, I've not seen any "sales". The low prices (at least for me in NE) are in the $1250 to $1400 range. I booked mine for $1290 (Delta- Nebraska to Amsterdam) and paid the $85 to upgrade to economy plus. The tickets on that same flight are now showing to $20 higher. Prices were similar for NE to Paris.

When I waited until after Christmas to book my flight 2 1/2 years ago (for a July trip), I paid $500 more than if I'd booked before Christmas. I too was waiting for a "sale". It never happened.

Best of luck on your booking and trip!

Posted by
1708 posts

Hi Steve, I'm tracking airfares for a trip to France in May and they are much higher than the exact same flights last May. Last year I booked on January 15 and paid $1257. Currently, they are holding steady at $1807. Very disappointing. I've tried different dates, different airports, no luck. I'm checking daily and hoping for a "sale" very soon!

PS - your "babysitting" assignment sounds wonderful!

Posted by
2081 posts

@ collette

"Should Steve book his connecting flight in Europe through the airlines that he uses to cross the pond?"

Thats something he needs to figure out. I dont know what airlines he/they will use so that is something he/they will have to investigate. I'm giving him my "experience" and what i have learned from my travels.

Kayak allows multi city flights and you can see where and if any connections are made. Skyscanner has that info but you have to dive into the flight info for that.

Re: prices. from what i understand Delta owns their own refinery? or fuel source. Also, they said that they were not going to lower air fair prices (due to lower fuel prices) . Read into that whatever you feel like.

happy trails.

Posted by
1068 posts

As of right now, KLM and partners are the only non-stop flights to Europe from Portland, OR. When I am booking I first look at connections that do the Portland to Amsterdam route. After that, I consider other options. My first option is generally to transfer somewhere further east.... Dallas, Chicago etc. etc. That helps me head to the place where I am going and usually (not always) means I can get there with a one stop flight. If there are no good flights that way (or if there is a killer deal) I will consider flying to either Seattle or San Francisco (although Seattle has always treated me better in terms of scheduling.) The problem with the last approach is that flying almost due north or south doesn't take you any closer to your destination. It was almost a 10 hour flight to London the last time I went via Seattle. Although there are lots of short flights to Seattle from Portland a) you still have to do the Portland airport thing (arrive early, get through security) and b) it isn't easier to change planes in Seattle than it is in another airport (I wouldn't leave myself a 50 minute layover in Seattle for example.) You may be able to tailor your waiting time in Seattle a bit as there are short flights there every hour or so, but it is not my preferred method. Of course, to each his/her own. I also find it unlikely that there will be lots of killer sales this year. According to friends in the travel business and friends who invest money, airlines are doing great because they reduced routes/costs so their planes are booked at a much higher level than in the past. There is always the occasional big sale, but for my last trip and the two upcoming trips I have, I'm not seeing much in terms of reductions.

Posted by
102 posts

Will not bore anyone with lament over current air fares as they (the airlines) do as they like now and always. What alternatives exist? Few. You want to go, pay your money and do it with least stops and airport waits, because getting there is the least/last reason for travel. Like PDX because it is close. Love Lufthansa (a most civilized octopus of airlines-Condor/Swiss/etc as it is) so have gone to Seattle too. No laments over no PDX/Luft connect either just thankful to have used it when it existed. That said how about...(for those with time in hand and liking for trains and ships) taking Amtrak east to NY or Florida, and using the repositioning cruises in spring and fall. It is a one-way only alternative I've considered. And price isn't so much different anymore. It would make the "getting there" more like real travel too. Time involved, as said isn't for most (or any maybe except me) of us. Just a thought.

Posted by
920 posts

Wow, everyone, thanks for your replies/thoughts/suggestions!

Laura/Ray/Collette, I prefer to do the "long leg", here, so Delta is my obvious choice, since they are the only ones flying over-the-pond from PDX. Later on this spring/summer Icelandic Air and Condor are supposed to have over-the-pond flights, so that is a good option. Yes, Larry, we enjoyed the Luft flights out of PDX for years, and heard a rumor that they may come back.

We like doing the long leg here sometimes, so I can have the option of using Skyscanner to book lo-cost inter EU flights, I'll look into that again this year because I might make this an Open Jaw flight, and do into Paris, and out of Marseilles.

Everybody is correct; I need to also pay attention to flights out of Seattle. And Delta has some good flights to Paris that they are routeing thru Salt Lake.

Yep, Kayak is a great search engine.

Rankster, I didn't like hearing the news that flight prices might not go down, but I am enough of a pragmatist that I'll wait and watch thru January and then pick a flight that meets all of my criteria; chief among them is the extra leg room that my 6'3" frame enjoys.

Donna, I am finding lots of $1400 to 1500 flights, but I am still holding out for a possible lower price. Our dates are somewhat flexible so I am check a range of dates.

Oh, and how did I find the baby sitting opportunity? We are members of a couple of B&B clubs, and a post/request popped up on one of their web sites, and we jumped on it

Posted by
360 posts

The airline mergers of the last few years have created a situation where competition to Europe is minimal. I think you will find better prices from the East coast since there are some start-up and non-cartel airlines serving the major east coast cities. But, when I have added in the price of the ticket to the East coast, and sometimes even a hotel stay overnight, the savings disappear along with the at least one vacation day.

Ten years ago, I could easily fly round trip from the West Coast to Rome or Paris for less than $1000. The best price I have found recently is $1680. And that is using an airline I do not trust very much since it is located in a country that seems hostile at the moment.

We have gone from the extreme of money losing ultra-cheap airfares to this situation in a few years. Hopefully, we will see some balance restored to pricing and some new competition in this area. Hopefully, government regulators will not stand in the way of renewed competition.

Posted by
1217 posts

The problem with the last approach is that flying almost due north or south doesn't take you any closer to your destination.

You actually do get a little closer if you go due north due to common use of Great Circle routing.

Portland to London- 4910 miles

Vancouver to London- 4708 miles

Las Vegas to London- 5217 miles

Houston to London- 4846 miles

Miami to London- 4426 miles

Remember that in the Golden Age of Air travel, the 'halfway' refueling point for transatlantic travel was Gander, Newfoundland because of its very northerly point on the Great Circle routes.

Posted by
4 posts

Living/Flying from Atlanta I am very spoiled with nonstop flights to Europe, but with fares sky high diligently watched for sales.
Finally booked Atlanta to Toronto to Paris CDG for $702 round trip on Air Canada all the way.Traveling end April into May.
Flew Air Canada from Atl to Toronto to Shanghai in 2014 and had a great experience for $800.
Keep looking!

Posted by
507 posts

US Nat'l news tonight reported low airfares will start now with Tu-W-Sa being the best days of the week to travel. (???)

Posted by
55 posts

I have to say that I am a bit disappointed. I have been traveling to Europe each year for the last 4 years and I think this year is by far the most expensive. I'm trying to book a trip to Croatia and the best option (one that doesn't take more than 24 hours) costs around $2,000/person. I've talked to a number of travel agents and they aren't hopeful that fares will come down. I guess I will have to skip Europe this year. I wasn't hoping for under $1,000 like about 4 years ago but I didn't think it would cost more than $1,500 especially since jet fuel is so low.

Posted by
8293 posts

I have had emails offering really good prices to Europe from Air France, Air Canada and KLM. The dates may not suit you, of course, and the flights are from Montreal, but the Air France and KLM flights often originate in the US. The fares were under $900

Posted by
507 posts

Edgar posted this article that has a chart showing the price dips after Christmas. The article is from 2013.

Per the chart the price drops on:
1) Dec 26, dramatically
2) several days around Jan 4-5.

3) Jan 14 or 15 Chart does not indicate multiple days.
4) Jan 30, dramatically like Dec 26.

Of course, this would be for future reference.

Posted by
6838 posts

When do the Spring airfare "sales" start? They should start on 3/27 or 3/28, 2015.

With the current posted prices to Europe being so high, we're executing Plan B this year and flying to Las Vegas on the way to Hawaii and back home through San Francisco/Oakland for 5 days--$735 total airfares. We always have a backup travel plan if European airfares are unreasonable.

Posted by
408 posts

If you are okay with flying out of SEA you might want to check Icelandair. They are showing SEA-CDG fares in April in the 600s - 700s for each of the legs, for random days I selected in April. (They present a nice calendar that allows you to compare fares each way during the whole month.) Good luck!