Summer Fares to Europe
Summer is almost here, and many of you are probably scrambling to arrange that trip to Europe. If you've been sorting through the pile of so-called summer sales, no-doubt you're feeling a tad discouraged. By now, you've probably resigned to the fact that, yep, this trip is going to cost you. This is where the airlines are making money, after all. Sure, you could try buying fares from a consolidator (you know, those suspicious little ads in the travel section of your Sunday paper). Just be warned that these fares come with a whole set of different rules. In some cases, if you miss your flight for any reason, you may need to buy a new last minute fare, which could cost a fortune. You may not get frequent flyer miles on a consolidator fare, and you probably won't be able to upgrade using miles (not that many upgrades are available anyway). And if your flight is canceled, don't even bother asking the airline to put you on another airline. As the mother from Carrie might say, "They're all gonna laugh at you!" You'll probably just have to wait for the next flight on your original airline, for whatever seats are left in the cheapo fare class you bought from the consolidator.
Aside from that, you're other option is actually stumbling upon a decent sale, which, believe it or not, do exist...
Icelandair Summer Sale to Europe
For example, Icelandair (tel. 800/223-5500; www.icelandair.com) is having a sale on summer travel to Europe, from select cities. Valid travel dates vary according to departure city, so here's a little run down: Boston from June 17 through August 19, Baltimore from July 1 through August 19, New York from June 16 through August 19, and Minneapolis from June 23 through August 19. How are the fares? Let's see:
- Boston to Reykjavik, advertised as $652. That comes to $739 round-trip, which we found departing Monday June 18 and returning Wednesday June 25. We checked Orbitz (www.orbitz.com) too and, again, found the advertised fare of $652, which comes to $749 with taxes and booking fee.
- Baltimore to Stockholm, advertised as $850. That's $927 with taxes, a fare we found on July 8 through July 15, and available on several other dates throughout July. We checked these dates on Orbitz and found a fare of $977 round-trip on Continental.
- Minneapolis to Bergen, advertised as $880. The best we saw was $1,320, for June 23 through June 30, which is far better than the $9,044 fares dominating the flexible-search calendar for this route. Meanwhile, back at Orbitz, the best available fare for this trip is $1,580 round-trip on Northwest.
- Minneapolis to Stockholm, advertised as $880. The lowest fare was $1,167 round-trip, which was available for travel from June 26 through July 7, and on 2 other dates between June 23 and July 7. Continental actually had the best deal for these dates on Orbitz, but just barely, at $1,142 round-trip.
- New York to Munich, advertised as $870. Searching for travel on June 16 through June 24, we found $951 round-trip. On Orbitz, the lowest fare listed for these dates was $967 round-trip on American Airlines.
- New York to Copenhagen, advertised as $880. Icelandair lists their lowest fare as $877 round-trip, for travel from June 16 through June 24. In fact, this fare seems to be readily available throughout the month. According to Orbitz, Continental has the lowest fare at $988 round-trip.
Air India to Europe
We've definitely saved ourselves a heap in past summers by taking advantage of Air India's (tel. 800-223-7776; www.airindia.com) deals to Europe. And while they aren't as low as last summer, their non-stops from New York, Newark, Chicago and Los Angeles to Paris, Frankfurt, and London are still going for much less than what most airlines are offering this summer. For example:
- New York JFK to London Heathrow nonstop, $797 RT including tax (leave July 9 and return July 17, many other dates available).
- Newark to Paris $897 RT including tax, nonstop, (limited seats, leave July 4 return a week later)
- Chicago O'Hare to Frankfurt $878 RT nonstop, including tax (many dates available over the summer)
We suggest you use a flexible date search on Orbitz.com to find seats.
Air New Zealand to London
Sometimes you can save yourself some cash by booking fares directly on the airline's website rather than Orbitz and company. Or who knows, Orbitz or Travelocity might have a deal on a certain airline that even the airline doesn't sell on its own site, as happened last spring with that amazing sale to London via Virgin Atlantic that was only available on Travelocity, and not on Virgin's site.
For example, we were searching for summer flights from L.A. to London. On Orbitz, for July 31 through August 15, the lowest fare listed was $1,079 round-trip on American Airlines, while a $1,124 round-trip fare from Air New Zealand (tel. 800-262-1234; www.airnewzealand.com) gets second billing. Well, that very same trip goes for $997 round-trip if you search directly on Air New Zealand's website.
American Airlines Europe Sale
American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) is having a sale on travel to Europe, too. We just mention this in case you see this deal on American's site and think, oh gee, they're having a sale, I'd better book now. We don't think so. You can do better than most of the deals listed here, which are already higher than most and that's before adding the gazillion bucks in taxes, fees, and surcharges. But, of course, if you're an American frequent flyer and you'd rather get those hard to spend frequent flyer miles than a good airfare, then price may not matter.
Aloha Airlines Sale to Hawaii
Of course, Europe isn't the only game in town this summer. Aloha Airlines (tel. 800/367-5250; www.alohaairlines.com) is having a Last-Minute Travel Sale for May. By last minute, they mean May 18 through May 21 and May 25 through May 28. Let's put on our spectacles and have a look at these fares:
- Orange County to Honolulu, $498 round-trip
- Orange County to Kona, $398 round-trip
- Sacramento to Kahului-Maui, $398 round-trip
- Sacramento to Honolulu, $498 round-trip
- Oakland to Honolulu, $498 round-trip
- Oakland to Kona, $398 round-trip
Midwest Airlines New Nonstop Service from Kansas City
As of July 1, Midwest Airlines (tel. 800/452-2022; www.midwestairlines.com) will begin nonstop service from Kansas City to Madison, Wisconsin. These round-trip flights will operate twice daily, and three times on weekends. Nonstop service to Colorado Springs, Colorado will also begin July 1, with three round-trip weekday flights and four on weekends.
Also on July 1, Midwest will increase flights between Kansas City and Pittsburgh by one additional non-stop round-trip, bringing the total to two. And between Kansas City and San Antonio, flights will increase from two to three nonstop round-trips. This makes Midwest the second largest airline in all of Kansas City, so congratulations to you, Midwest Airlines.
Oh, and if you're against that hostile takeover of Midwest by Airtran, be sure to stop by the Save the Cookie website and sign the petition! If nothing else, do so for the sake of choice, which you know, helps keep fares low.
--Additional reporting by Tracy W. Stewart
George Hobica is a syndicated travel journalist and blogger whose website, www.airfarewatchdog.com, tracks unadvertised airfare wars and fare sales, including the most helpful and always updated Top 50 Airfares.
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