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Arthur Frommer: A Major Softening of Transatlantic Airfares Seems Underway | Frommer's David McSpadden/Flickr

Arthur Frommer: A Major Softening of Transatlantic Airfares Seems Underway

When my 15-year-old granddaughter was asked where she wanted to spend her springtime school break, she quickly answered “Paris.”  

And my daughter and her husband, not wanting to discourage the young one’s travel urge, set about to study the cost of transatlantic airfare. To their surprise, they quickly found a round-trip fare of only $400 between Newark and Paris. 

Now it is true that this remarkable, ultra-cheap airfare did not include meals aboard the flight (they made and took their own sandwiches), nor the cost of Wi-Fi, nor the right to choose their seats, nor a charge for checking luggage (they limited their clothes and supplies to a small backpack per person, carried inside the plane).

But neither did this amazing bargain require flying on a little-known upstart airline like Norwegian, WOW, or Level. The $400 round-trip cost was offered by a well-known so-called “legacy” carrier of immense reputation. 

How did they find this astonishing price for a round-trip to the famous “City of Light”? They went—via computer—to an airfare search engine called Momondo, headquartered in Denmark, but they could also have found these rates on England’s, or on America’s, or on a number of other price-cutting websites.  

What does it all mean? I can’t guarantee that this abundance of good news will still be around a few weeks from now; those deals could possibly have been available only in spring (they flew to Paris in late March).  

And such rates do require that passengers give up the baggage allowance, the in-flight meal, the selection of seats, and the enjoyment of Wi-Fi. 

But they have enabled my granddaughter (and her mother and a good friend from school, who all accompanied her) to fly the Atlantic at a remarkably low cost that most of us can afford.  

What is required is that you spend an hour or so at your laptop computer, searching through the several websites for cheap airfares. It is entirely possible that the major airlines are currently facing a frantic effort to fill their seats, and are discounting like mad. At least, my granddaughter and her mother (my daughter) found that to be the case.