Flying to Europe: 2010
How do you find the best airfare to Europe — on a flight that's cheap, convenient, and reliable? Rick and the ETBD team usually let their trusted travel agents do the work for them. But some people prefer to research fares online and and make the reservations themselves. What's your strategy and why?
If you have questions about flying, we suggest you talk to a travel agent. You can also check out Rick's advice on flying.
Read the Distillation: Best Tips for Flying Smart, 2005
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
Always bring a change of clothes with you in your carry on bag if you have connecting flights. If your first flight is delayed and you miss your connecting flight, your luggage may not be with you when you arrive at your destination. It may come later. The bonus is they deliver your suitcase to your hotel and you don't have to carry it with you.
Passaic, NJ USA Fri 12/03/2010
Actually, several airlines follow this policy if you fail to complete a leg of a purchased ticket. Last year I bought tickets for Boston-Amsterdam-Paris and then I'd take a train to London. When a friend decided to join me, we decided to take the train from Amsterdam-> Brussels-> Paris-> London instead. I called Northwest Airlines (just because it felt right) and they told me that it's a good job I called as they would have cancelled my return flight from London to Boston if I skipped any leg of my intended itinerary. Northwest Airlines also said that all the airlines do this (I never investigated that). I ended up cancelling my entire itinerary and booking a new one to accommodate the improved plans with my friend.
Manchester, NH USA Fri 09/17/2010
It is worth pointing out that problems of this sort, as well as the incredible variation in prices for a given flight, are a consequence of the fact that airlines practice what economists call "price discrimination" to an extreme degree. A simple change in the law would end the practice, make pricing of airplane seats like the pricing of any other good: Allow ticket holders to transfer their tickets to others at any price mutually agreeable. Price discrimination is possible only when the producer can prevent customers from trading amongst themselves.
It ids true that the fact that airplane rides are a perishable good so that tickets bought on the day of travel will cost somewhat more, but not astronomically more.
By the way, the airlines defend their practive on grounds of security. That is nonsense -they have done this for decades.
Actually, it is unusual and generally inefficient for companies to retail their own products. With the transferability of tickets, companies would spring up whose business would be to retail tickets. A little competition and voila. Rational and lower pricing, and nothing like the nonsense perpitrated by BA described below.
New Yo USA Wed 08/18/2010
I don't mean to sound like a spokesperson for BA. I was just pointing out that BA was correct in that they followed their written policy. By the way, I checked Lufthansa and they have the same policy.
Don't take me wrong, I sympathize with you and I would be upset, also. But sometimes we have to accept the fact that we made a mistake or made incorrect assumptions. But I agree with your goal of pointing this policy out so that others may benefit.
RICHMOND, VA USA Mon 08/16/2010
Hi Steve - thanks again for your comments. I don't think I was clear on the policy - what I've detailed is not on any ticket - it's on the web site if you know to look for "Contract of Carriage" - but who other than those in the travel industry would know that term? It's probably a good idea for everyone who travels to be aware of an review this contract of carriage.
Issaquah, WA USA Mon 08/16/2010
Steve - I appreciate that you took the time to respond, but I must say i disagree with your positions. First - with regards to the policy/ticket terms. It's not printed anywhere in either of these locations. It's part of the "Contract of Carriage" which is referenced, but not explicitly called out. As far as seats being reserved for each leg - I beg to differ. The seats weren't "reserved" like you reserve a table at a restaurant, or a car - the seats were paid. Think if you ordered a 10 course meal and paid up front. If you decide you didn't want the soup course, should the restaurant cancel the rest of the meal and refuse to serve you? The truth here (from my perspective) is this is at the very least opportunistic on the airlines behalf (and at worst - dishonest for taking my money for a service then failing to provide the service). So far the response from BA was less than stellar. I've had "it's just the way the computers are programmed" as well as "it's part of the contract - and you're responsible for knowing the entire contract". You sound very much like an airline employee... my goal in bringing it up here is to warn others against booking multi-leg tickets with BA - due to this policy. I think it's wrong to take my money and tell me I have a seat booked on all these flights, then cancel my tickets without compensation and re-sell the seats. Ba offered me seats back on the same flight (for over $24,000) - after I had already paid for these seats. I think it's disingenuous and dishonest. You can think whatever you want - but I hope that everyone, including YOU are treated better than I was
Issaquah, WA USA Sat 08/14/2010
Steve - you say the airlines is in the business of "filling seats", I'd argue that they have proven (even before this incident) that they are in the business of SELLING seats. They gladly took my money for the seats, and if they go unfilled, then technically they are using less fuel for the flight (very minimally,I agree), less resources (food and beverages), less baggage handling, less airport taxes, and they received the proper amount for the seats on the plane we were to occupy. BA didn't lose any money because we didn't occupy these seats. What the airlines do, is actually make money off people like me and my family by selling a seat TWICE (or more) whenever they can legally get away with it. What other business does this? If the interest were only filling a plane to capacity, they could refund me the amount on the tickets they chose to cancel (without notification). It's pretty clear that this is not an option.
Issaquah, WA USA Sat 08/14/2010
Tim - if the policy was in the ticket terms, then it is your responsibility to read it. If that is BA's policy, then your tickets were probably cancelled by a computer and no human being even knew about it - so how could anyone contact you?
Think about it - you reserved your flights and seats were reserved for each leg. You miss one of the legs - how is BA supposed to know that you intended to complete another segment when you "broke the chain" in the middle?
RICHMOND, Virgin USA Fri 08/13/2010
BA Abandoned you? Not really
Tim, when you failed to take the flight from Paris to London - a flight that BA had set seats aside for you - you broke the contract and BA was free to try to sell the seats for the remainder of your trip. Airlines are in the business of filling seats.
RICHMOND, Virgin USA Fri 08/13/2010
British Airways abandoned my family
A warning to fellow travelers about flying British Airways: BA will cancel your ongoing flights without notification or any communication for that matter and treat you quite horribly to boot.
My family booked a multi-leg flight from Seattle-London-Paris that included a side trip to the south of France. Rather than return to Paris, we flew on to London directly from Toulouse France.
When I went to check into the return flight from London to Seattle, BA had cancelled our tickets and offered me seats at $6000 per person to return on the same flight (granted in business class - but still an outrageous price for seats on a flight we had previously paid for).
According to BA - this is their policy - if you miss a leg for any reason, they will cancel the rest of your tickets without any notification.
I have to say the customer service person on the phone in London was horrible - she was rude and refused to let me speak to a supervisor/manager. Her claim was that this is well known and common practice... it's on page 3 of our "contract of carriage" which you are responsible for reading before flying. Well finding this "contract of carriage" was quite a task. It was not only well hidden (no references from my ticket or any of the communications I had with them previously).
When we bought the tickets, I explained my plans to the agent on the phone and there was no mention of this. I also made sure I had multiple ways for them to communicate with me (email and phone) - neither of which they chose to use to notify of this cancellation, so I was caught by complete surprise when I went to check-in in London.
Had they treated us with more understanding and respect, I probably wouldn't be as upset. They were rude and cavalier about abandoning us and wanting $24,000 for seats on the same plane back to Seattle. (I was able to find 4 seats for $5000 on another carrier).
I've since heard from many others that BA is known for it's poor customer service - but it is the only time I've heard of them abandoning a family with small children without any sort of communications.
I hope others can learn from my expensive, negative experience with British Airways.
Issaquah, WA USA Thu 08/12/2010
We booked IcelandAir from Seattle to Paris (change planes in Keflavik, Iceland) for seven of us, ages 8 to 70. I chose IcelandAir because of the price and was unsure of what kind of experience we would have... IT WAS GREAT! The crew on all of our flight segments was very friendly, professional and helpful. They feed kids on the flight as soon as possible with filling, tasty meals. They also provide free drinks, headphone, coloring books, postcards (which they mail from Iceland), kids TV and movie selections - all for free.
Each seat on the plane has it's own TV monitor with a very good selection of movies, TV episodes, music, Icelandic folk tales, music and in-flight maps and data. This feature made the long flights much more tolerable for everyone.
For the adults we all found the variety of meals to be better then average for airline food. They have a good selection of drinks, snacks and unique Icelandic candy...yummy! The coach-class seating was comfortable and the seats recline far enough to make sleep comfortable.
Having a layover in Keflavik was great because it is not crowded or busy and passport checks and customs are a breeze. Since Iceland is an EU country we were able to avoid customs at CDG airport in Paris (which can be a long mess!)
We were so impressed with IcelandAir that we will use them everytime we fly to Europe. We can't wait to go again and take advantage of their layover feature to explore Iceland.
Medford, OR USA Sat 07/24/2010
Just wanted to let you know about our experience on Icelandair. I have heard both positive and negative, but our experience was entirely positive. The flight attendants were friendly, the planes clean, everything on was time. The Scandinavian airports are run to perfection. Be sure at Keflavik Airport to watch the clocks. It is a quiet airport- no PA announcements. Watch the screens in the terminal, when you see "Report to gate", go, and be sure you board on time. There are no boarding announcements and no last calls. We took advantage of Icelandair's layover special on a whim- and we are so glad we did. Iceland is a wild, magnificent, beautiful paradise. We will definitely fly Icelandair again.
Weeki Wachee, FL USA Sun 07/11/2010
My advice is to avoid using ParisShuttle to go between the Paris Airport (CDG) and Paris (whether to or form). On the trip in, the driver parked at the airport for 20 minutes, without saying a word to us or giving us the slightest apology, apparently to wait for someone, & then dropped us off last - about 2.5 hours from pick up to drop off. On the hoped-for return trip from Paris to CDG, they did not pick us up. They claimed that they had changed the pick up time to an earlier time from the confirmed time, and had left us a telephone message (which they did not!). Had to take an emergency $65 cab to the airport. Bad enough that they changed the time without our consent, but even worse to do it secretly!
San Francisco, CA USA Fri 05/21/2010
After all the terrible things I've seen about Atalia,here and everywhere else, I feel compelled to say that nothing went wrong on our Chicago to Rome flight or the Florence to Rome to Chicago return. Yes, I was surprised, too. But, we were asked for the hotel voucher on arriving for the return flight, I suppose because the airfare was part of a package arrangement with our hotels through Sun Tours. In classic Italian style they insisted on it, we siad we didn't have it but our friends had theirs, and they all agreed that was close enough.
Cedar Rapids, IA USA Wed 05/12/2010
Iceland air has good fares to London now. Of course it is a gamble if you will get there on time and safely with the volcano still throwing ash from time to time.
USA Fri 05/07/2010
Waiting for a Better Fare
For people who are 'waiting out' the best fares... I posted below about finding a cheap flight on Iceland Express. Well, long story short, my husband and I decided to wait it out and see if we could find a similar--or better--price on a 'real' airline (Iceland Express does not start service out of Newark until June, so no reviews were available, and we were scared to book). I found that price--and posted the post a few below this one--in January. I went back on the other day to book a flight, and the price rose $300. So we are now stuck, traveling in the summer (the only time we can travel--we are teachers) and will be forced to pay way too much for a less than ideal flight. The lesson? When you find a fare you can afford, BOOK IT. other lesson--summer fare sales don't exist. at least not this year, at least not yet, and i don't think we can/should wait any longer.
Macungie, PA USA Thu 04/08/2010
flying to europe
Has anyone ever used the priceline bidder for flight? I have had great luck using it for hotels, but I'm no sure about flights?
Burlington, VT USA Mon 03/22/2010
Finding Cheap Airfares Online
The NY Times just published an article on finding cheap airfares: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/travel/21Prac.html?ref=travel
Steve from TravelingProfessor.com
Garden City, NY USA Wed 02/17/2010
Flights to Russia
I am looking for a cheap airfare from DEN-LED on or about 6-21-10 to 7-4-10. This is for 2 people. Also does anyone know of a good website for apartment or condo rental in Russia?
Aurora, CO USA Fri 02/12/2010
Iceland Air is a Good Deal
Echoing what Tracy is saying below, Iceland Air is a great deal. I am travelling with a party of 4 this fall. Our itinerary has us flying from Seattle to London then from Frankfurt back to Seattle. We got tickets from flycheapabroad.com for $806/person (incl. taxes). I initially found the best dates to search using the QPX search engine on itasoftware.com
Portland, OR USA Wed 02/03/2010
British Airlines sale to Europe for Spring
Buy before Feb 4 for Spring travel to Europe from some major hubs in US. From SfO rdtrip to Rome it is $689.00 total. Perhaps other carriers will compete soon.
CA USA Tue 02/02/2010
Vayama - $540 rt DC->Moscow in July and August
We opted for the open jaw route into Moscow and home from St Petersburg for a little more...$560 total.
USA Tue 02/02/2010
Cheap airfare from Houston to Rome, Paris back to Houston on www.vayama.com
After tedious research, I booked a multi-city flight from Houston to Rome, then Paris back to Houston on www.vayama.com for a June-July 2010 trip. I had never heard of the site before, but when I used the tripadvisor website, it linked me directly to this site. Vayama.com had fares that were over $300-$400 less than those published directly on other search engines and airline websites. It won't tell you what airline you're flying on, but it will allow you to choose departure and arrival times based on price. Then, at check out it ended up giving us a $30 discount with a special. I followed the special and it lasted for over a week (even though the site said it was "only today.")
After looking over the RS helpline, I then booked a flight for my husband and I to fly from Rome to Paris on easyjet.com for only $126 US dollars (89 euros!) and that included costs for both of us and our checked luggage fees!
If you're willing to do research and compare prices, I'd recommend this site! Try to fly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and you'll see the best results.
austin, tx USA Tue 01/26/2010
I found a cheap-ish flight on Kayak via Iceland Air--the only 'problem' was that there was a 13 hour layover. I started to think that was more of a benefit than a problem, and did some research (on this website--thank you person who helped me) and found out that not only does Iceland Air allow 'on purpose' layovers for any number of DAYS, it is FAR cheaper to book directly through the airline website than it is to book any other way. Right now a flight from NYC to Reykjavik (with a stop over for as long or as little as you'd like) and then to Amsterdam and then OUT of Paris (train from Amsterdam to Paris on our own) back to NYC is $1080. On expedia right now, a roundtrip to Amsterdam is over $1200--and you have to fly roundtrip. For two people, that's a savings of $400 on just the airfare. Factor in the savings of train tickets--we don't have to take the train back to Amsterdam from Paris--and that's another $300. We save $700. We fly into and out of exactly where we want to go...and we get to see Iceland. Win win win!
Allentown, PA USA Tue 01/19/2010
better then crowded terminal
American Express/Delta airlines, you can buy a day pass to their hospitality Room for $25 dollars. must use AE gold or platanum card . with a five hour lay over at JFK this will be a good value for me
Bellevue, WA USA Fri 01/15/2010