7 Tips For Getting Euro Airfare Deals This Summer

Unlike stocks, we DO advise market timing when playing the international airfare game. AirFareWatchDogBlog has got 7 tips to help you beat the game. For instance:

6. Once you find a fare you like on an online travel agency (OTA), check the airline’s site. Many international airlines don’t share their best deals with the OTAs… you could save a bundle by buying direct. But that works in reverse sometimes too (an OTA might have a fare on Virgin Atlantic, for example, for hundreds less than Virgin is selling it for).

What’s your best international airfare hack? Sound off in the comments.

7 Timely Tips for Buying Summer Airfares to Europe [AirFareWatchDogBlog] (Photo: Andrés Martín / Tincho)

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  1. LetMeGetTheManager says:

    Kayak.com is my godsend…Use it for every flight I book.

  2. davidamarcillo says:

    Travel agencies sometimes have better prices than OTAs or the actual airline. I think this only happens if you book your flight last minute though, since the agencies buy tickets and then have to sell them or eat the full cost. My family has to go to Ecuador for a funeral, and we were able to get tickets from a small Ecuadorian travel agency for about $20 less per ticket than any OTA or airline. Not a huge savings for one ticket, but it adds up for a family trip. (I know Ecuador isn’t in Europe, but its an international flight regardless.)

    • davidamarcillo says:

      @davidamarcillo: I meant, of course, brick and mortar travel agencies, not online ones.

    • randomangela47 says:

      @davidamarcillo: I saved several hundred dollars this past summer by booking a flight to Indonesia through a travel agent. That’s comparing the final price I paid to the travel agent to the lowest rate I found anywhere online (and those rates usually didn’t include all taxes & fees).

      On top of that, they took care of everything when I needed to come home early — including re-scheduling the portions of the trip that were code-share on American carriers without any extra fees for me. I didn’t even have to pay the checked bag fee, despite the signs posted in front of the ticket counter about it!

      Finding a travel agent that specializes in your destination is key though. Other agents that I contacted couldn’t come close to the numbers I found online. You want one who does a lot of business with the airlines in the region you’re going to!

  3. morkus says:

    For me, the biggest saver has always been traveling on the right days (I find Tues-Wed-Thurs is the best combo) and then also RETURNING on the right days.

    It’s also important to shop on the right day of the week. Fares will literally fluctuate day-to-day. Mid-week is, once again, the prime time for buying because people plan trips on the weekend, or something.

    And then my most-often-used airfare aggregator is kayak.com. I like them because they list the total price, fees inclusive, when you search. The number you see is the number you pay.

    • cpt.snerd says:

      @morkus: You are so right on the fluctuating prices! My flight price for JetBlue actually changed when I was on the phone with a CSR! She was confused for a second and then said “Oh yeah, it’s the time when we are changing our systems and updating prices” argh! if only i was 1/2 hour quicker!

  4. Canino says:

    If you travel internationally to the same location a lot, one thing you can do is find a cheap one-way out of the US, then buy round trips that originate overseas from then on. A lot of times they’re cheaper and it’s easier to find tickets without change fees. You can just make the “return” for a later date and then change it to the correct date when you know the date you want to go back.

    My business partner was doing a lot of travel to Europe and my company saved thousands doing this.

    • parkavery says:

      @Canino: What? I’m confused. Any time I try to buy a one-way ticket they’re 2-3x the cost of a roundtrip ticket (same outgoing itinerary + random, cheap return leg).

      • Canino says:

        @parkavery: The trick is to find the one-way cheap OR to buy a round trip and just don’t use the return (you have to do this on a different airline).

        At the time we were doing this, my business partner found a flight from Baltimore to the continent for some special deal – $399 or something. It didn’t matter where it was to as long as it was to the EU. He was going to Milan but flew into Berlin and took the train from there.

        After that he bought round trip tickets from Milan to the US, which were much cheaper than tickets from the US to Milan. He would bump the “return” trip to suit his schedule, then buy another round trip (Milan to US) when he got there.

        • parkavery says:

          @Canino: You’ve just made my head hurt. :) Thanks for clarifying.

          Unfortunately, I can see 90% of people doing it wrong and ending up paying fees. Kinda like how zero interest periods on purchases are good in theory, but most people can’t manage it and get stuck in the end. Good for your business partner, though.

      • rworne says:

        @parkavery:

        That’s the question I have. Why not get the cheaper R/T ticket and just screw the return flight?

    • leaves4chonies says:

      @Canino:
      I think I know what Canino is talking about. When I did study abroad in South Africa, I bought a round trip ticket from Los Angeles to London and then a separate round trip from London to Cape Town. Doing this instead of buying a flight from Los Angeles to Cape Town (that had a layover in London) saved me about $300.

    • Cat_In_A_Hat says:

      @Canino: Just tested this method and in some cases it does come out cheaper than booking a direct flight and sometimes the price was a little higher. Depending on the airline, it may be worth it to split your trip in half and use another airline after landing to your first destination. From my experience, I’ve found trips within the EU to be less expensive at times than pre booking your flight connection with your original carrier. Cool idea.

  5. chrisjames says:

    My method is to wait while my wife laboriously scans the airlines for the best prices. Once she finds an amazing deal, I tell her that our finances aren’t in order yet and we should wait. Then once the price skyrockets, I apologize for delaying and we have a much more relaxed, more enjoyable, and far cheaper vacation closer to home.

    A better, more sane trick is to look for those college deals where you get a plane ticket, hotel stay, and sometimes other perks for some ridiculously cheap price, so long as you get so many to sign in on it. Pool some people together on Craigslist and skip the hotel. I knew someone that got a very cheap last-minute ticket to Amsterdam this way (though it was an exception; the deal didn’t require a group). It’s not often this will work, because many of those deals are iffy, but you luck out sometimes.

    • waitaminute says:

      @chrisjames: says “A better, more sane trick is to…” followed by “It’s not often this will work… deals are iffy…”

      What about your infrequent success and low plan integrity is actually “A better more sane trick”?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @chrisjames: Yeah if it doesn’t often work, I’m wondering why you even bring it up…and pooling people together on Craig’s List just screams bargain bin B-slasher flick to me.

    • erratapage says:

      @chrisjames: Wow… what a way to earn the services of a divorce attorney! How often have you lucked out on the Craigs List groups? Where did you end up staying?

      I find the best way is to do what your wife does. Do your homework. I’ve gotten some amazing deals, and I didn’t have to rely on a party junket.

  6. jdubyas says:

    Check Iceland Air… Its a longer flight, because you have to make a layover in Rekyavik, but a lot of times they have really good deals… If you can spend an extra day or two going to the hotsprings and being a tourist on your layover, I think the deals are even better.

    If you travel a lot to one particular country – like we do – my wife is Swedish – figure out the ins and outs of that country’s flag carrier’s pricing… When its cheapest, etc. Join that flagship airline’s rewards program in the US, even if you’re already signed up for their US partner’s program… SAS sends us some incredible deals from time to time. Also, if you fly them frequently enough, don’t hesitate to contact their US headquarters and ask for premium status in their rewards program. I used to fly a lot on business round trip from US-Scandinavia, but didn’t quite earn enough miles to qualify for their elite status… while I was on a layover in Newark, I called their US HQ and told them I wanted elite status – their CR rep upgraded my status immediately over the phone. From that point forward, I knew when to book my business trips for the busiest days on most of their routes, almost always guaranteeing I was on top of their list to get bumped into business class, when coach was overbooked. Also, they bumped me and my wife into Business on our Honeymoon trip. Also, whenever I fly United, in the US, I get access to United’s Red Carpet club….

    I’ve also found airfaireplanet.com to be a good Euro aggregator, but have had difficulties with them when it was time to book.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I recommend that you def. call airlines on material changes to your itinerary. For example–booking a direct flight for a total travel time of 2 hours that changes to a connecting flight totalling 6 hours of travel time, or a 3 hour layover changing to an 8 hour layover. By calling the airline on these changes, I had two non-refundable itineraries refunded… which worked to my advantage, because I rebooked cheaper and better flights afterward.

  8. Fresh-Fest-1986 says:

    My airfare hack is not taking an airplane for vacation in two years.

    I, of course, only travel by hot air balloon.

  9. JasonUK says:

    I’ve been using Tripeedo lately — [www.tripeedo.com.] Lets you check both the airline sites and the OTAs at the same time, which is very convenient. It seems to be mostly focused on the U.S. market now though. Here’s hoping they expand to some international carriers soon!

  10. parkavery says:

    My airfare hack is to let the airline know you’re shopping around.

    We always fly British Airways from the UK to visit my family in America. They say they guarantee the lowest price on their site, so we never used to look elsewhere. One day, we had the BA window open and went to Travelocity on a whim. The price at Travelocity WAS cheaper, but we reloaded the BA page and suddenly they had the lower price. Not sure how they did it (cookies?) but I promise you we weren’t drinking at the time. ;) It really happened and we saved something like £100.

  11. Blinky987 says:

    I use Kayak to price out my flights and also watch currency markets in cases where I have to make a non-USD purchase. I also use my CapitalOne Rewards card from college because it doesn’t charge a fee for currency conversions, as opposed to my Chase Rewards card that charges 3%.

    The rest of my tips are really contingent on how long you plan on staying within the area. Of course, there are times when you can book a roundtrip cheaper than a one-way and not take the return trip. There are also times when it’s correct to fly business class instead of economy for the extra baggage allotment- if you’re taking a RTW ticket, for example.

    Flying off-peak season helps with fares and with other incurred costs like hostels/hotel.

    I also check sales and see if my favorite carrier (or alliance) will match the sale. I also try and fly familiar, quality airlines like Swiss when in Europe. CHOCOLATE PLEASE!

  12. jodles says:

    lastminute.com is great for flights within Europe and back home. You can’t buy flights from the US to Europe on it, but you can get a flight home to the US, so it might be cheaper to buy a one-way ticket there and a one-way ticket home instead of a round trip on a US site.

  13. Ratty says:

    Any trips on inexpensive travel sites or airlines between the U.S. and Canada? Alaska/Horizon so far I haven’t been able to beat. Originating in RNO.

  14. bluepotatoes66 says:

    STA Travel is my site of choice for finding good deals. Even if you don’t have their student membership card ($25 and some paperwork) their deals are still hard to beat.

    I can also second the recommendation of Kayak.com. They continuously have the best deals I’ve seen off of STA Travel.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I usually use kayak to find the cheapest flights and then I check if the price is the cheapest one through letmebook.com where the guy searches manually for the least expensive flights. And it does not cost me anything. Last time he found something $120 less than the one I found in kayak.