Planning a multi-city Europe trip can be quite expensive. One of the most important things you can do is learn how to find the cheapest flights to Europe. We've assembled everything you need to know about finding cheap flights to Europe. It doesn't matter if you don't know what city you want to fly- we've also got information about flying to a variety of European countries and cities.
Booking last minute usually doesn’t provide the best deals. Most airlines dramatically increase their prices once they sell enough seats on a flight to cover their costs and are guaranteed to make a profit on the flight. Booking 3-6 weeks ahead of time is usually the best policy for finding cheap flights to Europe.
“Having flexible dates definitely makes it easier to get a cheap flight, but that's not always an option with limited vacation time. If you keep an open mind about which country in Europe you want to visit, this can save you tons of money that you can later spend enjoying your new destination." - Christy, ordinarytraveler.com
If you are booking last minute, the best time to search for flights is usually just after midnight when companies reduce the prices on the flights that weren’t booked during the day. If at all possible, aim to book earlier in the week rather than later. Studies show that people who book at midnight on Tuesday tend to save about 6% on their flights.
A flight’s price is strongly affected by its popularity. For example, if you decide to depart on a Friday and return on a Sunday your flights will likely be more expensive than flights at non-peak times. Being flexible in both the dates and times you choose to fly can potentially save you a lot of money. You’ll find that staying away from weekends and peak travel times like school breaks and holidays will save money as well as hassle. Not only will your flight be less expensive but so will your accommodations once you arrive and you’ll face fewer crowds.
"Airlines operate flights from certain airports on specific days of the week, so it's always best to find the flight you want first, and then book your leave at work afterwards." - Kiara, galloparoundtheglobe.com
If time isn’t an issue, layovers can often be a good way to find a cheaper flight. Flights with layovers may cause an unpleasant journey with a lot of waiting in airports, but they are often the cheapest way to get to Europe. Flight search engines often allow you to filter your results based on the number of layovers you will accept. Direct flights are of course the most expensive- if you’re willing to break your flight into smaller flights you’ll find cheaper results. It is also a great way to deal with budget airlines that don’t provide food or entertainment- a 6-hour layover in Reykjavik becomes a time to charge your tablet or phone and find some food before your next flight.
If you are just looking for the cheapest flight to Europe, you can potentially save a lot of money by searching for the cheapest point of arrival and then planning your Europe trip itinerary from there. Flying somewhere other than your ultimate destination can definitely cut down on costs, flights to London and Paris are going to be much more expensive than flights to smaller cities. Once you arrive your options multiply- consider a train ride, rental car or bus to your final destination. Alternatively, it may be cheaper to fly to the cheapest point of arrival in Europe and then book a second flight on a budget airline your desired city.
"If you're not committed to which city you are flying to then be flexible with where you arrive in Europe. Many flight search engines let you search by region, so you might find considerably cheaper flights by flying into another destination." - James, nomadicnotes.com
It may sound paranoid but flight search engines often track their user’s searches. If you look at a specific flight multiple times the search engine may know you’re interested and raise the prices accordingly. Alternatively, try using incognito mode or private browsing to make sure that your searches aren’t being tracked. You can search and compare to your heart’s content without worrying about prices going up.
The same flights often have different prices on different travel sites. Be sure to do some comparative research on both airlines' websites and flight aggregators to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Aggregators are a good place to start because they will show you flights from a variety of airlines. Once you’ve established the cheapest options across a couple of different websites it is best to cross reference those prices with the ones available on that airline’s website. Aggregators sometimes charge an additional booking fee that can be forgone if it is purchased directly from the airline.
“Use third-party websites as well as the airlines' actual websites when looking into flights. Most of the time, the prices will be the same or cheaper at the airlines' websites, but sometimes you can get a better deal on the third-party websites for the same flight!" - Michelle, michwanderlust.wordpress.com
While most intercontinental flights offer a free checked bag be sure to look at the airline’s luggage restrictions to avoid having to pay extra at the airport. Flying with only a carry-on isn’t always a possibility for long visits but a few weeks worth of summer clothes can likely be squeezed into a backpack. Pack light and avoid the hassle of checking and picking up bags at your destination.
While booking a round trip flight is usually the cheapest option for traveling to Europe, this is not always the case. Make sure you compare the cost of a round trip flight with the cost of 2 one-way flights to make sure you’re getting the best deal available. Also be sure to include the cost of traveling into town from the airport into your flight budget. Consider cities or towns with multiple airports and look into public transport options from each of them. One airport might be closer to the city center than another but perhaps the further offers cheaper flights.
“Consider avoiding booking flights that arrive very early in the morning or too late at night just because they are cheaper. Ultimately, they can end up being more expensive because you might need to pay for a taxi to get into town, as the public transportation might have shut down depending on your schedule.” - Allane, packingmysuitcase.com
Airlines often charge intense fees for changing your flight so make sure you double check all of your travel plans before buying a ticket. Read all the fine print before checking out. Aggregator websites will sometimes lump in extras like travel and luggage insurance that you can get much cheaper elsewhere. Reading the policies ahead of time will save you money in the long run.
The price of your flight is related to the length. Flights within North America, like those within Europe, tend to be much cheaper purely by virtue of the length of the flight. When booking your initial flight to Europe, consider a flight to London. Flights from New York to London are frequent and relatively inexpensive in comparison with flights out of other major American hubs. Some airlines offer more than 10 flights a day. With so much choice, your likelihood of scoring a deal increases dramatically.
Changing your departure destination can also have a huge impact on the price paid. Leaving from smaller airports will often require more layovers and can wind up being more expensive. If time allows, consider driving, taking a bus, a train or even a smaller regional airline to your point of departure and make the long trip and booking out of that larger airport.
The price of flights vary pretty dramatically depending on the season. Unsurprisingly, flights to Berlin in February are much cheaper than flights to Barcelona in July. Knowing the seasonal nature of flights bookings gives you an advantage. When booking flights for peak season, book your flight as early as possible. These flights are bound of fill up and the discounted seats will disappear rather quickly. If you're traveling during the off-peak season, early fall and winter (minus the holiday season) being good bets, you can stand to wait a little while. Flights will fill up less quickly and they won’t need to discount their fares until closer to the date.
There are numerous flag-carrying airlines that offer intercontinental flights to Europe. While major flag-carrying airlines are not the only option for flying from North America, they account for the vast majority of intercontinental flights to Europe. Unlike many budget airlines, most airlines flying across the Atlantic offer a complementary piece of checked luggage and food and refreshments once on board.
Many airlines fly to Europe—meaning that many cheap flights to Europe are to be found! Below is a list of some of the American and European airlines and where you depart from in American as well as where they land in Europe.
Aer Lingus: Ireland's flag-carrying airline flies to Ireland and other European destinations from 6 cities in North America: Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and Toronto.
Air Canada : Canada's national airline operates flights from major Canadian cities to European destinations in Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Air France : Air France offers numerous transatlantic flights to North American destinations in the United States and Canada including Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Montreal, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington D.C.
Alitalia: : Italy's national airline offers transatlantic flights to a number of Italian destinations from Boston, Miami, New York and Toronto, as well as seasonal flights from Los Angeles and Chicago.
American Airlines : American Airlines is one of the world's largest airlines which operates intercontinental flights to destinations around the world. American airlines offers intercontinental flights to European cities including Paris, Athens, Dublin, Amsterdam, Rome, Milan, Venice, Frankfurt and London.
Austrian Airlines: : Austria's national airline travels to Austria and other European destinations from a number of North American cities including Chicago, New York, Miami, Toronto and Washington D.C.
British Airways: The United Kingdom's national airline, British Airways, has the most planes in the world and flies to numerous cities on 6 continents. British Airways offers flights to Europe from numerous cities in North America including Austin, Calgary, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Jose, Tampa Bay and Vancouver.
Delta :Delta offers flights to 64 countries on 6 continents. Delta offers intercontinental flights to most countries in Western Europe including Ireland, Portugal, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Finnair: Finland's national airline offers intercontinental flights from the United States to European destinations. Finnair flights fly from Miami and New York.
Iberia :Spain's national airline offers intercontinental flights to Spain and other European destinations from cities in the United States. Specifically, you can fly with Iberia to Europe from Boston, Chicago, Miami or New York City.
Icelandair:Icelandair offers passengers on transatlantic flights the opportunity to stopover in Iceland at no additional cost when flying to Europe. Icelandair offers flights from Edmonton, Toronto, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Seattle and Washington D.C. to Reykjavik before continuing on to a variety of European destinations.
KLM:The Netherlands' national airline offers flights to European destinations from over a dozen North American cities including Atlanta, Calgary, Chicago, Edmonton, Houston, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York, San Francisco, Vancouver and Washington D.C.
Lufthansa:Germany's national airline operates flights from over a dozen North American cities to destinations all over Europe. Lufthansa flies to Europe from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Montreal, New York, San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver.
United:United Airlines is the world's largest airline by number of destinations offered. United Airlines offers flights to numerous European destinations including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Geneva, Glasgow, Hamburg, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Paris and Zurich.
Virgin Atlantic:Virgin Atlantic operates transatlantic flights from both London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports as well as Manchester's airport. Virgin Atlantic offers flights to North American destinations including Atlanta, Boston, Los Vegas, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.