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  1. #1
    Sasquatch Crossing mycoatl's Avatar
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    Cheap airfare from North America to Europe?

    What are you favorite websites/travel agents/tricks for getting reasonably priced airfare to continental Europe?

    The wife and I are contemplating heading to Spain and Southern France this summer for 5 weeks, but we're getting turned off by the ticket prices. So far, $1200/person is looking like the common low fare Portland or Seattle to Madrid or Barcelona. We've found some as low as $1000 with fees, but that's still a little steep (I'm a student and my wife is quitting her job to go back to school in the fall).

    Are these decent prices or should we keep looking? Suggestions? Cheaper airports in Europe? Any help or advice is appreciated.

    Should we just suck it up and pay off the credit card later? As a friend says: "one never regrets one's extravagances."

  2. #2
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    Have you looked into flights from San Francisco or Los Angeles? Not sure, but might be cheaper. I've flown to Europe for a lot less than $1200, but it was off-peak, so the time you travel will definitely affect the ticket price.

  3. #3
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    Hey, I forgot. Have you tried STA Travel? It's low-fare travel for students, and since you're a student, well, you qualify. They're in the South Park Blocks-- can't remember the cross-street, though.

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    Check JetBlue airlines too. R/T to NYC varies, but I've gotten to NYC and back for close to $200, which is WAY lower than other airlines. JetBlue also has international flights, so I would look into them.

  5. #5
    Sasquatch Crossing mycoatl's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions Blue Order.

    I've checked San Fran and LA and prices are comparable. Tickets are a little cheaper out of Seattle and San Fran than PDX, but not much. It's the damn "taxes and fees" that really add up. I've found several $871/person tickets with nearly $300 added on for "taxes and fees." On some airlines, it seems to be a sliding scale--buy the $1100 ticket and tack on $200 in fees, buy the $900 ticket and tack on $300 in fees. Nice racket, huh?

    Checked out STA and they're just as expensive. On the bright side, though, I found out that I can buy International Student ID cards through them--great discounts at museums in Europe.

    We're considering the domestic flight/overseas flight route, but ticket prices are pretty high for domestic travel too, right now. It's just too far in advance--we may decide to buy NY to Madrid airfare and then wait and grab a last minute special on a PDX to NY flight.

    OTOH, we may just do the Priceline thing and see if we can get tix for $700-$800 on the "name your price" page.

  6. #6
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    Ticket prices are insane right now. I put my trip off until fall when the low season starts, and I will buy my ticket sometime in August or so, and I'll be flying out sometime in October.

    Ticket prices are just insane right now. I really think airlines are taking advantage and with that "fees" crap, they're gouging us.

    Koffee

  7. #7
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    If you plan summer travel to Europe, I'd start looking in January. Anything less than three months ahead,probably you'd be lucky to get under $1000. We have been having to fly BA , since all others are like at least $300 more. another hope. Fly to London. From there find a budget airline that serves the continent. Sometimes, flying onward on the trans-continental airlines, they really screw you on the last leg of the journey. another consideration. B/A I think one of the few European airlines that does not charge for bikes.

  8. #8
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    Swiss Air doesn't charge for bike either. In fact, I've taken two pieces of luggage AND a bike on Swiss and not been charged. So that's something to consider. However, since Luftansa bought Swiss, the price of a ticket on Swiss has been outrageous.

    Koffee

  9. #9
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    I've been checking flight prices may times a day for UK to US, returning from another US airport to UK. Don't assume that the best prices will come from the well-known on-line flight searches: I found that American Airlines were cheaper direct than them all (returning from SFO to MAN). So it's worth checking the cheapest flight you have found then trying to price it up direct with that airline (also works with hotels too).

    I also called AA up on bringing the bike back to UK: no $80 charge (that's what she said!) if less than 70lbs & less than 115 inches and within checked-in baggage limit (2 items). $20 is charged for a bike box they supply if you use one.

    Hope I've not gone too far off-topic.

  10. #10
    Sasquatch Crossing mycoatl's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions. It's often the little hidden costs of a trip that turn it from exhilirating to dreadful. Glad to see some airlines aren't charging for bring along bikes--all the little savings add up and either make the trip affordable or break the bank.

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    try going to a different city and see if you can get a cheaper flight from there to spain via one of the discount continental airlines. i recall when i was looking at going to prague last year flights to prague were about 8-900 a piece, but flights to paris were about 400. i ended up taking the direct flight for other reasons, but you may very well be able to save a bunch of money by trying other cities (if i recall correctly paris and london were the cheapest i found in europe, though i certainly didn't try every airport there is).

  12. #12
    Zen Master Miles2go's Avatar
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    I just went through this for airfare for two from SLC Utah to Switzerland in June. Started looking at fares in November. I did a lot of internet research and tried all the sites. The best prices were available from when I started looking, up to about 70 days out. Once within 60 days the costs went up and up and up. Buy now is my advice. Next year we're just going to forego the shopping and buy our tickets. BTW, we got the cheapest price buying directly from American Airlines (online). Hotwire, Orbitz, Travelocity and so on were about $100 more on average.

    Of course, YMMV.

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    Ron - Washington
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Look for cheap fares to London. Then check out the fares on http://www.easyjet.com or http://www.ryanair.com for really cheap flights to continental Europe. If you are taking a bike you should check out the fees on Easyjet and RyanAir as they can be very high. You will also need to get from Heathrow or Gatwick to Standsted, but hey you are young, poor, and seeking adventure! Good luck.

  14. #14
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    There are shuttle buses from Heathrow to Gatwick and Standsted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mycoatl
    What are you favorite websites/travel agents/tricks for getting reasonably priced airfare to continental Europe?

    The wife and I are contemplating heading to Spain and Southern France this summer for 5 weeks, but we're getting turned off by the ticket prices. So far, $1200/person is looking like the common low fare Portland or Seattle to Madrid or Barcelona. We've found some as low as $1000 with fees, but that's still a little steep (I'm a student and my wife is quitting her job to go back to school in the fall).

    Are these decent prices or should we keep looking? Suggestions? Cheaper airports in Europe? Any help or advice is appreciated.

    Should we just suck it up and pay off the credit card later? As a friend says: "one never regrets one's extravagances."
    When I was pricing tickets for my upcoming Italy trip I noticed that ticket prices increase quite a bit if any part of your journey happens after June 1, which seems to be the start of the high season. Needless to say I planned my trip to end at the end of May. I ended up buying tickets directly off the airline's website (Lufthansa this time, British Airways for my Scotland trip two years ago), and I paid a tiny bit less than if I had gone to Expedia or Travelocity. Both airlines have websites that let you select a range of travel dates and pick the cheapest day in that range.

    Another option if you're headed to France is to fly into the cheapest airport you can find, then take the train to whatever part of France you want to cycle in. I don't know anything about Spanish trains, but you did mention southern France, and French TGV trains (Train a Grande Vitesse) are a great way to travel.

    My concern about the really cheap options are that the more times you change planes and the more different airlines you use, the higher the odds are that your luggage will get lost or damaged. Changing airports is even riskier, what if you get delayed between airports? Do you really want to schlep all your luggage between airports after a transatlantic flight? Nonstop flights and flights that only use one airline might cost a little more, but losing a day or two of your vacation while you try to retrieve lost luggage does not appeal to me.

  16. #16
    ............ deerhoof's Avatar
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    I second STA travel. good people.

  17. #17
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Have you considered starting out in Vancouver and flying Zoom?

    http://www.flyzoom.com/

    The flights are all one way and I think the cheapest you'll find.

  18. #18
    mountain troll deadly downtube's Avatar
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    my friend said he could get standby tickets on traveltech.com (or something like that) for around 200 bucks from new york to europe.

  19. #19
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    Hmmm... sounds interesting, but it doesn't exist. Can you do a little research and get back to us with the correct info?

    Thanks!

    Koffee

  20. #20
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    Have you considered starting out in Vancouver and flying Zoom?

    http://www.flyzoom.com/

    The flights are all one way and I think the cheapest you'll find.
    I was also going to recommend Zoom, they do not charge extra for bikes. I think you can fly to London or Paris.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

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