[Rick Seaney is the CEO and cofounder of FareCompare, and columnist for Investopedia. The views expressed by columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Investopedia.]
Back in February, I wrote about the new bargain-flight cities of Europe: London, Paris and Rome. Many were surprised to see such popular destinations in the bargain bin; that’s usually where one might find Dublin or Amsterdam or a Scandinavian locale. It goes without saying that all of these are wonderful places to visit but they are not usually the most sought after, particularly by first time international tourists.
So what’s changed? That’s the point, very little has changed! London, Paris and Rome remain excellent deals, even in summertime. You can still slip in a last-minute summer vacation and not pay through the nose.
Let’s do a quick comparison for July, August and September flights. All fares were found using the monthly deal-finding tool on my airfare site (other sites have similar tools), and all fares are roundtrip prices from New York City. Note: The July deals were found in February; the August/September deals were found this week.
Deals to London
- July: $520; Paris $481
- August: $520
- September: $425
Deals to Paris
- July, $481
- August, $486
- September, $375
Deals to Rome
- July, $499
- August, $524
- September, $383
Notice the slight bump-up in price for August, but you can attribute that to searching for these fares so late in the season. Generally, you want to have transatlantic airfare purchases completed about a month and a half before departure. See Why Is My Seatmate's Ticket So Much Cheaper Than Mine?
Nevertheless, all are genuine deals, and here are three good ways to find them, any time of year.
Give yourself permission to have a flexible itinerary: If you are committed to traveling within a precise vacation window with no flexibility whatsoever, chances are good you’ll pay more than the airfare shopper who can fly when the deals are available. Try the deal-finding tool mentioned earlier, then compare the results with your set-in-stone dates, and see what’s cheaper. You might be shocked at the price difference.
Non-stops aren’t always the best way to save money: Some of the deals shown above are indeed non-stops, but not all of them. Example: New York to Rome in September is a connecting flight for $383 with a seven-hour layover in Milan coming, a two-hour layover going. Maybe that seems way too long, but first check out the price of the cheapest non-stop for that itinerary: $697. The layover is looking a little better.
Prepare yourself for fewer amenities: Transatlantic discounters like Norwegian Air and Wow are not going to give you any extras, unless you pay for them, and this includes a checked-bag and snacks and drinks. Is it worth it? You could bring something from home.
If you can fly in September, you’ll miss a lot of the crowds. A super cheap flight to a glorious destination with shorter lines at the best attractions. What more could you ask?