[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.]
Cheap fares to Europe are not exactly a new phenomenon; I’ve written about them earlier this year, but I can’t remember ever seeing so many deals to so many popular destinations at such rock-bottom prices. Fall has never looked so spectacular; let’s see what’s cheap and how to find these fares.
Cities with the Best Fall Deals
As usual, bigger cities with major airports get the best deals, but notice how these deals are spread out across the country. And so, so cheap – $300+ deals, mostly, plus a couple that are even cheaper – all found earlier this week using FareCompare's deal-finding tool, set to search fall fares. All prices are roundtrip.
- $275: New York – Paris*
- $295: San Francisco – Barcelona
- $305: Dallas – Dublin
- $320: Boston - Berlin
- $326: Ft. Lauderdale – Madrid
- $359: Chicago – London*
- $360: Newark – Amsterdam
- $371: Los Angeles – Rome
Yes, these flights are to and from big cities. Don’t live in one? Look for cheap flights that will get you to a major hub and ultra-discount carriers such as Allegiant, Frontier or Spirit may get you where you need to go.
Tip: If you fly to a bigger airport before heading off to Europe, be sure to leave plenty of time between flights in case of delays. If you have friends or family in the area, see if you can fly in the day before and spend the night with them, just to be extra safe.
How to Find Impossible Fares
Skip Thanksgiving. Instead of paying a fortune to go to Mom’s in Minneapolis for the annual turkey coma, consider a trip to Europe. Check out these roundtrip fares from American Airlines found late last week*. The Minneapolis flight is on popular Thanksgiving travel days, Nov. 21 to 25, while the Europe flights are Nov. 26 to Dec. 3.
Tip: If Mom objects to you skipping the Turkey Day festivities, invite her to join you.
- New York – Paris: basic economy, $252; regular economy, $448
- New York – Minneapolis: regular economy, $637
*Prices can change without notice
Use a deal-finding tool. As mentioned, there is one on my site, but others have them too. It’s just an easy way to quickly determine the cheapest fare in a month or season to particular region of the world, or, globally. This is also perfect for people who want to go somewhere but have no particular destination in mind; you just see what’s cheap!
Sign up for alerts. Simple, useful, and it really works. Most airfare sites have this: You plug in your departure and destination city and you will be contacted whenever fares drop.
Tip: If you are alerted to a great price and decide to go for it, ask fast.The cheapest seats on a plane are always limited in number, and you’re probably not the only one watching this particular route.
The Bottom Line
If you haven’t been to Europe in a while, treat yourself to a trip; it may never be cheaper. But first, check your passport. If it needs updating, learn what to do on the State Department’s travel page. It’ll even show you how to get or renew a passport when you’re in a hurry.
And don't wait too long. Trees may be lit in early December, but Europe fares rise for Christmas. (Take your last look at this year's fare timing in The Cheapest Days to Fly in 2018.)