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Joeghartman

First time to Europe

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We just booked our first European cruise to the Mediterranean. I’ve never flown to Europe. Is there a window of when to book. The airfare is more than the cruise. We are specifically flying from Philadelphia to Barcelona in June and then from Rome to Philadelphia. Any tips or advice is more than helpful.

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Some random thoughts:

 

-Make sure you're searching for an open-jaw RT itinerary, not 2 one-way flights. Contrary to what you see in US domestic flight pricing, a one-way to/from Europe will almost always be more than half a RT - and often even more than a full RT...

-The more flexible you can be, the more chance you have of bringing down the cost. This not only means flexibility with dates, but also connections and even arrival/departure airports. For instance, Barcelona has easy, direct, high-speed train service from both Madrid and Paris. On the other end, from Rome you could look at flying out of Milan. And of course, you could look at flying out of either JFK or EWR.

 

ETA: I just remembered that Air France has a seat sale on right now. I know there's some great deals from close to home here (YUL), so could look at what they're offering for your dates.

Edited by Twickenham

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Philly is an American Airlines hub, with nonstop flights offered both to Barcelona and Rome (so both ways.)  However you're probably going to see higher prices for those flights than you would for itineraries that stop for plane changes somewhere en route.  For example, early in the month (June) Aer Lingus, the Irish airline (owned by the same company as British Airways and Iberia) is a couple of hundred dollars cheaper for an "open-jaw" itinerary that goes from PHL to BCN with a stop in Dublin, then the same returning (Rome - Dublin - Philly.)  The connection in Dublin will add a couple of hours of travel time in both directions, so the question to you is, is that worth it?  (One useful note is that one clears US immigration and customs in Dublin on the way home, making the arrival at PHL very quick and easy.)  

 

However these savings are much less for later in the month (of June) and for travel departing on Fridays and Saturdays.  Airfares, especially to big tourist destinations like Barcelona and Rome, are very much based on supply and demand, so if you can manage to travel on cheaper days, you can benefit (a little) from this phenomenon.  

 

What are your dates?  

Edited by Gardyloo

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There is NO magic time to buy. It takes doing the research, monitoring prices very regularly, finding a price you can live with, buying, and not looking back. The cheapest prices probably sold a couple of months ago, although there can be sales in the winter.

 

It is always good to check cruise line airfares, you can get some good deals. But it is alway highly recommended to read the MANY discussions here about the restrictions on cruise line (also known as "consolidator" fares) airfares, so you don't trip over a landmine.

 

There is no correlation between airfares and cruise fares, because there are too many variables. For example, we are doing a 24 day cruise next May-June, in a suite. While we booked our flights using miles, the business class air fares were about half the cruise fare. But if we did the same flights with only a 7 day cruise in the cheapest cabin, our airfare would have been about 3 times the cruise fare.

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5 hours ago, Twickenham said:

-Make sure you're searching for an open-jaw RT itinerary, not 2 one-way flights.

 

You've already gotten a number of good suggestions here.  I'll just add one comment to clarify the statement above... when searching an airline site for open jaw itineraries, it's usually listed as "multi city" rather than "open jaw."  Look near the top of the search window and you typically see three options:  1) round trip, 2) one way, and 3) multi city.   #3 is the one that allows you to book, for example, PHL-BCN and FCO-PHL all together on one reservation, rather than 2 separate one way reservations.

 

Oh, here's a second suggestion- whatever you do, try to arrive at least one day (preferably 2) ahead of your cruise.  You never know what might go wrong and having a day in between and arrival and cruise embarkation is good security against missing the ship or having your luggage not make it.   And when when luggage doesn't make it for a European cruise, it likely won't catch up with you til you get home!  I've seen it happen on multiple occasions.

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When to buy?  When a fair price hits the radar.  Understand the pricing, establish your price range, and hit the button when your fare hits.

 

This fall we did an open jaw.  In to Athens, out from London 50 days or so later.    We booked about six weeks out.  The airline, the fare, and the routings were all great so we hit the buy button.    Checked on pricing a week prior to departure, and the prices were essentially the same....$10 or $20 less.    Over five winter trips to Thailand the very best fare we have had by far was the one that we booked 10 days out.   Pricing is all down to supply/demand, and competitive pressures.

 

As others have said, be prepared to look at alternative airports.  We flew into Heathrow and departed from Gatwick.  We had to to take a bus bewteen airports.    That saving we realized was considerably more than the slight  inconvenience of the transfer.  

 

If you are trying to get the lowest price ticket on a particular flight be prepared to vacation in your back yard.  Aim for a good price and book it.

Edited by iancal

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On 12/14/2019 at 11:34 AM, Gardyloo said:What are your dates?  


 

we are looking to do an overnight flight on Thursday june18, arriving the 19th into Barcelona. Leaving the 28th. It gives us a free day in each city.

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Thank you all for the great tips. It seems like I have been doing my homework accurately. My other half is set on a non-stop, which means AA since we are a hub for them. I do know we have an Aer Lingus that leaves out of Phl, so I will price and compare.

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it may be much cheaper to fly to London stay a couple of days to enjoy the city (you can take the "tube" directly to Heathrow) and then take an ultra low clost carrier to barcalona one-way (remember to figure in baggage and carry on) and a one-way return flight from rome on said ulcc.

3 weeks out still seems to be the magic in pricing.

 

in winter from DTW trips to LHR are like$700

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4 hours ago, MSUjohn said:

it may be much cheaper to fly to London stay a couple of days to enjoy the city (you can take the "tube" directly to Heathrow) and then take an ultra low clost carrier to barcalona one-way (remember to figure in baggage and carry on) and a one-way return flight from rome on said ulcc.

3 weeks out still seems to be the magic in pricing.

 

in winter from DTW trips to LHR are like$700

3 weeks prior to departure? Seriously?

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12 hours ago, MSUjohn said:

 

3 weeks out still seems to be the magic in pricing.

 

There is no magic date as to when prices will always be lowest.  If YOU have had good luck waiting until 3 days out that's great, but waiting that long also means a good chance that availability is limited and you may not be able to get seats together, at the very least.

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14 hours ago, MSUjohn said:

it may be much cheaper to fly to London stay a couple of days to enjoy the city (you can take the "tube" directly to Heathrow) and then take an ultra low clost carrier to barcalona one-way (remember to figure in baggage and carry on) and a one-way return flight from rome on said ulcc.

3 weeks out still seems to be the magic in pricing.

 

in winter from DTW trips to LHR are like$700

I would definitely not recommend waiting with booking the tickets until 3 weeks prior to departure on transatlantic/long-haul flights. With LCCs on intra-European routes it might be okay to wait until just days (or even hours) before departure, but not on long-haul flights.

Edited by mikkelhansen

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14 hours ago, mikkelhansen said:

I would definitely not recommend waiting with booking the tickets until 3 weeks prior to departure on transatlantic/long-haul flights. With LCCs on intra-European routes it might be okay to wait until just days (or even hours) before departure, but not on long-haul flights.

I meant that about the 3 week mark  flights increase in price drastically. 

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15 hours ago, waterbug123 said:

 

There is no magic date as to when prices will always be lowest.  If YOU have had good luck waiting until 3 days out that's great, but waiting that long also means a good chance that availability is limited and you may not be able to get seats together, at the very least.

watch delta, at about the 3 week before the flight the prices increase greatly. 

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On 12/21/2019 at 10:59 PM, CruiserBruce said:

3 weeks prior to departure? Seriously?

 

 

yes, if you book a flight 3 weeks before the flight (or earlier) there is a noticable savings. 

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1 minute ago, MSUjohn said:

 

 

yes, if you book a flight 3 weeks before the flight (or earlier) there is a noticable savings. 

There MIGHT BE noticeable (how many times have you documented this? On how many routes?) savings...depends entirely on supply and demand. And what routes to your destination? How indirect might your route suddenly become. How many middle seats in 4 across sections?

 

And, if I had many thousands of dollars committed to a cruise, I certainly would not play a "wait and see" game to figure out just how wacko my flights might be.

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Just now, CruiserBruce said:

There MIGHT BE noticeable (how many times have you documented this? On how many routes?) savings...depends entirely on supply and demand. And what routes to your destination? How indirect might your route suddenly become. How many middle seats in 4 across sections?

 

And, if I had many thousands of dollars committed to a cruise, I certainly would not play a "wait and see" game to figure out just how wacko my flights might be.

 

that is why I said book early.  with a mainline carrier, the pricing is rather predictable, but based on several things. 

 

 

good airline pricing video 

 

 

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On 12/16/2019 at 3:15 PM, Joeghartman said:


 

we are looking to do an overnight flight on Thursday june18, arriving the 19th into Barcelona. Leaving the 28th. It gives us a free day in each city.

I am from suburbs of phl and whenever I fly to europe I have found pricing out of jfk or ewr-Newark airport to be much better than flying from phl.

You can do a non stop flight with american airlines out of jfk for approx 750 pp.

Non stop pretty much insures your luggage will be with you too.  Less chance of it being misplaced with connecting flights.

If cruise is with royal caribbean check out choiceair.com.  they offer refundable pricing.  You can book now and either reprice just like repricing a cruise should rates lower or switch carriers up to 90 days when final payment is due.

I recommend non stop for at least the flight to Bcn as I had good friends who had connecting flight and their luggage never caught up with them till they got back home.  They had to scramble and buy everything new before they got on cruise ship.  

Search google flights and choice air or whatever cruise line you are traveling with will offer flight options too.

But I highly recommend jfk or ewr for better rates.  They are easy enough to get to from phl area.

 

 

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For the longest time, AS maintained the full "Sky High Airlines" website.  Sadly, they took it down a few years back.

 

I think it might have been because they were moving in that direction.  AS is still better, IMO, than many other options.

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7 hours ago, Sunshine3601 said:

I am from suburbs of phl and whenever I fly to europe I have found pricing out of jfk or ewr-Newark airport to be much better than flying from phl.

You can do a non stop flight with american airlines out of jfk for approx 750 pp.

Non stop pretty much insures your luggage will be with you too.  Less chance of it being misplaced with connecting flights.

If cruise is with royal caribbean check out choiceair.com.  they offer refundable pricing.  You can book now and either reprice just like repricing a cruise should rates lower or switch carriers up to 90 days when final payment is due.

I recommend non stop for at least the flight to Bcn as I had good friends who had connecting flight and their luggage never caught up with them till they got back home.  They had to scramble and buy everything new before they got on cruise ship.  

Search google flights and choice air or whatever cruise line you are traveling with will offer flight options too.

But I highly recommend jfk or ewr for better rates.  They are easy enough to get to from phl area.

 

 

Thanks for that advice. I have thought about flying out of there too. We are booked on Celebrity. I may end up booking through them when they have their next air sale.

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2 hours ago, Joeghartman said:

Thanks for that advice. I have thought about flying out of there too. We are booked on Celebrity. I may end up booking through them when they have their next air sale.

You can use choiceair.com with Celebrity Cruises too.     Just make sure you book a refundable flight option when using choiceair.   If you do it now and prices come down prior to your final payment date you simply call and reprice just like you can do with a cruise if fares come down.     You can also cancel with choiceair as long as you haven't made final payment.    Actually nice they do not collect any money now - only 90 days before flight.   They offer great flexibility that is Not available if you book your own flights.     Their pricing is usually same or better than what you find on google flight searches for international flights.   I have not used them for domestic flights.    Good luck!

Happy Holidays!

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One more option to consider if you find multicity is significantly more expensive than the roundtrip from one city or the other. Buy the roundtrip and then use a LCC (we had no issues with RyanAir or EasyJet) to get to your other city. 

 

If it was me, I’d also take a look at TAP. They fly from both BOS and IAD which I would think would be relatively easy for you to reach. Their fares have been really good lately, especially in biz. And if you can spare the time, you can have up to a 5 day stopover in Lisbon or Porto for free. 

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On 12/16/2019 at 12:15 PM, Joeghartman said:


 

we are looking to do an overnight flight on Thursday june18, arriving the 19th into Barcelona. Leaving the 28th. It gives us a free day in each city.

Hang on there! ONLY a free day in Barcelona and Rome??? This is your first time to Europe-

FYI: our first time was last year and we spent 3 nights in Rome, pre-cruise. It was fabulous!

We walked everywhere and did some private tours that were amazing. 

In 2021, we will spend at least 3 nights pre-cruise in Barcelona and end up in Rome where

we will explore lots of northern Italy.

So, you may consider some pre-cruise and post-cruise options as well, if your schedule permits

as well as you budget.

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