Mar262017

Ticketing tutorial Bay Area to Prague at Thanksgiving

A friend who is an infrequent international traveler asked me to look into a trip to Prague Thanksgiving week 2017. An infrequent traveler will likely search for tickets San Francisco SFO and San Jose SJC to Prague. That is my first search too, but only to get a base line ticket price for comparing to discount fares available by flying to some other city in Europe, then flying to Prague on separate tickets.

There is a chance Prague is a cheap ticket from the San Francisco Bay Area today. But in my extensive searches over the past year, Prague has not been a common discount airfare city in Europe.

Step One: Google Flights Calendar View

The advantage of Google Flights is its calendar view and option to input up to 5 cities. For my area of northern California this means San Francisco SFO, San Jose SJC and Oakland OAK.

Norwegian Airlines operates flights to Stockholm and Oslo from Oakland and WOW Air operates flights to Keflavik KEF Airport by Reykjavik, Iceland. Oslo and Stockholm have flights across Europe, especially with Norwegian Airlines. From Iceland there are flights to several cities in Europe with WOW and other airlines.

San Francisco SFO or San Jose SJC to Prague PRG, Czechia

$1,200+ for flights without an overnight transit city hotel stay.

British Airways has San Jose SJC to Prague via London and Dublin with an overnight in Dublin, Ireland outbound and overnight in London inbound on a $839 round trip ticket.

British Airways/Aer Lingus San Jose SJC – London LHR – Dublin DUB (overnight transit) – Prague PRG – Dublin DUB – London LHR (overnight transit) – San Jose SJC

$839  Sat November 18 – Mon November 27

SJC-PRG $839 Nov18-27

The $839 fare British Airways tickets forces two overnights in Dublin and London. This is an opportunity if you want a night in Dublin and London, but big hotel expense and time expense if you really want to maximize your travel time in Prague.

Google Flights establishes an $839 base fare. Alternative ticketing strategies will likely offer an option for getting back to California on Monday November 27, while paying under $600 round trip to Prague.

Step Two: Momondo.com or Skyscanner.com metasearch of online travel agency ticket prices.

Momondo and Skyscanner pull up some very low fares. I use these in conjunction with Google Flights to help find dates with lowest fares. The set dates for my friend’s Prague trip mean Google Flights low fare calendar is irrelevant since trip dates are fixed and can only shift by one day earlier or later around Thanksgiving holiday week.

British Airways  San Jose SJC – London LHR – Prague PRG – London LHR – San Jose SJC

$874 Sat Nov 18 – Mon Nov 27

SJC-PRG $874 BA Nov18-27

Momondo.com search.

SJC-PRG $874 BA-ota Nov18-27

This British Airways itinerary out of San Jose to London Heathrow LHR has the advantage of Saturday November 18 departure to London and next day Sunday arrival in Prague. This ticket is for a flight back to San Jose on Monday November 27 with same day return for $874. That is similarly priced to the $839 itinerary seen on Google Flights with no expensive overnight hotel expenses and airport transportation hassles in Dublin and London.

SJC-PRG $874 Skybooker

If my friend wants a trip with set dates now and a convenient travel schedule, book this $874 ticket and be happy.

I can’t justify spending nearly $900 on a ticket to Europe for myself when there are ways to cut that ticket price down by another $200 to $300.

Norwegian, WOW, Level and Alliances Low Fares Competition

Norwegian launched service from LAX and OAK to Scandinavia with Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo most commonly the cheapest cities to fly to in Europe from California.

Ticket prices have bottomed out in 2017 with round trip tickets flying WOW with ticket prices at $70 one way to Europe on sale a couple of times so far this winter. Norwegian Airlines has had tickets from Stockholm and Oslo under $120 on several dates in early 2017. I flew in January for $179 round trip on WOW ($70 SFO-CPH) and Norwegian ($109 ARN-OAK). I stayed the first night in Europe in Malmo, Sweden and flew Copenhagen to Prague for $53 the next day.

Two issues with low cost carriers.

1. Must pack small and light to avoid high bag fees. This is an even bigger issue for WOW Air than Norwegian.

2. Ticket prices frequently priced higher than alliance carriers for round trip travel holidays, weekends and June-August.

Ticket prices regularly drop under $500 and even under $400 round trip lately from San Jose SJC, San Francisco SFO and Los Angeles LAX airports to other cities in Europe like Barcelona, Milan, Zurich, Paris, London and Dublin. Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Munich and Budapest also have frequent low fare deals.

Norwegian Airlines  Oakland OAK – Stockholm ARN – Oakland OAK

$170 OAK-ARN Friday November 17, $148 ARN-OAK Monday November 27

$318 two separate one-way tickets or $350 purchased as a single round trip ticket through USA website.

Return flight is lower priced one way Stockholm – Oakland when purchased through Norwegian Airline’s Sweden website is SEK currency

OAK-ARN $350 DY Nov17-27 

Arrive Stockholm ARN on Saturday at 11:15am. No cheap flights to Prague on Saturday afternoon, unless you want to stay overnight in Riga, Latvia. Best advice is probably get a good day’s rest and relax in Stockholm, get over jet lag and fly to Prague Sunday morning for $46 rather than $166 to get to Prague on Saturday evening.

I recommend Clarion Hotel Sign in Stockholm. You can book the hotel with 10,000 Choice Privileges points. You can buy 10,000 Choice Privileges points for $75 through Points Plus Cash reward nights.

Loyalty Traveler – Stockholm Clarion Hotel Sign great deal on points, convenient airport train access

Loyalty Traveler – Trip Report Stockholm NYO to Clarion Hotel Sign to Arlanda ARN

SAS Scandinavian Airlines  Stockholm ARN – Prague PRG

$46  Sunday November 19

ARN-PRG $46 SK Nov 19

Norwegian Airlines  Prague PRG – Stockholm ARN

$118  Sunday November 26

PRG-ARN $118 DY Nov26

Oakland to Stockholm to Prague = $482 round trip.

  • Norwegian Oakland to Stockholm ARN $170 Fri Nov 17
  • SAS Stockholm ARN to Prague $46 Sun Nov 19
  • Norwegian Prague to Stockholm ARN $118 Sun Nov 26
  • Norwegian Stockholm ARN to Oakland $148 Mon Nov 27

Norwegian Airlines is generous with its carry on bag policy. Norwegian is a real airfare deal if you pack only carry on bags, do not pay for a pre-assigned seat selection, and bring your own food on the flight.

Checked bag and seats adds another $100 to $200 to ticket price.

Hotel expenses and airport transportation in Stockholm for two nights and two round trips to city center on the bus adds $200 to the trip expenses for about $682 trip price for travel to Prague compared to $874 for direct service with British Airways San Jose to Prague.

Is it worth saving $200 for one less day in Prague?

Norwegian flights mean leaving from Oakland Friday November 17 instead of Saturday November 18 from San Jose flying British Airways.

Saving $200 with Norwegian Airlines means flying to Stockholm on Sunday instead of flying out of Prague on Monday.

My advice: Hold out for lower fares than any of the options presented here.

Set fare alerts on different sites for Bay Area airports  SFO, SJC and OAK to Prague PRG. Sometime in the next few months there will likely be ticket prices to Prague in low $500s round trip with one of the major alliance carriers for travel over Thanksgiving week.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Nope. Nope.
    I go a lot and the prime flight is Delta JFK to Prague. JFK is easy to get cheap flights to. Why anyone would go through the cost and hassle of Heathrow is beyond me. I won’ even discuss the “low-cost” frauds. Condor has a BWI-FRA-PRG direct that may be an exception and BWI is a Southwest hub.

    Berlin and Vienna are both close-by alternatives with very good fares and fast and cheap rail/air connections.

    Czech is a wonderful airline but unfortunately doesn’t fly to the US, making nonstops to Prague non-existent except for Delta’s.

    btw- The bus/Metro from PRG to downtown is under $1 and faster than cabs or airport buses and PRG has a supermarket in it on main level.

  2. @Tassojunior – JFK is not a cheap flight Thanksgiving week. My friend is flying from San Francisco Bay Area to Prague the weekend before Thanksgiving and returning the weekend or Monday after.

    Avoiding a connection in the USA is generally the cheapest way to get to Europe Thanksgiving week from California.

  3. Flying to Munich can sometimes be hugely cheaper than Prague, then a 4-hour bus ride directly from Munich airport to the Prague central train station on very nice buses run by Deutsche Bahn or a couple other options…

  4. @Steve – Munich was priced in $700s, about $100 less than Prague for these dates. Ticket prices are mid-$500s if get back to California Tue Nov 28.

    I went to Prague by train on a cheap ticket SFO to Dresden, Germany one time.

    Update Nov 11, 2017 – I came across this article again today 7.5 months after writing the piece. I flew to Prague last month for $367 round trip on British Airways San Jose-LHR-Prague. British Airways has frequently offered fares in low to mid-$400s for many places in Europe over past few months and prices drop to under $400 with AARP discount tickets.

    http://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2017/08/20/british-airways-sfosjcoak-to-budapest-or-prague-350-380/

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