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LAX to Scandinavia for $500, then hopscotch flights around Europe

The opportunity to fly from California to Scandinavia for under $500 with current Delta and United airfares provides a cheap airfare option to expensive vacation destinations. LAX or SFO to Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo flights have been on sale for weeks by United and Star Alliance carriers and more recently by Delta and Skyteam carriers for between $500 to $600. The low airfares are in response to low fare startup Norwegian Airlines coming into select US airports at Fort Lauderdale FLL, New York JFK, Los Angeles LAX and Oakland OAK.

Getting to Europe from California and west coast USA is the expensive part. Getting around Europe from Scandinavia on the cheap is rather easy with one-way low-cost flights.

Loyalty Traveler series on low airfare to Scandinavian cities:

SFO-OSL or LAX-CPH $511 to $571 on United in spring, fall, Christmas (March 8, 2014)

Visiting more of Europe than solely your ticket destination with transit stops (March 21, 2014)

United Newark-Paris $611 round trip in spring and fall using ITA Software to find it (March 25, 2014)

LAX-Paris or LAX-AMS $660 United with Stockholm or Copenhagen stopover spring and fall travel (March 25, 2014)

Thank you Norwegian. Cut $500 off airfare to Athens for TBEX Europe 14 (March 26, 2014)

In my travel experience, minimizing the travel days on a vacation is a better choice. My basic rule of travel is “You can never see it all, so don’t waste time and money trying.”

Last summer some friends of mine around 50 years of age made their first trip to Europe. They went on 12-day group tour flying from San Francisco to Paris and traveled to Switzerland, Austria and Germany. When I saw their itinerary, my first reaction was they will be exhausted by the constant moving. I counted five days of train travel in 11 days to move from place to place. They had three nights in Paris followed by a race schedule across three other countries by train. When they returned, their comments reflected that it was a lot of travel time on the trip.

My preference is to spend 3 to 4 nights in one place. I think 11 to 14 days is a good length of time for a Europe vacation to really sit back and feel the vibe, yet get back home before the pets and plants die from neglect and your credit card limit is still available for other uses.

Can’t afford two weeks in Oslo, Copenhagen or Stockholm?

Hopscotch Europe from Scandinavia.

Step 1: Find a low fare ticket to Scandinavia.

This first section shows how to find the low airfare to Scandinavia and the second section shows the possible itineraries from Copenhagen to most of Europe.

The airfares change each day with these current fare wars in California to Scandinavia as tickets are purchased. I bought a ticket nearly three weeks ago for SFO-Oslo on United at $541 for September 2014 travel. That ticket is still available today for $589.

I use two tools to find these low airfares.

ITA Software Matrix Flight Search

Use ITA Software Matrix Airfare Search to check prices for LAX or SFO and try Copenhagen, Oslo or Stockholm for the month you want to travel using 1-7 days, 7-14 days, 14-21 days or whatever number of days you want for travel within a seven day range.


ITA Software Matrix Flight Search for a 7 to 14 night trip from LAX-CPH.

Google Flight Maps

Another tool that can be quicker than ITA Flight Search is Google Flight Maps and manually shift dates to see airfare rates in a region. I found rates in the $620 to $800 range for Stockholm and Oslo as I shifted dates and then a low $492 Copenhagen rate came up.

Google flight maps lax-cph

I first located this low fare for Los Angeles – Copenhagen at $492 on Google Flight Maps and then used ITA Matrix Flight Search to check other airfares for LAX-CPH around those dates.

ITA Matrix Flight Search shows a calendar month of rates for trips of 7 to 14 days.

ITA LAX-CPH calendar

There are a variety of departure dates allowing a trip of 7 to 14 days at $493 roundtrip for LAX-CPH.

I will work with this $492 fare from Air Canada to show how additional tickets can open up Europe at low cost.

LAX-CPH Oct2-16 $492

I picked Copenhagen after looking at Google Flight maps and seeing a low fare at $492 for LAX-CPH in October. I checked Air Canada’s website to find this same itinerary at $492.01.


$492.01 Air Canada LAX-CPH Los Angeles to Copenhagen Thursday Oct 2 to Thursday October 16.

How to Hopscotch around Europe with One Way Flight

Once a ticket has been purchased and travel dates are set, making additional travel plans is possible. If Copenhagen sounds like a great place to visit, then a ticket from Los Angeles at $492 is an incredible deal. If Paris, Rome, or Prague are more to you liking, then fly to Copenhagen and from there travel to your desired destination.

I am sharing my travel style in writing this post as a I think about leaving Copenhagen for the majority of the 13 nights to visit other places in Europe. In this potential itinerary, my objective is using the $492 LAX-CPH flights to get to other places in Europe at a far lower cost than flying directly to those places from LAX.

Arrival date in the Air Canada itinerary is Friday, October 3 at 10:25am. Assume it will be 1 or 2 pm before reaching a city center hotel bed. Personally I like to fight sleep deprivation and wander around aimlessly on my first day in Europe and try to stay awake until early evening to adjust to the new time zone quickly. I’d plan for Saturday as a full day of activity. Copenhagen could be good for the weekend and leave late Sunday or early Monday to another city.

Back to Google flight maps to see airfare from Copenhagen to points in Europe in October. I change the parameters to ‘One Way’ flights starting Sunday, October 5.

There are more than a dozen cities in Europe with flights from Copenhagen on Sunday, October 5 or Monday, October 6 for under $90.

Google CPH Oct 6

  • Berlin, Germany $68
  • Manchester, UK $68
  • Paris, France $68
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands $68
  • Helsinki, Finland $69
  • London, UK $74
  • Munich, Germany $87
  • Frankfurt, Germany $87
  • Gothenburg, Sweden $87
  • Oslo, Norway $87
  • Stavenger, Norway $87

Make sure to click magnify on the Google Flight Map to find even more cities with low airfares.

Google flight map CPH-2

  • Dusseldorf, Germany $43
  • Dublin, Ireland $68
  • Brussels, Belgium $68
  • Milan, Italy $68
  • Warsaw, Poland $87
  • Leeds, UK $87
  • Nice, France $87
  • Palma de Mallorca, Spain $94
  • Vilnius, Lithuania $96
  • Madrid, Spain $96
  • Hamburg, Germany $96
  • Rome, Italy $104
  • Zurich, Switzerland $114
  • Athens, Greece $124
  • Venice, Italy $137
  • Belgrade, Serbia $140
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia $147

This list shows 17 other countries in Europe you can fly to for under $150 from Copenhagen on Monday, October 6.

It is easy for me to spend hours or days imagining what I can do with two weeks in Europe.

I choose Madrid, Spain for four nights on an $95 flight.

CPH-Madrid flight

Copenhagen-Madrid is $95 one way on Iberia Monday, October 6.

After four nights in Madrid, I am ready to check out another city on Friday, October 10.

Back to Google Flight Maps

MAD Google flight maps

Google Flight Maps airfare from Madrid, Friday, October 10

  • Porto, Portugal $40
  • Marseille, France $51
  • Milan, Italy $51
  • Rabat, Morocco $55
  • Seville, Spain $57
  • Ibiza, Spain $63
  • Lisbon, Portugal $64
  • Rome, Italy $66
  • Krakow, Poland $76
  • London, UK $76
  • Paris, France $81
  • Dublin, Ireland $90
  • Athens, Greece $98
  • Lyon, France $110
  • Luxemburg City, Luxemburg $117
  • Santorini Island, Greece $140
  • Istanbul, Turkey $142
  • Zurich, Switzerland $159
  • Prague, Czech Republic $165
  • Tirana, Albania $182
  • Sofia, Bulgaria $190
  • Bucharest, Romania $182

The caution I have to take in selecting the next destination is checking the airfare from the next city back to Copenhagen. This can vary by $200 for different cities, so I need to check both airfares before selecting the final city on this two week trip.

For example, in my airfare searches I noticed getting to Greek islands is inexpensive, however, the rates are often 3x more to leave the island.

I picked Rome, Italy as the next destination to stay four nights.


RyanAir $66 fare does not look like a good schedule and also does not arrive at the main Rome international FCO airport. In this case, Veuling offers a midday $95 fare from Madrid to FCO. But, it turns out the fare is $194 after clicking through to book, so I’ll pass on that trip.

Paris, France $81.35 Air France on Friday October 10

Madrid-Paris $81

Arrive in Paris, France at 10:20pm on Friday, October 10.

Stay five nights in Paris or risk six nights.

To be safe one should book the flight back to Copenhagen on Wednesday, October 15 to allow for any delays that might result in missing the Air Canada flight back to Los Angeles on Thursday October 16.

The flight is $67 one way Air France Paris-Copenhagen on Oct 15 or Oct 16 and the flight arrives at 9:05am giving 3 hours and 15 minutes before the 12:20pm Air Canada flight from CPH to Toronto. Personally, I’d opt for the day before flight to be safe with a midday departure time to avoid an early morning start to the airport.


$67 for flight from Paris to Copenhagen. This is one of three flight times available at that fare.

In Summary

Total Cost for Airfare in Europe = $243

  • Copenhagen-Madrid $95
  • Madrid – Paris $81
  • Paris – Copenhagen $67

LAX-CPH = $492.

Total flight cost = $735 for LAX-CPH-MAD-CDG-CPH-LAX.

Four nights in Copenhagen, four nights in Madrid and five nights in Paris for $735 in airfare. Checked bag fees on intra-Europe flights might cost another $50 to $60.

This is just one example of the numerous travel options for getting around Europe from Copenhagen on a two week itinerary. There are 20 other countries where I could work out an itinerary visiting two places for less than $300 for three flight tickets.

Related Loyalty Traveler posts on low airfare and routing options for under $600 airfares to Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen on United and Delta for travel this spring and fall.



Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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1 Comment

  • Marcy Gordon April 6, 2014

    Hi Ric–
    I found the link to this post off of TBEX blog. I’m not going to TBEX but I am planning travel to Switzerland for a different conference in October and this has post has given me ideas for some great options. Thanks so very much for this resource.

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