One of the best airfare deals in the past couple years for travel to Europe is still available right now after launching yesterday. Here is a quick tutorial for finding airfare deals from $400 to $700 to Europe, Middle East and North Africa for travel over the next three months.
Most of the discount fares I have found are Delta, KLM and Skyteam. I looked specifically at San Francisco departures since there tend to be far fewer discounts to Europe from SFO than Chicago and East Coast airports. The tips shown here work for a search from any airport.
Google Flights is my first tool for checking airfare.
- Insert your departure city.
- Select dates for round trip flight.
- Leave destination blank. You will use the map to find airfare in different locations.
- Tip: Click the + button beside SFO and there is the option to add several nearby airports to the search.
Once I have my dates and departure city entered, the rest is map work.
My interest is finding low fare to Europe, so I move the map to Europe.
[Note: click on map image above to enlarge in new screen]
I find initial low fares of $489 to Istanbul; $630 Oslo; $636 Stockholm; $644 Copenhagen; $647 to Lisbon or Porto, Portugal; $653 Warsaw.
This view of Europe does not include all cities. I happen to know Dublin is under $500 round trip for these dates, but I have to magnify the map to see airfare to other places.
San Francisco – Dublin $410 round trip. This is the total price after taxes and fees.
SFO – Cork, Ireland $589.
Dublin, Ireland for $410 round trip March 4-12, 2015
I purchased tickets SFO-Dublin tickets last night. I found these tickets using Google Flights. The next part of this tutorial continues with Google Flights to find the $410 flights to Dublin on these sample dates.
Click on Dublin and a fare calendar bar graph is displayed to show the cost of flights for an 8-day trip (the trip length I inserted with Mar 4-Mar 12 dates) over several weeks.
Scroll the mouse along the fare calendar bars and the airfare for that date is shown. Dublin airfare spikes in mid-March around St. Patrick’s Day.
Up to this point, the traveler does not yet know the airline.
Click on ‘Show Flights’ button to see airlines and prices.
San Francisco – Dublin $410 with 45 minutes layover in JFK. I eliminate this option right off since a 45 minute layover in JFK means a higher probability of missing the transatlantic flight. I tend to avoid connections in the USA which makes the Air France option at $430 round trip more desirable to me to fly directly from San Francisco to Paris. I’d rather be stuck in Paris than New York if there is a connection mishap. Plus, Air France probably still serves free alcohol in economy class.
There are 49 more routes to check. Most of the routes are more expensive. One reason I check other routes is to search for low fares with long layovers. You can have up to 24 hours on an international layover. A few hours visiting Paris might be a desirable schedule for some.
This $430 flight option on Air France offers an 8-hour layover in Paris from 10:35am to 6:45pm. The train into city center and back to the airport in time for security screening might give you three hours to see the Eiffel Tower or sit in a Paris café. I make these kinds of layovers on some of my flights since I figure three hours walking the Seine is better than never having Seined at all. Just don’t miss your connecting flight.
Return from Dublin
There are flights with short layovers and long layovers. Keep in mind that if you transit back to the states via another airport, then you will have customs at that U.S. airport. Plan your layover time appropriately. Dublin offers U.S. customs in Ireland for some flights making the return directly to a U.S. airport,
Following up on the Air France Paris excursions is an overnight option in Paris on the return flight.
Return flight overnight in Paris. The cost of a hotel night in Paris might make this return less desirable, but a traveler with hotel points might like this option. Arrive in Paris at 8:35pm and be back at the airport by about 8:00am with time to step out for a few hours at night.
Of course, most travelers will want a quicker flight schedule and those are easy to find with Google Maps. My objective here is to show readers how you can find other flight options to visit more places on your super cheap Air France ticket.
This $489 ticket SFO-DUB allows a day trip into Paris on the outbound and an overnight in Paris on the return flights. I am not suggesting this is a great itinerary. This is simply an example of how you can add more touring to a low cost fare.
Dublin is also a major hub for RyanAir with low cost flights around Europe. I plan to fly somewhere else in Europe for part of our trip next month after we arrive in Dublin. With SFO-DUB airfare from $410 to $450, for another $60 to $100 per person we can fly RyanAir round trip to some place like Italy, Netherlands or Portugal.
$550 for round trip flights to Europe is a still a great deal.