Loyalty Traveler strategy for low cost flights to European airports

I have flown WOW and Norwegian Airlines.

RyanAir, Air Berlin and Aer Lingus have shuttled me around Europe.

Wizz and easyjet and Baltic Air have been considerations for my travels when I wanted to fly from one country in Europe to another, quickly at low cost.

My writing focus is on an American audience looking to travel to Europe and the world less expensively.

When I explain to most American travelers how Europe can be criss-crossed on low $50 one-way flights, they are leery about setting up additional flights for their travels. I meet many people who simply will pay whatever is asked to get to the place they want to visit. Many American travelers are more pressed for vacation time than vacation money.

I respect that trade-off of money for convenience. As for my budget strategy, if I can fly to Europe for $500 round trip and then to Paris for $100 round trip, I’d rather fly a more circuitous route and pay $600 to travel to Paris than $1,000 for a direct ticket.

Scandinavia, Iceland and Dublin – Gateways to Anywhere

In this post, I share examples from my three trips to Europe in the past year when I bought low fare tickets to Dublin and Copenhagen and then flew low-cost carriers to travel to London and Amsterdam.

One of my main budget tips for a trip to Europe is look for low fares to any airport in Europe and consider flying from that airport to my desired destination. The rise of low cost carriers in the past couple of years has turned Scandinavia airports like Copenhagen CPH, Billund BLL, Gothenburg GOT, Stockholm ARN and Oslo OSL, along with Iceland KEF and Dublin DUB, into low fare European hubs for U.S. travelers visiting Europe.

My two Dublin Airport case studies or How I used low cost flights to Dublin and low cost flights from Dublin for cheaper airfare to London and Amsterdam

Aer Lingus and several of the legacy airlines have cut fares to Dublin, Ireland to levels far below the average fare for London. RyanAir and Aer Lingus will fly you to many places around Europe inexpensively.

Last November, when my wife and I went to London, she flew directly with American Airlines on an $803 ticket. I flew American Airlines to Dublin via London on a $539 ticket. After a couple of days in Ireland, I flew RyanAir on a $113 round trip ticket (fare + one checked bag fee) from Dublin back to London to meet Kelley for the week, then I flew back to London for several days hanging out in Bono and Enya’s seaside Dalkey neighborhood, south of Dublin. That $150 savings covered most of my hotel expenses in Ireland for Radisson hotels booked using 2-for-1 weekend Club Carlson Gold elite member rate offer.

Loyalty Traveler – Club Carlson 2-for-1 and 4-for-2 rates for Gold elites in Amsterdam, Dubai and Hamburg (Oct 11, 2014)

In February, we flew to Dublin again on low $449 fares SFO-DUB on KLM. Amsterdam was our ultimate destination, so after an all-day international flight transit stop in Amsterdam, we boarded a KLM flight to Dublin, spent one night at Dublin Airport and caught an Aer Lingus flight back to Amsterdam the next day for the week. Aer Lingus was $130 round trip DUB-AMS with a purchased seat assignment. Total ticket costs were $580 each for our tickets to Amsterdam with two nights of our week long trip spent in Dublin.

In all honesty, Kelley did not like the time used to travel between Dublin and Amsterdam on a one week trip. She felt we lost two days of the trip with travel to Dublin and not enough time in Dublin to do anything.

The question becomes one of time vs. money. Do you give up time in your desired destination to save money? We traded two half-days in Amsterdam to save $500 in airfare compared to the cost of tickets for SFO-AMS.

WOW! What a trip from Iceland to Copenhagen to London

In July 2015, we flew WOW Air to Copenhagen, stayed a few days and then flew RyanAir to London Luton for $63 each all-in round trip fare. With two weeks in Europe, this itinerary was not inconvenient, despite a 90-minute to 2 hour bus ride between London Luton Airport, 35 miles north of the city, and London’s central city Victoria Coach Station. Our airport National Express bus transportation expense was $33 all-in for the two of us round trip.

Norwegian Airlines, WOW Air, Aer Lingus, Icelandair and Aeroflot are some carriers with great one way deals and low round trip fare specials far below major airlines for travel from the USA to Europe. One of my objectives in the next year is to fly Aeroflot from Los Angeles and find out what it is like to transit through Moscow airports.

My air travel ticketing strategy is still one where I will fly to wherever is cheap airfare in Europe and use that gateway airport as the launch point for intra-Europe flights on low cost carriers. This strategy can shave several hundred dollars off the price of a ticket from the USA to Europe when your travel destination is an expensive city to reach from the USA, like London, Paris or some place more remote, like Pula, Croatia.


RyanAir aircraft at DUB airport gate, Dublin, Ireland.

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 in 2008.

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