Apr192016

Airline Ticketing Strategy: SFO to Europe four trips $1,720 American Airlines

This post shows how you can book 4 trips today flying San Francisco to Stockholm, Sweden for $1,720 flying primarily on economy class American Airline tickets purchased from aa.com for several weeks of vacation in Europe over the next year.

This strategy is not exclusive to American and Oneworld Alliance airlines. The same deal can be done with United and Star Allliance airlines or Delta and SkyTeam airlines.

There is no rush to buy these fares in the next ten minutes. This deal has been around for more than a year and is bookable at similar prices shown here on most dates.

Stockholm ARN airport is also not the only airport where similarly low fares can be found, although it is most consistently the lowest ticket price to California of Scandinavian airports most of the time. Stockholm is usually the lowest priced ticket to California of any airport in Europe on most dates.

Airfare deals move around Scandinavia and any given time there could be a lowest fare to California from any of these international airports to either SFO or LAX or both:

Billund BLL and Copenhagen CPH in Denmark are two airports where round trip to LAX and SFO are often in the $400 to $500 round trip ticket price. The past few months the fares tend to be higher from Copenhagen than Norway or Sweden.

Gothenberg GOT and Stockholm ARN are the major airports with low fares from Sweden. Stockholm actually has three airports: Stockholm Arlanda ARN (Sweden’s main international airport),  Stockholm Bromma BMA (some FinnAir USA bargain fares and intra-Scandinavia flights) and Stockholm Skavsta NYO (RyanAir and WizzAir intra-Europe low cost airlines).

Norway has several low fare airports with Oslo OSL, Bergen BGO, and Stavanger SVG. Norway is the country where airports up and down the coast will periodically show low fares.

Booking multiple round trip tickets from Europe to your home area airport in the USA can result in big discounts for frequent travelers to Europe compared to ticketing traditional routings starting from your USA home airport to Europe.

The savings can be especially significant for travel around holiday periods of Thanksgiving, New Year’s, Easter and peak summer.

4 Trips from San Francisco to Stockholm for $1,720 in 2016-17

This is a simple ticketing strategy I researched this morning using American Airlines USA website. Below I outline how a person can take four trips to Stockholm over the next year buying three American Airlines tickets flying Stockholm to San Francisco, averaging only $475 round trip.

Stockholm happened to be the lowest price ticket I saw with lots of availability. It is possible to book three tickets to three different airports like Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen for a higher price of $100 to $200 total.

The $1,720 total ticket price found today would probably have been around $1,500 all in if this itinerary were starting in September 2016 or it had been ticketed one month ago.

Instead, I decided to show how this deal can be ticketed to start next week to take four trips to Europe over the next year for $1,720 in airline tickets with American Airlines fares available today for Stockholm to San Francisco.

Trip #1: 9 nights in Europe

$580 round trip net ticket price.

$580 round trip, Norwegian OAK-ARN $284 outbound and American $296 inbound (50% of AA ticket A $592 is $296. Norwegian $284  + American $296 = $580 equivalent ticket price.

Lowest round trip ticket prices for SFO-ARN  April 25-May 5:

  • $449 Norwegian (April 25 – May 4)
  • $641 Air France
  • $645 KLM
  • $660 American
  • $665 British Airways
  • $688 Lufthansa
  • $688 Swiss

April 25 Fly out of SFO or OAK

May 5, 2016 Fly from Stockholm ARN to SFO

Start Trip Using Miles or Buy One-Way Fare on Low Cost Carrier

Use a one-way frequent flyer mile award ticket to Europe to start the first trip sequence. After that, you can fly the major airline of your choice out of several Scandinavian airports. A low cost carrier is sometimes a suitable alternative to spending miles when one-way fares to Europe in off-season are under $300.

Alternatively, fly an award ticket one way to any place in Europe and from there fly to Stockholm to begin Europe-USA ticketing.

$283.90 for Norwegian Oakland OAK to Stockholm ARN on April 25.

OAK-ARN Norwegian $284 Apr25

Add $90 if you need a checked bag, want an assigned seat and meals is kind of bonus. One carry-on at 10kg/22lb and personal under seat item fly free if you want to play seat roulette and fly cheap. Food can be purchased in flight at reasonable prices (for Norwegians).

Fly Back to California with AA return to Europe ticket in hand

Europe To USA Low Cost Ticketing Strategy

After a trip to Stockholm and wherever else you choose to visit, fly back on May 5 to San Francisco, California SFO on a $592 American Airlines ticket Stockholm ARN to San Francisco SFO round trip.

American Airlines 

Stockholm ARN – London LHR – San Francisco SFO – Los Angeles LAX – London LHR – Stockholm ARN

$591.76 Thursday, May 5 – Monday September 5

ARN-SFO AA $591 May 5-Sep 5

Note this ticket price is $150 more than the next two tickets. The higher price is due to the dates for this itinerary starting in two weeks. The overall price for Norwegian to Stockholm and this American Airlines round trip ticket Stockholm to San Francisco would likely have been about $250 less if this trip were ticketed two months ago.

Our dream traveler arrives in Stockholm on April 26.

From Stockholm you can travel to many places in Europe for under $100 or hang out in Stockholm. The point is you will save enough buying low Stockholm fares that you can fly from Stockholm to another place in Europe and back, while still getting overall low fare travel between USA and Europe.

One Way Fares from Stockholm on Saturday April 30

  • Copenhagen $41
  • Budapest $42
  • London $47
  • Paris $73
  • Milan $82
  • Nice $92

Google Flights Stockholm Apr 30 ow fares

Where you choose to go if you don’t want several trips to Denmark, Norway and Sweden is not relevant to the overall ticketing strategy of using a Scandinavian airport for low cost transatlantic travel between USA and Europe.

Trip #2: 10 nights in Europe

$508 airline ticket

Sep 5, 2016  Fly out of SFO

Sep 16, 2016  Fly from Stockholm to SFO

AA Ticket B $423.86

Stockholm to San Francisco round trip  Sep 16 – Nov 19, 2016

ARN-SFO AA $424 Sep 16-Nov 19

$508 round trip calculated by adding 50% of AA ticket A $592 and Ticket B $424 = $508 round trip ticket price for comparison to SFO-ARN ticket price for Sep 5-16 travel:

Lowest ticket prices SFO/OAK to Stockholm September 5-16

  • $495 Norwegian
  • $722 United/Lufthansa/Swiss
  • $735 KLM-SkyTeam  (Sep 4-16)
  • $769 American

American $296 inbound SFO-ARN is 50% of AA ticket A $592. Norwegian $284  + American $296 = $580 equivalent ticket price.

Trip #3: 7 nights in Europe at Thanksgiving

$422 airline ticket cost

Sat Nov 19 Fly SFO to Stockholm

Sun Nov 27 Fly Stockholm to SFO

ARN-SFO $420 AA Nov27-Feb11

Lowest ticket prices SFO/OAK to Stockholm Nov 19-27

  • $376 Norwegian (Fri Nov 18- Mon Nov 28)
  • $722 United/Lufthansa/Swiss/SAS
  • $738 KLM (return Mon Nov 28)
  • $764 British Airways
  • $774 American

Trip #4:  ??? nights in Europe

Saturday Feb 11, 2016  fly SFO to Stockholm.

Need another ticket to get back to California.

Frequent flyer award, low cost one-way or another low cost round trip ticket.

Might be a good time to spend those frequent flyer miles you have earned. And Norwegian likely has rock bottom fares from Oslo or Stockholm to Oakland or Los Angeles for under $200 one way in February 2017.

RECAP: 4 airline tickets, 4 trips to Europe $1,720

$284 Ticket 1: April 25, 2016

  • Norwegian Airlines Ticket #1 = $284 Oakland OAK-ARN Stockholm

$592 Ticket 2: May 5 – Sep 5, 2016

  • American Airlines Ticket #1 = $592 Stockholm ARN-SFO San Francisco

$424 Sep 16 – Nov 19, 2016:

  • American Airlines Ticket #2 = $424 Stockholm ARN-SFO San Francisco

$420 Nov 27 – Feb 11, 2017:

  • American Airlines Ticket #3 = $420 Stockholm ARN-SFO San Francisco

Total ticket price = $1,720 with four trips to Europe.

(Note: ticket price to get home from Europe on Trip 4 is not included. Can redeem AA miles earned from three flown tickets, until the program switches to revenue miles earning.)

Flight Itinerary for 4 Europe Trips

Trip # 1 Oakland to Stockholm to San Francisco

  • April 25 – May 5 (9 nights in Europe)
  • $580 flights with Norwegian and American.
  • April 25: Fly Norwegian $284 one way from Oakland to Stockholm or redeem miles for award ticket.  Stay 9 nights in Europe.
  • May 5: Fly American Airlines round trip Ticket A $592 Stockholm to San Francisco. and stay four months in California.

Trip #2 SFO – ARN Stockholm

  • September 5 – September 16, 2016 (10 nights in Europe)
  • $508 flights American Airlines tickets.
  • Sep 5: Fly American Airlines round trip Ticket A San Francisco to Stockholm ARN. Stay 10 nights in Europe.
  • Sep 16: Fly American Airlines round trip Ticket B $424 Stockholm to San Francisco.  Stay two months in USA.

Trip #3 SFO – ARN Stockholm (Thanksgiving Week)

  • November 19 – November 27, 2016 (7 nights in Europe)
  • $422 flights American Airlines tickets.
  • Nov 19: Fly American Airlines round trip Ticket B San Francisco to Stockholm ARN. Stay 7 nights in Europe.
  • Nov 27: Fly American Airlines round trip Ticket C $420 Stockholm to San Francisco.  Stay two months in USA.

Trip #4 SFO – ARN Stockholm (Valentine’s Week)

  • Feb 11: Fly American round trip Ticket C San Francisco to Stockholm ARN.
  • $210 one-way
  • Stay ??? nights in Europe.
  • Fly Home to SFO: to be determined

The uncertainty of this ticket strategy is the time period between ticketing an itinerary like this and the time you actually decide to buy a ticket back to the USA.

Last October 2015 I ticketed Stockholm to San Francisco to fly home at the end of Thanksgiving week with my return to Stockholm in July 2016. I booked my flight back to San Francisco in July only three weeks ago flying from Stavanger, Norway for $562 round trip. I’ll be back in Norway in September.

At least I know I can get back to California without an expensive ticket. I even have two American Airlines Executive Platinum upgrades remaining to boost that $424 Sep 2016 fare into a Business Class seat on an upgraded AA 77W.

Ever Get the Feeling You’ve Been Cheated?

As an aside, the one American Airlines $424 Stockholm to San Francisco fare includes a flight on Saturday, November 19, 2016. This is the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Look at the one-way ticket price for SFO-LAX as a single flight segment.

San Francisco – Los Angeles

Sat November 19, 2016 (pre-Thanksgiving weekend)

$225.70 one way

SFO-LAX Nov19 AA $226

This ticket price of $225.70 exemplifies why it is a significant cost savings for holiday travel when your ticket is booked as an international flight to the USA starting in Europe like Stockholm to SFO for $424 round trip that includes this same flight.

The price schemes that gouge USA holiday travelers at Thanksgiving and Easter do not necessarily play out for international itineraries.

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. I do not know about miles upgrades since I have not looked into that with AAdvantage. i have had great luck with my Executive Platinum SWU upgrades.

  2. If you didnt have AA status how many AA miles would you earn on these trips and how many towards status?

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