Yesterday I placed an $1,100+ charge on my card for airline tickets from Stockholm to San Jose. Add another $700 to $1,000 for hotels, hotel points and more airline tickets I need to book this week for summer travel in Europe.
Those kind of expenses freak me out and have me praying to the automotive gods to keep our cars running smoothly without major repair expenses. And remember, ‘Look Right’, so as not to be hit by a double decker bus when looking the wrong way crossing the road in London this summer.
Stockholm to San Jose with London overnight transit both ways $557 round trip June-Dec trip.
Momondo.com and I developed a time commitment relationship over the past two weeks. Momondo.com is the Copenhagen-based metasearch engine for finding some terrific low fare deals. My wife complained frequently these past two weeks about how I was not giving her enough attention.
Puzzles distract me in a good way. My objective is to place travel pieces together for cities, flights and nights, buses and trains, walks and meals to create a picture perfect travel scenario. I think there is artistry in a well-planned travel itinerary.
What I came up with in the end for our June travel is not what I expected to see at all when I started creating an itinerary starting in Barcelona.
No ticket home from Europe to California in June for our next trip had me in a state of uncertainty this past month.
Either I would find an affordable ticket from Europe to California for June or blow off $300 spent on two $150 one-way tickets flying start-up Level Airlines Oakland to Barcelona.
My basic airfare search since March 18 has been finding a Stockholm, Sweden to San Jose SJC or San Francisco SFO round trip ticket home in June 2017.
The main reason I did not book Level flights round trip in March is American Airlines tickets were $435 round trip for Stockholm to San Francisco the day I bought Level $150 one way tickets Oakland to Barcelona.
3,845 SEK = $435.17 USD American Airlines
Wed June 21 Stockholm ARN – London LHR – San Jose SJC
Mon Dec 25 San Jose SJC – Los Angeles LAX – London LHR – Stockholm ARN
Getting back home to Monterey in June was only one part of my travel ticketing objective for this trip. The key reason for planning a trip in June with one way tickets to Europe is I was planning ahead for another trip to Europe at Christmas. (and repeat the process of searching for a good deal ticket home to California at the end of the winter holidays.
The main drawback of the $435 AA ticket above is the late arrival in LHR with an overnight transit and next morning departure. I enjoy staying overnight in London and other cities, if I can get at least 18 hours and preferably 21 to 23 hours between flight arrival and departure to allow enough sightseeing opportunity to justify the expense of a hotel night.
Momondo.com works best when you have set dates of travel
My basic plan was stay as long in Europe as we can in June before peak season airfare sends prices hundreds of dollars higher.
Yesterday, I finally purchased tickets from Stockholm to San Jose SJC, California in June with a return to Stockholm at Christmas 2017. The ticket price I found on an OTA site through Momondo.com searches was $557 for American Airlines and Finnair coded flights operated by British Airways and American.
My specific objective was finding a ticket from Stockholm to SFO/SJC in June with return flights back to Stockholm for Christmas holiday season.
I don’t want to hang out in Stockholm for Christmas. I generally only stay in Stockholm for an overnight transit before flying the next day to wherever from Arlanda ARN or Skavsta NYO. One way tickets are frequently under $50 to airports across Europe and usually under $200 one way Stockholm to Oakland on Norwegian Airlines.
I narrowed my flight dates down after many Google Flights and Momondo searches to a few dates for outbound travel from Stockholm to SFO/SJC in June and a few dates for inbound travel SFO/SJC to Stockholm in December 2017 Christmas season.
I also searched Gothenburg GOT, Oslo OSL and Copenhagen CPH. Gothenburg had similar low prices to Stockholm tickets ($450-$500), while Oslo was $50 more and Copenhagen about $100 more per round trip ticket.
I have watched ticket prices for two weeks, waiting to see if Star Alliance airlines, particularly SAS would drop fares. Star Alliance did not drop. Given SkyTeam or Oneworld choice, my AAdvantage Platinum elite status gives Oneworld the edge in my ticketing choices.
Fine Tuning a Flight Itinerary via London or Helsinki?
After more days of Momondo.com searches, I focused more on overnight transit layovers in Helsinki or London flying Oneworld Alliance. Momondo.com searches might return 50 or more pages of ticketing options.
Some dates showed me two overnight transit options I liked with around 20 to 22 hours in Helsinki or London.
British Airways Stockholm to London LHR with overnight transit were most frequently the lowest priced tickets.
June 20, 2017 $491 round trip (return at Christmas)
Outbound: Stockholm ARN – London LHR (overnight 11 hour transit layover 10:50pm-9:50am) – Los Angeles LAX – San Jose SJC
One of the main problems I had with searches were the pages and pages of tickets departing Stockholm at 9:20pm. An overnight transit in London or Helsinki looked like a desirable option, but only if I had 19 or so hours to hang out and sightsee.
Finding Overnight Transit Layover Airports
In 2013, I ticketed transit layovers on a San Francisco to Berlin trip for a day in Zurich, an overnight in Oslo, overnight in Helsinki, overnight in London and overnight in Chicago.
Tip for locating overnight transit options: Sometimes I quickly scan Momondo.com search results by flight time to find ridiculously long 40 to 60 hour flight itineraries with one or two stops. These long duration itineraries are hopefully due to 18 to 23 hour overnight transit layovers at an intermediate airport and not 8 hour layovers in three different airports on a puddle jump itinerary home. I see long transit layovers as travel ticketing opportunities.
Quickly looking at times for Stockholm – San Jose SJC pulls up this itinerary on the page 1 of search results for June 20-Dec 24:
Stockholm ARN – San Jose SJC 35 hr 15 min
San Jose SJC – Stockholm ARN 41 hr 41 min
While I can see there are long transit layover times, click “See Details” to find the specific layover airports and times.
ARN-SJC London transit layover 21 hr 30 min 5:25pm-2:55pm.
SJC – ARN London transit layover 22 hr 30 min 8:35am-7:05am.
These are both great layover opportunities for a day in London. Nothing wrong with the ARN-SJC layover, but 5 hours in Chicago and a 7:05am flight departure out of LHR is a deal breaker for me.
My wife hates morning and when she is traveling, she only wants to be awake for the last 30 minutes of free breakfast service at the hotel. She will sleep past noon if there is no free hotel breakfast calling her out of bed. A 7:05 am flight out of LHR is a rude awakening I have learned to avoid when traveling with Kelley.
“Time of Day” tool filter on Momondo.com
Tip: Time of Day feature on Momondo.com is a fine tuning tool for searches.
I had seen a ticket with a 20 hour layover in Helsinki, but it was hard to find again among all the other Momondo search results. I came across it on page 15 and page 21 in two different searches.
Once I located the long 20+ hour London and Helsinki layover ticket options on Momondo.com, I noted the flight duration and departure times.
Time of Day feature on Momondo proved very handy when I wanted to find long transit layovers in Helsinki.
I knew it was a morning flight, so I set the Momondo Time of Day departure filter for 8 to 10am and the result was only seeing the Helsinki layover flight.
The itinerary above does not include an overnight in Helsinki. A scan for long flight times in the Momondo search results quickly located a 41 hr 41 min outbound itinerary.
Stockholm to San Jose $530 ticket with Helsinki transit layover 11:25am-7:45am for 20hrs 20 min.
Eventually I opted for London over Helsinki. A 7:45am flight out of Helsinki looked like an encounter to be avoided on our final day in Europe.
I followed the same process to find the long layover options in London, while avoiding early morning flights. Basically, I planned our all our flights in Europe for afternoon departures so we are not rushed in the morning to get Kelley to an airport.
Kelley loves London and we know our way around to make good use of 21-hour overnight transit layovers.
I would have chosen Helsinki if solo traveling since I have only been there once before and that was a 19 or 20 hour overnight transit too in winter. I stayed at Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel Kamp and upgraded to a suite on Points & Cash stay. Very cool stay in frozen icy March 2013.
Loyalty Traveler – Hotel Kämp Helsinki, Starwood Luxury Collection (March 21, 2013).
I would like to see Helsinki in June with sunset near 11 pm and sunrise before 4am for nearly 20 hours of summer solstice daylight.
Still, London is nearly always fun for a day.