Sometimes flying from New York to London is cheaper than to Los Angeles, and I’m not joking or talking about a mistake fare.
A look at round-trip fares for Nov. 26 to Dec. 1 from New York finds a flight to London costing only $299.15, compared with the price of a flight to Los Angeles at $445.00.
Both deals were found on FareCompare on Sept. 22 and can be seen elsewhere too.
There’s no catch. Oil prices remain low, and so is demand, now that the big summer season is over. Plus, there are more discount carriers serving trans-Atlantic routes, including Portugal’s Tap, Iceland’s Wow Air and Norwegian Shuttle. In order to compete, many big U.S. carriers are also serving up dazzling deals this fall. It’s a great time to fly.
“But Rick,” people tell me, “I’m already obligated to go to that family thing over the holidays.” I say, at these prices, you can fly at Thanksgiving or Christmas and go to Europe too. A fare to London for less than $300 round trip doesn’t come around every day or even every lifetime. But hurry.
What to Know About Finding Deals to Europe
1. Act fast
As always, airlines are constantly tinkering with fares, based on what the competition is doing and on the ebb and flow of demand, and there’s no guarantee any one fare will stay at that level for long. If you see a fare you love, do not delay: Buy it; it probably won’t last long.
2. Don’t fly too late
The fall season won’t last forever. The date to keep in mind is Dec. 19. That’s the last day to depart on a flight to Europe, because beginning Dec. 20, we will see an average price increase of about 20 percent, and fares will stay there through the holidays and beyond. Wait too long, and you will miss out.
3. Always compare fares
This is true for any and every flight you book. If you don’t compare fares, you could end up paying too much. Any airline would be thrilled if you had the kind of blind loyalty that sent you to its site and its alone, because then you’d pay whatever it asked. Be smart. See what everyone else is charging before you ding your credit card.
4. Look for cheap cities
Despite the great New York to London fare quoted earlier, the U.K. isn’t usually the cheapest place in Europe. Here are some recent round-trip fares to cheaper destinations, with most good for travel in October and November.
- Boston to Stockholm, $375
- Chicago to Rome, $567
- Los Angeles to Oslo, Norway, $473
- New York to Dublin, $490
- New York to Paris, $499
5. Holiday travels, holiday gifts
Consider making a gift of travel as a holiday present, but talk to the recipient in advance so there aren’t any surprises like, “I can’t fly that day,” as the best deals are usually nonrefundable. Or consider traveling to Europe to celebrate a holiday. Check out this comparison for recently found Thanksgiving fares.
- Boston to Shannon, Ireland: $432
- Boston to Portland, Maine: $603
The fun part about this, of course, is that you pay more for a New England flight of about 100 miles than for a 2,800-mile trip to Europe.
Rick Seaney is the CEO of FareCompare, a website that curates the best deals on flights from around the world. Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.