Skip to main content

How to Score the Best Flight Deals to Europe This Summer

airplane flight switzerland
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Finding bargain airfare during the summer travel season is difficult, but, thanks to an increasingly competitive market, it’s not quite the challenge it once was. In 2018, airfare to Europe will be the cheapest it’s been in years. Here are five tips for booking the best flight deals to Europe this summer.

Be Flexible

Flexibility is the single most crucial factor in saving big on airfare and travel in general. If your dates are flexible, you open yourself up to things like flash sales and last-minute deals. Every major travel search engine like Kayak or Google Flights now offers a “flexible” option. The difference between the lowest and highest fares over the course of the summer season is often in the hundreds of dollars. On a typical USD $700 round-trip ticket to Europe, you could save 40 percent or more off the total airfare.

Book (Not Too) Well In Advance

While waiting until the last minute can sometimes pay off, it’s a serious gamble. Booking as far in advance as possible used to be a surefire way to find the cheapest airfares. This is no longer the case. The folks at farecasting app Hopper have concluded the best time to book ahead of the most popular American holidays this summer — Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day — is about three weeks out. Peak holiday travel aside, the prime booking window for all other travel to Europe is around 47 days in advance.

airplane luggage backpack
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Fly At Odd Times

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: traveling when no one else wants to can save you big. Most workaday stiffs like to maximize their vacation time by leaving for vacation on, say, Friday night after work, then returning on a Sunday night. If you can, choose instead to fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Hopper predicts savings of as much as USD $75 per person per ticket on these less popular days. It goes without saying that flying during shoulder season (that’s May or August) can also help you save big.

Opt for a Less Popular City

Air travel within Europe can be incredibly affordable. If you’re planning to spend a week or more on the continent, that’s plenty of time to move around between countries on ultra-low cost carrier (ULCC) airlines like Ryanair and WOW air. Book your overall trip to fly into and out of a less popular destination. Instead of Paris and Rome, think Reykjavik and Dublin. Once there, it’s easy to fly between, say, Dublin and Paris for next to nothing.

dublin ireland river
Bart Kowski/Getty Images

Become an Insider

Most budget airlines, especially the ULCCs, offer their cheapest fares via “flash sales.” These are typically 24-hour deals announced via social media or through email newsletters to frequent flyer members. If saving a boatload on travel matters to you, it can pay handsomely to sign up. Ryanair, for example, sometimes offers one-way sales within Europe for as low as USD $20. The best sales are announced without warning and offer a very short buying window, so you often need to be ready to pull the trigger the same day.

While you’re gaming the system, check out our primer on how to score a first-class upgrade for next to nothing.

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
Travel report says this surprising spot is where you can find the bluest water
Which beaches topped the list?
Blue waters

Have you ever wondered which corner of the globe boasts the most mesmerizingly blue waters? The answer might just surprise you. In a quest to uncover the world’s bluest waters, CV Villas embarked on a unique study. To find this information, the company scrutinized unedited Google Maps screenshots of 200 beaches worldwide, employing a color dropper tool to unveil the RGB code of each body of water. They then cross-referenced these findings with the RGB code of the world’s bluest shade of blue, YInMn Blue, a hue that was officially declared the bluest shade by Oregon State University in 2016. 

Using a color calculator, CV Villas determined which locations’ waters came closest to the coveted YInMn Blue, thus crowning them as the beaches with the world’s bluest waters. Contrary to the assumption that tropical paradises like the Caribbean or Bora Bora would dominate the rankings, CV Villas’ findings paint a different picture altogether. Nearly all of the destinations on the list are located within Europe, which is a surprising revelation to many. 
The world’s bluest water

Read more
Travel tips: Why you need to set a flight alert even after you book a flight
Set a flight alert (even after you book) so you won't miss out
man holding smartphone in white shirt

When you finally book those plane tickets after weeks of research and price tracking, it can be tempting to kick back and stop monitoring flight prices. After all, you locked in your airfare and your travel dates, so why keep checking?

Here's why -- setting flight alerts for your booked itinerary can end up saving you a good chunk of money, preventing a lot of hassle, or both. Airlines constantly adjust pricing, and sometimes lower fares become available even after you purchase tickets. 
How do flight alerts work?

Read more
This luxury cruise is perfect for Aston Martin, F1 fans
Aston Martin and F1 take to the seas
Side view of Aston Martin Formula 1 car

The Aston Martin nameplate evokes images of style, sophistication, and performance. From the legendary DB5 to today’s Vantage, the company’s vehicles have a combination of muscle and verve that’s hard to match. Sultry bodywork and roaring powerplants make a scene, whether on the road or track.

Similarly, Formula 1 inspires passion and excitement like few sports can. Racecars on the leading edge of tech compete on storied circuits, requiring lightning-quick reflexes from the world’s best drivers. Each race brings tension and drama, as drivers and machines explore the limits of performance. 

Read more