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Saturday, November 30, 2013

How I Saved on My European Vacation...Airfare

When you start to plan your vacation, do you start to look at airfare prices and nearly give up? Yeah, I feel the same way sometimes and last year we abandoned our plans to go to Europe and just went to Anaheim instead. Our whole trip cost less than airfare would have. Well, this year we vowed not to let it happen. Airfare to the UK and Europe is still ridiculous, but this was the perfect time to use the frequent flyer miles we had collected with our British Airways card. When we signed up for it, we automatically were given 100,000 miles and have been using it for many things ever since. If you're going to buy things anyway, why not get something else out of it? We also started having our bills billed to that card and paying them off right away as we normally would.

So, just how much were regular flight prices to London? Oddly, London was the cheapest city to fly into. We checked Paris, as well as other cities in the U.K. like Dublin. After months of searching, the best price I could find online was just under $1,300 per person. Ack! The last time we went to London, it cost us less than $1,200...for both of us! Well, that wasn't going to happen. The only downside to using your frequent flyer miles is that you have to pay taxes and fees when you fly to a foreign country (and you might end up with a layover or two). We had to spend the day in Vancouver, BC, but we rented a car and did some sightseeing instead of being unhappy and spending all that time at the airport. I'll share more on that later.

Total cost: $1,400 (compared to $2,600 for full price)
Savings: $1,200

We didn't want to waste extra miles that we could use later on a short hop from London to Paris, so I did some research on budget carriers that were not the dreaded RyanAir. Last time we took the Eurostar, which I loved, but the cost was crazy. Now it costs something like $350 per person, which makes splitting up a trip really unaffordable.

I had heard great things about EasyJet, so I went online to check it out. I almost fell out of my chair when I realized we could fly from London to Paris one way (we were flying back home on BA from Paris) for $115, for both of us. I thought that choosing seats would be a big hassle, but for only $5 more, we were able to pick seats next to each other and got a free checked bag. I can't even fly from here to Seattle for $125 half the time, so this was a jackpot in my eyes. Not only was EasyJet better than even Southwest, but cheaper and the crew was really lovely.

Total cost: $125 (compared to $700 to take the train)
Savings: $575

So, not only did we actually get to go on the vacation we've been hoping to have for the last 5 years, we saved big everywhere. On airfare alone, we saved almost $1800, which, if you ask me, is a huge chunk of change...and almost a whole other vacation! Definitely a short getaway of some kind. 

Running tally: 
Accommodations: $342-522
Airfare: $1,775

What the most you've ever saved on airfare?

1 comment:

  1. I live in Europe and I fly to the US every 4 to 6 months for research and to visit family. Over the last sever years of doing this, I have NEVER EVER paid $1200 for a flight. In fact I've never paid $1000, the most I think I've ever paid around $900, and that was around the holidays. Often I can find flights for $600. This isn't the East Coast we're talking about, I usually fly to Denver, Chicago, or LA. Sorry but if you're paying even $1200 to Europe, I don't think you're getting a good deal. I also think it is misleading to say that "the only downside to using your frequent flyer miles is that you have to pay taxes and fees when you fly to a foreign country." You have to pay taxes and fees when using frequent flier miles even for US domestic flights, at least the last time I flew domestic on miles. Good find on easyJet, though. I used to fly them quite regularly. For future reference, check out Pegasus, TUI, Vueling, WizzAir, Germanwings and AirBaltic. I once flew from Istanbul to Riga on AirBaltic for less than $20. Also, be sure to look at IcelandAir for flights between the US and Europe, they usually have great prices and the quality far exceeds most American airlines.


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