If you are heading to Europe this April or May, now is the time to buy tickets. For weeks I have been advising travelers to hold off for travel departing after April 1, because fares were high.
It looks like our crystal ball was right again because those fares have dropped by as much as $500 per ticket, so if you want to depart for Europe between April 9 and May 17, we strongly suggest you purchase your tickets now.
Most airlines charge a $250 fee if you want to make a change to your ticket to Europe, so if you already purchased a fare for departure April 9-May 17, you may get some money back if you change or cancel your ticket. You’ll want to check the price for the itinerary that you booked and if your fare has dropped more than $250, call the airline and request a credit.
You may get that credit in the form of an airline voucher, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for a cash refund. You can also cancel your ticket if you find a cheaper destination and use that credit on your new itinerary.
If you change or cancel your ticket and end up with a credit, you could take your trip to Europe and use the remaining credit of up to $250 for a domestic trip to many destinations including the West Coast or Florida. Remember that your credit is good for one year from the date of purchase, not the date of travel.
We checked sample fares from Dallas to Europe for a one week stay departing April 24. The price to Nice was $869, down from $1,369, which is a difference of $500, the price to Amsterdam was $849, down from $1,309, which is a difference of $460, the price to Brussels was $859, down from $1,309, which is a difference of $450 and the price to Milan was $889, down from $1,299, which is a difference of $410. These fares were valid at press time and included taxes, fees and fuel surcharges.
These sale fares have exceeded our expectations and some are as cheap, or cheaper, than winter fares. You’ll want to act fast because the sale is scheduled end on January 24. We could see the purchase date extended, but we may not. Another reason not to delay is that the later dates will sell out first, so if you want to depart in mid-May, we will see May 17 sell out first, then May 16, etc.
For example, folks who were pricing tickets to Amsterdam for late May, when the price is $1,309, would be willing to depart a little earlier to lock in an airfare that is $460 cheaper. Also the week of April 1-8, is not a good time to go because you have Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter happening, so there are no discounts. To get the cheapest ticket, you will want to be flexible. Most airlines offer the cheapest seats for departure from the U.S. Monday through Thursday, but some offer them Sunday through Thursday.
For return flights from Europe, the cheapest seats are Monday through Thursday. If you want to travel on other days of the week, expect to pay $25 more each way.
At press time we were seeing some airlines require a return by June 15, some allowing a stay of up to 30 days, some a stay of up to three months and others allowing an up to 180 day stay.
London is the only city where we didn’t see a big drop, but fares were lower to London before this sale. England, including London, is the only place we are seeing a kid’s discount. The discount is 20 percent for kids ages two-11, but the discount is only off the base fare, so it will only be $40 to $60 cheaper roundtrip than the adult fare. When checking prices, be aware that some London fares are cheapest for travel Monday through Wednesday.
When you are thinking about Europe, don’t forget the Spring Break is less than two months away and it could be a nice vacation option. Spring Break is March 10-18 for most Dallas area schools.
We could still see late May and June fares come down, so hold off on purchasing for that time period. July 1 through August 14, will be the most expensive time to travel and we don’t expect to see discounts for that popular travel period.
We do expect to see a drop in prices for travel after August 14, but it may be a while, so sit back and wait until those prices come down.
To read more travel news, please click here.