How to save over $600 on flights to Europe this summer

Patrick Surry - Jan. 31, 2016

Summary

  • Travel at the start or end of summer - The cheapest times to fly to Europe this summer are in the beginning of May and the end of August. You can save as much as $250 per round-trip ticket over peak dates from mid-June through July.

  • Find a bargain destination - Picking a less popular arrival destination can save you more than $400 compared to flying to marquee cities like London, Paris or Rome.

  • Buy separate internal flights - Take advantage of cheap travel within Europe to get to your dream destinations for less with many flights between European cities for under $200.

  • Optimize your travel days - The Hopper app can give you advice on when to fly and buy to save you up to 40% on your flight. On an aggregate level though, Tuesdays are the best days to buy your tickets and depart. Mondays are the best days to return. Weekends are consistently the most pricey.

  • Buy early - save more than $125 by purchasing your tickets at least 60 days in advance.

Upcoming Popularity and Pricing for European Travel

  The dollar is strong so it's a great time to plan a summer vacation to Europe. Hopper analyzed what places, and at what times were the most popular and the most affordable for trips between May and August (Figure 1). June is the most popular month for European travel. Popularity increases in late May and doesn't drop again until after the first week in July. The lowest prices are in the first half of May and the last week and a half of August. Prices peak at the end of July. By booking flights for the right locations at the lowest priced times, you can save as much as $600 per ticket.

Figure 1: Upcoming Popularity and Pricing for Travel to Europe (May-August)

While European travel is popular, not all cities are equal and many Americans tend to focus on the most popular destinations such as London, Paris, and Rome. However, while these are the most popular cities, they are also some of the most expensive to fly to (Figure 2). You can save over $400 depending on the destination that you chose.

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Figure 2: European airports by popularity and price (red=high, blue=low) for travel in May-August 2015. Based on searches in March.

Intra-European Flights

If you chose to fly to a bargain city in Europe, there are plenty of flights within Europe for around $200 (Figure 3) that can get you to where you want to go for less.

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Figure 3: Major European flight routes priced up to $200 round-trip with line weight showing popularity.

Popularity and Pricing by US Origin and European Destination

Leaving from major US cities, you can save over $400 by picking a bargain destination as opposed to one of the most popular destinations (details in Tables 1-4). Purchasing a $200 flight within Europe to get you to your preferred city still leads to a savings of over $200.

From New York (JFK, LGA, EWR)

 The most popular and the cheapest European destinations from New York are shown in Table 1. You can save over $400 depending on what destination you chose. Find the best current deals from New York to Europe on Hopper.

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Table 1: Most popular and best bargain European destinations from New York

From Chicago (ORD, MDW)

The most popular and the cheapest European destinations from Chicago are shown in Table 2.  You can save over $300 depending on what destination you chose.  Find the best current deals from Chicago to Europe on Hopper.

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Table 2: Most popular and best bargain European destinations from Chicago

From Los Angeles (LAX)

The most popular and the cheapest European destinations from Los Angeles are shown in Table 3. You can save over $300 depending on what destination you chose. Find the best  current deals from Los Angeles to Europe on Hopper

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Table 3: Most popular and best bargain European destinations from Los Angeles

From Boston (BOS)

The most popular and the cheapest European destinations from Boston are shown in Table 4. You can save over $250 depending on what destination you chose. Boston is interesting because some of the most popular destinations are also on the best bargain list. Find the best current deals from Boston to Europe on Hopper.

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Table 4: Most popular and best bargain European destinations from Boston

When to Buy, Depart, and Return

The specific days when you book, depart, and return can also make an impact. The Hopper app can give you advice on when to fly and buy to help you save up to 40% on your flight. However, we also determined on an aggregate level the best days by finding the day on which the most markets have the lowest price. Using this methodology, Tuesdays are the best days to buy and to depart, and Mondays are the best to return (Table 5). Weekends are consistently the most pricey (Details in Figures 4-6).  While these tips are true when looking at all travel from the US to Europe, specific markets might have slightly different patterns. Use the Hopper app to get advice for your specific trip.

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Table 5: Best days to buy, depart, and return to Europe this summer

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Figure 4: Buy prices and popularity by day of the week

Figure 5: Departure prices and popularity by day of the week

Figure 6: Return prices and popularity by day of the week

Advanced purchase can also save you money on travel as prices increase as you approach your departure day (Figure 7).  On average, same day tickets from the US to Europe cost $1,173, and the prices drops down to $1,042 if purchased between 60 and 179 days in advance.  Save more than $125 by purchasing your tickets at least 60 days in advance.

Figure 7: Prices based on advanced purchase day (based on travel May-Aug of 2015)

Data and Methodology

The data presented in this analysis comes from Hopper’s combined feed of Global Distribution Service (GDS) data sources which includes about 10 million queries and 1 billion trips per day.  Demand is represented as the number of queries not actual ticket purchases, and is calibrated across all GDS sources for each market.

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