Are you just now deciding this would be as great a holiday season as any to head to Europe for holiday festivities? Are your scrambling to put together last minute plans to visit family and friends? Have your in-laws offered you a blank check to get you home for the holidays?
Regardless of your situation, Auto Europe’s over sixty years expertise in the travel industry makes us the perfect resource to assist you in making your last minute holiday travel plans to Europe this upcoming holiday season. We’ll explore the top three proven strategies to save hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars when booking last-minute holiday flights to Europe and point you in the direction of any travel services we have to put your vacation in motion today.
#3: Experiment With Departing & Arriving From/To Different Airports
The airport you decide to depart from and then arrive in (and any applicable combination) can dramatically impact the price of your airline ticket, especially during peak travel times. If you live in proximity to several major airports, it’s in your best interest to shop around and find the departure airport that will give you the best price, sometimes that’s from a major airport like New York’s JFK or San Francisco, but in other cases it might be from smaller, nearby airports, such as Hartford’s Bradley Airport (compared to JFK) or from the Sacramento Airport instead of San Francisco. Alternatively, if you’re flexible with your travel plans, play around with different locations you could potentially fly into. If flying into Rome Fiumicino is $200 more per person than say arriving at the Florence Airport, an extra hour’s drive and a little inconvenience could wind up saving you hundreds of dollars.
Looking at some sample published rates above, if you live in Connecticut and are planning on flying to Florence, it’s actually less expensive to fly from Hartford’s Bradley Airport directly to Florence than from New York’s JFK to Rome Fiumicino, although this may defy common travel norms, it certainly makes sense during peak travel season when the major cities of the world are struggling to cope with the massive influx of travelers. Simply put, during peak travel season, the less traveled route is typically the least expensive and most convenient.
#2: Package Your Travel Arrangements
When people think of a package vacation, they probably envision an all-inclusive resort in Cancun or Las Vegas, but the reality is almost all travel arrangements can be packaged by travel brokerage (such as Auto Europe) which can result in huge savings for yourself, the traveler. Sometimes a brokerage’s contract requires that flights be packaged with other components such as car rentals, private chauffeurs, and hotel accommodations, so if you know you’ll be needing a last-minute car rental, a brokerage can often offer you a discount on your flights by booking a car rental. Let’s look at some figures:
Example: You’re hoping to spend Christmas in Vienna, you’ll need three airline tickets and a week-long day car rental.
By packaging your car rental (or hotel) with your flights and paying for them at the same time, you’re saving over $250 on your trip… simply by confirming your travel arrangements at the same time. Not only are you saving money, but you’re reducing the likelihood of travel difficulties as your arrangements are confirmed with a single brokerage that can provide you with 24/7 assistance in regards to any of your travel plans arranged through that brokerage.
#1: Book Business Class Instead and Save
When British Airways introduced its “Club Pass” in 1978, it was seen as the beginning of “business-class airfare” and as a means of distinguishing travelers flying on discounted fares from full-fare business travelers seeking comfort and luxury as opposed to seeking the best price. During holiday season, throw all those concepts out the window, because if you’re looking for last-minute flights, you may be shocked to find that business class (and sometimes even first class!) fares are cheaper than coach fares issued at a high class of service, merely based on the fact that coach classes are sold out whereas availability in business class is wide open.
Understanding how airlines structure the cost of their ticket is crucial to understanding when you can get a business fare for less than an economy fare. The cost of a ticket is comprised of three factors, a base fare, a fuel surcharge, and taxes. The base fare is determined by what is referred to as the “class of service”, which can be understood in terms of availability on a flight. If the flight is completely open, then you’d want to book on the lowest class of service to receive the lowest fare. As flights begin to fill up, lower classes of service will sell out and more expensive fares may be all that’s available. Sometimes, and depending on the airline, full-fare economy tickets (in the highest classes of service) are less expensive than lower classes of service for business class tickets, so if coach has two seats left but business class is wide open, then you may find that a low class of service business class ticket is less expensive than a full-fare economy ticket.
The diagram below shows a typical airline’s base fare structure and typical availability for holiday flights when searching last minute.
Be Vigilant and Get the Best Value on Your Last-Minute Holiday Travel Arrangements
Make no mistake, booking the best rate for your holiday travel requires precision, quick-decision making, and the proper methods to have your airfare discounted as heavily as possible. Auto Europe has been assisting first-time travelers and experienced globetrotters a-like book car rentals, larger van rentals, hotel accommodations, and flights to Europe for over sixty years, so take advantage of our knowledge and connections in the industry to book your airfare to Europe at the best price possible today, and review our last-minute 2014 holiday airfare promo now!
Note: All sample rates based on queries from 12/21/14 to 12/28/14, conducted on 12/24/2014, assuming one person traveling except where noted. Example rates may no longer be valid as availability changes.