European cities like Paris, Barcelona, and London are some of the most coveted vacation destinations. Still, they hardly scratch the surface of what the world’s second-smallest continent has to offer. Travelers can explore over 45 countries within an area not much larger than the United States. Despite their close geographical proximity, these countries have diverse climates, cultures, and landscapes.
Whether you’re itching to experience the Northern Lights in Norway or snorkel in Sardinia, there’s no reason to hold back due to high flight prices. With careful planning and a few expert tips, you can have your cake and eat it, too!
So when is the best time to buy airline tickets to Europe? If you want to know the answer, you’ve come to the right place! At Business Class Experts, premium airfare is what we do best! In this article, we’ll share some of our favorite tips for booking European trips. Read to the end to discover how you can score great ticket prices!
The Significance of Timing
Timing is everything when it comes to getting the cheapest flights to Europe. Not surprisingly, tickets are more expensive during the summer and holidays, when more people have free time or need holiday flights. Timing your vacation around shoulder season or lower demand days of the week can make a massive difference in price.
Moreover, the day of the week that you fly can also affect the price. Weekdays are cheaper than weekends, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays usually the most affordable.
But timing isn’t just about your air travel dates—when you purchase your tickets is equally important. The price you pay also depends on whether you book way in advance or at the last minute. There isn’t a clear-cut answer as to which is best since it depends on your travel dates, itinerary, and the airfare class you desire to purchase.
For example, if you want to fly business or first class to Europe, there are a limited number of tickets. When the demand is high for these tickets, you will want to purchase them in advance before they sell out. However, during the low season, the odds are that some seats will be vacant in first or business class, and the airlines will be willing to offer them at a discounted rate at the last minute.
Understanding the Airfare Calendar
Before you start looking for tickets, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basic concepts of the airfare calendar. Doing so will help you know how far in advance airlines allow you to purchase your seats and when they start slashing prices on unsold ones.
Typically, airlines let you book airfare eleven to twelve months in advance, but this timeframe can vary depending on the airline and route. By allowing travelers to purchase flights so far ahead of their vacation, the airline can determine the demand for routes and adjust their schedules accordingly. Of course, as we mentioned, buying your tickets as soon as they become available doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the best price. Rather, it simply secures your desired travel dates.
Most often, the price fluctuates almost constantly due to dynamic pricing. Factors that influence a ticket’s cost include:
- Demand: The higher the demand for a route on a specific date, the more the ticket will cost. For this reason, holidays and other popular travel times like spring break are more expensive.
- Booking Timeframe: As mentioned, prices change continuously pretty much from the point the tickets are available for purchase. Whether you buy them a year in advance or two days before, your departure date will significantly impact the price.
- Route: The longer the flight, the higher the price, especially if the destination is a hot travel spot, such as Rome or Madrid. This concept applies to both international and domestic flights.
- Competition: When many airlines offer a specific route, such as New York to Dublin, the prices tend to be lower. Meanwhile, flights to destinations offered by a few airlines are likely more expensive.
- Season: Airlines may reduce the number of flights offered to certain destinations at less desirable times of the year, causing the prices to stay the same or increase when there is less demand. There is often a sweet spot during the shoulder season when tickets are cheaper than during peak season, but the number of routes offered hasn’t yet decreased.
- Amenities: Premium classes and additional services usually cost more, although getting a great rate on first class airfare is possible.
Understanding all of these factors, along with the airfare calendar, empowers travelers on the hunt for the best flight prices. When you know how fare pricing works, you’ll be more likely to watch for price drops, allowing you to find the cheapest day and save money.
The Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets to Europe
As you probably imagined, there is no straightforward answer when it comes to the best day to buy airline tickets to Europe. However, as with domestic trips, exploring the trends and insights from 2023 can reveal some principles that apply year after year, making them invaluable guidance for travelers in the years to come.
We mentioned that peak seasons are best avoided due to the high demand and higher prices. But when is the peak season for Europe? The trends show that late spring, summer, and early fall are the most in-demand times of the year. Of these seasons, summer is the most popular, with many European cities seeing a surge in visitors to the point of experiencing overcrowding.
Thus, late fall, winter (except during the holiday season, with prices peaking around Christmas), and early spring tend to be the cheapest times to visit many European cities. Keep in mind that there are some exceptions depending on your destination. For example, Oktoberfest leads to higher-priced tickets to Germany in October, when other European destinations may be significantly more affordable.
Likewise, unfortunate economic events or political uncertainty can cause plane tickets to drop in price since fewer travelers are willing to visit the affected destinations. However, there is usually only a short window to take advantage of these flight deals before the demand returns, sometimes increasing airfare prices to abnormally high levels. An excellent example of this is how international trips were more expensive post-pandemic since so many people couldn’t travel due to restrictions.
Strategies for Booking Affordable Airfare
The knowledge you learned in this article can help you understand the concepts needed to book flights at better prices. But getting cheap flights is all about putting your knowledge into practice. Here are some tips to help you strategize and develop a plan for your next trip.
Join Airline Loyalty Programs
Most airlines offer some kind of loyalty program that rewards members with exclusive benefits. Deals, discounts, miles, and upgrades are all possible perks—and membership is often free.
Moreover, some airlines partner with credit card companies and reward cardholding members with even more advantages. Examples include American Airlines’ Citi card and United’s Capital One card, both of which give new cardholders tens of thousands of bonus miles.
Use Price Tracking
Tools like Google Flights offer insights into airfare price trends. You can set up alerts for your preferred destinations and dates and get notified when the price drops within your desired range. You’ll have to book as quickly as possible to get the deal, but you can travel for less if you succeed!
Last-Minute Vs. Advance Bookings
Booking in advance is generally the way to go when it comes to first and business class tickets. Yet, last-minute deals are often highly advantageous, especially in the off-season. The downside is the uncertainty that comes with these spontaneous bookings.
Use an Experienced Travel Agent
At the end of the day, relying on yourself to get the best deal may not be the right choice, especially if you’re new to international travel. Sometimes, it’s best to leave it to an experienced professional who knows all the tricks involved in getting first and business class airfare at a lower price. They have a wider range of roundtrip fares and know some clever secrets that unlock better prices.
Maximize Your Flight Experience With Business Class Experts
There are a lot of factors to consider when considering the best time to book flights to Europe. With the help of the tips and strategies in this post, you can improve your chances of locating the lowest prices.
Ready to make travel plans? If so, we invite you to contact one of our travel experts at Business Class Experts. We can help you book international flights in premium classes without sacrificing your budget. Get a quote for your cheap business class flights today!