When is the best time to book international flights to Europe? This is an inevitable question as you start to plan your next trip, especially if cost is a consideration.
If you visit flight comparison websites like skyscanner.net or kayak.com, you will be presented with a ton of flight deals. It doesn’t take long to realize prices vary a lot throughout the year. Deals can bounce from high to low and back as often as weekly. It can feel like you need a crystal ball to know when to book at the lowest price.
It’s worth taking some time to research flight options and make sure you’re getting the best deal for your trip to Europe. Frequent travelers know there are general trends to indicate the best time to book your flight. These are dependent on factors like the season of your journey, whether flights fill according to the airline’s expectations, the airports of your departure, and connecting routes. The popularity of your chosen destination also has a role to play.
And Europe is popular! Especially for travelers from North America, Australia, and New Zealand, Europe never loses appeal. Offering a blend of comfort and adventure, Europe’s thousand-year-old architecture, dramatic landscapes, and culture whispers to the heart of nearly every traveler. Europe welcomed 713 million tourists in 2018, and a massive number of them arrived by plane.
With all this in mind, can there ever be a ‘best time’ to book international flights to Europe? The answer is yes! There are opportunities for significant savings if you take the time to research. We’ve crunched some data and put together this short guide of things to keep in mind as you book your tickets.
What’s the Best Time to Book International Flights to Europe?
American Travelers – Best Time to Book Flights
For travelers coming from the U.S., Europe is one of the most accessible destinations in the world. Over a thousand trans-Atlantic flights depart for Europe from the U.S. every day. Departing from many American cities, American travelers can be in Europe after just a few hours in the air, ready to explore the history and culture of the Old World with barely a touch of jetlag. So when is the best time to book?
According to Skyscanner, September is the best month to book flights from the USA to Europe. Booking in September can lead to savings of up to 6%, a significant amount when you consider that the average airfare to Europe is $1,151. On average, the best day of the week to book is a Sunday.
The worst time to book flights is in June, which can be 10% more expensive than other months. If you can’t time your booking for September, it’s best to book about 160 days or roughly four months in advance of your trip. Great news for early risers, for the best deals, book your flight for 6 am.
The most cost effective month of the year for American travel to Europe is in March, and the most expensive is July.
Canadian Travelers – Best Time to Book Flights
Like their American counterparts, Canadian travelers have a wealth of flight options to visit Europe. When it comes to the best times to book and travel, however, the data differs from that of the U.S.
For Canadians, the cheapest months of travel may vary depending on your route. The best months to fly from Toronto to Paris, for example, are January, February, and November, according to Skyscanner’s research. The most expensive months are July and August, and these can be a staggering 30% and 27% more expensive than average.
Or, when traveling from Montreal to Reykjavik, the most cost effective month to book is October. When flying from Toronto to Lisbon, travelers would do well to avoid booking in March, when prices are 24% higher than average.
Overall the price pattern is generally consistent, with the most expensive months to book being in midsummer with another peak in December. The key lesson here is to pay attention to your particular route.
How far Canadians need to book in advance also depends on your destination and departure point. 15-20 weeks in advance is a good general rule of thumb. However, there are some outliers. When flying Toronto to Frankfurt, prices can be 33% lower than average if you wait until just two weeks before departure. Warning: waiting this long can be risky.
Australian Travelers – Best Time to Book Flights
Traveling from Australia to Europe can be quite an adventure. This hemisphere crossing journey can take more than a day to complete, and involve stopovers in multiple time zones. This makes planning especially important.
A good starting point for those from Australia planning a trip to Europe is to look at early-bird sales for the European summer (which of course aligns with Australia’s colder months). These sales begin in October and November, and you’ll find some of the lowest fares in January and February.
For Australians it’s best to book international flights to Europe 21-22 weeks in advance for the best deals, and this is something a laid-back 75% of Australian travelers miss out on.
Travelers from New Zealand – Best Time to Book Flights
Traveling from New Zealand to Europe is no small feat, with New Zealanders flying even further, and perhaps with even more stopovers than their Australian counterparts.
Like Australians, New Zealanders can and should take advantage of the early-bird seasons to get the best flight deals. These periods tend to take place mid New Zealand winter in August and then again in February, when people are back to work and dreaming of a holiday.
The best day to book flights is Sunday, and the best day to actually fly is on a Thursday, in terms of cost. The highest international economy airfares for New Zealanders are in September, and the lowest tend to be in January.
What Are the Best Airports to Fly Out Of (and Into)?
For North American travelers, it’s perhaps not surprising that the best airports (in terms of cost) to fly from when visiting Europe tend to be in bigger cities and closer to the destination.
New York tends to offer the most cost effective flights, while traveling from airports like Houston can be significantly more expensive. For Canadians, it is likely best to fly from Montreal or Toronto.
As for where to travel, research from PriceofTravel shows that Dublin and Shannon airports in Ireland are the least expensive destination from North America, with an average flight cost of $763. After all, it is the closest. Other wallet-friendly options are London, Paris, and Copenhagen.
When is the Best Time to Visit Europe in Terms of Cost?
We’ve covered the most cost-effective times to book international flights to Europe and fly there, but what about the price when you’re on the ground?
Hotel prices in Europe are highest between May to June and September to October, because these months catch both business travelers and leisure travelers. These months also avoid the peak heat of the summer weather in July and August.
Traveling during the low seasons, in winter and early spring, will be easier on your budget, and it may be a more peaceful experience with smaller crowds. On the other hand, the weather will be worse, and some things may close for the season. Be aware that in December prices rise again for travelers celebrating the holidays.
One ‘secret month’ to visit Europe is November. Especially in warmer countries like Italy, this month will likely offer beautiful weather, but prices will be lower.
What’s the Best Time of Day to Fly to Europe?
The best time of day to fly depends on your location. The U.S. and Canada are both vast countries — but an early morning flight from New York City can get you to London by the early afternoon.
On the other hand, a flight from Los Angeles or Vancouver might take more than 12 hours to reach Europe, and it might be challenging to find a direct route to your destination. In these cases, it might be wise to book an overnight flight.
When flying from Australia and New Zealand, flights take more than a day. It’s important to factor this time into your trip planning, and it may be a good idea to book a late-night flight so you can sleep and arrive rested.
It’s also worth noting that morning flights are more likely to take off on time, minimizing the chances of a delay.
When Should You Start Searching for Flights to Europe?
Since the smartest time to book an international flight to Europe can be many months before your departure date, it’s best to start looking even earlier than this to be in with the best chance. Make sure to do your homework and check multiple platforms to find the best possible deals and flight times.
Tips for Finding the Best Fares to Europe
Here are some general tips for finding the best deals. All the more for that wine and Bratwurst budget!
- Shop around different sites and aggregators. It’s tempting to seize the first good deal you find, but hold off and try a few different options. Sometimes the best deals can slide under the radar and require some seeking out.
- Use air miles. Many credit cards offer the option to accumulate air miles, which can be traded for a discount on flights. Some cards will even give you air miles as a signing-on bonus. It’s worth looking at the possibilities here, as you may be able to cover the entire cost of a flight if you travel frequently.
- Be flexible with dates if possible. If you can afford to have some leeway around the dates you depart and arrive, you could save a lot of money, as flight prices can fluctuate quite a bit from one day to the next.
- Delete cookies. Often, booking websites ‘remember’ you and increase prices when you return to the site. It’s an old trick, but deleting the cookies in your web browser will reset this and ensure you see the lowest prices available.
- Consider layover flights. Opting for a trip with a layover can save you a great deal of money with only a few extra hours to travel. Traveling from Australia and New Zealand, more extended layovers tend to mean lower prices.
- Subscribe to online newsletters and email lists. If you sign up to receive emails from airlines and other travel companies, you’ll receive offers and discounts straight to your inbox, giving you a headstart on everyone else.
A trip to Europe doesn’t have to break the bank. By exploring the different options for flight times and planning to make sure you get the best deals, it’s possible to fly to Europe for a very reasonable price.
Still in the planning stages of your next big trip? Try a customized itinerary from Go Real Travel.