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I very vividly remember not that long ago when $500 round trips from the United States to Europe were a very exciting deal that I would not only sometimes write about, but occasionally act on myself. To be clear, that was $500 for a regular old round trip economy seat and not some premium economy or business class ‘oops’ fare. In fact, back in 2014 I bought these $500-ish economy round trip tickets for my mom, my daughter, and I from Houston to Spain, and I was quite happy about it.
Then came the $400 round trip sales to Europe that became the new exciting news. Then the $300 – $400 round trips. Then pretty recently tickets started dipping into the $200’s, and that $500 ticket that was a great deal all the way back in 2014 or 2015, no longer looks all that exciting.
Now let’s pause for a second, because if I hopped online today and wanted to buy a regular old economy round trip ticket from Houston to London for travel this fall the nonstop round trips are still over $1,000, with the cheapest option being about $750 and requiring an overnight in Boston and multiple legs. So, let’s not get too confused about what ticket prices to Europe still look like for much of the country much of the time, but at the same time there is no denying that when a sale or fare war is happening, the floor for prices to Europe is much lower than it was even a couple of years ago. There are also some low cost carriers that are totally reinventing what it means to buy a ticket to Europe.
With all of that said, did you know you can fly from the United States to really cool cities in Europe for just over $200 round trip with no tricks, miles, or connections required? Seriously. I mean, you may have seen the headlines for $200 round trip fares, but do you really know how it easy it is to just log on even today and buy one on a variety of dates from several cities? A couple of low cost carriers are dipping into this price range now, but it is Norwegian that currently has my attention.
Yes, it is on a low cost carrier and on the cheapest tickets everything from a checked bag, to a seat reservation, and on-board meals will cost extra, but still…who cares. You can pay for those extras if you want or need them, but otherwise you can fly with 10 kg or less of carry-on luggage from 60 miles north of Manhattan in Stewart, NY, to Bergen, Norway, for just $203 round trip on Norwegian…and children 11 and under are even cheaper than that at about $186 per round trip. Who wouldn’t want to go to Bergen, Norway?!
The cheapest flights on Norwegian are usually from the East Coast, but Norwegian is not just flying from the East Coast as they are already operating, or are in the process of starting up, flights in cities all over the United States such as Chicago, Austin, Seattle, Orlando, Los Angeles and more. Prices from those cities to Europe start at about $99 – $259 each way, with some cities also offering $79 flights to Martinique, if you wanted to head a different direction.
You aren’t going to be flying to Europe in a lie-flat seat while eating caviar on Norwegian, but if you wanted or needed something a little bigger and nicer than a standard economy seat then Norwegian does have a Premium Cabin on some of their aircraft. These seats are not anywhere near lie-flat, but they do recline, come with a blanket, meals, checked bags, entertainment, drinks, and more.
These seats of course cost more than the lowest $99 fares, but the prices aren’t terrible compared to what others charge for similar premium economy seats. The Premium Cabin starting price points are around $500+ each way to/from Europe. That sounds like a small fortune compared to $99, but remember back to the common economy prices to Europe from places like Houston, and it looks pretty darn nice all the sudden.
Being able to go to Europe on a nonstop flight for around $200 round trip without using miles or points or picking from just one or two flights on some random date if you can beat others for the handful of available seats is kind of a game changer. I mean, $200 is a good price for most domestic tickets, so opening up an entire other continent at a price that most people can afford really is pretty special, and not something to be taken for granted and lost in all of the travel deals headlines. I have not yet flown on Norwegian to Europe, but at those prices and to those cities, I very much hope to.
I encourage you to play around with their website and calendar and see what you can come up with. When you can, use those miles to fly in comfort to Europe, but don’t discount simply crossing the pond for $99 as well. It really is amazing that we have that as a very viable option.
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.