BER --> NYC Any Which Way
June 29, 2009 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find the cheapest way to return to New York from Europe.

I need to get back to New York in the last week of July from Berlin. Despite the recession, this is naturally the peak time for travel between Europe and the US, and the cheapest ticket I can find on Kayak (the most comprehensive search engine I know of) is a whopping 600 Euros.

I'm out of work and out of money (which, in fact, is why I'm leaving Berlin) and it would make a huge difference for me to find a cheaper ticket. Unfortunately I can't wait it out until tickets get cheaper again in the fall.

I tried to save money by only booking a one-way flight, but discovered that this seems to cost even more than a round-trip ticket.

I've checked all the travel-related threads on MeFi and read over a bunch of articles on frugal travel from the NYT and others. I've tried to find charter flights or flights with consolidators through Google, but can't seem to find anything less than what I'm finding on standard search engines like Kayak (and when I do, it turns out to be a phantom flight that isn't really for sale at that price).

I looked into buying frequent flier miles or having a friend transfer them to me, but as soon as you are dealing with large quantities of miles it's hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

I thought that perhaps I could make it cheaper by taking a transatlantic flight from another European city and taking a Ryan Air or other discount airline flight from Berlin to my departure city. Thus far, the cheapest route I've found is to take a Germanwings flight from Berlin to Warsaw for 69 Euro, and then take an Air France flight from Warsaw to NYC that night for 349 Euro round trip. Is there another city that might have a cheaper flight? I've already tried Frankfurt, Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, London, Dublin, Edinburgh, Zurich, Geneva, and Zagreb.

Finally, is there any chance that tickets will get cheaper if I wait longer? One can hope...

I am very grateful for any suggestions you might have- whether they are tricks of the trade, ideas on how to string flights together, or helpful websites.
posted by foxy_hedgehog to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Try -- you have to prove an association with a university (which can take a day or so, if I recall correctly) but I've often seen prices there that are well cheaper than on kayak. Good luck!
posted by tractorfeed at 10:35 AM on June 29, 2009

What about being an air courier? There are legit organizations that offer discount fares in exchange for carrying a package. I have to imagine Berlin-NYC would be a route with a lot of traffic...
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:45 AM on June 29, 2009

Oh sorry, just googled and found this:

Important Note: Because of changes in the air freight industry and worldwide concerns about airline security in the wake of 9/11, air courier travel is, effectively, a thing of the past.

posted by drjimmy11 at 10:47 AM on June 29, 2009

I just saw an ad for AirBerlin in the newspaper today. Check out their specials -- you could fly into Miami in July for €329 and find your way from there?
posted by rdn at 10:48 AM on June 29, 2009

I think you've sussed out the major ways of getting across the Atlantic as an airline consumer.

But what about act as a delivery person on a cargo/courier type flight? There are always people who have said they've done this but I don't know how you hook yourself up with this kind of deal. Google should be able to help you.

Or working as a galley slave on a cargo ship that is traveling across the Atlantic? It would be a crazy adventure. But when you don't have a job, you have the time... so it might be worth a month or two of adventure till you reached NYC.

More realistically, you should be more flexible in your destination as well. Have you looked at flying to Montreal, Boston, or any other city near NYC? It might be cheaper, especially if you get a relative to pick you up once in North America. Otherwise, buses or train tickets bought far in advance can be cheap.

If it were me, I would spend the money (<5>
Of course, acting as a drug mule is what really desperate people do. But that's probably more bother than 500 Euros is worth. ;)
posted by FastGorilla at 10:54 AM on June 29, 2009 is a European traveler's bestest friend.

Here's Germany to NYC for the month of July, the cheapest I can see for the week you want to leave is in the 480 range.

Take the numbers on the site with a grain of salt though, airline prices are updated hourly and you won't ultimately know what it costs until you're on the airline's website.
posted by Ndwright at 11:04 AM on June 29, 2009

IcelandAir might be your friend: found this for Tuesday, July 28.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:14 PM on June 29, 2009

You can use ITA Software to find tickets, but then you've got to buy them somewhere else like a travel agency; e-mail a friend at home or your folks to see if they can help you find one, or pop into your friendly neighborhood one in Berlin. Find the fare you want, click on "fare details", then print it out/email it to your agent. It's pretty easy to search, and lets you search lots and lots of airports at once.

Skyscanner, mentioned above, got me a €100 round-trip ticket to Morocco from Berlin last winter. It also lets you search not just by city, but from country to country - so you can enter "Germany"/"Poland" for the from box and "United States" for the to box.

Could you leave a week earlier or later? That might help.

BEWARE that if you fly home with any part of your journey on Ryanair and you have more than a trivial amount of stuff - the limit for checked baggage is just 15 kilos/33 pounds! - you're going to get WHAMMED with fees you may not be able to afford. They weigh every bag, every time.

You can Megabus your way back to NYC from wherever you fly that's cheaper to fly to. Tickets from $0!
posted by mdonley at 12:20 PM on June 29, 2009

Holy crap!

Meridiana/Eurofly has a €179 ticket from Rome to New York on July 10. One checked bag up to 23 kg is €55. Total plus tax is €234.56!

It absolutely does not cost even €200 to get between Berlin and Rome! There's a flight on the 9th, the day before, on Easyjet from SXF to Ciampino, the other Rome airport, for about $100. That plus a hostel should be about €100. I know that's a lot earlier than you wanted to go, but I don't see how you're going to get across the Atlantic for less than that. Sent you a MeMail so you'd see this!
posted by mdonley at 12:27 PM on June 29, 2009

...and you can save more money if you Couchsurf rather than go to a hostel...
posted by methylsalicylate at 12:39 PM on June 29, 2009


- ask local travel agents about air-only deals from charter airlines which normally fly people on tour packages. Condor can get your from Berlin to Halifax for $566 on July 27 and from there...buses?

- Air India and Kuwait Airways fly from Heathrow to New York. Air India is online-bookable, but I don't know if Kuwait Airways is. You can usually find these on Expedia/Travelocity/Orbitz/etc.

- There are special LONDON-SPEZIAL fares on Deutsche Bahn, with a day's travel to London [and the unlimited baggage space...] coming in at as little as €49 if you're quick enough. Check the bottom of this thread. Not sure if it works Berlin-London.
posted by mdonley at 12:48 PM on June 29, 2009

ask local travel agents about air-only deals from charter airlines which normally fly people on tour packages. Condor can get your from Berlin to Halifax for $566 on July 27 and from there...buses?

Halifax to New York is going to cost hundreds of dollars, even by bus (which would be 18+ hours, most likely, and involve changing buses several times).

Airports within reasonable bus distance of New York are Newark, Boston, Providence, Manchester NH, and Philadelphia. Anywhere much farther than that is going to cost a lot, even by bus.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:57 PM on June 29, 2009

Another bargain flight: €215 on Sunday, July 19 from Rome to Toronto on Air Transat. I can't find a way to book it on the web; call/Skype them at 1-877-872-6728. Ask for fare QHITC1O.

Megabus from Toronto to NYC on July 19 is about $41. Leave at 7:30/9:30 pm, get to NYC in the morning.
posted by mdonley at 1:11 PM on June 29, 2009

You mentioned having a friend transfer miles to you, but if you have a friend with enough miles for a one-way or round trip ticket, under most frequent flier programs' T&Cs they can just book the ticket for you, no transfer to your account needed. For example, when I want my best friend to fly out to visit me from L.A., I log into my frequent flier account, find the flights she wants, and then just put her name in the passenger info area. Same as buying a ticket for someone else, except less costly.
posted by bedhead at 2:40 PM on June 29, 2009

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