What's a cheap price for airfare from WashingtnDC to London in May/June?
January 29, 2013 5:14 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are planning to travel from Washington, DC to London in late May / Early June, and I'm seeing round-trip ticket prices at around $1,050 per person ($1,250 for direct flights). That seems weirdly high to me, but we've never been there before and have no real basis for comparison. Am I booking too early in the year, such that waiting a month or two will probably net me better prices? Our plan is to fly out Friday night on a red-eye and return Sunday afternoon, so unfortunately we can't get midweek pricing.

Any sites you can offer that give historical information on airline ticket prices at various times of the year would be greatly appreciated. The only sites I've come across have been limited to the domestic United States.

Also, I'm not seeing any RyanAir-esque "budget" options for transatlantic flights, but if those exist please do let me know!
posted by Televangelist to Travel & Transportation around London, England (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I typically use Kayak to find flights (domestic CONUS and international) and they show prices for departure dates before and after the date you enter for comparison.

This NYT article has some good resources you might want to check out.
posted by scalespace at 5:44 PM on January 29, 2013

I book a flight to Germany every year for midsummer travel, and it seems like your price is on the mark. It's going into high season (usually mid-June starts peak travel).

Price to Europe used to be significantly cheaper until 9/11, then rose again with the gas price spikes of the last few years. They haven't come down since.

I would recommend watching some lesser known airlines for back door routes to the UK. Maybe Aer Lingus through Dublin. Finn Air and Iceland Air sometimes do trick specials.

It's not too early to get these tickets booked, they will not be going down anytime soon. You may see an occasional glitch as airlines play with loading, so be vigilant.
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:51 PM on January 29, 2013

Late May/early June means Memorial Day weekend which means high demand and high prices. Also, university/college students who are studying abroad for the summer or going someplace to chill out after the semester will be traveling during that time.

Since it's a high-demand period, you should buy a ticket sooner rather than later because prices are more likely to go up, not down. That said, you can look into buying a ticket on Orbitz, where I believe they do price matching if the ticket you buy goes on sale.

You can possibly catch a break by flying Saturday to Saturday - fewer people travel then so tickets will be a little cheaper. You can also look into alternate airports. From DC, I always look to see if I can take the shuttle to JFK and get a cheaper flight out of there. But at one point, you're splitting hairs. I mean, I'd rather spend an extra $100 for a nonstop flight that gets me another day at my destination. But YMMV.
posted by kat518 at 5:53 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

On the high side of average in my experience. Our best luck in June has been Aer Lingus to Dublin for around $550 RT, then Ryan Air to go elsewhere. I watch for sales in the Washington Post travel section (we just snagged the $399 RT to Istabul in February!)
posted by ersatzkat at 5:56 PM on January 29, 2013

I am not entirely sure that this link will work, but according to Bing travel (which bought out a start-up dedicated to making airfare predictions), the price is likely only going to go up from here. If the link doesn't work, you can do a search on Bing yourself and see their prediction.
posted by procrastination at 6:00 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Aer Lingus is great, but maybe not the best for such a short trip-- I flew out of DC but had a layover in Boston, and then had to get to London from Dublin. Really fun but not time-friendly. (Unless you mean landing on Saturday morning and flying out the next Sunday, so six days?) I would definitely watch out for sales, especially with Aer Lingus.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:31 PM on January 29, 2013

Heathrow has insane landing fees, like $450 of that ticket is taxes and landing fees. Try Gatwick, or Dublin, Manchester etc unless it's imperative you fly into London.

I find Shannon and Cork are often pretty cheap ways to get to England.
posted by fshgrl at 10:03 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Luton's pretty close in. Not as shiny as Heathrow, but that can be a good thing. I know at least some of the budget airlines go through there.

Ryanair is NO FUN, but it is cheap. I have friends who go to England every year, and they always go through Dublin and make the last hop via Ryanair.

A weird thing about European budget airlines which I had never experienced in the States, btw: no assigned seating. You just stand in line, get on the plane, and sit where you can. I was really confused the first time, and perhaps you would not be, but, you know, just in case.
posted by Because at 11:06 PM on January 29, 2013

In 2011 I flew from SFO to Heathrow direct* for $1100 in mid-May. When I was looking the prices jumped quite a bit between mid and late May. I booked my flight at the beginning of March, but IIRC I saw somewhat cheaper flights before that, I just wasn't ready to go all in.

*I would so not deal with non-drirect from the East Coast. Where are they sending you first? There's nowhere to stop between DC and London! Hell, I won't deal with anything but direct from SFO. It's really been worth the ~200$ or so for a direct flight is what I'm saying.
posted by grapesaresour at 11:23 PM on January 29, 2013

Kayak is pretty good for finding options. I've found Gatwick is cheaper than Heathrow, but you have to take a train into the city. Priceline has a bid option. Doesn't hurt to try to place a bid for $200 or $100 below a displayed price. We've had good luck with it.
posted by PJMoore at 7:16 AM on January 30, 2013

Response by poster: Since I'm 26 and my wife is 25, StudentUniverse ended up working out well for her ticket (they have special deals for 18-25 year olds), saved $200 over mine. :) Ended up going with IcelandAir since their prices just dipped -- with one stop-over, we'll spend 9 hours exploring Reykjavik on our way to London (yay for free countries added on), and our tickets ended up being $880 per person ($780 per her, $980 for me).
posted by Televangelist at 2:08 PM on February 3, 2013

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