Strategizing a reasonably priced flight to Europe?
March 10, 2016 4:01 PM   Subscribe

How do we find the best airline ticket window for getting to Europe in July? Bonus points if it includes an Icelandic Air Wellness stopover.

Here's what's booked: a walking trip through North Yorkshire moors in the third week of July 2016. Here's what's open: two more weeks or so in Europe either before or after. We'll likely stay with friends and family in Scotland, Germany, and London, and possibly take a detour to France.

There's a lot of wiggle room in there for our flights; how do we strategize our purchase to find the most affordable ticket window? As I mentioned, we're in love with the idea of the Icelandic Air Wellness stopover, so there's that. We live in the Pacific Northwest, which may be a consideration as well.

Of course there's a million different websites with extremely detailed discussions about the intricacies of airline travel, but I don't know how to track down the one with the specific info or data wrangling capabilities I'm looking for; for instance, finding a magical sweet spot by leaving from Seattle instead of Portland.

We won't be using any airline miles, but there's probably some kind of research to do with that, too, right?

posted by redsparkler to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I've booked several very similar trips from the PNW (Seattle/Vancouver)->UK via Iceland - and my best solution was just using the Icelandair site directly. Since my trip also encompassed Scotland / Yorkshire / London, the best savings were available by being very flexible on exactly where I landed - Glasgow, Manchester and London all worked for me, so basically I tried almost all the possible combinations of dates and landing airports.

You can also sometimes save some money and travel time by being willing to land in Glasgow and set off from London, or set off from Seattle and land in Portland. It really depends on your dates and how booked out the flights are already.

Other potential variables - do you mind if your stopover is at the end or beginning of your trip? Or, it might even be cheaper to take a 2 day stopover vs a one day. So many factors!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 4:24 PM on March 10, 2016

Condor air has cheap flights to Frankfurt in the summer, but that won't get you to Iceland. If you do fly condor, spring for the premium economy seats.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:34 PM on March 10, 2016

Use ITA Matrix and select "see calendar of lowest fares".

Iceland Air is on ITA. Once you find an itinerary that's cheap, you'll need to do some manual massaging to add a longer layover.
posted by JoeZydeco at 4:49 PM on March 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

Go to Kayak and run a series of multi-city searches adding in destinations you are interested in before and/or after your primary destination(s).

We turned a $1362 per person round trip flight from Chicago to Romania into a $910 per person trip that includes time in Warsaw on either end of our time in Romania.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:54 PM on March 10, 2016

I think WOW has similar stopovers. We used them to Iceland and liked them.
posted by ReluctantViking at 5:25 PM on March 10, 2016

Just go to Icelandair's website. Them and WOW are the only two airlines that will get you a flight via Iceland, and you're not gonna get much/any cheaper than the airline websites themselves. If Iceland was out of the equation, there might be something to discuss here, but you're Iceland requirement, and the limited number of airlines that fly there means that there isn't much wrangling you can do.
posted by ryanbryan at 12:18 AM on March 11, 2016

As I said in my question, bonus points for the Icelandair stopover, but that's not 100% a must. We'd rather do it on the way over, though; as I understand it, the Iceland stopover can be a big help with adjusting to time differences.

After looking at the ITA Matrix, it seems to have a lot in common with Google's flexible times flight grid.
I also downloaded Hopper, which does some price prediction stuff and seems to think we should buy our tickets before the end of May. Hopper will also send me a notification when the ticket price drops, which is nice.
posted by redsparkler at 8:42 AM on March 11, 2016

Follow up! Somehow we lucked out and found $299 tickets from WestJet, for Vancouver B.C. to London. We waited a while after that and then used the Google matrix to find our return flight, ending up with $800 Condor Airlines flights from Stuttgart to Portland. So a bit of a spread, there.
posted by redsparkler at 1:12 PM on May 30, 2016

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