Cheap Transatlantic Flights?
July 9, 2007 3:15 PM   Subscribe

How far in advance should I make plane reservations for a New York to London flight to find the best price?

My fiancee and I are planning our honeymoon to England next June. How far in advance should I look for flights to find the cheapest fares? Is there one airport in the NYC area that has cheaper flights to London than the others? Any other tips for finding a cheap flight are appreciated.
posted by hobgadling to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
A new transatlantic carrier Zoom has been set up recently. I've heard decent reports of it from people flying from Scotland to Canada and back. It models itself on Southwestern/Ryanair/Easyjet but gives a few more frills given the length of the journeys. Otherwise usual faves to check would be deals on and Airline Network
posted by ClanvidHorse at 3:27 PM on July 9, 2007

By the way Zoom flys from JFK to London Gatwick.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 3:28 PM on July 9, 2007

As someone who flies frequently, I would have to say for something like this you would want to book it no less than six months in advance. This is a busy travel route so you will not get better deals as time ticks by. The earlier the better. You will probably be able to get a flight for around $350 if you are one of the first ticket holders.

In my experience JFK has the cheapest fares, but typically you can search by city, not just by airport.
posted by fusinski at 4:16 PM on July 9, 2007

Kayak will have a nifty graph showing the fare trend between two cities. That might help a little.
posted by paleography at 4:26 PM on July 9, 2007

I should clarify, $350+a boatload of taxes and fees.
posted by fusinski at 4:31 PM on July 9, 2007

A few things:

First, to search for departures from all New York airports to all London airports, go here, and plug in "NYC" as the origin and "LON" as the destination. You won't be able to look beyond June 3, 2008 today, as the tool won't let you check prices beyond 330 days in the future, but you can click the "airports" tab on your results page and see how prices break down airport-by-airport.

Since it's your honeymoon, look at Silverjet, which is an all-business class affair that flies from Newark to London Luton. Pricey, but you will be the hero of the hour. Cash in some of those crystal brandy snifters you get. Maxjet is kind of the same thing, if a little cheaper, from JFK to London Stansted.

Flying into and out of the UK also means higher taxes - each long-haul passenger gets to pay a lovely £40 - $80 - "Air Passenger Duty" in the cost of their ticket. If you're also planning on visiting Paris or Dublin, say, it might be a good idea to head to England from one of those other places in the middle of your trip.

The cheapest flights, though? Obviously, it's variable. Often, though, it's Aer Lingus and Air India. Check their individual websites. Both are probably leaps and bounds ahead of American carriers in terms of friendly service.

The cheapest I found using the above-linked tool was $578.50 per person, including all taxes/fees/shenanigans, for an Air India flight from JFK to London Heathrow in late May, the closest to June I could book. A flight on Zoom, linked in a comment above, came out to under $1000 for both of you, but there were no flights listed after April, so I doubt the cheap winter rates I was able to find would exist in the summer when you're going. Worth checking back, though, as it was the absolute cheapest.

Congrats on the marriage!
posted by mdonley at 5:07 PM on July 9, 2007

Farecast is a good way to answer your question.
posted by charlesv at 6:35 PM on July 9, 2007 Ha, seriously, its almost always best to book as far in advance as possible.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 7:29 PM on July 9, 2007

I travel a lot between the UK and the US (London to San Diego) and my rule of thumb is to buy no later than 3 months before the time I want to fly, and I always use Expedia. They have the biggest range of flights, and their prices are good - to the point of where I fly with a different airline each time, through different cities (for fun, and to see different US airports - 24 hours of flying has to have some kind of perk), but departing London and arriving in San Diego at roughly the same times and prices.

For June, I would start looking at flights now, start thinking about purchasing towards the end of the year at the latest, and a tip: avoid British Airways (their in-flight service is terrible compared to airlines like Delta, NWA, Alaska Airlines) and Heathrow airport (too busy, too involved in security alerts). Both are dire.
posted by saturnine at 5:00 AM on July 10, 2007

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