Would jetBlue Flights to Europe Be a Success? Maybe.

At some point in the last year or two, I said something to the effect of “why can’t jetBlue just [explicit synonym for “take a risk”] and launch transatlantic flights?” Given that the distance between Gander, NF and Shannon, Ireland is significantly less than the 3,000+ mile maximum range of both the Airbus A320 and A321, I figured that jetBlue aircraft could easily make the trip to Europe from New York JFK or Boston (its main hub and focus city, respectively). Indeed, jetBlue’s success within the United States made it seem logical that the carrier would start to offer transatlantic flights.

It turns out that I wasn’t considering the whole picture. While I’m by no means an expert, my knowledge of the aviation has evolved significantly since then, making me better able to understand why a carrier wouldn’t want to start transatlantic service even if it has planes that can handle the trip.

That’s all irrelevant. What is pertinent, though, is that jetBlue’s Q2 2016 earnings report indicated that the carrier has decided to modify a pre-existing Airbus order to include the manufacturer’s A321LR — a narrow body aircraft part of the A320neo family that’s designed to give carriers a lower-density option for long-haul sectors such as flights between the U.S. and Europe.

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The bottom-right corner indicates a not-so-subtle hint that jetBlue is contemplating flights to Europe. (jetBlue)

Of course, jetBlue has not committed to launching any particular route. More importantly, the first A321LR won’t be delivered for some time, so this is still a ways off. However, it is worth analyzing the claims and considerations that critics and supporters alike will be making about the potential success or failure of such an operation.

The Arguments Against: There are challenges in terms of operations, opposition, and jetBlue’s ability to be competitive with offerings.

Operations: This is more of an existing challenge, as it would be mitigated by the arrival of the A321LR. Still, it is worth examining.

As a result of charging less than other carriers, jetBlue needs to ensure that its planes are as full as possible. While more people on the plane results in more revenue, it also means more weight.

In the case of air travel, more weight equals less efficiency, which necessitates more fuel — thus a “lighter” narrow body will have a much easier time crossing the ocean than a heavier one. Certainly, a jetBlue A320 could fly nonstop from New York or Boston to Europe, but it would have to be fairly empty, and that’s ultimately the antithesis of putting as many people on the plane as possible. This — along with a number of other operational reasons — is likely why jetBlue hasn’t forayed into transatlantic flights yet.

Opposition: While jetBlue has made a name for itself as an excellent low-cost carrier within the Americas, it wouldn’t be the first carrier to offer low-cost transatlantic service.

For example, Norwegian Air Shuttle, another low-cost carrier who has undertaken a significant number of transatlantic operations, seats 291 passengers in its Boeing 787s — 65 more seats than an American Airlines 787. And while American can afford to have less seats due to the existence of business class (28 flat bed seats) and premium economy (57 seats), Norwegian’s focus on low-cost service means that its premium economy offering is significantly smaller (32 seats).

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Norwegian Air Shuttle is arguably the pioneer of the low-cost transatlantic industry.

Moreover, Norweigan has caused significant controversy within the U.S. aviation industry, as it is alleged to pay pilots significantly less than their American counterparts, thus giving it an unfair competitive advantage. jetBlue, meanwhile, wouldn’t and couldn’t do the same, in all likelihood, so it is uncertain whether its prices could be competitive with Norwegian.

Offerings: As a low-cost carrier, jetBlue doesn’t have the same desire as legacy carriers to pander to those seeking premium options. And while this certainly works domestically, the success of most airlines’ intercontinental operations is largely dependent on revenue from business travelers.

Often times, premium tickets are either paid for by one’s employer or come about as a result of a status-based upgrade. So while many casual travelers would like to pay less to travel to Europe, legacy carriers have no problem filling “high-fare” seats, so they have little inclination to lower their prices. As a result, simply offering low fares would likely not be enough for jetBlue to eat into a significant chunk of transatlantic legacy carrier operations.

Certainly, there is a possibility that a new low-cost transatlantic market could be established, but it doesn’t appear that this will be happening anytime soon. In fact, I think it’s more likely that an unsuccessful route would be dropped before an airline would decrease prices to win back passengers, as the “willingness to pay” of business and other well-to-do travelers will leave legacy carriers with little incentive to lower fares for the Average Joe.

The Arguments For: Satisfaction equals success, whether at home or abroad.

Since it was first established in 1998, jetBlue has been a resounding success. Even though it is a low-cost carrier, this characteristic has not had a negative impact on its level of service. In fact, jetBlue has been the highest-ranked U.S. carrier by a number of respected ranking authorities, including JD Power and Skytrax, and the latter named it as just one of two four-star American carriers (the other being Virgin America).

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jetBlue has been ranked the #1 airline in the United States by JD Power for the past 12 years.

While an important factor in examining a carrier’s success, quality of service isn’t the only are where jetBlue has been successful. jetBlue has an extensive route network, serving Cancun and Mexico City, a number of Caribbean countries, and select South American destinations. Though it has mostly made its name thanks to its successful domestic operations, jetBlue has proven its ability to operate viable routes outside of the United States.

Ultimately, jetBlue has built a sterling reputation based on low fares, excellent service, and incredible comfort. Assuming that its international product would be able to offer the same levels of quality, these attributes could result in a large number of international travelers choosing to fly jetBlue as opposed to a legacy carrier.

The Key Consideration: jetBlue would have to choose its routes carefully.

In addition to the necessary technical considerations, jetBlue would need to be strategic in its choice of routes. Sure, it could enter major markets, and would be able to offer fares lower than the legacy carriers, but there are a number of considerations to be made:

  1. It can’t compete with the premium offerings (first class and business class) of airlines such as Air France, British Airways, KLM, and Lufthansa. On routes like JFK-LHR, business travelers and other high-paying customers play a significant part in revenue.
  2. Entering a new market where extensive competition already exists (such as NYC-LON, NYC-FRA, etc.) is much more difficult than establishing a new market. That said, building a new market is certainly risky, and some might argue that those markets don’t already exist “for a reason,” so extensive market research would need to be done in terms of route viability.
  3. While jetBlue could fly to alternative airports within a particular city, it has built its U.S. network around major airports. In fact, it serves each of the nation’s 10 busiest airports, so it is unlikely that the carrier would want to hedge its bets on success at smaller airports.
  4. Although Norwegian has certainly introduced a number of low-cost transatlantic flights, many feel that the “legacy” carriers still charge fares that are too expensive on these routes. While I’d certainly like to pay less to fly to Europe, I don’t entirely buy this argument: Hump Day Fare Hacks has proved that there are a number of incredible transatlantic fares out there, and 60% of the flights profiled to this point are non-Norweigan legacy carriers.

Bottom line: Whether it means establishing new routes or starting to serve existing ones, jetBlue would have to pick the right markets to enter. And while this might sound obvious, it is — in my opinion — the absolute key factor that will make or break jetBlue as a potential transatlantic carrier. Personally, I hope it will choose to undertake transatlantic operations, and I also hope that such an attempt would be fruitful for the carrier. Either way, I’ve been fortunate to enjoy flying jetBlue domestically, and I look forward to continuing to do so.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: July 27, 2016

With Hump Day Fare Hacks in its fourth week, I feel the need to look back at what I’ve seen so far in the month of July.

Of course, Norwegian Air Shuttle has dominated the lists, so it should be no surprise that it operates half of the 10 flights profiled this week. Regardless of what your opinion might be on the Norwegian vs. USDOT saga, it’s undeniable that Bjørn Kjos has turned the transatlantic market on its head. A few years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to pay more than $300 to fly domestically – in fact, depending on where you live, it still isn’t. Now, however, insanely cheap intercontinental flights are becoming more and more common, and Norwegian seems to operate most of them.

Even with Norwegian’s dominance this week, I think that the unofficial “best deal” title goes to Cathay Pacific’s $533 New York to Hong Kong flights, as it’s extremely rare that an intercontinental flight between the United States and Asia goes for less than $1,000, not to mention less than $600, and it’s even rarer that those sub-$600 fares are on flights operated by a five-star airline. That said, I don’t think those prices will stay that low for long, as I think that there might be an over saturation of seats in a variety of transpacific markets – something which may well be remedied by cuts, particularly if fuel prices do start to rise – so I’d book sooner rather than later if you have any interest in those fares.

Note: All routes profiled are based on a 7-day round trip (departing and arriving the same day a week apart), unless otherwise noted. That said, I strongly encourage you to play with a variety of dates and trip lengths and see what you can find.

 

BOSTON

 

Boston – Copenhagen

Leave on: October 11, 18 (return October 20, 27)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $302

Thoughts: While the window of available departure dates is extremely limited (probably an understatement), and it’s not quite as cheap as Norwegian’s BOS-OSL flights, this is still an excellent deal. If I had to guess, October is an excellent time to visit Denmark.

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • October 30, 31
  • November 13, 14, 28
  • December 2
  • January (2017) 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 30, 31
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 15, 17

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $336

Thoughts: I really don’t need to keep writing about this for all of you to understand its value…right?

 

Boston – Munich

Leave on:

  • November 5, 12, 19, 26
  • December 3

Carrier: Lufthansa
Price: $565

Thoughts: While this deal is limited to five Saturdays in late fall, this fare is the lowest that I’ve seen it. Additionally, the last time it was profiled, it was limited to two dates and was more than $100 higher, so we could well see further downward price movement, an expansion of available dates, or both. Either way, if you’re looking to travel to Germany during this time period, I’d advise that you book sooner rather than later.

 

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • September 26, 30 (return October 4, October 8)
  • October 10, 14, 17 (return October 18, 22, 25)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $287

Thoughts: If a sub-$300 transatlantic trip wasn’t good enough for you, a $2 reduction in the lowest base fare should be.

 

Boston – Ponta Delgada

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 6, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27, 31
  • February (2017) 3, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 26, 28
  • March (2017) 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17

Carrier: Azores Airlines
Price: $466

Thoughts: The average winter temperature in the Azores hovers around 60ºF, making it significantly warmer than the majority of Europe. Only word of caution: this route will likely be operated by Azores Airlines’ Airbus A310s which are significantly older (and likely less comfortable) than more modern aircraft. That said, I have no reservations about the safety of Azores (formerly SATA International), and I think that this is an excellent deal for those looking to enjoy Europe in the winter without having to button up.

 

NEW YORK

 

New York JFK – Dublin

Leave on:

  • November 2, 10, 11, 13, 15-17, 25, 27, 29, 30
  • December 1, 2, 4-8
  • January (2017)5, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 19, 20, 22, 23, 26, 27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19, 23, 24, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 2, 30, 31

Carrier: Delta Air Lines
Price: $492

Thoughts: A fairly impressive assortment of departure dates available for this. And, if you’re so inclined, Aer Lingus is selling a number of dates (including 26 of the 31 days in January) for just $4 more on the same route.

 

New York JFK and Newark – Hong Kong

Leave on:

  • October 18-20, 24-27
  • November 1-3, 8, 10, 15-17, 22-24, 28-30
  • December 1, 5-7

Carrier: Cathay Pacific
Price: $533

Thoughts: Two weeks ago, Cathay Pacific had EWR-HKG going for $637. Last week, United advertised fares on the route for $488, a $149 decrease, which – considering the price in the first place – was insane. This week’s base fare may be higher, but I think that most people would pay $45 more to fly on Cathay Pacific, a five-star airline renowned for the quality of its long-haul service. Bottom line: this is an excellent value-for-money deal.

 

New York JFK – London Heathrow

Leave on: December 14, 15

Carriers: American Airlines, British Airways
Price: $652

Thoughts: To be sure, the range of dates for this exceptional fare are extremely limited. However, $652 for a transatlantic flight on either of AA or BA is exceptionally good, and between the two carriers there are 10 flights per day in each direction.

 

New York JFK – Paris

Leave on:

  • December 4, 6
  • January (2017) 15, 17, 19, 22, 24, 26, 29, 31
  • February (2017) 2, 5, 7, 9, 12, 21, 23, 26, 28
  • March (2017) 9

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $324

Thoughts: Not in the same echelon as the $488 EWR-HKG fare profiled last week, but JFK-CDG for less than $400 is certainly a solid snag – especially considering Air France’s fares on the same route are well north of $700.

 

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 16, 18, 20, 21, 25, 27, 28, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 20, 25, 27

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $278

Thoughts: A $16 week decrease from last week’s low price on the same route. Not sure how attractive Sweden is in the winter for most people (I personally would love to go to watch the cross-country ski World Cup), but this transatlantic fare is hard to beat.

The A380 is Coming: Boston to be Served by World’s Largest Airliner

Update 2: As of October 12, 2016, Routesonline posted that BA will be implementing the A380 on BOS-LHR starting March 26, 2017. I’ll keep watching this, and will let you know if there is an official announcement from either Massport or BA.

Update 1: As of August 15, 2016, it appears that BA has pulled its planned BOS-LHR A380 service on the dates previously planned. More on that here.

When rumors started making their way around various aviation forums last week that British Airways would be launching Boston’s first Airbus A380 service in early 2017, many of us – myself included – looked to the airline for some sort of verification that this was, indeed, the case. However, the only inkling of any news came from an Airlineroute post without any confirmation or sources, making me hesitant to write anything that would “break” any sort of news.

As of today, though, there is veritable proof: both Google Flights and the official British Airways website have confirmed that the “superjumbo” is, indeed, coming to Boston, starting February 2, 2017 and running until March 12 (to begin). Early afternoon arrival BA213 and early evening departure BA212 will be operated by an A380 Thursday through Sunday, while the 747 will operate the flights Monday through Wednesday. Boston will be the first airport in the Northeastern United States to be served by the BA A380 – even ahead of New York JFK (more on that here).

Bringing the A380 to Logan has long been a goal of both Massport and a number of different airlines, British Airways being one of them. However, the main impediment that both carriers and the airport have faced is the lack of A380-capable gates at Logan.

Since Terminal E was first built in 1974, there has not been any addition to or modification of the international gates at Logan. And while the existing infrastructure has been enough to handle the variety of large aircraft that have served the people of Greater Boston, the A380 poses a number of quandaries that necessitates a number of modifications.

Case in point: the A380 requires specially-constructed gates. While Boston does see “double deckers” in the form of the Boeing 747-400s operated year-round by British Airways and Lufthansa and the Boeing 747-800s flown seasonally by Lufthansa, the number of seats on a 747’s upper level – regardless of variation – pales in comparison to the number of “upstairs” seats that the A380 has. As such, the A380 necessitates bi-level gates, something that Logan doesn’t have. However, construction of the gates is currently in progress, and should be completed by the end of 2016. With that in mind, it makes sense that the first A380 flights are slated to arrive in February.

British Airways’ status as the first carrier planning to bring the A380 to Boston is somewhat of a surprise. After all, BA’s fleet currently has just 12 A380s. Emirates, meanwhile, operates 82, nearly seven times the number that BA possesses, flying them to a number of “smaller” cities such as Copenhagen, Manchester, Mexico City, and Toronto. All that said, it seemed to be logical that Boston – a city of approximately 600,000 – would see an Emirates A380 far before one from British Airways, whose A380s operate between London and a number of large “global” cities, including Johannesburg, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Singapore.

Yet there are a number of reasons that BA would be interested in flying the A380 to Boston. For one, Boston to London is the ninth-largest transatlantic sector between North America and Europe, as nearly a million people fly between the two cities every year. BA flies three flights per day year-round on the BOS-LHR route, four in the summer, and at least one of those flights is operated by the 747.

Furthermore, load factors (% of seats filled) are quite good, normally well north of 70% – my flight to LHR on a 747 in November of 2014 was completely full, for the record. If BA can post solid load factors on two 747s per day, then it can certainly do well with an A380.

The A380 is markedly larger than the 747s that British Airways has flown to Boston for decades, and can carry around 40% more passengers. As such, many are tempted to say that the A380 will be replacing the 747 on BOS-LHR routes, as it will be able to hold more passengers and, thus, allow BA to decrease frequency.

Anything is possible, to be sure. However, I think this is an oversimplification of BA’s strategic thinking; while I definitely see BA increasing the number of A380s it sends to New England, I also don’t see it looking to stop flying the 747 to Boston anytime soon for a few reasons.

For one, the 747 isn’t as efficient as the other long-haul aircraft that BA has in its fleet. Built in the 1990s, the 747-400s that the carrier flies are “gas guzzlers,” and the airline would rather use it on shorter flights where it can be filled rather than longer flights where its comparative inefficiency will be exposed (in the form of higher fuel costs). Believe it or not, BOS-LHR is one of the shortest long-haul flights that BA operates; routes like LHR-LAX and LHR-JNB – historically served by the 747 – are markedly longer. For that reason, I believe BA would rather utilize newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft – such as the A380 and the Boeing 777 – than the 747 on those routes.

Additionally, BOS-LHR is a route that is largely dependent on frequency. Unlike some flights between the US and the UK, BOS-LHR flights feature a number of business travelers who demand options, so taking away a flight per day isn’t likely to sit well with those travelers. As such, if BA can still fill a 747 in addition to an A380 and the other Boeing aircraft it will fly between Boston and London – the 777 and 787 – then the carrier is likely to do it.

Finally, there are the operational aspects to consider. BA – who is the world’s largest offer of the 747 – likely won’t retire the plane until well after 2020, as they’ve recently been retrofitted, which required a huge investment from the carrier. As a result of that, as well as my belief that BOS-LHR will likely be one of the last 747 routes to go, I think we can expect to see the A380 alongside 747s in Boston – rather the instead of them – until around that time.

I’ve been contemplating taking a trip to London next year. And while I’m still firmly a British Airways 747 loyalist, and would plan to take said aircraft home (I prefer westbound 747 flights, for some reason), I wouldn’t say no to taking the A380 on one of the two legs. If nothing else, it’d be a great experience, and one that I would certainly enjoy.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: July 20, 2016

Since starting Hump Day Fare Hacks two weeks ago, I’ve looked forward to re-evaluating the prices of intercontinental flights. This list is by no means the five “cheapest” flights from each of Boston and New York (comprised of both JFK and EWR) to the rest of the world, but it consists of 10 deals that I feel have a high “value for price.”

Given that this list changes from week to week, calculating the percentage difference of all 10 routes would be analogous to comparing apples and oranges. However, of the six routes that were in last week’s edition that are again profiled this week (BOS-LGW, BOS-OSL, and BOS-SNN, and NYC-ARN, NYC-HKG, and NYC-LHR), prices profiled dropped by 5.6%. And while a lot of that had to do with the massive decrease in one route’s price, the savings — which were already astounding — are so impressive that I’m not even miffed about the fact that one outlier skewed the data set more than I would have anticipated.

Note: All routes profiled are based on a 7-day round trip (departing and arriving the same day a week apart), unless otherwise noted. That said, I strongly encourage you to play with a variety of dates and trip lengths and see what you can find.

 

BOSTON

 

Boston – Beijing

Leave on:

  • September 6-8, 10-23, 26-30
  • October 1-3, 5, 6, 10-31
  • Any date in November
  • December 1-10

Carrier: Hainan Airlines
Price: $658

Thoughts: While there’s been some fluctuation in fares since I booked my flight to Beijing a couple of months back for $659, I was surprised to see it drop below that level (if only a dollar). That said, the fact that a $658 fare is available throughout the entire month of November — and not just a few dates — is absolutely incredible.

In addition to the daily flights it operates to Beijing, Hainan is offering identical fares on its thrice-weekly flights to Shanghai (leaving on September 29, October 1, 4, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, November 24, 26, 29, and December 1 and 3).

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • October 23, 30, 31
  • November 7, 13, 14, 28, 30
  • December 2, 4
  • January (2017) 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 15, 17

Price: $337
Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle

Thoughts: I feel like I’m going to be profiling this flight ad nauseam until the end of time, but the price is simply too exceptional to ignore.

 

Boston – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • August 23, 24, 29
  • September 5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 26-28
  • October 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26, 31
  • November 1, 2, 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28-30
  • December 5-7
  • January (2017) 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30-31
  • February (2017) 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27, 28
  • March (2017) 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29

Carrier: British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Price: $674

Thoughts: I don’t know what to think, anymore. First, BA flights between BOS and LHR were around the $700 mark following Brexit. Then, after BA’s post-Brexit fare sale ended, they shot up to around the $980 mark, before retreating back to being less than $700 recently. Regardless of whether this turns out to be a long-term price or a short-term deal, $674 for a BOS-LHR is very good, especially considering BA and VS fares have historically been around the $1,000 mark. And with so many dates to choose from, it’s sure to be a tempting option for travelers looking to go to the UK and beyond.

 

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • September 19, 26, 30 (return September 27 and October 4 and 8).
  • October 10, 14, 17 (return October 18, 22, 25).

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $289

Thoughts: A great price, and one that will only last until late October. It’s not clear when flights will be available for purchase for travel next spring — or, indeed, if they will be available at all. Regardless, a sub-$300 transatlantic flight is something we wouldn’t have even thought possible a few years back, so this is something worth considering if you want to visit Scandinavia.

 

Boston – Shannon

Leave on:

  • November 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11-17, 19, 21, 22, 24-30
  • December 1-9, 11-15, 30, 31
  • January (2017) 1, 2, 4, 6-9, 11, 13-16, 18, 20-23, 25, 27-30
  • February (2017) 1, 3-6, 8
  • March (2017) 1, 2, 24

Carrier: Aer Lingus
Price: $496

Thoughts: In addition to being a fantastic value-for-money offer, as Aer Lingus is a top airline with excellent customer service, this offer just got better: the number of dates for which this fare is available has increased from 15 to 69. And while I’m tempted to say that I think this price will hold for a while and that this fare could become available on even more dates, I’m also inclined to say that — given its unpredictable movement in the last week — that it could change soon. If this route is of interest, I’ll say this: wait to book at your own risk.

 

NEW YORK

 

Newark – Hong Kong

Leave on:

  • September 6, 7, 14, 27-29
  • November 2, 24

Carrier: United Airlines
Price: $488

Thoughts: When I posted the $637 EWR-HKG Cathay Pacific round trip last week, I meant it when I said that it “might be the most insane international deal that I’ve found, period.” A week later, I’ve found that United has beaten that price by more than $100.

When I started looking at cheap flights to Asia, I noticed that the cheapest flights, albeit from Boston, were generally speaking 1-stop flights on United to various places in China. And though I paid approximately $100 more to fly nonstop from Boston to Beijing on Hainan, I was still astounded that one could get a ticket to Asia for less than $60o — even if a layover was necessary. What I didn’t expect was to see flights would start going for less than $500, not to mention a nonstop flight.

A note to Cathay Pacific: while your $637 EWR-HKG nonstop is still impressive, is available on far more dates than this one, and features service on a 5-star airline, I’m sorry to say that you’ve lost the unofficial crown of “most insane international deal” to United after just one week. The range of dates for this deal may be rather limited, but given that these flights have historically gone for well in excess of $1,000, it’s simply too good to ignore.

 

New York JFK – Johannesburg

Leave on:

  • August 17, 18, 24, 25, 29-31
  • September 4-9, 11-15, 18-22, 25-30
  • October 2-5, 9-12, 14, 17-22, 24-31
  • November 1-4, 6-18, 22, 28

Carrier: South African Airways
Price: $904

Thoughts: This is a very solid deal, especially since this fare is bookable as early as August. Sure, it’s more expensive than most nonstop European flights would be at their cheapest, but anything less than $1,000 to South Africa is very good.

 

New York JFK and Newark – London Heathrow

Leave on: October 21, 22, 28, 29

Carriers: American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Price: $512

Thoughts: A slight uptick from last week’s $504 EWR-LHR flights on United. Despite the price increase, I’d still say that this is an incredible deal — a $512 transatlantic round trip to Heathrow on is exceptional, especially on BA or VS, and most certainly won’t stay that cheap for long.

 

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on: January 20, 2017 (return January 29, 2017).

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $264

Thoughts: I made mention of a $263 fare on JFK-OSL during the first week of the blog. And while it’s gone up by a whole dollar during that time, this is still an exceptional snag. That said, be prepared: Norway in the winter is a whole different prospect than the Northeast. With this hot fare, however, the trip may well be worth it.

 

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 14, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 4

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $294

Thoughts: Not quite as much of a steal as JFK-OSL, but still extremely good. I hadn’t looked much at Stockholm before starting Hump Day Fare Hacks, but it’s certainly got my attention now.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: July 13, 2016

As the U.S. economy and its foreign counterparts have rebounded following Brexit, ticket prices have increased slightly across the board. However, there are still some excellent deals out there, which I’ve profiled below.

Last week, I mentioned that I didn’t have the time or resources to check out and provide analysis for the cheapest transatlantic routes outside of Boston. This week, I’ve decided to change the format a bit: since I have a number of New Yorkers that read the blog, I’ve broken the post up into 5 BOS-based deals and 5 deals from NYC area airports (that’s JFK and EWR).

Note: All routes profiled are based on a 7-day round trip (departing and arriving the same day a week apart), unless otherwise noted. That said, I strongly encourage you to play with a variety of dates and trip lengths and see what you can find.

 

BOSTON

 

Boston – Copenhagen

Leave on:

  • September 6, 20, 27 (return on September 15, 29, and October 6).
  • October 4, 11, 18 (return on October 13, 20, 27).

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $319

Thoughts: While there was a bit of upward movement on the SAS/PrivatAir flights between BOS and CPH to the $730 range, the Norwegian flights are incredibly low. That said, the only way you’ll be able to take advantage of this fare is if you book a 9-day trip.

 

Boston – Frankfurt

Leave on:

  • October 15-20, 23-26, 30, 31
  • November 1-13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27-30,
  • December 1-13

Carrier: Lufthansa
Price: $633

Thoughts: There were cheaper dates going last week. However, given that those prices were for a select few days in October, I maintain that BOS-FRA is a good deal because there are a number of available low-fare dates this time around (49 in a 59 day span).

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • October 23, 30, 31
  • November 2, 4, 7, 13, 14, 16, 25, 27, 28, 30
  • December 2, 4, 5
  • January (2017) 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $337

Thoughts: This fare is still simply astounding. Sure, it’s increased $3 over last week, but I’d still give it a solid A. If you have any desire to check out England, now is the time to book!

 

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • September 5, 12, 19, 26, 30 (return September 13, 20, 27, and October 4 and 8).
  • October 3, 10, 14, 17 (return October 11, 18, 22, 25).

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $290

Thoughts: This fare is even better than the $298.30 I paid for my round trip in April, and is probably one of the lowest-priced transatlantic flights ever. That said, it’s a seasonal route which appears to enter its winter hiatus in November, so these fares are only really around until October.

 

Boston – Shannon

Leave on:

  • November 5, 7, 8, 10, 16, 19, 24, 25, 27, 28
  • December 4, 6, 7, 9, 10

Carrier: Aer Lingus
Price: $496

Thoughts: Shannon is the country’s second-largest airport and the gateway to much of the west part of Ireland. And while Aer Lingus doesn’t operate the same Airbus A330 aircraft on BOS-SNN that it does between BOS and DUB, making for a bit tighter of a ride, these sub-$500 round trips are a fantastic deal on a full-service airline that’s known for treating its passengers well.

 

NEW YORK

 

New York JFK – Amsterdam

Leave on:

  • October 15-20, 22-26, 28-31
  • November 1-30
  • December 1-15

Carrier: Delta Air Lines and KLM
Price: $532

Thoughts: A really solid “value for money” route. $532 as a sticker price isn’t cheap, but getting to fly on KLM and enjoy the Dutch carrier’s quality of service is something that many have paid significantly more for (although flying Delta on that route is just fine as well).

 

New York JFK – Copenhagen

Leave on:

  • January 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 27, 30
  • February 1

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $318

Thoughts: Norwegian continues to defy expectations and traditional airline logic with how low it is able to offer transatlantic flights. And while I won’t comment on the USDOT controversy that it has experienced, I will say that it certainly has changed the way we look at travel between the U.S. and Europe.

 

Newark – Hong Kong

Leave on:

  • September 28
  • October 13, 17-20, 24, 25, 27
  • November 2, 7, 10, 22, 24, 28-30
  • December 1, 5-8
  • January 4, 5, 9-12, 16-19, 23-26, 30, 31
  • February 1, 2, 6-9, 13-16, 20-23, 27, 28
  • March 1, 2, 6-9, 13-16, 20-23, 27-30
  • April 3-6, 10-13, 17-20, 24-27
  • May 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 22, 23

Carrier: Cathay Pacific
Price: $637

Thoughts: But wait, Hong Kong isn’t in Europe? Don’t care. This might be the most insane international deal that I’ve found, period, in terms of all factors: quality of airline, number of dates, and, ultimately, value for the distance traveled. Cathay Pacific, which is a 5-star airline, has nonstops between Newark and Hong Kong for $637 — a price which makes the $659 I paid to go nonstop to Beijing this fall on Hainan look far less impressive by comparison.

 

Newark – London Heathrow

Leave on: October 16-31

Carrier: United Airlines
Price: $504

Thoughts: It’s quite crazy that we’ve come to “expect” that flights to Gatwick are less than $500. What’s almost as crazy is that flights to Heathrow have plummeted to a paltry $504. That is quite possibly the lowest nonstop round trip transatlantic fare that I have ever seen between the U.S. and Heathrow. Equally insane is that it’s not just “1 or 2” flights that are going for that low; indeed, there are multiple options per day that will let you take advantage of this fare. One this is for certain, though — it won’t last long.

 

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January 14, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30
  • February 1, 4

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $296

Thoughts: Copenhagen is a good deal; this sub-$300 fare is even better. Enough said.

 

 

 

Introducing Hump Day Fare Hacks: Profiling Cheap Flights from Boston to Europe

Whether or not you own a car, chances are that you’ve noticed that fuel prices have dropped significantly this year. In fact, it was just 2 years ago that the average gas price was greater than $3.00 per gallon. And while there are numerous factors that have contributed to gas prices falling, the impacts are being felt in numerous areas, one of them being airlines. Commercial aircraft may not use the same unleaded fuel as your car, but they, too, have become cheaper to fill up in the last few years. As a result of this, as well as supplemental factors, airline ticket prices have fallen.

Given that I watch airfares pretty consistently, I’ve decided that it might be fun to pass on some of my observations. That’s why I’m starting a new blog series: Hump Day Fare Hacks. Each Wednesday, I’ll post a variety of low prices that I’ve found on nonstop routes between Boston and a number of different European cities. And while I don’t have the attention span nor the resources to profile transatlantic routes from other airports, I’ll keep an eye on flights out of airports like New York JFK, Newark, and Philadelphia, and will post the route and cheapest flight that I’ve found.

Note: All routes profiled are based on a 7-day round trip (departing and arriving the same day a week apart), unless otherwise noted. That said, I strongly encourage you to play with a variety of dates and trip lengths and see what you can find.

 

Boston – Copenhagen

Leave on:

  • September 6, 7, 13, 14, 26
  • October 4, 11, 12, 17
  • December 5

Carrier: Scandinavian Airlines (operated by PrivatAir)
Price: $697

Thoughts: A bit more expensive than some flights to Europe out of Boston, but this flight is operated by a PrivatAir BBJ, giving travelers a bit more space than if the route was operated by certain other wide body aircraft. For those seeking an even better deal, Norwegian Air Shuttle operates BOS-CPH round trips for as little as $337, although you’d have to choose either a 2-day or 9-day stay to take advantage of that price.

 

Boston – Dublin

Leave on:

  • November 9, 10, 19, 27, 30
  • December 7

Carrier: Aer Lingus
Price: $536

Thoughts: While the range of dates for the best price on this route is rather limited, there is good news: the overall prices in November and December tend to be between $500 and $600. If you’re looking to visit the western part of Ireland instead of Dublin, there are a number of dates in November where Aer Lingus has BOS-SNN nonstops going for $517-$530, although these are not as ubiquitous as deals on BOS-DUB.

 

Boston – Frankfurt

Leave on: October 4-6, 11, 17, 18
Carrier: Lufthansa
Price: $547

Thoughts: This is a good deal, especially considering that you’d likely be flying on Lufthansa’s new Boeing 747-800. However, you’ll have the choice between the 747-800 and the 747-400 if you travel prior to October 6th, as there are two flights on those days.

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • October 23, 30, 31
  • November 2, 4, 7, 13, 14, 16, 25, 27, 28, 30
  • December 2, 4, 5
  • January (2017) 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $334

Thoughts: This fare is simply astounding. Flights to England have, in my observation, always been relatively expensive, due to a variety of economic factors. However, for all the controversy that it’s caused with a variety of other airlines, Norwegian Air Shuttle has absolutely turned the market for transatlantic flights on its head with incredibly low prices. This isn’t the cheapest round trip that it has offered from Boston, but it just might be the most in-demand.

 

Boston – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • September 5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 26-28
  • October 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26
  • November 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26

Carriers: British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Price: $831

Thoughts: While more expensive than the Norwegian flights, some folks may prefer to fly into Heathrow. After all, Heathrow is located in London proper, while Gatwick is 30 miles south of the city in West Sussex, and boasts significantly more potential connections than the latter. Additionally, your airfare on these particular flights include checked baggage, a meal, and more, so the difference in fare may be worth it to some. Either way, a sub-$900 round trip to London is not to be scoffed at.

 

Boston – Munich

Leave on:

  • November 18, 20

Carrier: Lufthansa
Price: $671

Thoughts: To me, this is a very good deal. Passengers flying between Boston and Munich will be on one of Lufthansa’s Airbus A330-300 or A340-600, which are two of the most modern, sleek aircraft in the skies today. And if those two aforementioned times don’t work for you, there are a number of different dates in October and November which Lufthansa has round trips between this city pairing going for $700-$800.

 

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • October 14, 17, 21 (return on October 22, 25, 29)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $318

Thoughts: Not quite as cheap as my $298.30 Oslo roundtrip, but $318 is still extremely cheap. While I enjoyed my Norwegian experience, I pulled a weekend trip, which I would not advise to anyone except for the most fervent of mileage runners/aviation fanatics/etc., so stay for the week if you’re going to go.

 

Boston – Paris

Leave on:

  • October 31
  • November 1, 2, 7-9, 14, 16, 21-23, 28-30
  • December 5-7, 12-14, 26, 28
  • January (2017) 2, 4, 9-11, 16-18, 23, 24, 30, 31
  • February (2017) 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28
  • March (2017) 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29
  • April (2017) 3-5

Carriers: Air France, Delta Air Lines
Price: $859

Thoughts: In my experience, Paris has been one of the more expensive European cities to book for. And while you can probably snag an even cheaper deal through WOW Air, $859 for a Paris nonstop is definitely something worth considering.

 

Boston – Tel Aviv

Leave on:

  • November 22, 24

Carrier: El Al
Price: $650

Thoughts: Tel Aviv is not technically in Europe; however, given that BOS-TLV is still a transatlantic flight, I’m fine with listing it here. Regardless, considering prices for this route run around $800-$900 normally, I’d give this a good rating. Obviously, this might not be the most convenient of times for many families who are celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S.A., but this appears to be a good snag for those with family in or a desire to go to Israel.

 

Boston – Zurich

Leave on:

  • October 4-7, 10-13, 16-20

Carrier: Swiss Airlines
Price: $532

Thoughts: In addition to the dates listed above, week-long trips starting on any of October 23-December 15 are currently $542 round trip, so definitely check those out if you have Zurich on your list of places to visit.

 

Other Deals

It’s safe to say that, at this time, I don’t have the time or resources to keep this detailed of an inventory for other airports. However, I’ll give a quick mention to notable fares that I’ve found between other East Coast cities and places across the pond. (Deals deemed “extremely cheap” by me are in bold).

New York JFK:

  • Amsterdam – $506
  • Brussels – $535
  • Dublin – $496
  • London Gatwick – $388
  • London Heathrow – $723
  • Manchester – $536
  • Oslo – $263
  • Paris – $374
  • Shannon $517
  • Stockholm – $295

Newark:

  • Amsterdam – $506
  • Belfast – $571
  • Brussels – $535
  • Glasgow – $558
  • London Heathrow – $674
  • Lisbon – $659
  • Manchester – $536
  • Munich – $591
  • Paris – $596

Philadelphia:

  • Amsterdam – $506
  • Dublin – $528
  • Frankfurt – $788
  • London Heathrow – $723
  • Paris – $596
  • Munich – $581