Hump Day Fare Hacks: October 26, 2016

Norwegian Index for October 26, 2016: 299.3

The Norwegian Index increased a bit this week, but still remains under 300. That said, I’m confident that there will be an expansion of dates and a lowering of median fares on a variety of transatlantic routes in the near future.

The New York to Tokyo deal is pretty exceptional, especially considering Tokyo is normally a pretty expensive city. It was also nice to see that BOS-OSL – and its low fares – will be back next spring. Even so, I think the $484 BOS-LIS deal is absolutely exceptional on an already cheap route, and I’m extremely curious to see how long it sticks around.

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 – Lisbon

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 25-27
  • February (2017) 2, 6, 8, 13, 23, 27
  • March (2017) 6, 16, 27, 28

Carrier: TAP Portugal
Price: $484

Thoughts: The low-water mark on this route. Get it while you can.

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 22, 24, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 6, 8, 15, 19, 20

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $324

Thoughts: An identical price to last week, and a still-exceptional range of dates.

Boston – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • November 23, 24, 26, 28-30
  • December 1-4, 6-9, 11, 12, 31
  • January (2017) 5, 6, 9-21, 26, 28
  • February (2017) 10-12, 21, 23, 24
  • March (2017) 2, 9, 11, 16, 18

Carrier: British Airways
Price: $501

Thoughts: There are also various dates in the spring where Delta is selling this route for $501 as well. And while I’m too lazy to differentiate between them, as they’re few and far between, perhaps the fact that more than one carrier is charging the same price is an indication of a change in the BOS-LHR market.

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • March 27, 2017 (return April 4, 2017)
  • April 24, 2017 (return May 2, 2017)
  • May 22, 2017 (return May 30, 2017)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $292

Thoughts: Norwegian will resume its seasonal BOS-OSL service next spring, and low fares are back.

Boston – Zurich

Leave on:

  • April (2017) 7-11, 19, 23-27, 90, 30
  • May (2017) 1-4, 6-10

Carrier: Swiss Airlines
Price: $448

Thoughts: While I’ve seen a few low Swiss fares, they don’t usually last, and they’ve – in my observation – never been this low, which makes this even more incredible.

NEW YORK

New York JFK – Amsterdam

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 24-31
  • February (2017) 1-17, 19-28
  • March (2017) 1, 2, 4-11, 13-24, 27-30

Carriers: Delta Air Lines, KLM
Price: $438

Thoughts: $1 off the low-water mark on JFK-AMS.

New York JFK – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 24-31
  • Any date in February
  • March (2017) 1-24

Carriers: American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Price: $553

Thoughts: More expensive than last week, but the extensive range of dates and still sub-$600 fare makes this a very good deal.

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • December 2, 6
  • January 13, 2017
  • February 5, 2017

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $297

Thoughts: A slight increase in price over last week, but I’m bullish that there will be more dates and lower prices in due course.

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • February 3, 2017

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $284

Thoughts: $1 off last week, and the number of dates and price are likely to improve as we get into late fall.

New York JFK and Newark – Tokyo

Leave on:

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

Carrier: All Nippon Airways, United Airlines
Price: $688

Thoughts: For some reason, flights from the U.S. to Tokyo are more expensive than flights from the U.S. to other Asian destinations. That said, this is an excellent price, so if you can get to Newark and through security by 11 a.m. today when this flight leaves…and have a week off…then this is a potential investment. (112% kidding.)

Low Overhead, High Impact: Airplane noise has Greater Boston up in arms

Wherever you travel around the world, chances are that pretty much every major city has a group of residents who have qualms with airplane noise. From London and the Cranford Agreement to the LaGuardia curfew in New York, airports, airlines, and pilots are forced to abide by certain rules in order to mitigate the inevitable noise that’s generated by aircraft.

Here in Boston, we’re not immune to these problems. As the 51st-largest airport in the world based on passenger traffic, Boston Logan International Airport sees a significant number of planes land and take off every day, many of which generate lots of noise. And while the implementation of RNAV (GPS) procedures from Runway 33L in 2013 as part of the FAA’s NextGen program has decreased the noise impact for a number of residents, it has conversely increased noise for others. As a result, there’s been palpable unrest in some of the impacted communities in the past few years.

The Basics

figure-1_500x459
A basic overview of Logan Airport.

As you can see from the graphic above, Logan has six runways:

  • Runway 15R/33L (10,083 feet)
  • Runway 4R/22L (10,006 feet)
  • Runway 4L/22R (7,864 feet)
  • Runway 9/27 (7,000 feet)
  • Runway 14/32 (5,000 feet)
  • Runway 15L/33R (2,557 feet)

Each runway is numbered by its magnetic heading. As you can tell, 4L/22R and 4R/22L run southwest to northeast, 9/27 runs east to west, and 14/32, 15L/33R, and 15R/33L run southeast to northwest.

Depending on which way the wind is blowing, the airport uses two (or more) runways at any given time. Each of the wind’s four intercardinal directions possesses its own configuration, each of which is illustrated below:

One minor qualm: the “Southeast configuration” doesn’t really exist as it is presented; it is extremely rare for arrivals to land 15R, as the ILS approach has an offset localizer. In that case, arrivals (interestingly enough) go to 4R.

What was it like before?

Prior to the implementation of 33L RNAV procedures, pilots used to simply fly generally along a given path. For example, a pilot who flew two 33L departures in a given month might make a left turn 30 seconds after rotation one time and a minute after rotation another time, which resulted in an extensive amount of variability in where the low-flying airplanes would be going. With RNAV, however, pilots are given a prescribed course of waypoints, often part of a SID (Standard Instrument Departure). These courses can even be flown by the plane’s autopilot, resulting in a route that’s much more precise than if it was simply “eyeballed.”

Generally speaking, a lot of communities west of Boston were forced to endure airplane noise, but such instances of noisy takeoffs were spread out. Below is an image that depicts the flight paths out of Logan before (green) and after (blue) RNAV implementation.

33l
As you can tell, flights have been much more specific in their routing since the implementation of 33L RNAV procedures.

Post-RNAV implementation has seen reductions in the number of communities impacted. However, the communities under RNAV patterns – particularly communities within the Route 128/I-95 belt – have seen a dramatic increase in overflights.

From Summer 2014 to Spring 2016, I lived in Somerville, quite close to waypoint TEKKK – the first GPS waypoint that planes departing from 33L must pass. As such, I got to watch an extensive number of aircraft from my bedroom window, flying a variety of routes, including the CELTK and LBSTA departures which are used by planes departing for Europe. And while I ultimately enjoyed seeing pretty much every heavy that went by, my favorite was undoubtedly the British Airways Boeing 747-400, which you’ll know if you read this blog regularly. Below, two pictures of that exact plane, taken from my living room:

212-d
The Union Jack turning left at TEKKK after takeoff from 33L.
213-r
Even caught a rare 15R arrival!

As you can tell from those pictures, those 747s were low – around 2,500 feet on departure and 1,500 feet on arrival. While I personally was thrilled to live in such an area, I know for a fact that many of my neighbors were not happy with the amount of air traffic coming over their heads. Even as an aviation enthusiast, I can understand why.

So who bears the brunt of the noise?

There is no foolproof way to know who in particular is impacted by airplane noise, or how much the total impact is (in terms of quality of life, decibels, etc.), so the best general metric I could devise was to aggregate the populations of all of the municipalities impacted by a given configuration.

As it is, the Northwest configuration – the one that uses 33L and 27 – has the largest impact on residents of the Greater Boston area. Due to the westerly direction of both runways, and the fact that Boston and most of its suburbs are located west of the airport, its SID patterns see aircraft of all sizes flying around or below 5,000 feet pass over a number of densely-populated communities, including Boston, Chelsea, Everett, Winchester, Medford, Somerville, Cambridge, Belmont, Watertown, Newton, Brookline, Quincy, and Milton. That’s not even including places like Waltham, which are further from the airport but where aircraft may well be below 5,000 feet depending on climb rates/etc. Even so, the total population of the area impacted by Northwest arrivals and departures is 1.503 million, or 22% of the Commonwealth’s population.

For perspective, the next closest operational configuration in terms of population impacted is the Southeast configuration, which sees aircraft take off and land over towns with a total population of 929,200, with the Northeast configuration affecting 886,000 people and the Southwest configuration impacting 884,900. Of course, all of those numbers factor in Boston’s 645,900 people, as each configuration has an impact on Boston proper, but the Northwest configuration sends by far the largest number of planes over Boston – particularly departures from 27. Moreover, even if we were to take out Boston’s population from each of those figures, the Northwest configuration would still have the largest number of residents impacted by a considerable amount.

If we want to consider solely departures as having a significant impact on residents by subtracting the municipalities over which solely see arrivals in a given configuration from the total, then the Northwest configuration still affects 1.475 million people. The remaining three, meanwhile, affect less than 50% of that number: the Southwest 737,100, the Northeast 718,400, and the Southeast 673,500. The reason that the latter three numbers are so low is because their departure procedures by and large send aircraft over water upon takeoff: even the southwest departures make an immediate left turn out to sea after takeoff from 22L or 22R, and 27 departures are virtually never used in the Southwest configuration. Northwest departures, meanwhile, are almost entirely over land for the first 5,000 feet.

Even so, it hasn’t just been the towns impacted by 33L departures who have felt aggrieved. Milton, which finds itself situated under the 4L visual and 4R ILS approaches, sees a number of aircraft, including 33L departures, albeit at a higher altitude than places like Belmont, Cambridge, Medford, and Somerville. And though – all things equal – the noise of a landing plane isn’t the same as one that’s taking off, Milton residents do have legitimate reasons to be concerned, as Milton selectmen have requested a study to evaluate the health impact of having so many planes flying low.

If RNAV increases concentration over certain neighborhoods, why implement it?

It’s the best solution for the majority of parties involved: pilots, passengers, and people on the ground.

Quite frankly, you can’t please everybody. Certainly, those living directly under these flight paths are much more heavily impacted than those who do not. However, as this Boston Globe article explains, RNAV procedures are designed to – among other things – increase safety and improve operational efficiency.

RNAV isn’t just beneficial for planes taking off; it also provides pilots with the ability to make smoother, more efficient descents. And while RNAV also has an impact on places over which planes are landing, logic suggests that, at least as far as sound is concerned, departures have a greater impact on residents than arrivals. This is because aircraft need significantly more power – which generates noise – to take off than they do to land. When a plane is taking off, it’s much heavier than it is when it’s landing, as it’s full of fuel. Moreover, the plane is forced to accelerate from a standstill to its takeoff speed, which can be up to 160 mph in the case of a 747. The principles behind landing, meanwhile, are just the opposite: a plane sheds speed – using minimal power – and comes in for a landing at a lighter weight and slower speed than it took off at. All other things equal, landings generate much less noise than takeoffs.

While this is an aviation blog, I certainly do sympathize with those who have to live in a location where airplane noise is consistent. However, until planes have the capability to fly without generating any engine noise, this will ultimately be an issue we’ll have to deal with.

The Numbers

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. According to this Massport table, numbers have shown that the distribution of flow configuration utilization is fairly equitable.

As far as jet departures are concerned, the 2016 YTD (January to September) numbers look like this:

  • Northwest configuration – 25.9%
  • Northeast configuration – 20.7%
  • Southwest configuration – 30.9%
  • Southeast configuration – 22.4%

Since Runway 9 is part of both the Northeast and Southeast configurations, its total number of departures have been split 50-50 between the total for each configuration for the purposes of this analysis. Of course, such a distribution is extremely unlikely, but I don’t have the resources to go back and analyze which Runway 9 departures were operations as part of which configuration, so I figured that was the most equitable way to do it.

Moreover, Northwest winds tend to increase in the late fall and winter, so perhaps the numbers don’t yet tell the full story. With that in mind, here’s the 2015 data:

  • Northwest configuration – 27.5%
  • Northeast configuration – 18.8%
  • Southwest configuration – 34.7%
  • Southeast configuration – 19.0%

Even the most-used runway – Runway 9 – which is part of both the Northeast and Southeast configurations has been used less than 1/3 of the time, at 32.5%. I’m certainly not trying to minimize the impact that Winthrop residents feel when planes take off or land on 9/27, as they are generally very low in both instances, but I don’t have the power to provide an immediate fix.

Moving Forward

As you can see, Logan already has relatively equitable distribution among the use of its runways. Each configuration has at least two, if not three, runways, and they are decided impartially. Moreover, the Massport Community Advisory Committe is conducting testing that will perhaps result in the developing runway usage plans, which would allow for more equitable sharing of noise, much like the runway alternation program at London Heathrow.

While a solution isn’t on the horizon at the moment, progress has been made. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure equitable distribution of noise while allowing aircraft to operate in a more safe and efficient pattern. Regardless of where you live, we should continue to strive for those ideals.

The Worst-Kept Secret Finally Revealed: British Airways announces service to New Orleans

After a two-week delay, officials at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport finally announced this morning what many had long suspected: British Airways will begin serving the Louisiana city in March of 2017 non stop from London Heathrow.

This represents a massive coup for New Orleans, as the city had long sought to gain a flagship international carrier. Leisure airline Condor of Germany stated its intention to start seasonal service between New Orleans and Frankfurt, which certainly proved that New Orleans is thought of as a veritable destination. However, securing British Airways service – which the city began pitching as far back as 2012 – is an even more momentous accomplishment, as the U.K.’s flag carrier is known for being exceptionally stingy about starting new service to markets that are not served from London.

The choice of three-class Boeing 787-800 Dreamliners as the aircraft to operate the route certainly makes sense. At 214 seats, the plane is smaller than other widebodies like the carrier’s 777 and 747 aircraft, but possesses the necessary range to make the 4,000+ mile journey. Moreover, unlike its big brother (the 787-900), the 787-800 is a three-class aircraft, meaning it doesn’t possess a first class cabin. And while first-class service is viable on routes with significant business travel (JFK-LHR) or celebrity travel (LAX-LHR), most people traveling to New Orleans will – at least to start – be leisure travelers. As such, the economics – both in terms of aircraft performance, capacity, and the type of traveler that will be catered to – makes sense.

Even so, New Orleans officials are optimistic that the service won’t just be a tourist boon, but will help the city “diversify the city’s tourism-heavy economy,” according to an article by Richard Thompson in the New Orleans Advocate. With a new nonstop link to Europe, such a feat seems more possible than before.

 

 

 

Hump Day Fare Hacks: October 19, 2016

Norwegian Index for October 19, 2016: 292.0

The Norwegian Index matched its all-time low, but the real story of the week is the legacy carriers.

Yesterday, I discovered that BOS-LHR had hit the lowest I’d ever seen, at $499.96 on British Airways. However, that wasn’t even the most incredible legacy deal that I found this week, as there were three even cheaper: JFK-CDG on American ($357), BOS-MUC on Lufthansa ($489), and JFK-MXP and EWR-MXP on Delta, Emirates, and United ($496).

In addition to Brexit, there are myriad factors playing into the emergence of this new reality. For one, low-cost carriers like Norwegian are certainly increasing competition on routes, affecting a number of markets in ways never seen before. Another change is that fuel prices have fallen significantly in the last year, making it cheaper for planes to fly. Moreover, airlines are implementing more fuel-efficient aircraft such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which will help carriers realize both short-term and long-term fuel savings.

Though I’m not sure if the drop in prices is primarily due to positive changes such as a decrease in operating expenses, or (from the airlines’ perspective) negative changes such as competition from Norwegian, WOW Air, et al, one thing is for certain: travelers are the ones to benefit.

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 – Amsterdam

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 5, 11-24, 27-30
  • February (2017) 2, 4-16, 20, 21, 24-28
  • March (2017) 1, 4-9, 11-25, 28-31
  • April (2017) 3-6

Carrier: Delta Air Lines
Price: $548

Thoughts: Flights between the U.S. and Amsterdam have traditionally been very expensive. And while the New York flights to the Dutch capital were the first to decrease in price, it appears that BOS-AMS is following suit.

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • December 4
  • January (2017) 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 20, 22, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 6, 20, 22

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $324

Thoughts: A new low-water mark for this route. It doesn’t have the same number of dates as the route profiled below, but it’s an exceptional price for those looking to score a deal.

Boston – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • November 16, 22-24, 26-30
  • December 1-8, 12, 13, 18, 30, 31
  • January (2017) 5-31
  • February (2017) 1, 2, 6-28
  • March (2017) 1-24

Carrier: British Airways
Price: $499.96

Thoughts: Normally I round up to the nearest dollar, as that’s what Google Flights generally does, but BOS-LHR being less than $500 round trip is such a low price that it absolutely had to be conveyed in its exact form.

Boston – Munich

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 17-31
  • February (2017) 1, 2, 4-15, 21-28
  • March (2017) 1-3, 6-9, 13-18, 24, 25, 31

Carrier: Lufthansa
Price: $489

Thoughts: I was pretty pessimistic on the potential longevity of this price last week ($490), but it’s gone down by a dollar, so what do I know?

Boston – Paris

Leave on:

  • November 16, 21, 23, 26-30
  • December 1-8, 11-13
  • January (2017) 9-12, 15-17, 19-24, 26-31
  • February (2017) 20, 21, 23-28
  • March (2017) 1, 2, 5
  • April (2017) 5, 6

Carrier: Air France
Price: $551

Thoughts: Another lower-than-normal price by a legacy carrier on a traditionally expensive route.

NEW YORK

New York JFK – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 21, 28
  • February (2017) 4, 11, 18, 25
  • March (2017) 4, 11, 18

Carriers: Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Price: $514

Thoughts: While this week does represent a shift in the available dates for the lowest price, there are still a number of April and May dates for even cheaper than last week’s lowest price. Things are looking good, New Yorkers.

New York JFK and Newark – Milan

Leave on:

  • October 26
  • November 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30
  • December 6, 7, 13

Carriers: Delta Air Lines (JFK), Emirates (JFK), United Airlines (EWR)
Price: $496

Thoughts: If it was just Emirates offering this fare, I’d say that it was likely a fare sale, as it’s extremely rare for the world’s #1 airline (according to Skytrax) to charge so little. But since three carriers are offering the fare, it may well be a shift in the market.

Note: Not all three airlines will necessarily be offering that fare for all of those dates. However, those are the dates when flights between New York (including EWR) and Milan are running for $496 round trip.

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • February (2017) 5, 7

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $282

Thoughts: I would anticipate that the number of available dates will expand in due course.

New York JFK – Paris

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 17-27, 30, 31
  • February (2017) 1-3, 5-11, 13-15, 20-28
  • March (2017) 6, 8, 15, 22, 28, 29

Carrier: American Airlines
Price: $357

Thoughts: Having put forth the lowest price I’d ever seen American charge for a transatlantic route last week ($433), the carrier went and lowered the price by a further $76, beating the pants off of even Norwegian. I believe “floored” is the term that best describes my reaction.

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • February (2017) 3, 6

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $285

Thoughts: The same sentiment expressed in the JFK-OSL deal applies here.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: October 12, 2016

Norwegian Index for October 12, 2016: 300.0

The Norwegian Index fell 6.8 points from last week, which is quite surprising given that 25% of the calculation is derived from BOS-OSL, whose last remaining departure dates of the season are extremely close (and, thus, are more expensive). However, with Norwegian scheduled to restart BOS-CPH and BOS-OSL services again next spring after a successful first year, I’m curious to see what kind of prices will be offered for those routes.

British Airways lowered the price on its BOS-LHR route to $503, which is barely believable as – in the past year – BOS-LHR has hovered anywhere between $800 and $1,000. Though I’m sure that low fuel prices have something to do with it, I would also imagine that the pound falling 18% against the dollar since Britain’s vote to leave the European Union probably has something to do with it. I had expected flights to LHR to cheapen following Brexit, and while prices stayed consistently high for a month or two, it seems that they are falling now. Perhaps the effects of Brexit on airfares took longer to set in than we thought. I can’t say I agree with Britain’s decision, but I’m certainly not complaining as an American traveler!

Even so, I think there was something even more noteworthy that happened  this week: American Airlines’ willingness to sell JFK-CDG for $433 round trip. Of course, Norwegian Air Shuttle has sold flights on that route for less than $400, but the fact that a legacy carrier is putting forth such a price on a traditionally expensive and competitive route is unbelievable. Again, I think it’s still too early to tell if this is an aberration or the start of a new trend, but maybe the collateral impacts of Brexit have been more than 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 – Lisbon

Leave on:

  • January 26, 2017
  • February 2, 2017
  • March 16, 2017

Carrier: TAP Portugal
Price: $576

Thoughts: While only available on a narrow range of dates, this is the lowest that I’ve seen TAP’s BOS-LIS flights go for.

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • December 4
  • January (2017) 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 20, 22, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 6, 20, 22

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $324

Thoughts: Even with the lowering of fares on British Airways’ BOS-LHR route, Norwegian is still going to fight for the Boston to London marketshare. And while Norwegian and its BOS-LGW route – in all likelihood – won’t have the same demand or resources as its BOS-LHR counterparts, it’ll certainly attract people with its low fares.

Boston – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • November 9-16, 21-26, 28-30
  • December 1-9, 12, 13, 18, 19, 27, 31
  • January (2017) 1, 2, 5-31
  • February (2017) 1, 2, 6-28
  • March (2017) 1-24

Carrier: British Airways
Price: $503

Thoughts: Could it break the $500 mark? I personally would bet against it, as I could never have fathomed BOS-LHR flights going that low, but I hope I’m wrong!

Boston – Munich

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11-31
  • February (2017) 1, 2, 4-15, 21-24, 26-28
  • March (2017) 1-3, 6-9, 13-18, 24, 25, 31

Carrier: Lufthansa
Price: $490

Thoughts: Good deal? Absolutely. New normal? Probably not.

Boston – Oslo

Leave on: October 21 (return October 29)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $321

Thoughts: This is a great use of your money (if you’ve got nothing to do for a week starting next Friday).

NEW YORK

New York JFK and Newark – Amsterdam

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11-31
  • Any date in February
  • Any date in March

Carriers: Delta Air Lines (JFK), KLM (JFK), United Airlines (EWR)
Price: $439

Thoughts: Now the entire month of March is available for $439. Still don’t get it.

New York JFK – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • April (2017) 1-12, 14, 15, 17-30
  • May (2017) 1-10

Carriers: Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Price: $519

Thoughts: No big deal – DL and VS just went ahead and took $73 off of last week’s fare.

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • February (2017) 5, 7

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $281

Thoughts: It’s a small range of dates, and it might not be the preferable time of year given the destination, but it’s also cheaper than you’d probably find a flight to the West Coast for.

New York JFK – Paris

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11-28, 30, 31
  • February (2017) 1-3, 5-17, 20-28
  • March (2017) 5, 6, 8, 9, 14-16, 22, 29

Carrier: American Airlines
Price: $433

Thoughts: Norwegian has put forth some impressive prices on JFK-CDG, but the fact that American is selling a direct transatlantic flight for $433 round trip is insane. Maybe the increased level of competition is finally starting to show?

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • February (2017) 1, 3, 6, 8

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $274

Thoughts: The statement immediately preceding this one applies here as well.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: October 5, 2016

Norwegian Index for October 5, 2016: 306.8

If you read Hump Day Fare Hacks last week, you’ll notice that the Norwegian Index jumped by more than 12 points. Though there was certainly an uptick in Norwegian fares overall, that number was perhaps disproportionately affected by the $37 increase on the BOS-CPH route, which is understandable given that the departure date is less than two weeks away. Still, the price itself is very good, especially considering how soon you’d be leaving.

Elsewhere, British Airways’ BOS-LHR flights remained uncharacteristically low, dropping by $1, and the fares offered by Delta Air Lines and codeshare partner Virgin Atlantic Airways’ JFK-LHR route did the same. And while the fact that prices for the New York area’s Amsterdam and Munich flights remain low is surprising, undoubtedly the biggest surprise was seeing how low Air France (and codeshare partner Delta) are offering BOS-CDG for. After all, Paris De Gaulle is known for  being even more expensive to fly into than London Heathrow, so I’m curious to see if this is a one-time thing or the start of a more stable trend.

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 18 (return October 27)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $342

Thoughts: A large increase over last week, but that’s to be expected with the departure date being less than two weeks away. Even so, a sub-$400 transatlantic round trip would’ve been unthinkable before Norwegian.

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • December 5, 7, 12
  • January (2017) 18, 22, 25, 29
  • February (2017) 15, 20, 22, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 6, 8, 13, 19, 20

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $325

Thoughts: An excellent price on a decent range of dates. Still a great value even with legacy carrier British Airways – whose fares are far lower than usual – getting the attention.

 

Boston – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • November 2-30
  • December 1-8, 12, 13, 29, 30
  • January (2017) 8-31
  • February (2017) 1-3, 5-28
  • March (2017) 1-24

Carrier: British Airways
Price: $508

Thoughts: Down $1 from last week. Better yet, beyond just the dates listed above, there are a number of 2017 dates on which similarly cheap ($511) fares are available – all the way through August 22!

 

Boston – Oslo

Leave on: October 17 (return October 25)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $304

Thoughts: It broke the $300 mark, and probably won’t come back down this year. Much like the Copenhagen flight, however, this is still a fantastic deal.

 

Boston – Paris

Leave on:

  • November 2-14, 16, 17, 20-23, 25-30
  • December 1-13, 25, 28-30
  • January (2017) 1, 2, 4-6, 8-17, 19-24, 26-31
  • February (2017) 2-7, 9-14, 16, 17, 19-21, 23-28
  • March (2017) 1-10, 12-14, 16-31
  • April (2017) 1-6

Carrier: Air France, Delta Air Lines
Price: $585

Thoughts: Not quite this week’s low-water mark of legacy carrier flights to Europe (that goes to BA and Heathrow), but $585 for Paris is far lower than normal. Very good value for your money.

 

NEW YORK

 

New York JFK and Newark – Amsterdam

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11-31
  • Any date in February
  • March (2017) 1-24, 27-31

Carriers: Delta Air Lines (JFK), KLM (JFK), United Airlines (EWR)
Price: $439

Thoughts: Slight reduction in March dates. Still the same price.

 

New York JFK – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • November 2-30
  • December 1-8, 11-18, 24, 28-31
  • January (2017) 5-31
  • Any date in February
  • March (2017) 1-24

Carriers: Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Price: $592

Thoughts: Down $1 from last week and with a bunch more November dates. A bit surprised to see that BA isn’t offering this same fare – then again, they themselves weren’t from Boston, either (BA’s $508 BOS-LHR fare is sold through its American Airlines codeshare).

 

New York JFK and Newark – Munich

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11-31
  • February (2017) 1-16, 19-31
  • March (2017) 1-24, 26-30

Carriers: Lufthansa (JFK), United Airlines (EWR)
Price: $491

Thoughts: Genuinely beginning to wonder if this is the new normal. Well, maybe for these fuel prices?

 

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 27, 31
  • February (2017) 3, 5, 7

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $285

Thoughts: This will help this week’s Norwegian Index.

 

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • February (2017) 1, 3, 4, 6, 8

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $278

Thoughts: The January dates are gone, but I’m still bullish that the number of dates will expand.

Delta Announces Boston to Dublin Flights: What’s the incentive?

Last week, Delta Air Lines broke the news that it’s slated to begin service between Boston Logan and Dublin. These seasonal flights will be operated by the carrier’s Boeing 757-200 aircraft.

This addition is the latest in a long line of intercontinental coups that Logan has bagged in recent years. Prior to 2012, the airport was primarily known as simply being an access point to other continents, as it only possessed nine destinations in Europe*. Since then, however, Boston has transformed into a true international gateway in the last four years with a number of new European and Asian routes. Here’s a brief recap of the destinations added, along with the airlines that serve those destinations:

2012

  • Tokyo – Japan Airlines

2014

  • Beijing – Hainan Airlines
  • Dubai – Emirates
  • Istanbul – Turkish Airlines

2015

  • Hong Kong – Cathay Pacific
  • Shanghai – Hainan Airlines
  • Tel Aviv – El Al

2016

  • Copenhagen – Norwegian Air Shuttle, Scandinavian Airlines
  • Doha – Qatar Airways
  • Dusseldorf – airberlin
  • Lisbon – TAP Portugal
  • London Gatwick – Norwegian Air Shuttle
  • Manchester, UK – Thomas Cook Airlines
  • Oslo – Norwegian Air Shuttle

That’s 13 new intercontinental destinations, a figure which is even more staggering considering Logan had nine European destinations prior to 2012 – so a 250% increase in destinations.* It should be noted that the five largest European markets – London, Paris, Dublin, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam – all had non stop flights before 2012, so it wasn’t like Logan had a dearth of intercontinental options. However, it is impressive that Massport has been able to bring in so many new carries and establish an AsiaPac presence that – cameos from Korean and El Al aside – didn’t exist.

If you read the various aviation forums, you’ll know that most people don’t really consider Boston to be a Delta “hub.” Their skepticism isn’t off-base, either, as Delta isn’t even the major carrier at the airport (that honor belongs to jetBlue). Moreover, as a major U.S. airline, Delta has an interest in acquiring traffic between Boston and its major transatlantic O+D markets: London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Dublin. And while it has a significant presence in the first three cities listed, BOS-DUB is dominated by Aer Lingus, which has two daily flights between the U.S. and Ireland.

Is this a power move by Delta? Yes and no.

It certainly helps the carrier augment its position as a hub in Boston, and it also solidifies its position as the dominant U.S.-based carrier between Boston and Europe. And while such a designation isn’t really under threat, as the only other U.S. airline to fly between Boston and Europe is American and its seasonal 757 to Paris, Delta will now serve four European destinations from Boston.

That said, even with Delta entering this market, Aer Lingus will still have the majority of market share, both due to brand loyalty and capacity as Aer Lingus operates the Airbus A330, which is significantly larger than the Boeing 757s that Delta will fly on the route. Additionally, BOS-DUB doesn’t have the same number of passengers as BOS-LHR or BOS-CDG. Yet by establishing seasonal service on a smaller aircraft than the Boeing 767s it flies to London and Paris or the Airbus A330 it flies to Amsterdam**, Delta has a low-risk “in” to a market that has traditionally posted very good load factors. So why not give it a shot?

Of course, there are a number of elements that factor into an airline’s decision to launch a route. Even so, this one seems like a no-brainer.

* Including countries in continental Europe, as well as the British Isles. This does not include remote European locations such as Iceland and Portugal’s Azores.

** Yes, the featured image is a Delta Airbus A330, but that was the only free stock image I could find.