Next Big Trip Up: England in the Spring

My trip to England in Fall 2014 was my first across the pond in more than 10 years. Given that England is my favorite foreign country, I knew that I didn’t want the next one to be 10 years down the road. Back then, as a gift for my graduation from college, my parents were nice enough to pay for my airfare. The base fare was $952 on British Airways, which was pretty cheap for non stop BOS-LHR flights at the time (it ended up being $1,034 altogether with window seat reservations both ways). More importantly, I was able to fly on the Boeing 747-400 both ways, which was an incredible experience. All told, I was extremely happy with that trip. That said, I’m similarly excited for my upcoming trip to England.

Pricing

This time, I myself paid for the trip. It was $504.89 base fare, and came out to a total of $576.89 with window seat reservations both ways. As good as that base fare is, it’s not even the lowest that it’s been – British Airways was selling $460 BOS-LHR round trips in November. Regardless, the fact that there has been a $447 reduction in the base fare on the BOS-LHR route from the last time I went to this time – from $952 to $505 – is insane.

Aircraft

You might well know that I am partial to the 747 over the Airbus A380, the latter of which BA is scheduled to begin flying to BOS at the end of March. However, having enjoyed my flight on a China Southern A380 during my trip last month, I decided that I did want to fly on the A380 at least one of the legs of this trip. Since I enjoy the flight home more than the flight over, I figured I would take the 747 on my favored leg of the trip and the A380 on the other leg.

The Itinerary:

  • 04/09/2017 – BA212 – 7:20 p.m. departure (spring schedule) – A380-800
  • 04/17/2017 – BA203 – 4:45 p.m. departure – 747-400

I am seated on the World Traveller upper deck section of the A380, in 82K, and the World Traveller main deck section of the 747, in 49A. Both are window seats – the first on the right, the second on the left.

Other Factoids

Flights I’ve Taken Between U.S. and U.K.:

  • 11/25/2014 – BA212 – 5:55 p.m. departure (fall schedule) – 747-400
  • 12/02/2014 – BA213 – 11:20 a.m. departure – 747-400
  • 11/10/2004 – BA238 – 8:10 a.m. departure – 777-200ER
  • 11/16/2014 – BA213 – 11:20 a.m. departure – 777-200ER

So, to this point, I’ve taken BA213 twice, BA212 once, and BA238 once.

I do like BA213 a lot because it’s a late-morning departure from London and an early-afternoon arrival in Boston, but it’s being operated by an A380 that day, so I decided to take BA203 instead for the 747, which still gets me back around 7 p.m.

Other Notes and Overall Thoughts

While I’m in England, I plan to take a couple of short Euro trips – to Brussels and Amsterdam. Each city was decided somewhat on a whim, but I am confident I’ll enjoy them.

My dad went to Brussels back in 2002, via London. He very much enjoyed taking the Eurostar train through the countryside of France on the way to Belgium. I’ll be taking that train, too, and for less than $90 round trip.

Amsterdam is a fascinating city that I’ve always wanted to see. Also, the easyJet flights were running for around $75 round trip from London Southend, so that should be fun. Two new countries for less than $200 in travel expenses – I’m happy with it.

I’m pretty excited to have finally booked this. The last time I went to England, I was very focused on the excitement of flying on the 747. As a result, the way over was very much a blur (albeit an awesome one). This time, having been on both the 747 and A380, I’ll definitely try to relax and enjoy the flights (and the trip) a lot more.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: December 28, 2016

Norwegian Index for December 28, 2016: 246.2

The past few years have seen – anecdotally speaking – a massive influx of low-cost transatlantic flights into various air travel markets. With that in mind, I decided that it might be interesting to see what an “average” price for these particular transatlantic flight deals might be. That’s how the Norwegian Index was born.

If you’ve followed Hump Day Fare Hacks, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen the Norwegian Index trend downward throughout the year. It’s fitting, then, that the Index set a new record low in its final iteration of 2016. I’ll leave you to look at the fares, as they speak for themselves.

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:

  • April 4, 2017 (return April 13, 2017)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $266

Thoughts: This may be just a single date in 2017, but the price is good enough that it may be worth taking advantage of.

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 23, 25, 29, 30

  • February (2017) 6, 8, 13

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $260

Thoughts: By far the lowest that this has been.

 

Boston – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 15-20, 22-27, 29-31

  • February (2017) 1-3, 6-10, 12-15, 20-24, 26-28

  • March (2017) 1-3, 5-9, 13-17, 19-23

Carriers: Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Price: $473

Thoughts: The SkyTeam members are offering identical, sub-$500 fares.

 

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • April (2017) 3, 10 (return April 11, 18)

  • May (2017) 1, 8 (return May 9, 16)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $254

Thoughts: Not the lowest it’s ever been, but certainly “up there” (or, perhaps, down there).

 

Boston – Paris

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 15-20, 22-24, 26, 27, 29-31

  • February (2017) 2, 3, 5-7, 9-10, 12-14, 20, 21, 23, 25, 26-28

  • March (2017) 1, 2, 5-8, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19-24, 26-31

  • April (2017) 2-7, 9-11, 19-21, 23-28, 30

  • May (2017) 1-5, 7, 8

Carriers: Air France, Delta Air Lines
Price: $425

Thoughts: As a route that usually goes for well north of $500, this one came out of left field.

 

NEW YORK

 

New York JFK – Barcelona

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 26-29, 31

  • February (2017) 2-5, 7, 9, 14

Carrier: American Airlines
Price: $376

Thoughts: Cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap.

 

New York JFK – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 15-31

  • February (2017) 1, 2, 4-15, 19-28

  • March (2017) 1-23

Carriers: Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Price: $473

Thoughts: Same prices as DL and VS are offering on BOS-LHR.

 

New York JFK – Milan

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 17, 18, 24, 25, 31

  • February (2017) 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28

  • March (2017) 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29

  • April (2017) 4, 11, 12, 19, 25, 26

  • May (2017) 2, 3, 10

Carriers: Alitalia, Delta Air Lines, Emirates
Price: $496

Thoughts: Sub-$500 Emirates flights don’t come along every day! (Oh, and Alitalia and Delta operate this route, too.)

 

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • March (2017) 3, 23

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $203

Thoughts: Giving the JFK-ARN all-time low a run for its money, no pun intended.

 

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30

  • February (2017) 1, 3, 4, 27

  • March (2017) 1, 24

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $248

Thoughts: The fact that a $248 fare on JFK-ARN isn’t considered unusual says a lot.

A Super Visit: Emirates to fly single scheduled A380 to Boston in January

While British Airways is slated to be the first carrier to regularly fly the “Superjumbo” Airbus A380 to Boston, Emirates has beaten them to the punch in one respect. The Gulf carrier will have the maiden A380 flight scheduled to land at Logan.

According to Routesonline, the Gulf carrier plans to send an A380 from Dubai to Boston on January 26, 2017. This replaces the Boeing 777-300ER (77W) on EK237 and EK238.

Background

It’s worth noting that Emirates flew a similar one-off A380 flight to Chicago – a city that, like Boston, sees regularly-scheduled 77W service – during the summer of 2016. Given that the A380 usually necessitates airports to upgrade their infrastructure, the Chicago flight was mostly to check the infrastructure’s compatibility.

screen-shot-2016-12-27-at-6-00-01-pm
The itinerary for the Emirates A380’s scheduled arrival (top) and departure (bottom).

While it’s quite possible that this Boston flight is similar in nature, it’s also possible that there’s more than meets the eye.

Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the A380. The carrier sends its A380s to an extensive number of destinations, including Manchester (UK), Copenhagen, and Toronto. And though each of those places have a number of international flights, they do not have any other regularly-scheduled A380s. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that Emirates doesn’t vet its A380 routes like others. Perhaps this is because it has dozens of the type, while other carriers generally have a dozen or so.

Power Motivation?

Considering Emirates’ pride in its A380 fleet, it’s quite possible that it’s simply pulling a power move. The carrier’s load factors to Boston haven’t suggested it’d be prudent to replace a 77W with an A380. However, as the world’s largest A380 operator, the motivation is understandable.

Regardless of the rationale behind this flight, it will certainly be interesting to see a scheduled superjumbo arrive at Logan for the first time next month. And – assuming BA’s scheduled launch goes as planned – it will be the first of many.

The Top 10 Deals Found in 2016

With 2016 coming to a close, it’s time for reflection – particularly, reflection on the flight prices of the year.

Of course, there will still be one final edition of Hump Day Fare Hacks – to be published on Wednesday, barring the apocalypse – but I figured it might be fun to have a look back in advance. That’s why I’m compiling a list of the 10 best deals that I found in 2016 – both domestic and international.

Contrary to what you might think, these prices are not listed from most expensive to least, but rather by how good I believe the value of each flight to be. It’s subjective, so feel free to disagree, but the great thing about America is that we each get our own opinion.

Note: To my knowledge, none of these fares are promotional fares. There were certainly some prices that were even lower than this, but I excluded fare sales.

The Full Top 10:

10. Boston to Chicago O’Hare – United Airlines – $97 round trip

9. Boston to London Heathrow – British Airways – $460 round trip

8. Boston to Nashville – jetBlue – $77 round trip

7. New York JFK to Paris – American Airlines – $357 round trip

6. Boston to Copenhagen – Norwegian Air Shuttle – $279 round trip

5. Boston to Oslo – Norwegian Air Shuttle – $252 round trip

4. Newark to Hong Kong – United Airlines – $488 round trip

3. San Francisco to Beijing – United Airlines – $478 round trip

2. New York JFK to Oslo – Norwegian Air Shuttle – $217 round trip

1. New York JFK to Stockholm – Norwegian Air Shuttle – $199 round trip

 

Hump Day Fare Hacks: December 21, 2016

Norwegian Index for December 21, 2017: 269.0

While this week didn’t hit any records in terms of lowest fares, there were a number of big surprises across the board. Perhaps the biggest is that Norwegian flights from both Boston and New York to Copenhagen are selling for less than $300 round trip. Of the three major European destinations (the other two being London Gatwick and Oslo) that are served by Norwegian from both Boston and New York, I would have guessed that Copenhagen was the least likely to break the $300 mark. Then again, I wouldn’t have guessed that BOS-MAD would still be going for below $400, either. Either way, all flights listed are below $500 round trip, so these are opportunities worth exploring!

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:

  • April (2017) 4, 11, 25 (return April 13, 20, and May 4)
  • May (2017) 2, 9, 16 (return May 11, 18, 25)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $279

Thoughts: Of the three Norwegian routes in Boston, I figured this was the least likely to break $300. Shows how much I know.

Boston – Frankfurt

Leave on:

  • April (2017) 5, 11, 20, 24-30
  • May (2017) 1-3

Carrier: Lufthansa
Price: $495

Thoughts: This route has hovered around $500 in recent times, but I certainly didn’t see this one coming.

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 22, 25, 27, 29
  • February (2017) 1, 5, 6, 8, 12, 13

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $303

Thoughts: The low-water mark for this route. Could it break $300?

Boston – Madrid

Leave on:

  • March (2017) 6, 16, 20, 27, 29

Carrier: Iberia
Price: $381

Thoughts: I still don’t get how this one is so cheap.

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • March 27, 2015 (return April 4)
  • April (2017) 10, 24 (return April 18 and May 2)
  • May 1, 2017 (return May 9, 2017)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $286

Thoughts: Beat out by CPH this week, but still running very cheap.

NEW YORK

New York JFK – Barcelona

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 17, 20, 21, 24, 26-29, 31
  • February (2017) 2-5, 7, 14, 20

Carrier: American Airlines
Price: $376

Thoughts: Considering this is a legacy carrier, this is on the verge of exceptional.

New York JFK – Copenhagen

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 16, 20, 23, 25, 27, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 6, 8, 17, 20, 22, 24, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 6, 8 13, 15, 22

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $239

Thoughts: This seems to be Copenhagen’s week.

New York JFK – Helsinki

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 17-31
  • February (2017) 1-7, 12-16, 19-24, 27, 28
  • March (2017) 2, 3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24

Carrier: Finnair
Price: $401

Thoughts: Out of left field.

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 17, 26, 29, 31
  • February (2017) 2, 3, 5, 7, 28
  • March (2017) 21, 23, 26

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $263

Thoughts: This seems a bit more “normal” than the low of two weeks ago. Still fits in the bargain category.

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 4, 6, 10, 22, 24, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 6, 8, 17, 24, 26

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $244

Thoughts: It’s not as cheap as it’s been in the past, but still a bargain.

Dispirited Experiences: What makes Spirit so undesirable?

I’ve flown Spirit Airlines twice – once to Chicago O’Hare, once to Baltimore. Both times, I got on the outbound leg of my trip, flew to my destination, and had no complaints.

Unfortunately, the return legs of both trips proved to be much less pleasant.

On the trip back from Chicago, my flight was delayed by an hour. Coming back from Baltimore, it was 2 ½ hours. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you.

The Spirit Hallmarks

Spirit brands itself as an ultra-low cost carrier (ULCC). And in certain instances, Spirit’s prices are less than those of a number of carriers. However, I have found a number of times where American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, jetBlue, and United Airlines have beaten Spirit’s offering by some distance. As a result, I don’t really buy Spirit’s implicit M.O. of “the reason we provide (virtually) zero amenities is so we can deliver the cheapest fares.” They’ve even explained that they charge for water because putting water on the plane makes the plane weigh more, thus leading to the need for more fuel and increased fuel expenses. Given that a variety of airlines have started to charge for refreshments, I get it, but a glass of water is different than a can of soda – I don’t know of any other carrier that charges for the former.

Getting Carried Away

In an era where airlines have come under increased scrutiny for charging checked bag fees, Spirit has taken it one step further, as the carrier charges for carry-on bags. To an extent, I don’t mind this. I can’t tell you how much it bothers me to see oblivious people trying to stuff their over-sized carry-on into the overhead bin. At the same time, I think charging for carry-ons is a little excessive, and could perhaps be the beginning of an avalanche of ancillary fees.

Things Aren’t Always What they Seem

Ultimately, Spirit’s lack of amenities is done in the name of frugality – it certainly doesn’t intend to be malevolent. In fact, the carrier openly acknowledges its lack of amenities, telling passengers that a lack of frills is how the carrier is able to sustain its business model. However, I can’t say that I buy this, either. For example, jetBlue can afford to provide passengers with free refreshments, free seat selection, free Wi-Fi, and free DirecTV. I can’t say I comprehend why Spirit feels the need to do without TVs, Wi-Fi, or an adequately-sized tray table.

Of course, my sample size may of Spirit experiences be small. Moreover, I do not doubt there are passengers who fly Spirit without delays. However, Spirit’s no-frills rationale seems flawed, particularly considering the existence of jetBlue and Southwest Airlines. After all, these two low-cost carriers are the two highest-ranked U.S. carriers in the J.D. Power & Associates customer satisfaction rankings. Maybe if Spirit focused more on service, it would be able to rid itself its bad reputation.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: December 14, 2017

Norwegian Index for December 14, 2017: 256.8

Although the $199 that JFK-ARN was going for didn’t last, the Norwegian Index still dropped by another 7.5 points to a new record low. And while this is largely due to the $217 found on JFK-OSL, it is also complemented by the $254 that BOS-OSL is going for. The $311 on BOS-CPH gives the Index a bit of normalcy, but – even so – it still dropped by 7.5 points. Even so, only four of 10 flights profiled this week were Norwegian flights, and all were under $500 round trip.

What does this mean? It means that transatlantic flight prices – across the board – appear to be going down, both legacy and low-cost carriers (LCCs). This isn’t news, of course, but it’s still exciting for all of those who are looking to travel across the pond.

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:

  • April (2017) 4, 25 (return April 13, 2017 and May 4, 2017)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $311

Thoughts: Was up $1 last week over the week before, and now back $1. What goes up must come down (by the same amount)?

Boston – Lisbon

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 16, 22, 23, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 5, 6, 12, 13

Carrier: TAP Portugal
Price: $479

Thoughts: $1 off of last week, and with three more available dates. Can’t beat it!

Boston – Madrid

Leave on:

  • March (2017) 2 , 6, 16, 27, 29

Carrier: Iberia
Price: $381

Thoughts: This has held for a lot longer than I’d have anticipated.

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • March 27, 2017 (return April 4, 2017)
  • April (2017) 3, 10, 24 (return April 11, 18, May 2)
  • May 1, 2017 (return May 9, 2017)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $252

Thoughts: Has to be the lowest I’ve seen this route – even considering the $256 base fare I saw last spring.

Boston – Zurich

Leave on:

  • April (2017) 8-11, 18, 19, 23-27, 29
  • May (2017) 1-3

Carrier: Swiss Airlines
Price: $473

Thoughts: Up $26 from last week, but this is still exceptional.

NEW YORK

New York JFK – Berlin

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11, 12, 16-19, 23-26, 30, 31
  • February (2017) 1, 2, 7-9, 13-15, 21, 23, 28
  • March 1, 2017

Carrier: airberlin
Price: $466

Thoughts: Can’t say I thought an airberlin flight would make it on Hump Day Fare Hacks, but the numbers don’t lie!

New York JFK – Dusseldorf

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 12, 16-19, 23-26, 30, 31
  • February (2017) 1, 2, 6-9, 14, 21
  • March 7, 2016

Carrier: airberlin
Price: $446

Thoughts: Make that two airberlin flights!

New York JFK – Lisbon

Leave on:

  • February (2017) 3, 6

Carrier: TAP Portugal
Price: $479

Thoughts: A pretty good pair of options, with other sub-$500 options to be found elsewhere in February.

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • February 5, 2017

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $217

Thoughts: If it wasn’t for the $199 deal last week on JFK-ARN, this would be revered for plenty of time to come. Still, it deserves recognition in its own right.

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

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

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $245

Thoughts: I knew $199 was too good to last, but this is still exceptional.