Primera Air and the Emergence of Low-Cost Narrow Body Transatlantic Flights

A few weeks ago, I got a message from a friend. She was inquiring about this cheap ticket she’d found on Primera Air — a $300 round trip fare to England next summer. As Primera had recently announced routes from Boston to the English destinations of Birmingham and London Stansted, I knew the basics of the carrier, which I relayed to her. My advice was essentially this: you can’t go wrong for that price, but be warned: you’ll have to pay extra for pretty much everything aside from a seat and a carry-on bag. This didn’t deter her, and she (and her husband and in-laws) will be traveling on Primera next summer.

As is often the case when I have an interaction with a friend regarding plane ticket advice, I ended up thinking about this quite a bit more after the fact. I began to realize that we are entering a new era where airlines are beginning to use aircraft that were very much for short-haul flights on transatlantic routes, such as Primera using the Airbus A321neo (new engine option) on routes between the U.S and the U.K. Down the road, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a number of “smaller” cities — places where it wouldn’t have been economical for an airline to start long-haul flights — begin to acquire service to places across the pond.

The other thing I realized is that there seems to be some ambiguity around what it means to buy a transatlantic ticket on these low-cost carriers. As such, I figured it might make sense to dispel what it does include, what it doesn’t, and how you can work around (and hopefully avoid) the ancillary fees.

First things first, however — let’s have a look at how we got to this point.

Transatlantic Prices Have Gone Down

In the last few years, transatlantic flights have become exponentially cheaper. When I went to London in 2014 on British Airways, I paid a $952 round trip base fare ($1,034 total with window seat reservations), which was actually a pretty good price at the time. This spring, again going to London on British Airways, I paid a $505 round trip base fare, and $594.20 in total with window seat reservations. In two-and-a-half years, the price I paid — for the same route on the same carrier — dropped by more than $400.

There are a number of factors that have gone into this change, including Brexit, low fuel prices, and more efficient aircraft. However, there’s another factor that likely played a role: new competition from low-cost carriers.

With a number of round trip fares around $300, Norwegian Air Shuttle has made its name as the most well-known low-cost option between the U.S. and Europe. WOW Air and Icelandair have both made the Iceland Stopover quite popular, of course, and LEVEL emerged this year with cheap flights from Barcelona, too, but Norwegian really pioneered the emergence of the low-cost transatlantic sector.

This emergence has had a notable impact across the airline industry. Fearing market share loss, the legacy carriers have been forced to act. Willie Walsh, CEO of International Airlines Group (IAG), which is the parent company of legacy airlines such as Aer Lingus, British Airways, and Iberia, once scoffed at the threat of low-cost carriers on transatlantic routes. Walsh believed that four hours was the maximum that passengers would care to fly on a low-cost carrier, one which charged for bags, meals, and the like. However, Walsh has admitted that Norwegian has sent a clear message: people are willing to sacrifice a bit of comfort for the right price. Given that Aer Lingus and BA have dropped their ticket prices in transatlantic markets, and IAG launched LEVEL in March of this year, it’s evident that the impact of new competition undercutting the prices of the legacies has resulted in a new era — where the price of a ticket to France isn’t much different than going to Florida.

Primera, meanwhile, has been around for a few years, but has yet to launch its transatlantic operations, which are scheduled to begin in 2018. And while it doesn’t appear to want to match Norwegian in creating a low-cost transatlantic empire, it will certainly provide some extra competition on these transatlantic routes.

Narrow Body Transatlantic Flights Are Taking Off

Until this year, it was incredibly uncommon for any narrow body that wasn’t a Boeing 757 to be flying transatlantic. There were a few exceptions: Scandinavian Airlines flew its specially-configured 737-700 between Copenhagen and Boston, and Canadian carrier WestJet has started seasonal 737 services from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Dublin and London Gatwick. However, these were all unique cases in which either a specially-configured aircraft (the Scandinavian 737 has 86 seats, meaning it requires less fuel) or a unique distance (the distance from St. John’s to Dublin, for example, is only 2,042 miles — less than New York to LA).

This isn’t to say that narrow bodies like the new generation 737s (the -700, -800, and -900 models) and A321 aren’t capable of making it across the Atlantic between the U.S. and Europe. In fact, they quite often do so when an aircraft is delivered to an airline from the factory. jetBlue, for example, sometimes flies their A321s from Hamburg, Germany to Portland, Maine, a 3,538 mile journey, on delivery flights in order to stop and refuel on their way to having their cabins configured (TVs installed/etc.) in Greensboro, North Carolina.

When these planes did cross the ocean with passengers, however, they had long had to do so with payload restrictions. Norwegian, for example, could only have 150 passengers on board its 737-800, even though the aircraft has 186 seats. Add in the factor of headwinds, and you’ll see an aircraft with a 3,500 mile range (such as an A320) struggle to make it, say, 3,000 miles. Quite literally, the headwinds of the jetstream can take hundreds of miles off a plane’s range, which is why so many carriers avoided using “normal” short-haul planes on transatlantic routes even if they “technically” had the range to do it. Moreover, a related factor is that overhead costs (such as the cost of fuel and the high landing fees at major airports) had long made it imperative for airlines to use large planes (more seats = more passengers = more money) in order to ensure profitability.

This year, however, all of that changed. In June, Norwegian took delivery of its first 737 MAX 8, an improved 737 with improved aerodynamics, more efficient engines, and an improved range. This enabled the carrier to begin transatlantic service between Providence, Rhode Island and places like Cork, Ireland — free of payload restrictions. Of course, given that Norwegian has not yet taken delivery of all of the MAX aircraft it intends to use, some 737-800s are still operating payload-restricted transatlantic flights. However, the first Norwegian MAX made it clear: airlines can operate long-haul transatlantic flights on narrow body aircraft.

This isn’t to say that these flights won’t have their issues. As I’ve noted before, a number of westbound 757s — those battling headwinds from the jetstream — have been forced to divert short of their final destination to refuel in recent years. And while such incidents are much less likely for long-haul aircraft, narrow body planes will continue to occasionally suffer this fuel-burning fate during the winter. That being said, if the introduction of these planes on transatlantic routes can open a number of new destinations, I think the benefits will have outweighed the costs.

Primera: How does it compare?

While its flights will utilize an Airbus rather than Boeing, Primera will be the second low-cost carrier to enter the space from flying from the U.S. to the U.K. with non-payload restricted aircraft. Much like the 737 MAX, the A321neo is an upgrade on an aircraft that has been popular for years. And though a number of carriers thinking about entering the transatlantic market (such as jetBlue) are keen to wait for the A321LR — which will be even more suited to handle these long-haul flights — to come out, Primera has decided to take the plunge in becoming the first carrier to use an Airbus NEO aircraft on transatlantic flights.

As expected with narrow body aircraft, things may feel a bit tight — although the approximately 17 inches of seat width are pretty standard as far as economy goes, both for narrow body and wide body aircraft. Regarding pitch, Primera’s seats will have approximately 30 inches. This isn’t much, but it’s pretty much the same as the Norwegian 737s, and only an inch less than full-service legacies like Aer Lingus and British Airways. All told, it should be pretty much the same as what you’d experience on a domestic flight within the United States — not incredibly comfortable, but not unbearable by any means.

As far as amenities go, there will be no seatback TVs, but Wi-Fi will be available for a fee. The TVs are the one thing that I feel Primera is lacking — I’ve only ever flown on Norwegian’s 787s (both the 787-8 and 787-9), all of which have seatback TVs — although it should be noted that Norwegian’s 737 MAX 8 does not have TVs, either, so the like-for-like comparison is relatively similar.

As far as fees go, Primera has plenty of them. Here’s a quick summary of what it lists on its website (scroll to the bottom for transatlantic flights):

  • Seat selection from $39.99 per seat
  • Checked bags from $44.99 (max 23 kg/50 lbs.)
  • Meals from $39.99

For comparison, here’s a list of Norwegian’s fees:

  • Seat selection from $45 per seat
  • Checked bags from $45
  • Meals from $45
How do you avoid the fees?

As you can see, that cheap ticket can get a lot more expensive really quickly. Some of you might look at that list and understandably balk. However, there are a number of ways you can plan ahead and save money:

  • Buy a meal before your flight at the airport! I would much, much rather eat a nice meal at the airport than pay $45 for airline food. Even if you spend $25 on steak at TGI Friday’s, you’re still saving $20 versus buying a meal on the plane. And given you’ll be sitting for the next six or so hours, you’re not likely to get hungry!
  • Both Primera and Norwegian do (unlike, say, Spirit Airlines) give you one carry-on bag with the purchase of your ticket. A larger number of rolling suitcases (also called roller-boards) can fit in the overhead lockers — so pack as densely as you can.
  • Determine whether you feel you need that window or aisle seat (or, if you’re traveling with company, determine whether you need to sit next to each other). I, personally, prefer a window, so that extra money is worth it to me — but many don’t care.
Know what you’re getting into

My words of advice to my friend went something like this: that’s an excellent price, by all means go for it, but just don’t be surprised that this might be a bit “different” than your previous transatlantic flights. She acknowledged as much, and was able to get a solid deal.

Ultimately, that’s what it boils down to. In some cases, people book these really cheap tickets to Europe, thinking they just beat the system and got an absolute steal. Depending on your preferences, this may be true, as you wouldn’t have had a choice whether or not to pay (bundled in your ticket) for a meal, baggage, and the like a few years ago. However, some are quite surprised when they have to pay for bags, meal, and seat selection, and feel like they got ripped off. Again, that may be an understandable feeling if you thought you were paying $300 for something that ends up costing you (all amenities included) over $500.

That being said, there are ways to avoid fees while still making the most of your experience. Pack light (or “tight”), have a nice meal before you get on the plane, and, if possible, try to be flexible about where you sit. Of course, I’m certainly not one to talk on that last fragment, as I prefer the window seat, but I am willing to pay that extra money because it is worth it to me. That, ultimately, is what it boils down to — determine what you believe is worth paying, and you’ll likely have a much more fun and predictable journey.

A Turndown in Transcon Fares: Permanent or Passing?

Recently, I’ve mentioned the great deals on transatlantic flights that I’ve gotten to a few different people. Almost every time, people say “(the deal you got going to Europe) is cheaper than going to California.”

While I’ve heard those various replies, it wasn’t until recently that I started to think about what they were saying. After all, transcontinental flights have historically run well in excess of $300 round trip, particularly those to California.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to take a look at flights between Boston and Los Angeles, which has generally run cheaper than places like San Francisco, Portland, OR, or Seattle. I was quite surprised to find a number of flights not only well under $300, but closer to the $250 range.

Factors at Play

So what has spurred this recent downturn in fares?

There are a number of different things that spur these types of trends, but one of them seems to be the recent introduction of basic economy classes with American legacy carriers like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.

Though I wrote a piece about the emergence of these fare classes (a year ago to the day!), particularly United’s, one of the major goals of these programs isn’t to “give consumers choice,” as airlines would like you to believe. Rather, it’s to encourage people to pay more to get the same service that they received before.

Perhaps, then, the downturn in transcontinental fares can partly be attributed to the introduction of basic economy classes. However, it’s not just American, Delta, and United who are selling sub-$300 round trips on transcons: jetBlue and Virgin America have both slashed their prices to the point where even flights less than a month out are running in that price range.

b6-fare-bos-lax
A trip from December 6 to December 10 would cost $237, which is well below traditional norms.

This is particularly surprising, as jetBlue and Virgin America have been known to have economy transcon products that are superior to the aforementioned American legacy carriers. Moreover, neither has implemented a basic economy class (derisively called “economy minus”), so you’d think that they would still be able to charge a (relative) premium.

Looking Ahead

While these recent developments are certainly good for the average traveler looking to escape to the West Coast, this isn’t to say that transcontinental fares will stay low permanently. Additionally, while international flights are (generally) further in distance and have their own unique requirements that can drive prices up comparable to domestic flights, and while the U.S. domestic airspace already contains budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier, the arrival of carriers like Norwegian Air Shuttle and WOW Air have certainly put downward pressure on a number of transatlantic markets. As a result, any fluctuation could well put these transcon fares back above the routes they’re currently cheaper than.

Moreover, fares are not made to be identical or stagnant, as, for example, a market with less competition and a high number of business travelers is likely to have a higher base fare at any given time. After all, from a business standpoint, why charge less when people will pay more? Airlines are businesses, and businesses aim to maximize profits, so they’ll do their best to get the maximum “willingness to pay” out of their customers. If that willingness is “up” in a certain place, it’s reasonable to assume that the prices will adjust accordingly.

Despite all the pessimism in the preceding two paragraphs, there’s certainly much to be optimistic about. With the ever-increasing affordability of air travel, particularly to destinations far away, the American public can continue to look forward to newfound travel opportunities both near and far.

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.

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.

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.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: November 30, 2016

Norwegian Index for November 30, 2016: 280.8

In pretty much all other weeks, a new record low by 3.5 points for the Norwegian Index would undoubtedly be the main story of the week. This week, however, there’s an even more noteworthy story: JFK-ARN going for $245.

$245. That’s less than the cheapest BOS-LAX nonstop I’ve found, and a full $11 less than my base fare of $256.30 last spring on BOS-OSL. Of course, my desire to have a window seat for the return flight saw me pay $298.30 when all was said and done, but I still found $256.30 to be cheaper than I thought I’d find on a Norwegian flight – or any intercontinental flight – in the future. Apparently not!

Elsewhere, for the third week in a row, all other prices – including legacies – stayed below $500. Impressive, no doubt, but unfortunately for the legacies, JFK-ARN gets the majority of the praise this week.

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)
  • May 2, 2017 (return May 11, 2017)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $310

Thoughts: A $1 increase over last week doesn’t change that this is exceptionally cheap.

Boston – Lisbon

Leave on:

  • February 23, 2017
  • March 16, 2017

Carrier: TAP Portugal
Price: $492

Thoughts: Unchanged from last week. Even with a couple of dates retracted, this is still very good.

Boston – Madrid

Leave on:

  • March (2017) 2, 5, 6, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23, 27, 29, 30
  • April (2017) 3, 5

Carrier: Iberia
Price: $381

Thoughts: At a quick glance, virtually identical to last week’s offerings.

Boston – Munich

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 10-12, 16, 17, 19, 20, 24-26, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 2, 5, 6, 8
  • April (2017) 3-5

Carrier: Lufthansa
Price: $427

Thoughts: The previous low that I’d seen for this route was around $490. This is significantly cheaper than that.

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • March 27, 2017 (return April 4, 2017)
  • April (2017) 10, 24 (return April 18, 2017 and May 2, 2017)
  • May (2017) 1, 8 (return May 9, 2017 and May 16, 2017)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $288

Thoughts: Like BOS-CPH, up $1 from last week, but still exceptionally cheap.

NEW YORK

New York JFK and Newark – Barcelona

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 14, 20-22, 27-29
  • February (2017) 3, 28
  • March 6, 2017

Carriers: American Airlines, United Airlines
Price: $477

Thoughts: Up a significant amount ($90 to be exact) from last week, proving that all good things must come to an end. Still, the fact that EWR-BCN is available for cheap as well is promising.

New York JFK – Copenhagen

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 23, 27, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 8

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $296

Thoughts: Not “exceptional” by Norwegian standards, but pretty darn good.

New York JFK– Madrid

Leave on:

  • December 3-8
  • January (2017) 9, 11-31
  • February (2017) 1-17 19-28
  • March (2017) 1-29
  • April 4, 2017

Carriers: American Airlines, Iberia
Price: $481

Thoughts: Another Spanish city, another $90 increase over last week. Still, sub-$500 to Spain with a variety of available dates in January and February is very, very good.

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

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

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $265

Thoughts: Have you ever seen an athletic competition where both the winner and runner-up blow away the world record? JFK-ARN may get all the press – so perhaps I am an enabler – but JFK-OSL deserves its own special mention as well.

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January 23, 2017
  • February 6, 2017

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $245

Thoughts: The price says it all.