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Mogite Oct 20th, 2009 06:37 PM

Any resource for helping target the best cities to fly in & out of?
I have read that flying open jaw is a good idea but I'm not sure where to begin looking as far as the most cost effective(cheapest) locations to target. Of course I will manually check most European cites to see where they rank in cost but was hoping there is a resource that could save me some time by at least pointing me towards a smaller number of cities to look at. Someone mentioned Brussels & Amsterdam as being cheap cities for flying into & out of.

I'm in the initial phase of planing this trip and right now I'm trying to figure out how much I can expect the entire trip to cost so I can figure out how long I can expect it to take to save the appropriate amount of $$.

A few of the pertinent details:

-I've been to Europe but my gf hasn't.

-This will be a "self guided" trip rather than a group tour trip.

-The only places I currently have as "must see" destinations are the Black Forest region of Germany(my ancestors are from Baden Baden and my gf is primarily German in ancestry too), Scotland(have ancestors from there too). Personally I would also like to see Prague, Austria, Switzerland, a couple of locations on the Med, & Ireland. I'm sure my gf will also have locations she would like to see but she hasn't really decided yet as she wants us to have most of the $$ saved before locking in an itinerary.

-I'm thinking this will be a 4 week trip in order to see a decent amount of places so were not feeling rushed.

I appreciate an info anyone can provide.

janisj Oct 20th, 2009 06:51 PM

1) 4 weeks isn't long enough for Scotland, the Black Forest, Prague, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, anyplace on the Med, plus anyplace your gf wants to visit.

2) The "best" airports to fly into/out of mostly depends on your final itinerary. For instance, Ireland, Scotland, and some of Germany would make a decent 4 week trip. Then you'd want to fly into maybe Shannon and out of Frankfurt or some other place in Germany. Picking a different airport to save a bit on the fare probably wouldn't make sense due to the extra expense to detour off your route.

So - really, you need to narrow down your wish list and then we can make suggestions about airport pairs. Pick 3 or 4 countries and/or regions - that will pretty much fill 4 weeks.

travelgourmet Oct 20th, 2009 06:57 PM

If by "best", you mean cheapest, then you don't really need to put in much effort. London is usually the cheapest. This applies not only for the long-haul portion, but also for flights within Europe.

If London doesn't work, then move on to the secondary hubs of Paris, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam. Brussels and Zurich also see some deals. Beyond that, any deals will be relatively haphazard. Italy is usually the most expensive place to fly in and out of.

bettyk Oct 20th, 2009 07:40 PM

We consistently find that fares into London or Frankfurt are among the cheapest in Europe for us. But much depends on your departure city and the airlines that service it.

I also agree that your tentative "wish list" is too much even for 4 wks. You also don't want to be jumping around to too many places or you end up spending more time traveling than sightseeing.

Andrew Oct 20th, 2009 08:02 PM

An important question to ask is, where are you flying FROM? I flew to Europe last month from Portland, Oregon. While it wasn't quite the cheapest, Delta offered the only direct flights from Portland to Europe, through Amsterdam (connecting to Milan inbound, from Paris outbound home). I paid just a bit more for this direct flight to Europe each way (bypassing any hassles with connecting flights within the US and saving several hours flying time), and it was very worth it.

Sometimes the originating city will make a certain airline the most competitive or practical, as in my case. (London wasn't the cheapest option for me either - it had been for past trips.)

nancicita Oct 20th, 2009 08:05 PM

Hi Mogite,

I've been finding some pretty good fares to ZRH (Swiss), MAD (Iberia), and CPH (SAS) from both the east+west coasts of the US as well from ORD. It looks like SAS is having a sale lately. I recently just bought my tickets to Copenhagen.

I've also noticed that sometimes it's cheaper to fly to/out of BRU instead of AMS and CDG (and between AMS and CDG, I prefer the former).

Often, there are some good fares going from the west coast non-stop to FRA. Depends on the season. It takes some time to do research and look around online. is a great site for tracking most of the airfares.

Sometimes when I see a good fare, I book the inter-continental leg of the flight non-stop roundtrip to a major hub airport, and then book a short one-way flight from there to another city which will be the "beginning" of my trip. And then I take the train through the various cities on my itinerary, and make it so that I end up back in at the airport, and fly back from there.

For example, fly roundtrip SFO-FRA (or MUC), then short flight via Lufthansa to PRG or VIE, and then from there see Prague, then train to southern Bohemia, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich + nearby regions, and finally train to Frankfurt and fly home FRA-SFO.

There's also open-jaw itineraries which I often do, but I think that there are lots of experts here on the forum who could give you better info on open-jaw trips. Usually my open-jaw trips are really hectic and crazy, but it's because I live in Europe half the year so I'm usually scrambling to crunch in as many meetings as possible before I have to fly out. So it's probably better for me not to share my open-jaw itineraries here, for the sake of your sanity. :-)

In any case, good luck and enjoy Europe!

Laurel61 Oct 20th, 2009 08:34 PM

As stated it depends where you depart from. my trip this past May-July was from SLC(Salt Lake City) to AMS(Amsterdam) and out of BCN(Barcelona) for $830.00 in High season. Just look under multi-citi departures and keep changing the arrival and european departure city to find something that goes with your itineraary. I used booked in February to depart May and got a Great price. Hope this helps. Good Luck

P.S. my flight was on Delta and the same flight on Delta was $1370.00 So I got a great deal(it included the trip insurance too:)

greg Oct 20th, 2009 10:09 PM

With the number of destinations of interest, I doubt there is no other way than to do many what ifs until you book your flight.

The limitation of the rules of thumb flight choice is that it does not take into considerations many other factors contributing to the total cost such as accommodations.

Big_Red Oct 21st, 2009 08:15 AM

As mentioned above, the lowest cost flights are to the major gateway cities. London (3 airports), Paris (CDG), Frankfurt (FRA), Zurich (ZRH). For last summer, We looked at Atlanta to Milan, Milan to Atlanta @ $900 per person and chose Atlanta to Zurich, Venice to Atlanta @ $700 person. If your local newpaper has a travel section, then the advertisement there will show what is cheap.

Some search engines let you use flexible dates (plus or minus a few days) to get better fares.

Be aware that using London may involve changing airports as well as changing planes.

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