Airlines are offering more service between the US and Europe, but don’t expect bargains


A traveler walks through the corridors of Terminal 2 at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport with Air France planes in the background, in the northeastern outskirts of Paris, on September 16, 2022, in the midst of a strike by controllers aerial.

Julien DeRosa | AFP | Getty Images

Flights to Europe will be numerous this summer. Cheap plane ticket? Not that much.

Airlines have scheduled a near-record 51,000 June-August flights from the United States to Europe, according to airline data firm Cirium. The number of planned places is the highest since 2018.

Despite this increase in capacity across the Atlantic, prices are rising sharply as airlines test travelers’ appetite for trips abroad. According to Hopper, round-trip flights from the United States to Europe cost an average of $1,032, up 35% from last year and 24% from 2019. In contrast, airfare Average domestic US is down 15% from a year ago to $286 for a round trip, roughly in line with pre-pandemic levels.

Leaders of long-standing European service operators such as Deltanewcomers love JetBlueand budget upstarts like Norse Atlantic Airways and Play are all betting big that travelers will shell out for more international travel with the worst of Covid – and accompanying travel restrictions – in the rear view mirror.

Airlines and airports have rushed to fill jobs in hopes of averting the chaos of last summer.

“Travel to Europe continued to increase last summer,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in an interview with CNBC in late March. “I think a lot of people just didn’t fly last year, and now they’re looking to fly this year.”

JetBlue flies to London’s two largest airports from New York and Boston, and plans to launch service to Paris from New York in June. It plans to add service to Amsterdam this summer.

Delta plans to offer a record number of seats from the United States to Europe, up 20% from last summer. The carrier will serve 69 markets in Europe, a spokesperson said.

Airline summer flights to Europe


“If you’re traveling during these peak summer months, you need to book now,” said Hopper’s chief economist, Hayley Berg.

To avoid the highest fares, avoid national holidays and travel midweek, she recommended.

Some airline executives have recently noted that travelers are reverting to more traditional booking models, driving up fares on peak days. While airlines typically reduce capacity during less popular times of the week or year, there could still be a chance for more acceptable prices. Airline schedules from late March to late October show they will offer a record number of seats for this period, according to OAG data, a sign that they could expect strong demand in the shoulder season.

Berg also recommends staying open-minded about connecting travel and cautions against screening flights for nonstop flights only.

Icelandic low-cost airline Play’s flights stop at its home airport in Reykjavik, forcing travelers heading to other destinations to change flights. The carrier has grown rapidly with its fleet of Airbus A320 and A320neo. It flies to 39 destinations this month, up from 31 in December, the company said.

“We are extremely positive and optimistic for the year,” CEO Birgir Jonsson said. Nearly 36% of Play passengers last month were connecting to other destinations via the Icelandic capital, the airline said.

Other low-cost airlines are stepping up service between the United States and Europe, including Norse Atlantic Airways, which operates Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The carrier serves London Gatwick, Berlin, Paris and Oslo, Norway, and plans to launch flights to Rome next month from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. It also plans to offer London Gatwick service from a host of US cities including San Francisco, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Los Angeles and Washington, DC in the coming weeks.

Norse Atlantic’s senior vice president of communications, Philip Allport, said its rates for US-Europe routes were higher than usual, but the carrier is still ‘the cheapest of our direct competitors’ . A round trip on Norse between New York and Paris cost nearly $1,300 for travel departing July 1, returning a week later less than $1,804 on Delta, each on standard economy tickets.

Here’s how traditional and non-traditional airlines vary in their services and prices for standard economy class tickets:

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