Wait! Did I just write the words “Last Minute Summer Travel” in March? Yes, unfortunately. If you haven’t booked that summer trip to Europe yet, you are about to get a shock. Prices are sky high and award space is limited. As an example, we booked our May 2022 trip to Portugal in August 2021.
There are several reasons for the squeeze on prices and availability:
- Airlines are still ramping up flights and hiring back staff after the covid-related slowdown. Consequently, available seats on popular routes are not as plentiful as pre-covid.
- Many people waited until after Omicron subsided to book travel and there was a lot of pent-up demand. Thus, that flight to Paris is already full of families during summer break.
- Flight schedules are still in flux, so award seats are limited or being held back from partners on many routes until fleets and schedules are finalized.
So, how do you get around these restrictions: Flexibility. Do you absolutely have to travel to London between July 22nd-29th when the nonstop round-trip flight is $1600 in economy? Maybe not. Here are some tips to help in your search:
- Use Google Flights. You can see multiple weeks and months of pricing. You can search to and from multiple cities at the same time. This is where every flight search should begin even if you are usually loyal to one airline.
- Be more flexible in your dates and cities. If you planned to take the family to London in July, but you see a great price on a ticket to Portugal in August, why not go to Portugal instead?
- While it’s not always true, you can often find cheaper prices for tickets leaving and/or returning midweek. People love to leave on Friday or Saturday and return on the following Sunday or Monday to squeeze two weekends out of a trip, so if you can be flexible about your travel days, that can help.
- Consider last minute award booking. If you are very flexible, search for the next week or two with your points and miles to see if saver level seats are available in economy or business class. You might get lucky if the airline makes the last few unsold seats available.
- Use positioning flights. This applies for both cash and award tickets. See a great deal from JFK to Rome but you live in Atlanta? Use your Delta miles to fly to JFK and grab that great deal. This applies on the other end too. See a great deal from Atlanta to Munich, but want to visit Amsterdam? Grab that deal and book a cheap flight on a low cost carrier from Munich to Amsterdam (or figure out a great train journey across Europe).
- Think about pushing out your trip to the fall. It’s less crowded in many popular places. The weather is probably still pretty good (or better in some cases like Southern Europe). We’re headed to Ireland in October during our daughter’s fall break and we were able to find award seats pretty easily.
There’s no magic wand to find that perfect flight, but with some effort and flexibility, you can still take the family to Europe this summer.
If you are considering a new credit card to add to your points and miles balance and help with your trip planning flexibility, please consider using our links in partnership with Travel Freely.