Flights to Europe for under $500? 5 Under-the-radar, temptingly affordable airlines | Popgen Tech
PLAY WITH THE idea of a European vacation next year but haven’t booked your trip? Experts, predicting a travel boom across the pond in 2023, say affordable fares could become increasingly scarce. However, the latest crop of niche carriers are attracting budget-minded travelers with noticeably lower fares. Mike Arnot, a spokesman for aviation analytics firm Cirium, said shoppers can get savings of around 25% by booking on these under-the-radar carriers. Not surprisingly, some of these newcomers follow the discount providers’ code of no frills and high fees for extras like a meal or checked bag. They can also run less than daily service, which can lead to excruciatingly long delays if there is a cancellation. A word to the wise for would-be pilots: Book early and buy travel insurance to protect against airlines. Here’s a closer look at some of the lesser-known names flying across the Atlantic:
This Icelandic airline began transatlantic flights to Reykjavik this year with a fleet of narrow-body Airbus aircraft from a trio of East Coast gateways: Baltimore/Washington International, Boston Logan and New York’s Stewart Airport, in Newburgh. Next up: Washington Dulles, launching next spring with Play’s trademark low fares starting at $199 one-way. From Iceland, Play offers connecting flights to Paris, Berlin, Prague, Barcelona and other European cities.
Norse Atlantic Airways
Norse Atlantic, Norway’s latest airline upstart, launched last summer with low-cost flights from New York to Oslo, London and Berlin aboard Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The airline offers a range of fare classes, from “Light” (similar to basic economy) at fares starting at $135 one-way to “Plus” with free checked bags, meals and more flexibility in ticket changes, and a more spacious premium class with reclining seats. The other US cities on the airline’s route map include Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and Orlando. Flights from New York to Paris are expected to begin in March.
The Condor brand started decades ago as a German charter line, but it is still relatively unknown among American travelers. Following a reorganization following the collapse of its parent company, Thomas Cook Airlines, Condor offers year-round scheduled service between Germany and New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. It also operates seasonal flights to other US cities, including Boston, San Francisco and Minneapolis. Fares start at $250 one-way economy; there is also a premium section. From next month, the airline plans to take delivery of a fleet of new widebody Airbus A330neos, painted in distinctive striped livery.
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Launched as “French Blue” six years ago, this Gallic upstart raised its transatlantic profile last year. It now flies from Newark, LA and San Francisco to Paris Orly, with Miami flights expected to begin December 15. French Bee also flies from San Francisco to Tahiti. Flights are via Airbus A350 widebody jets. Economy fares range from as low as $227 one-way from New York to Paris in March, to $453 one-way in June and July. In line with other low-cost airlines, amenities such as a checked bag and a meal cost extra.
Another budget competitor, Neos, has been around for a while and operates a network of flights to tourist destinations around the world from its base in Italy. It recently expanded to the US with three flights a week between New York’s JFK Airport and Milan, via 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Fares start at $218 one way.
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Appears in the December 17, 2022 print edition as ‘Unidentified Flying Objects’.