Americans are ready to adventure in 2022. Many of us have extra savings in our pockets and are tired of sitting at home. A recent industry survey indicates that close to 40% of U.S. travelers are eyeing an international vacation this year. Of those, a third are planning to make it a “bucket list” kind of vacation.

If you’re one of these folks, maybe you’re considering Europe. A lot of people postponed planned Europe trips the last couple of years, and it’s always been popular with Americans, so expect to see people making that journey again. The Omicron wave will be over by summer, and with few flight bargains in the mix, now is not too soon to be planning your trip. Our Europe Summer Flights page is a great planning resource. Here’s our case for shopping now.

The Flight Supply and Demand Question

Right now, it’s hard to predict what the flight shopping landscape will look like for summer. We do know that the airlines are struggling to keep up with the current demand. And even with a lot of Europe still in various stages of “openness,” we’re already seeing higher prices than last year for most of the summer.

Of course, last year’s prices were lower than normal, so what we are definitely seeing is some natural pricing course correction. After all, summer is the high season for Americans traveling to Europe – and always has been.

If you’re a bargain shopper, your best bet is to look into late summer dates – the entire month of September offers great value overall, and you can expect better service and less wait times across the continent for popular attractions and dining. In addition, hotel rates fall in August (when Europeans go on vacation), and dip even more sharply in September.

June and July Will Be Pricey

There’s no getting around the fact that a lot of U.S. travelers prefer to travel in the summer months. So if you know your preferred trip is happening in June or July, there’s no good reason to wait to buy flights. Right now, those airfares are the lowest they are going to be, and frankly, they’re not that low. There are not going to be fire sales to London or Paris. Bargains are hard to find in the summer, so if you find an itinerary you like, snap it up before the seats at that price are gone!

Be Flexible with Airport Options – the Cost and Convenience Factors

Just a few words on airports. First, not all European airports offer the best value. There are some scenarios in which you can save money if you’re strategic about which airport to fly into. If you’re planning to see Venice and Florence in Italy and you only have six days to do it, maybe your best bet is to fly to Rome for the better price. For dates in June, JFK to Rome (FCO) will cost $695 roundtrip with a stop in Dublin on Aer Lingus. Or you can pony up $1,197 on Alitalia for a nonstop flight straight into Venice.

Using that logic, if you have 2-4 weeks of travel planned over a few cities in Europe, you could save hundreds of dollars by being strategic. Paris and London have the most direct flights from the U.S., and their prices will be lower than many other airports across the continent. For example, when flying to Europe the first week in June, the best fare from New York (EWR) is on Iceland Air into London (LHR) for $489 nonstop roundtrip. The same dates into Vienna from JFK will set you back $763 on Tap Air Portugal, with 2 stops and a long layover (and that’s the best option).

We always recommend looking at a variety of entry points in Europe for cost and convenience. Maybe you’re less focused on the cost and more interested in saving time. These are all factors to consider before you part with your money for flights.

Lock in Your Airfare with Price Drop Payback

So now you’ve decided on your itinerary. You’ve got a game plan. But when should you buy? Maybe you’re in a gambling mood. Or maybe you’re seeing conflicting reports of “deals” on flights to Europe. As to the former, please don’t gamble with airfare. Our advice is to do your homework early and then hone in on the flights you want. Waiting could mean much less comfortable seats on the plane (no bueno on long haul flights) at a more dear price. Or maybe the great flight you wanted sells out and you’re stuck with a less attractive route. That’s no fun.

If you’re concerned that your preferred airfare could go down after you buy, protect your ticket with CheapAir’s Price Drop Payback. It’s a little insurance for travelers so if your fare drops after your purchase, you’re covered. We’ll pay you back up to $100 per ticket – so you can lock in your airfare and be confident of your choice.

Use Monthly Payments to Free Up Your Cash for Other Expenses

We also offer Monthly Payments for flights and hotels, the two largest expenses when planning an international trip. If you’ve made the decision to “go big” on this trip, you might also be thinking of a more cushy hotel or resort than usual, or even bumping up your flights to Premium Economy or Business Class. If you decide to splurge, you can offset some of those upfront costs by using Monthly Payments to spread out the cost over a period of time (3-12 months, typically). Our financial partner Affirm makes qualifying fast, simple and transparent.

Identify the Best Days to Fly

We mentioned our Europe Summer Flights page as a planning resource. We’ll mention it again. You can reference a simple calendar to see which days are the best value, and review data which tells you the days of the week that are best to travel for the cheapest tickets.

If you’re staying a little closer to home this summer, we also recommend checking out our domestic Summer Flights page for helpful tips when booking within the U.S.

Please let us know if you plan to travel this summer. We’d love to hear what destinations are on your radar. We can field questions in the comments section regarding destinations or planning concerns. We’re here to help! And as always, happy travels!

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