Airfare prediction website Hopper says that Europe is the “highest demand international region,” capturing 36% of search from travelers this year. London, Paris and Rome are three of the top five most searched international destinations.
With such high demand, prices may go up, up and away. But there are things you can do to travel to Europe at a better price — and in a better seat. As a travel expert, I have a few tips that can help.
Economy vs. Premium Economy Price Comparison
If you plan to travel to Europe during the peak season of late May through September, expect minimum round-trip airfares of $1,000 and more likely $1,500. That will get you a Basic Economy class ticket. If you want preference on seat selection you’ll pay more and even more for a checked bag (Delta is charging $150 for one checked bag).
However, if you can travel during the shoulder or low season, you can fly quite comfortably in an upgraded seat for the same price as an economy summer ticket. In fact, a study from Kayak says you can save 27% on fares to Europe by flying in an off-season month like October.
I was able to experience Delta’s Comfort+ both to and from Europe and came away convinced to scrimp and save to splurge again and again on this upgraded economy section! It is not a Business or First Class experience but offers benefits that most of us seek on long-haul flights: comfort, extra legroom, drinks, treats, headphones, and more.
Examples: Atlanta to Europe in October 2023
Let’s look at a few popular Atlanta to Europe destinations. In this article, I selected examples of economy class choices for October 2023 departures.
Delta flights from Atlanta to London, for instance, offer Basic Economy (from $960) or the lowest possible fare:
- Non-changeable, cancelable for partial eCredit (cancellation charge applies).
- Customers traveling with companions likely will not sit together. Basic Economy seats are assigned after check-in, or within 24 hours of departure.
- Basic Economy passengers board last.
- Overhead bin space may be limited.
You can bump to the next level of economy with Main Cabin fares ($1,133):
- Flexibility to manage your trip with no change fees for flights originating in US and Canada.
- Choose an available seat that works for you and your travel companions.
- You are eligible to purchase upgrades to premium seats or products.
- If you cancel your flight, the value of your ticket will be returned as an eCredit, which you can apply to your next flight.
And then there is yet another economy class section called Comfort+ ($1,333) — or you may see this fare type listed as Premium Economy:
- Up to 3 inches of extra legroom.
- Change or cancel your ticket without fees (fare difference will apply), earn miles for your trip and select your own spacious seat.
- Board early and deplane quickly.
- Dedicated overhead bin space.
- Food and drink extras.
Economy class choices from Atlanta to Amsterdam, for example, are $940, $1,109, and $1,573 (respectively Basic, Main, and Comfort+). Atlanta to Rome $950, $1,119, $2,300.
Other airlines have similar economy class option upgrades, but not every aircraft to every destination is retrofitted for all three choices. But prices generally fall in the same range.
For late fall trips to Europe (through March, excluding year-end holidays), expect round-trip Premium Economy airfares of $1,500 to $1,800 round-trip from most U.S. departure airports.
How To Find Affordable Premium Fares
You can view drop-down options for Economy or Premium Economy fares at Google Flights.
I start by choosing Economy, or the lowest economy class fare. Once you choose an itinerary, Google will take you directly to the airline to finish your ticket purchase.
Let’s say you’ve selected a round-trip trip to Milan from Atlanta on Delta ($800 cheapest and $150 more to check a bag!). You will instantly see the options Delta offers on that flight to upgrade to Main Cabin Economy ($970) or to Comfort+ ($1,370).
Most other airlines will display these upgraded options when applicable. Typically the upgraded classes are only offered on transatlantic and transpacific routes.
Have a peek at what upgraded Economy class options are on other airlines:
CNTraveler takes a look at several other carrier options to upgrade, including those flying to Asia, New Zealand and Australia.