Money expert Clark Howard owned, operated and sold travel agencies early in his career. To this day, he’s a frequent international traveler.
Clark’s friends, employees and listeners often ask him for travel advice, from obscure and narrow to general.
One of his areas of expertise? Finding cheap flights. Always a bargain hunter, Clark usually has some great tips to find the lowest prices.
What about flying from Atlanta to Europe? That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.
How To Save Money Flying From Atlanta to Europe
Ali in Georgia and her family are planning a trip to the United Kingdom in 2023.
On the Nov. 17 episode of the podcast, she asked: “With the uncertainties of fuel prices and the war in Ukraine, I am having a difficult time knowing when to book our flights in order to get the best price. Since there are five of us, each small difference in price really adds up. Do you have any advice?”
Instead of focusing on when to buy, Clark suggested taking a hard look at flying from anywhere other than Atlanta.
Delta controls nearly 100% of the international flights out of Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
“Atlanta is what’s known in the travel industry as an ‘island market,’ meaning that there’s no competition in that market and no competitive markets close by,” Clark says. “The fares to Europe are typically three times the price out of Atlanta as they are in New York.
“You can get from Atlanta to New York so cheaply that it would actually make sense for the five of you, because you’re saving times five, to go up to New York the day before you’re gonna fly to Europe, go sight-seeing, take in a show and then fly out of New York to the UK.”
According to Google Flights, the “best departing flights” from Atlanta to London on March 22 are $788 to $803. Departing from New York to London on the same day, the best departing flights range from $328 to $538.
Another Way To Save: An Unexpected Flight Twist
It may be counterintuitive. But if you don’t want to fly to New York and then on to Europe, there’s another money-saving alternative.
“If you do want to stay within the southeast region, look at cities within two to three hours of Atlanta: Birmingham, Chattanooga, Greenville. You’ll find that even on Delta, you’ll cut the fare by more than half, maybe more,” Clark says.
“Drive to one of those. Fly back to Atlanta. Change plane and then go to England. And the fare will be a lot cheaper because out of those markets, Delta has to compete, where they don’t in their home base of Atlanta.”
Clark, who loves capitalism, was quick to point out that Delta isn’t doing anything “evil” by pricing in a way that reflects its near-monopoly out of Atlanta, the airline’s home base.
But if you live in or near Atlanta, and you’re traveling internationally, expect prices to be much higher unless you’re willing to fly elsewhere.
Flying from Atlanta to Europe can be more expensive than you’d think. That’s because Delta holds a lot of pricing power over international flights out of its home airport, Clark says.
If you want to save money on travel to Europe, consider flying out of New York or a nearby city instead.