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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How to find cheap fares to Europe

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


Imagine making a trans-Atlantic flight for $10 one way! Discount airlines are trying to make it happen.

Air travel to Europe has been extremely expensive because the U.S. government allowed the creation of 3 price-fixing cartels for trans-Atlantic flights. When we went to the Open skies policy, part of the deal was that all international airlines could enter into these co-ops or alliances.

Today there are three main ones — Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance — that actually work to the detriment of the flying public. Airlines within these co-ops coordinate schedules, routes, and fares, which has greatly reduced competition when you want to fly across the Atlantic.

As a result, the airfares are up, the amount of service is down, and people are priced out of the market. But technology will fix that. Newer aircrafts now coming online can fly many passengers longer distances with far less fuel. The discounters will be the first ones to use these new aircrafts.

Norwegian Air Shuttle the third largest discounter in Europe. They're already flying New York to Oslo for about $500 RT (roundtrip). Their latest routes include NY to London at $384 RT, NY to Copenhagen at $474 RT, and San Francisco to Oslo at $596 RT.

But American, United, and Delta are pulling out all the stops in Washington to try to stop Norwegian. They're afraid of competition. They're afraid that Norwegian will open up the market for other discounters to find their way to the U.S. offering cheap fares to Europe and vice versa.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports RyanAir -- the world's largest discount airline -- wants to do $10 fares one way across the Pond. $10 flights from the United States to Europe?! I'll let you know if and when that happens!

In the meantime, my advice about flying to Europe? It's OK to go if you can get an el cheapo fare from Norwegian. Otherwise, keep diverting to Latin America and Asia as those deals pop up. Put off going to Europe until the competition really takes hold and we get better prices. We should be on buyer's strike until we get better deals!

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