New air routes, hotels, and booking strategies make European travel almost as cheap as staying home.
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Book New Plane Routes
Before last year’s Open Skies agreement, an air-transport pact that cleared the way for more flights between the United States and Europe, American Airlines (aa.com) and United Airlines (united.com) were the only domestic carriers flying into London Heathrow from the U.S. Today, Continental (continental.com), Delta (delta.com), Northwest (nwa.com), and US Airways (usairways.com) all have daily flights into Heathrow. In addition, a few international airlines have established links from European hubs other than their own to the U.S.; Air France (airfrance.com) will begin a Heathrow-to-JFK flight this summer. And thanks to these additional routes, analysts expect prices to become more competitive. Smaller airports are also benefiting from the treaty. Next month, US Airways will be adding three routes: from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Paris, and from Philadelphia to Oslo and Birmingham, England. In June, Delta is planning to introduce flights from Pittsburgh to Paris and Detroit to Rome.
Fly With Low-Cost Airlines
As travelers become more budget-conscious, discount European carriers are expanding their networks to meet the demand. Ryanair (ryanair.com) is leading the way with 179 new routes in 2009, including flights from Edinburgh to Malta and Oslo to Bologna. Rival EasyJet (easyjet.com) plans to add at least 30 new itineraries this year—among them London Gatwick to Copenhagen and Berlin to Dubrovnik. We found summer fares for the new Berlin-to-Dubrovnik flight for as low as $40 one-way, and the deals should continue through the fall.
Check Out New, Affordable Airlines
This past February, Lufthansa launched Lufthansa Italia (lufthansa.com). The carrier offers nonstop connections between Milan Malpensa and eight European destinations, including Barcelona and Madrid, making travel between Italy and neighboring countries more accessible after Alitalia reduced its service from Malpensa last year. At press time, we found a round-trip ticket from Milan to Barcelona for $112.
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