Looking to travel to Europe on a budget? Join the club! European holidays are eternally popular with Australian travellers, and yet getting there from Down Under can sometimes prove a little costly. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be. There are in fact several ways to reduce the cost of your airfares to Europe, and not all involve hoarding loyalty program points, booking 60-hour flight routes, or stowing away in the cargo hold. By making clever choices about where you fly and how you structure your travel itinerary, it is possible to save up to hundreds of dollars.
1. Fly Into an Airport That Isn’t London
London’s Heathrow Airport is a natural launchpad-of-choice for many travellers planning a European vacation. London is, after all, an appealing city for Australians to fly into: the city is packed with exciting attractions, and from London it is pretty easy to see other UK cities, making this an incredibly easy place to shake off the jet lag from a 20-something hour flight. Somewhat surprisingly though, London isn’t always the most budget-savvy choice for travellers to fly into.
Airlines can typically save a lot of money by flying into quieter airports, and these savings can then be passed on to you in the form of cheaper airfares. One of the best ways to secure cheap flights to Europe is to fly into a smaller or secondary airport. Consider this: in 2018, the average airfare booked* to Heathrow from Australia was $1,995 AUD return. However, a flight into London Gatwick Airport was $1,819 AUD return, while London City Airport boasted an average fare of just $1,478 AUD return.
And it’s not just alternative London airports that offer savings. Flying in and out of Dublin in 2018 cost on average $1,775 AUD, while the average return flights to Budapest were just $1,656 AUD. There’s a lot of money to be saved simply by skipping Heathrow! And the best part is, it’s fairly easy these days to travel around Europe; so even if you don’t fly into your preferred major airport, you can still have the option of booking a connecting flight with a budget European airline. Other cheaper-than-London destinations may include Paris ($1,889 AUD), Amsterdam ($1,801 AUD), Munich ($1,888 AUD), Berlin ($1,890 AUD), Edinburgh ($1,847 AUD) and even Belgrade ($1,656 AUD). Of course, airfares do fluctuate, and airports are subject to changing taxes, so it does pays to keep an eye on airfares to Europe at the time you wish to travel. Who knows? You might even discover a new favourite city that you’d never considered visiting before!
On the subject of airport taxes, let’s break these down a little. In a nutshell, an airport tax is the tax levied on a passenger for passing through an airport. This fee is hidden within your airfare, so while you might not be aware of it, it has a very real effect on the cost of your ticket. One of the most problematic airport taxes is the UK “Air Passenger Duty” (APD), which is levied on every adult passenger on every flight that departs from the UK (exceptions are made for long-haul flights to and from Northern Ireland and the Scottish Highlands). The current APD for holiday-makers travelling in economy class on return flights departing from London is £78 – about $140 AUD. It goes up to £156 (about $280 AUD) if you’re travelling in business class. And, the APD is scheduled to increase (to £78 and £172 for economy and business classes respectively) as of 1 April 2019.
2. Consider Booking Multiple One-Way Flights
Another key way to save money on your European vacation is to book multiple flights. Long-haul flights from Australia to Europe can be a little daunting, so breaking your journey up with a one-way flight to somewhere in Asia before continuing on to Europe can be a good way to save both money and your sanity. Plus, it will give you the opportunity to see somewhere new on the way if you choose to turn the layover into a multi-day stop. You can also make use of one-way flights to the Middle East, and if the price is right, even sneak in a business class airfare.
3. Look at Open Jaw Flights
What is an open jaw flight, you ask? It is a flight into one city and out of another; the flights having been booked as a multi-stop trip. So, instead of purchasing a return airfare and having to backtrack to your starting point to fly home, booking multi-trip flights gives you the freedom to travel across Europe in one direction without having to double back. Imagine this: you fly into Rome to explore Italy, then continue to Barcelona, Lisbon and Paris, with Berlin as your final destination. It doesn’t make sense to then travel back to Rome simply to board a flight on to Australia, does it? Cheap multi-city flights therefore can save you time and money, as it can be more beneficial to the hip-pocket to book multiple stopovers on the same ticket rather than purchase several separate one-way flights.
Booking an open jaw trip with Webjet is easy. Use the Multi City/Stopover option and choose which destinations you’re needing to fly in and out of. You can add as many legs as your holiday requires. With Multi City/Stopover flights, you can match up multiple one-way flights too. This is especially useful if you’re planning on catching a train between two relatively close destinations, such as Rome and Florence, Munich and Frankfurt, or Budapest and Vienna.
Now that you’re armed with these 3 secrets, book your cheap flights to Europe with Webjet and get ready to have the European holiday of a lifetime!
*All prices and savings based on airfares book on Webjet between 1 January and 31 December 2018