I am lucky to be on the East Coast. As a result I have several major airports that I can easily get to via Amtrak or by driving. When I started researching flights to Europe about six months ago I noticed that depending on where you departed from the price was different. I noticed a flight out of my local airport might be $300 more expensive than one out of another airport a few hours away.
When I went to buy our airline tickets, I found one airport within a four hour radius of us to be $927 more expensive per ticket than what we actually paid. Our local airport was $857 more expensive per ticket than what we actually paid. Multiply that times four and we would have paid $3428 more than what we actually paid. Of course, now we have the inconvenience of getting to our departure airport, however we’ll take Amtrak. I project the Amtrak fare will cost around $300 round trip for ALL of us. My kids love to ride on the train, I love how you are not confined to your seat, there’s a snack car, and you don’t have to stop to use the bathroom.
I also noticed the same was true for Europe destinations. I knew that I primarily wanted our trip to focus on Germany. However, we were also planning on visiting friends in other countries bordering Germany. So I figured I should explore several European destinations as well, and that we would base our itinerary off of the location where we were going to land and depart. When I changed our destination to Frankfurt, it was going to cost us an additional $309 per ticket at the cheapest East Coast airport. Multiply that times four and it would have cost us an additional $1200. If I changed our destination to Amsterdam, it was going to cost us an additional $255 per ticket at the cheapest East Coast airport. You get the idea.
So, we are flying Newark to Berlin to Europe and we return home Dusseldorf to Newark – where I found the cheapest ticket. My brother had reminded me I could do an open jaw ticket. That’s where you fly into one city and depart out of another. The open jaw ticket was only $16 more expensive than flying into the cheapest city (Dusseldorf) that I found.
I generally use a site such as Kayak to locate the cheapest airfare. Then I go to that airline’s website to book the fair. Our flight is operated by Lufthansa, which is a partner of United. When I tried booking the flight on United I noticed I could not pick our seats. I then went to Lufthansa’s website and booked the flight through them. Their website allowed me to pick our seats. You DON’T want to be stuck in a middle seat and separated from your family on a trip to Europe…
In conclusion, if you know you are going to be spending a lot of money on airline tickets, make sure you spend some time researching how much it costs to fly into various locations. Driving to an airport two hours away to depart or landing at an airport three hours away from your primary destination may be a big pain, but in the end you may save yourself hundreds or thousands of dollars. We are saving over $1500 by taking a flight out of an airport that is not super close to us.