Today’s Low Airfares to Europe? Thank Low Fuel Prices, Sir Freddie, and a Viking Named Bjørn

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How will Delta respond to today's low-cost carriers?

How will Delta respond to today’s low-cost carriers?

In order to see how this plays out, we looked at coach fares for non-stop flights to several European destinations from New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on the same dates (December 19 and 28) around the Christmas holiday, looking exactly 60 days in advance of the initial flight.

The methodology we used was to look at non-stop and one-stop flights, since two-stop flights for the types of trips we were pricing would typically be more expensive. We also ignored mystery and unnamed airlines in the search results as well as routings that would have one fly significantly past the destination and return, adding unnecessary hours to the flight. We also ignored ads atop the results even though the ads were designed to look as if they were part of the results and the word “Ad” was barely discernable.

The first routing we checked was to Berlin.

The lowest fare was a Norwegian Air Shuttle flight at $846 with a stop in Copenhagen, Denmark. The second-lowest fare was $899, also from a low-cost carrier, Wow Air, with a stop in Keflavik, Iceland, although that flight would depart and return to Newark Liberty International Airport, serving New York City but in New Jersey. Only after combing through over one hundred fares (some combining legs on Norwegian and Wow Air and Norwegian and EasyJet) did a U.S. carrier, Delta, turn up, albeit with a fare of $1,069 and two stops on the return flight.

On our second search, New York-London using the same dates but only looking at non-stop flights, Norwegian came up first again, with a fare of $764. This time, however, Delta and its code-share partners Air France, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic, presented multiple options at $810.

Additional searches turned up remarkably similar results across the board.

Low-cost airlines unquestionably changed the face of short-haul flying and several are now poised to do so in the long-haul market. While Sir Freddie’s dream ultimately failed after coming up against the recession of the early 1980s, the timing is apparently right for today’s low-cost carriers to succeed.

Norwegian’s CEO, Bjørn Kjos, has gone on record stating he plans to sell one-way tickets to Europe for $69 as early as next year by flying from U.S. airports that have low fees. Sir Freddie would be pleased.

Jonathan Spira contributed reporting to this story.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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