Q – We love reading this site even though it is clearly aimed at the upscale traveler. I suppose we are about fifty-fifty upscale. But we just hate spending money we don’t have to for another inch of chair for eight or nice hours. For a 5-star hotel at the other end yes – but we just don’t think airlines that charge 50% more than their competitors are worth it. Can you tell us if there are certain airlines you would recommend for those seeking the very lowest Business Class or coach seats from New York to Europe?
A – There are more than a dozen so-called “budget”carriers across the Atlantic. We wouldn’t fly most of them. Here are the Top Five “True Value” airlines across the pond:
THE TOP FIVE “TRUE VALUE” AIRLINES FLYING TO EUROPE
Icelandair – The upside is that you get a free stopover in Reykjavik. Service is professional – these folks have been doing this for years. But Rejkjavik is sooo worth the stopover. It is, in many ways, way cooler than many other cities in Europe. The downside is that Icelandair uses older 757’s. The best deals are in their upgraded Saga class eats. Bring your own food aboard.
Aer Lingus – The national carrier of Ireland has been beating the competition price-wise for years. Their advantage over Icelandair and other rivals, is the fact that they do fly wide body aircraft including the 767.
Air Berlin – They fly A-330’s with a tight pitch. But business class to Berlin or Dusseldorf is not bad with decent service and flat-bed seats. Both cities provide good transfer options. We like Air Berlin but they have limited routes from the US. Chicago/Miami/Ft. Myers/Los Angeles and New York are their current gateways.
Norwegian – This ten year-old budget carrier is unique and of major concern to the legacy carriers that ply the Atlantic routes. Norwegian is already one of Europe’s largest airlines. They use new Boeing 787 Dreamliners and provide some of the best service in the “True Value” category. They are able to achieve this by working with non-union crew. This has led most of the legacy carriers to oppose their entry into the US market at every turn. Current prices include a $204 fare to Copenhagen each way (includes all taxes/one way). This is the airline to watch. If they succeed in the US, the pricing guidelines for trans-Atlantic travel may well head downward. The best current value is premium economy at just under $2,000 per person to London and the Scandinavian capitals.
XL Airways France – This True Value carrier is owned by a French tour company flies A330’s to CDG Paris from Las Vegas, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. XL has also introdu7ced the only non-stop from the US to the gateway of Provence, Marseilles out of New York. As you might expect, these aircraft were designed to provide extremely tight seating for budget holiday package travelers. Expect extremely uncomfortable seating in exchange for your savings.