Europe in the summer has always been the most popular tourist season – which makes booking flights for Europe during this time pretty stressful.
Apart from higher than usual prices, we’re also seeing more delayed and cancelled flights than usual this year. Many European airports have also turned into complete mayhem with hoards of tourists ready to take on their much awaited summer vacation.
From using a VPN for cheaper flights to knowing which flights to book, here’s our top tips for doing your best to avoid (at least be prepared for) delayed and cancelled flights in Europe this summer.
Top tips for booking flights for Europe this summer
Here’s how to book the best flights in Europe.
1. Use a VPN to search for flights
This tip applies to booking all flights. It’s always best to use a VPN when booking flights as it prevents airlines and flight booking platforms from tracking your search history. Using the inkognito mode of your browser would work as well. That means that even if you’ve searched for the same flight multiple times, the price won’t go up, only because they have identified you as the same user, who looks for a flight later again.
You can also search from different “locations” to look for cheaper options – sometimes flights are cheaper when booking from certain countries. This can only be done via the VPN, as you login to the internet via different server destinations.
Try to book through a destination, where the flight is not departing from. As an example, you want to fly from Germany to Spain. Then try to book through a server in Spain or maybe even Italy, but don’t choose Germany.
Choosing a country with a lower GDP might also be working. It’s forbidden in Europe to offer a higher price for a country with a higher GDP, but it happened already with hotels. So it’s worth comparing.
2. Book the first flight of the day
If there are multiple flights per day to your intended destination, always book the first flight. Sure, 5am flights aren’t the most convenient, but it means that you’re more likely to fly that same day. If your flight gets cancelled, then you’ll likely still get moved to another flight that day opposed to having to spend the night.
The first flights of the day are also less likely to be delayed as the ripple effect of delayed flights hasn’t started for that day yet.
3. Book directly through the airline
Always, always, always book directly with the airline. You can use third-party booking sites to search for different flight options, but then always go straight to the airline’s website and book there.
If there does happen to be an issue with your flight, it’s much easier to get in contact directly with the airline opposed to via a third-party service. Even if it costs more, it’s worth it. And usually you should get the lowest price as well.
Sometimes an operator or online travel agency (OTA) buys a contingent on specific flights and those can then be offered by those to cheaper prices.
4. Avoid the bigger airports
This isn’t always possible, but if you can, try avoiding flying to the bigger airports in Europe. Some of the airports to avoid include Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Heathrow Airport in London, Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris and Frankfurt am Main International Airport in Frankfurt.
Most larger airports charge higher airport tax, which gets added to the flight ticket. When flying to a smaller airport, it could even be that your airport tax gets partly sponsored by the local government. That way the airline can offer lower fares and the region can attract more visitors. And those visitors will then spend a specific amount then again, which include local taxes.
Europe is well connected, so you can often fly to a nearby smaller city instead and then travel to the main city if needed. Better yet, avoid the big cities in Europe entirely during the high season in summer! Usually they are full with visitors and you end up paying the high season prices.
5. Fly direct
Again, flying direct is not always possible depending on where you’re going and where you’re coming from. But connecting flights can turn into a nightmare when cancelled flights and delays enter the picture. Pick destinations that you can fly directly to or book longer layovers – two hours isn’t enough during the peak season!
If you do have to book a connecting flight, make sure to book the entire trip on the same booking with your airline. That way, if you happen to miss your connecting flight due to delays or cancellations, the airline will rebook you on the next flight. If you book your flights through different providers/websites, then the risk is up to you and if you can’t make the connection to the next flight, you will have to deal with finding a solution.
How to prepare for your flight
Now that you’ve booked your flight, there are still a few things that you can do to prepare for your flight.
1. Check in online before you go to the airport
Always check in online to avoid having to stand in long queues at the airport. This also allows you to confirm the flight details. Usually each airline got their own app, which then allows to do the online check-in. It’s also a useful tool to get notified by the airline, if there are changes to the flight, which could be just a different gate to embark the aircraft.
2. Carry hand luggage only
Flying around Europe is much easier with a carry on! Firstly, you don’t have to wait in the long queues to check in your luggage (and collect it again). Secondly, if your flight happens to get cancelled after you’ve checked in (it happens), you don’t have to wait to get your luggage off the plane. You’ve got everything with you already!
Many low-cost airlines in Europe charge a fortune for checked-in baggage anyway, so this is the more affordable option!
3. Arrive earlier than usual at the airport
Standing in a line at an airport is inevitable, but during the peak summer months in Europe, those lines get unimaginable. To avoid the long lines, or at least reduce your stress levels while standing in those lines, make sure to get to the airport a bit earlier than you normally would. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to get through all the checks and get to your boarding gate in time.
Check out our guide on How to Entertain Yourself at an Airport.
More preparation means less stress
While booking flights in Europe during the summer months may sound like a crazy idea, it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to still get a good deal and find the most stress-free options. But it’s also always best to be prepared for the busyness and potential delays. They can’t always be avoided.
Just remember, you’ll get to your destination eventually. While you’re at it, here’s how to avoid being an annoying passenger!
Read also: Top Reasons to Travel to Europe in Autumn