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Europe: Summer, Fall, or Hold Off 'Till Next Year?

Is there still time for a last-minute hop across the Pond this summer, or should you hold off until next season—or possibly even next year? The proof is in the data pudding.

We've been tracking U.S./Europe summer fares since February and have noticed noteworthy behavior from a lot of routes.

Better or Worse? Depends on Your Route

Los Angeles-Paris flights have remained relatively static and booking now is pretty much the same price as having booked months ago. If anything, fares may have decreased, and there's still time to take a last-minute August flight.

If you're flying from the New York City area, August fares to Europe have somewhat stabilized since last month's rise, though it would have been considerably cheaper to book back during winter.

And Chicago fares are all over the place, as is the case with most other cities we researched.

Here are just a few of the many routes we've been monitoring:

  • New York City > London: increased by 13 percent since last month, increased by 15 percent since February
  • New York City > Paris: decreased by 7 percent since last month, increased by 9 percent since February
  • New York City > Rome: increased by 3 percent since last month, increased by 16 percent since February
  • New York City > Madrid: decreased by 7 a percent since last month, increased by 10 percent since February
  • New York City > Dublin: increased by 11 percent since last month, increased by 13 percent since February
  • Los Angeles > London: increased by 2 percent since last month, increased by 4 percent since February
  • Los Angeles > Paris: decreased by 3 percent since last month, increased by less than one-tenth of a percent since February
  • Los Angeles > Rome: increased by 8 percent since last month, decreased by 2 percent since February
  • Los Angeles > Madrid: decreased by 6 percent since last month, decreased by 9 percent since February
  • Los Angeles > Dublin: increased by 4 percent since last month, decreased by 13 percent since February
  • Chicago > London: increased by 30 percent since last month, increased by 18 percent since February
  • Chicago > Paris: increased by 25 percent since last month, increased by 18 percent since February
  • Chicago > Rome: increased by 14 percent since last month, decreased by 21 percent since February
  • Chicago > Madrid: decreased by 3 percent since last month, decreased by 6 percent since February
  • Chicago > Dublin: increased by 4 percent since last month, increased by 7 percent since February

Find the Best Price

With so much fluctuation, how do you snag a great deal? Easy: Become an informed consumer and try to pick up on travel trends. Enroll in airline newsletters or read SmarterTravel's Today in Travel blog to stay abreast of new route introductions. Keeping up on the news can alert you to deals: After American Airlines added new service to Madrid during spring, many summer flights to Spain's capital city grew more affordable. For instance, Denver to Madrid prices are currently 28 percent lower than during the winter.

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Monitoring is a key component to booking fares. Once you figure what your itinerary's average fare is, and you're able to find fares below that price, you'll be more comfortable buying knowing you nailed down a bargain.

And of course, there's direct correlation between big events and price fluctuations. Dublin rates drastically dipped in April in response to nearby Iceland's volcanic ash calamity. In May, however, fares spiked likely in part because carriers grounded planes, making travel to the region scarce and costly.

Read the previous installments from this series on booking summer Europe airfares:

Your Turn

Did you already purchase your summer Europe fares? If so, how much did you pay, including taxes and fees; when did you book your tickets; and what is your route?

Read comments or add your own insight!
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