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Is Now the Time to Buy Europe Flights?

Roger Yu at USA Today is reporting that fares to Europe have plummeted this spring. Surprisingly, however, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, and the subsequent chaos and disorder in the industry, is not to blame. So far.

"The volcanic ash cloud from Iceland that shut down European airports the past week isn't a factor in the latest round of price cuts," Yu writes, "but airlines could lower fares further if travelers are spooked by headlines and decide to avoid Europe this year." Instead, Tom Parsons, CEO of Bestfares.com, tells Yu "the drop stems from airlines' aggressive pricing earlier this year in anticipation of robust travel that hasn't panned out."

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Basically, the airlines misjudged the summer travel market, and are now rushing to compensate. "The volcano," Parsons says, "[also] puts more pressure on airlines to bring prices down and open up more seats for lower prices."

The overall analysis jives with the fare tracking data our own airfare expert, Patricia Magana, has been collecting over the past few months. In her last update, on April 13, she observed that "for the most part, just about all of our researched routes have gotten cheaper since we began running these reports two months ago," and noted particular values on Dublin and Rome flights.

Well dang it. I booked a May trip to Europe this winter! Out of curiosity, I repriced my flight, Boston to Barcelona, which I booked for around $600 including all taxes and fees. Much to my relief, the lowest fares for my route are over $100 more today than what I paid a few months ago. But if your fare dropped, there's hope. "Travelers who bought tickets at the beginning of the year at higher prices may want to consider calling airlines for a price adjustment if the difference is greater than the typical $250 fee charged to change international itineraries," Parsons tells Yu.

Readers, are you planning a trip abroad this year? Have you booked your flights yet? If so, have your fares gone up or down since you booked?

Read comments or add your own insight!
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