Cruise Air Cheaper Than Ten Years Ago!

As I was doing research for a Baltic cruise this summer, I found that round trip airfare costs the same or less than it did ten years ago!

Researching a Possible Baltic Cruise for This Summer

Some family members and I have been knocking around the idea of doing a family reunion-type cruise in the next few months.  The only time that would work for all of us is right in the middle of Europe’s high season–July!  After much back and forth, we all agreed on a Baltic itinerary in early July leaving from Copenhagen.   Cruise prices seemed reasonable (less than 2K even for balcony cabins on 12-14 night cruises) but I was skeptical that we would find reasonable airfare to Europe at that time.  My past experience is that high-season airfare can cost as much or more than the cost of the cruise itself.

Air Fare Prices US to Europe Ten Years Ago

In July of 2007, B. and I took a 11-night Mediterranean cruise aboard the Celebrity Galaxy. We got what I thought was a good deal at the time–cruise, air, and transfers in an inside cabin for $2800 per person.  The cruise was being quoted as $1800, which was a “normal” price for a Celebrity Med itinerary at that time.  That would put the value of the airfare from Atlanta to Rome at $1000.  I can’t remember what the actual price would have been if we had paid for it separately, but I remember thinking that $1000 was a good price!

The following summer (July 2008) I took Mom on a Mediterranean cruise aboard Holland America’s Zuiderdam.  The 12-night itinerary started in Venice and ended in Barcelona.  We originally booked our inside cabin with Holland America for about $1400.  A couple of months later we notice the same cruise listed on an online travel agency for $1200.  Holland American couldn’t match that price, so we cancelled and booked the same cruise with the travel agency.  Our airfare was $1500 per person, which was about average for airfare to Europe during high season in 2008.  Notice our total costs  to cruise in 2007 and 2008 were about the same.

Researching Airfare for a Baltic Cruise This Summer

I began by using ITA Matrix  to research air fare for the possible family cruise this summer.    Two of us (B. and I) would be flying from Atlanta and the other couples would be flying out of the New York City area  My first search was Atlanta-Copenhagen round trip. We would need to fly out the first week in July.

Airfare Prices US to Europe This Summer

ITA Matrix Search ATL-CPH June-July
ITA Matrix Search ATL-CPH June-July

A round trip price of $1200 round trip is not a bargain basement price, but it is much lower than I expected.  I was really surprised when I searched airfare from New York to Copenhagen:

ITA Matrix New York to Copenhagen Roundtrip
ITA Matrix New York to Copenhagen Roundtrip

The $736 fare quoted here is a great price for a round trip ticket from New York to anywhere in Europe during July!  Now, I know what you’re thinking because I thought the same thing–this must be for a ticket with 5 stops and 16 hour layovers–but not so.  It is for a non-stop both ways on Air France flights operated on Delta metal.

New York to Copenhagen Roundtrip Details
New York to Copenhagen Roundtrip Details

Award Availability US to Europe This Summer

United Airlines

The other family members would be paying cash for tickets, but B. and I would have the option of using award tickets,  I first checked United.  The flights from Atlanta would connect in New York, and cost exactly what I expected them to:  30K miles plus reasonable fees.  I was actually surprised to see Saver awards on the dates that we would be traveling.  I’m only showing the outbound in my example, but the inbound flights were the same cost for reasonable itineraries.

The flights from New York to Copenhagen were the same number of miles–30K each way.

American Airlines

For a lark I thought I would check American Airlines awards, expecting that there would be nothing available (See my post Why I No Longer Collect American Airlines Miles.) You can imagine my shock when I saw a SAAver award on July 4!

Will there be the dreaded British American fuel surcharge?  When I click through my worst suspicion is realized:

Yes, American will put me on British Airways metal, and will charge me 30K miles AND $726 in fees!

So American is out, but the United tickets are OK, even though we would only be getting about 2 cents value per mile.  I like to do a little better than this with my valuable United miles, and would consider just buying tickets.

The Price to Fly to Europe is the Same or Cheaper Than It Was Ten Years Ago

In the past five years most of my transatlantic flights have been on award tickets, with the occasional nonrev flights thrown in here and there.  But when I look at what I paid for airfare ten years ago, I was surprised that cash prices are the same or less that what we were paying ten years ago for flights right in the middle of high season.





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