Why $69 Flights to Europe Are a Thing in 2017
At least for now.
If you haven’t already heard, $69 flights from the United States to Europe are the hottest travel news of 2017 (so far).
Norwegian Air has been promising to offer $69 flights from the U.S. to Europe later in the year, and in an attempt to steal the spotlight, WOW Air announced this week $69.99 one-way flights from California to Stockholm, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, and Bristol, England.
And it's not just a flash sale: Airfares to that part of the world really have dropped, and there are a few reasons why. Here's why airlines are slashing their prices—and why you should act fast before prices start ticking up again.
Airplanes are becoming more efficient
Both WOW Air and Norwegian Air—budget airlines that focus on transatlantic flights—have boasted about their new fleet of energy efficient aircraft.
Bjørn Kjos, Norwegian Air’s CEO, has raved about his “very, very fuel efficient” new Boeing 737MAX airplanes. WOW Air, too, has nodded at their modern, low-emission line of Airbus A321, A320-200s, and A330-300s.
More efficient aircraft mean less fuel per passenger, so airlines can cut prices.
A trans-Atlantic fare war has begun
Increased competition is great for driving prices down, and it’s no surprise that $69 fares have become something of a benchmark. WOW Air dropped the gauntlet when CEO Skúli said in a statement: “It’s exciting to be driving change in the industry and to stimulate the market by offering these super low fares across the Atlantic.” More airlines may follow suit.
The strength of the dollar
Or rather, a weak pound and floundering euro.
“The weak euro and pound mean that fewer people will be flying from the United Kingdom and Europe to the United States, so those empty seats must be filled by consumers flying from the U.S. to Europe and back,” Airfare Watchdog President George Hobica told Travel + Leisure. That said, expect the super cheap fares to be on one-way tickets to Europe, with more expensive options for the return flight.
Low fuel prices
Affordable jet fuel has made it possible for airlines to charge passengers less per trip—though fuel savings are temporary and are likely to rise again.
These airlines charge extra fees for everything beyond the seat
Budget airlines like WOW and Norwegian can offer more affordable ticket prices by slashing all extra amenities.
If you want to make sure you’re sitting next to your travel partner, or need to bring a checked bag, you can expect to pay extra fees, and they can add up quickly. If you aren't careful, the final cost will come close—or meet—the more standard fares.