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Questions about fees and taxes on flights
JP
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Hi everybody –

I am very new to the forum, and planning my very first (of many hopefully) trip to Europe this summer. First, I want to thank the creators of this site and everyone who posts this mass of tremendously useful information!

I am somewhat flexible in when I am going, but I am hoping for 3 weeks anywhere between May 31 – July 7. My friend and I hope to cover Spain, France, and Germany at a minimum.

So looking at tickets, I have noticed on Orbitz, that there are taxes that are up to $300, easily pushing the tickets over $1,000. Whereas, with Kayak and the Iberia site, I am finding tickets that are in the $700-800 range easily…..which according to both sites includes all taxes and fees. Seems almost too good to be true? I just wanted to hear if anybody had any thoughts on this, or expereince. Or just general information for a newbie : )

Thank you in advance!

Best wishes,

Josh

Don
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A few observations/tips:

  • This is not unusual on transatlantic airfares.
  • Sometimes Orbitz finds the cheapest ticket, sometimes Kayak, sometimes another source has it cheapest.
  • It can pay to shop around.

Where do you need to depart from? Are you checking multi-city tickets (arrive to one, return from a different airport—to save backtrack time and expense)? Have you tried the links and tips in our new user thread—at the top of this forum?

augustin25
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Adding to what Don said, taxes depend on what cities you fly into/out of. Also, some airlines offer really low base fares and then tack on huge fees in addition to the taxes. I hate sights that show you prices before taxes & fees, so kayak is my primary source (but like Don said, shop around).

JP
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Thank you for the comments.

I am leaving out of Houston (IAH.) I have looked at different surrounding cities, and Houston is the cheapest to leave out of. Also, I have found that arriving and leaving from the same city (Barcelona) is cheaper than flying open jaw. I was thinking of flying into Barcelona, then doing a “circle” around the different countries/cities we would like to visit, then ending back at Barcelona for the flight back. I am using Rick Steve’s “Europe From the Back Door” book as a guide. Kayak has been the cheapest by far, with the carrier being Delta. I have looked through quite a few posts so far, so it seems like I am on the right track with how I am approaching buying a ticket. Hopefully I can make the purchase this week!

Thanks again guys!

Joshua

Don
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OMFG. I just spent 30 minutes on a reply to you, clicked submit as I’ve done thousands of time before, and it’s gone. Shite.

In a nutshell — I see the IAH-BCN roundtrip fares starting around $760 tax included on Delta, USAir, and KLM for example. They look legit and no red flags when I click through to booking.

But… Orbitz is also finding returns from Munich, Stuttgart, or Berlin for only $768 total or slightly less. So it’s IAH>BCN / MUC>IAH for $768 total with taxes, on Delta, but Orbitz seems to sniff out the combinations better than Delta.com. If you can find the same on Delta.com then it would be better to book direct from them; otherwise, Orbitz would get my business in this case.

Returning from a city closer to your final destination can save you the backtrack day(s) and associated expenses. Hope this helps.

The key is … looks like you must depart from Houston by May 31. Fares departing June 1 and onward kick in to peak-season pricing, meaning about $300+ more.

JP
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Well, Don, sorry about that : ) It has happened to me before, so I can relate

There is almost an art to finding the cheapest fare it seems. Thank you for the find through Orbitz. I am going to review this with my travel companion, and hopefully have a booked ticket by this time next week!

The May 31st booking is critical , because that $300 is what I have budgeted for lodging or even food.

I sincerely thank you for your advice. This is a great resource.

Best wishes,

Joshua

augustin25
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Using Kayak for May 31-Jun 21 or 22 I found options for $770-780 where one of the legs is non-stop:
Houston-Paris, Madrid-Houston
Houston-Madrid, Frankfurt-Houston
Houston-Milan-Frankfurt-Houston

Edit
For $785 you can non-stop both ways – Houston-Paris, Frankfurt to Houston. You can book on a variety of sites, but direct with the airline would be best, and it’s on Continental aircraft so book on http://www.continent… if you go with this.

JP
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Awesome, thanks Augustin! I am going to do some searching tonight..pinpoint some options, and hopefully purchase tomorrow! I am so pumped. Thanks guys.

JP
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I guess one more question. Is it advised to fly with US-based carriers, versus international airlines? Which airlines do folks tend to have good expereinces with? Iberia? KLM?

Thanks

Joshua

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I don’t think U.S. vs. overseas is the issue, it’s more a question of individual carriers. I have heard mixed reviews of Iberia in the past. The last few years when I’ve gone overseas I’ve flown U.S. Air, British Airways, and Air France. B.A. and A.F. were good. U.S. was generally o.k., but I swear I was on the oldest plane in their fleet for my Philadelphia to Barcelona flight last year – one video screen at the front of the cabin, and it wasn’t working right.

Continental is a good bet for you out of Houston in terms of fares, and they have one of the youngest fleets among major airlines. Hopefully you’d end up on a plane with good in-flight entertainment options if you choose them. I think Don reviewed their economy class service here a while back.

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Just realized something. Even though that one IAH-CDG, FRA-IAH option is on Continental aircraft it’s only the United codeshare seats that are available for $785 so you’d have to book on either United’s website or Cheaptickets.

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Of the airlines and prices I’m seeing in this mix, I’d probably choose from these:
1. Delta – cheapest and they’re o.k. but not great on transatlantic, in my experience
2. Continental – just a tad more, but I really like their 767s on transatlantic, which is what they fly to BCN.
3. KLM – only seeing them in a mix with Delta operating one-way, and KLM the other, but service-wise, they’re a half-notch better than the rest

I’m not liking USAir or American so much on the transatlantics. If they were a lot cheaper, or had great connections, then maybe, but not in this case.

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Hey guys –

Just wanted to give everyone an update. So my friend and I booked the following trip:

IAH>BER May 31st
BCN>IAH June 23rd

Thank you for your help everyone! We are pretty excited, and are currently working out the details (rail pass, hostels, etc.)

Thanks!

Josh

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Very cool; it always feels good to get things booked and get a break from the constant checking of airfares, room rates, etc.

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You snagged Delta at $771 for this? (that’s what Kayak shows) Assuming you did… congrats. By departing a day before peak season pricing starts, and returning from your final city instead of backtracking, hopefully we’ve saved you some bucks and time that you can re-focus on your trip!