Europe in the summer has always been the most popular time to travel – making booking flights to Europe quite stressful at this time.
Apart from higher than average prices, we are also seeing more delayed and canceled flights than usual this year. Many European airports have also turned into complete chaos, with hordes of tourists ready to embark on their long-awaited summer vacation.
From using a VPN for cheaper flights To help you know which flights to book, here are our top tips on how to best avoid (or at least be prepared for) delayed and canceled flights in Europe this summer.
Top tips for booking flights to Europe this summer
How to book the best flights in Europe.
1. Use a VPN to search for flights
This tip applies to booking all flights. It is always best to use a VPN when booking flights as it blocks airlines and flight booking platforms from tracking your search history. Using your browser’s incognito mode would also work. This means that even if you’ve searched for the same flight multiple times, just because they identified you as the same user searching for a flight again later, the price won’t go up.
You can also search for cheaper options from different “locations” – sometimes flights are cheaper when booking from certain countries. This is only possible through the VPN as you log into the internet through different server destinations.
Try booking through a destination where the flight is not departing from. As an example, you want to fly from Germany to Spain. Then try to book through a server in Spain or maybe even Italy, but don’t choose Germany.
It might also work to choose a country with a lower GDP. It is forbidden in Europe to offer a higher price for a country with a higher GDP, but it has already happened with hotels. So it’s worth comparing.
See also: How to find cheap plane tickets with a VPN
2. Book the first flight of the day
If there are several flights per day to your destination, always book the first flight. Sure, 5am flights aren’t the most convenient, but it means you’re more likely to fly that same day. If your flight is cancelled, you will likely still be rebooked on another flight that day instead of having to spend the night.
The first flights of the day are also less delayed as the impact of delayed flights for that day has not yet started.
3. Book direct with the airline
Always, always, always book directly with the airline. You can use third-party booking sites to search for different flight options, but always go directly to the airline’s website and book there.
If there is a problem with your flight, it is much easier to contact the airline directly than through a third party service. Even if it costs more, it’s worth it. And usually you should get the lowest price too.
Sometimes an operator or online travel agency (OTA) will buy a contingent of certain flights and these can then be offered by them at cheaper prices.
4. Avoid the bigger airports
This is not always possible, but if possible try to avoid flying to the major airports in Europe. Airports to avoid include Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Heathrow Airport in London, Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris and Frankfurt International Airport in Frankfurt.
Most major airports charge a higher airport tax, which is added to the flight ticket. If you are flying to a smaller airport, your airport tax may even be partially sponsored by the local government. This allows the airline to offer cheaper fares and the region can attract more visitors. And these visitors then spend a certain amount again, which includes local taxes.
Europe is well connected, so you can often fly to a nearby smaller town instead and then travel to the capital if needed. Better yet, avoid the big cities in Europe altogether during peak summer season! They are usually packed with visitors and you end up paying high season prices.
5. Fly direct
Again, a direct flight isn’t always possible, depending on where you’re flying to and where you’re coming from. But connecting flights can become a nightmare when flights are canceled and delays come into play. Choose destinations you can fly direct to or book longer stays – two hours isn’t enough in high season!
If you need to book a connecting flight, make sure you book the entire trip on the same booking with your airline. This way, if you miss your connecting flight due to delays or cancellations, the airline will rebook you on the next flight. If you book your flights through different providers/websites the risk is on you and if you don’t make the connection to the next flight you have to worry about finding a solution.
How to prepare for your flight
After you have booked your flight, there are still a few things you can do to prepare for your flight.
1. Check in online before heading to the airport
Always check in online to avoid long queues at the airport. This way you can also confirm the flight details. Each airline usually has its own app that you can use to check in online. It’s also a useful tool for being notified by the airline if there are any changes to the flight that could just be a different gate to board the plane.
2. Only carry hand luggage
Flying in Europe is much easier with hand luggage! First, you don’t have to wait in long lines to check in (and pick up) your luggage. Second, if your flight is canceled after check-in (which happens), you don’t have to wait to get your bags off the plane. You already have everything with you!
Many budget airlines in Europe charge a fortune for checked bags anyway, so this is the cheaper option!
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3. Arrive at the airport earlier than usual
Standing in line at an airport is inevitable, but during the peak summer months in Europe those lines become unimaginable. To avoid the long lines, or at least reduce your stress level while waiting in those lines, you should arrive at the airport a little earlier than usual. This gives you enough time to clear all the controls and be at your boarding gate on time.
Check out our guide on how to have a conversation at an airport.
More preparation means less stress
Booking flights in Europe during the summer months may sound like a crazy idea, but it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to still get a good deal and find the most hassle-free options. But it’s also always best to be prepared for the rush and possible delays. They cannot always be avoided.
Remember that eventually you will reach your goal. While you’re at it, here’s how to avoid being a nuisance passenger!
Also read: The best reasons to travel to Europe in autumn