Believe it or not, there’s still time to find cheap tickets to Greece this summer.
In fact, there are more options than ever before for non-stop travel between North America and Greece.
Since May there have been non-stops from two New York airports (JFK and Newark), Philadelphia and Toronto.
But while this may mean more options, it doesn’t necessarily mean cheaper flights — because demand is up. There may be more flights, but there are also more people vying for those seats — especially the cheap seats that airlines allocate.
Hopefully you’ve already secured your flights. But if you haven’t, here are six tips to make sure you get the best possible fares.
(1) Use technology!
Although old-fashioned travel agents and online booking websites are usually the way most people go, I’ve found the best way to keep up to date with flight prices is the SkyScanner app on my iPhone (also available in Android) which I have programmed with flights from both JFK and Newark airports in New York City to Athens.
You can program it from your own city and it will give you all available options, including the dozen plus European carriers that leave North America and connect in Europe, before connecting to Athens, Thessaloniki or elsewhere in Greece.
(2) Browse in incognito mode.
It’s true — airlines use your location and even browsing history to determine the fares that you get when you press the “enter” button. By using incognito mode on your browser, you’re not offering any demographic information that might be stored in your browser.
(3) Don’t wait until last minute.
It pays to plan ahead. The closer you are to your traveling day the more you pay. Why? Because airlines know that business travelers tend to schedule meetings at the last minute and have the least flexibility. So while the airlines stick it to the business folk, procrastinators who are flying for leisure have to pay the price too.
(4) Break up your ticket.
There are more than a dozen European airlines that depart from numerous North American gateway cities — British Airways, Swiss, Scandinavian, Austrian, Brussels Air — the list goes on.
Check flights from your city to their hubs in Europe, then check alternative flights from that city to available airports in Greece, especially on the numerous low cost European carriers like RyanAir or EasyJet.
Example: Book a ticket from Boston to London via British Airways, then use discount carrier RyanAir, EastJet or others to fly to more than a dozen different airports in Greece.
Also, try flying into cities you wouldn’t think about — like Brussels, Belgium or Manchester, England.
** It’s important to remember that when you break up your ticket into two segments, you have to pick up your luggage and re-check. Also, if your first flight is late or cancelled, it may impact your second flight since it’s not on the same booking.
In such a case, travel insurance is always a good option, as is traveling light.
Various statistics abound about the best day and time to book online travel. The most reliable information is that Tuesday around midnight is the cheapest time to book.
Travelers who search for flights on Tuesday at midnight save the most their flights, making this the cheapest time of the week to book. In general, flights are slightly cheaper at midnight earlier in the week (Monday through Wednesday).
Another tip: If you fly light and without a lot of bags, you can use any number of European carriers (KLM, Lufthansa, British Airways, Scandinavian and others) and then connect with a discount carrier like RyanAir or Easy Jet, which offer super cheap flights to various Greek destinations, not only Athens.
(5) Set up a secondary email account
You probably hate junk email as much everyone else does, but here’s a tip if you’re not already doing this. Set up a secondary email account and use it just for your airlines (and other shopping sites, etc…). Then, register to receive emails from all of the big carriers flying to Greece… Emirates, United, American, British Airways, Swiss and so on. There are dozens.
Why? Because airlines send emails about their flash sales and discounts. When Emirates announced a flash sale that included round trip August flights from Newark to Athens for under $500, they notified their email subscribers first, before anyone else. So people who received the Emirates email had first dibs on the limited cheap seats that went on sale.
(6) Use points or miles.
If you have points or miles, use them for the outbound flight TO Greece and book a one way return trip. If you’re flexible, wait until you get to Greece to book your return. Otherwise, browse in incognito mode for your return flight from Greece which is often times much cheaper.
Kalo Taxidi! Bon Voyage! Have a great trip!
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