This was written in Aug 2023 for my Ireland group but the same advice can apply to anyone planning to visit Europe…
Some people save money traveling with frequent flyer miles/points which is why I let my travelers book their own flights. Plus many of my travelers prefer to arrive early or extend their vacations beyond my tour. For that reason, I ask you to book your own flights and I take care of the rest once you touch down in Dublin. Here are some tips for shopping for airfare:
When to Purchase Your Flight to Ireland
Typically, I recommend purchasing flights to Ireland about 3-5 months before your trip. There is a “sweet spot” to catch sales between 2-4 months prior to the trip if you don’t have specific dates to arrive. But when arriving for my tour where we must depart Dublin on a certain date, I recommend booking your flight at least 4 months in advance to ensure finding the best flight that works for your timeline (before it sells out). You can always use the airline website “seating chart” to see how much of the plane is sold… you don’t want to get locked out! Overall, my research has shown that prices tend to stay the same between 5-10 months before a trip and the best flight deals to Europe typically start popping up around 3-4 months beforehand.
So let’s say you’re aiming to head to Ireland in April 2024. You should start shopping for great deals on Kayak or Google Flights in November… and have your tickets booked no later than early-February.
After a record-breaking year in the travel industry, the airlines are still taking advantage of our pent-up demand for travel. So Ireland airfare has been expensive – especially from Detroit since most airlines stopped offering direct flights. You’ll need to connect through New York, Boston, Philly or Chicago (or maybe Iceland). The good news is that flight prices are starting to trend downward and will hopefully continue to get cheaper for 2024. Plus, I planned this trip in what the travel agents call “the shoulder season” just before Ireland starts to get busy. By avoiding peak summer months, we avoid the crowds and get better deals on flights and accommodations. The flight is the most expensive part of a trip and by traveling in April instead of July, you may save $500 or more!
How To Find A Good Deal
I use a few different tools to help me track flight prices: KAYAK.com is where I always begin my flight searches. I choose my dates and set an airfare alert which emails me whenever the price drops. The Google Flights website offers the same great features. Before you book the cheapest seats on the flight be sure you know what your purchase includes – and doesn’t include. Often the “basic economy” seats don’t include baggage or the ability to select your seat in advance. And the cheapest seats are often 100% non-refundable. So if you need to make a change or postpone your trip you won’t be eligible for flight credit. Read the terms and conditions and know exactly what you are getting before you purchase your flights. **Be aware when looking at flight deals on Kayak that sometimes the flight may come from a third-party consolidator like JustFly, Expedia or Kayak itself. (It will tell you in small print.) I do not book with these sites for one simple reason: If anything at all goes wrong before or during your flight, the airline can not always help you. I like to use Kayak for the search but then book directly with the airline websites for this reason. (I also don’t plan my journey using multiple airlines for the same reason.)
How to set an Airfare Alert in Kayak: From the Kayak Flight page create an account (top right) then search for a flight below by inserting your preferred airports and dates. Your options are shown by cheapest flights, best flights, and quickest routes available. To the left of the results, at the top of the column, you will see the ‘when to buy’ advice and the option to track prices directly below. Simply turn the Track Prices button to ‘on’ to set the alert.