Updated on September 4, 2016
Updated on September 4, 2016
I don’t know about you, but Drew and I have 3 mistake-fares coming up, all taking us to or through Europe. Somewhat accidentally, we are going to be spending the holidays in Europe. Family time still wins out as my favorite way to celebrate holidays but Vienna’s Christmas markets will be a good plan B I think.
Perhaps some of you caught the mistake-fare too.
Well, let’s pretend for a moment that you didn’t want to use miles for your intra-Europe travels. (For instance, if you need to close the gap created by a Milan to Prague open-jaw…just to pick a “random” example.)
Since Drew and I are constantly traveling, there are some times that we really would rather pay for a train or cheap flight for a short distance if it will save our miles for a more valuable use later on. People who do more earning of miles than they actually do burning of them won’t need to worry about this. But if some of you do budget your miles and save them for the long-haul flights that would be super-expensive otherwise, then maybe you want to know what your non-miles options are for intra-Europe travel.
For instance you may be interested to know that the EuroRail Global Pass and EuroRail Select Pass are both 20% off for winter-trips purchased by December 31st.
Unfortunately, Eurorail passes are still really expensive. Especially for those of us who are used to paying for flights with miles instead of money. But if you want to save your miles and are looking forward to the Europe-by-train experience, let’s look at what you might find.
The EuroRail pass that interests me the most is, of course, the “global” one because it includes 24 of any of the following countries:
Let’s keep investigating the global plan.
If you happen to be under 26, you’re in luck because you’re considered “youth”.
Otherwise, the rest of us oldies have to look at this adult chart:
Most of these prices are ridiculous. But I could kind of see how you might be convinced to go for one or two of the options. It’s a bit confusing though. So let’s explain some terms.
X days within Y months means that you can have X number of “travel days” within the Y months that your EuroRail is given validity. Apparently most train rides will not take up more than one of your travel-days.
X days continuous means that for your allotted validity, you can use the train as often as you want.
So, in certain cases, I could see the Eurorail being a neat experience. For instance the 15 days continuous for $518 could be tempting if you cover a lot with your 15 days.
Otherwise, you could use the Select Pass to see just one major site within 4 neighboring countries if you pay $281 for the 5 days within 2 months plan.
But really…you would have to be a train-ride kind of person to favor this option over discount airlines. Because discount airline tickets probably wouldn’t cost much more, and possibly even less.
So let’s say you would prefer that option. What airlines might you want to check out? I’ll give you just a quick profile-type view of a few that come to mind…just to give you an idea of the trends…
For the most part, these discount airlines will excel in flights from their main hubs and the areas around that specific region, but occasionally Ryanair will throw a curve-ball and offer a cheap flight to a random place.
Headquarters: Ryanair is an Irish airline headquartered in Swords, Dublin, Ireland. I’ve always confused it for a London-based airline but as a matter of fact, its largest base is indeed London-Stansted.
Price Examples: Ryanair has crazy low prices. No…suspiciously low prices. Frequently you can find intra-Europe flights for around $30 or less.
Specific allowances…or lack there of: Ryanair is notorious for “nickel-and-diming.” Let’s just say they have so many fees that they have a handy page on their website with “consolidated table of fees.”
You’ll get charged for everything here. Pretty much the only thing other than the actual seat that’s included in your ticket price are the following carry-on items: “One cabin bag weighing up to 10 kg with maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm, plus 1 small bag up to 35 x 20 x 20 cms may be carried per passenger*.” (courtesy of Ryanair.com) Other than that, you get fined for everything else. For instance if you don’t check in online, or if you don’t remember to print your boarding pass on the accurate size of paper (A4), etc etc, you will be fined.
Headquarters: London-Luton Airport
Price-Examples: These flights will not be as cheap as Ryanair. More like $50 for a one-way.
Specific allowances…or lack there of: Specific baggage allowances can be found here, but in general you are allowed one carry-on and will have to pay a fee for a checked bag. You can pick your own seat for a fee, or let the airline assign a seat for you.
Headquarters: Oslo, Norway
Price-Examples: Intra-Europe one-ways can be anywhere from ~$50-$150 when starting from their Oslo hub (as pictured below) or more around ~$100-$200 for intra Europe flights not from that hub.
Specific allowances…or lack there of: Like many of the others, “LowFare” flights allow one piece of carry-on luggage and all other pieces of luggage will require paying a fee, as will selecting your seat, receiving food, etc. The specific baggage fees for additional baggage will depend on your flight and that information can be found here.
Headquarters: Budapest, Hungary
Price-Examples: Wizzair’s prices are going to be closer to the $100 mark, but they do have some cheaper routes too.
Specific allowances…or lack there of: Again, WizzAir will let you carry on 1 small bag for free. Specifically, “If your cabin baggage is of size 42x32x25cm or smaller it can be taken onboard free of charge. It must fit under the seat in front of you.” (courtesy of Wizzair’s Website). Like RyanAir, if you don’t check in online, you’ll get charged. In WizzAir’s case, the fee for checking in at the airport (sounds crazy already) is 10 Euro.
Some other discount European airlines include Flybe (hub in Manchester), Jet2 (headquarters in Leeds), Monarch Airlines (headquarters in London-Luton), Smart Wings (headquarters in Prague), and Meridiana, (headquarters in Olbia, Italy).
You may notice that a lot of the discount airline websites have little messages about your cookies. Like the one below from Wizz Air’s site.
We tested this once (not on Wizz Air, but some other discount site) and sometimes you will see different prices if you have visited the site before than you would as a first-time visitor. Sometimes the price will mysteriously go up if you aren’t a first time visitor.
So I recommend either clearing your cookies before checking discount airline prices, or visit the sites on a cookie-less browser like Chrome’s “incognito” option.
Obviously miles would still likely be the favored option for crossing even short distances for most of us. But if you can’t or would rather not use miles for whatever reason, domestic airlines will not only offer some pretty competitive prices, they’ll also give you infinitely more flexibility than your Eurorail Pass, even with 20% off. If you’re under the age of 26 and want the EuroRail experience though, I could definitely see it being a fun way to cross some ground.
I mean…these aren’t deals to call home about. But you might find yourself needing these random airlines one day and they don’t always show up in aggregator’s search results.