Low-cost air carriers make travel to the European Continent more affordable than ever, opening this perennially popular destination to families looking to expose their kids to the charms of Old World Europe.
One of the newest entries is Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings gearing up to offer budget-priced flights from the United States to Germany beginning in spring, taking over routes from the now-defunct airberlin.
New flights from New York to Düsseldorf, the state capital of Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region, kick off April 28 and will operate daily except Tuesdays.
Also beginning this spring, the airline will offer seasonal service from two Florida gateways, Miami and Fort Myers, to Düsseldorf. The Miami service will operate three times per week — Wednesday, Friday and Sunday — and begin May 4. The Eurowings route from Fort Myers will debut May 3 and will run Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
The new service is part of the carrier’s expansion strategy that also includes the recent inauguration of Eurowings long-haul flights from Düsseldorf to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, along with the existing Eurowings flights to Cancún, both will continue during the summer season.
Of course, Eurowings isn’t the only low-cost game in town, thanks to a dizzying proliferation of airlines offering cheap trans-Atlantic service.
Meanwhile, Spanish low-cost carrier Level will offer round-trip service to Barcelona from Boston and Newark this year from Paris’ second-busiest airport, Orly.
Not to be outdone, Icelandic carrier WOW will start daily summer service from JFK to Reykjavik on April 26, making it the airline’s 14th U.S. gateway.
Probably the biggest company to make it onto American travelers’ radar in terms of inexpensive trans-Atlantic fares is Norwegian, adding U.S. gateways faster than we can count. Latest additions include Madrid, Amsterdam and Milan, all to begin this spring and summer.
Travelers flying to Europe from the West Coast might find Norwegian’s direct flights appealing. The Los Angeles/Madrid flight, for example, set to fly four times a week starting in July, and the Los Angeles/Milan flight, also four times a week starting in June, currently represent the only year-round, non-stop service on those routes.
Of course, when considering low-cost flight options, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Rules about the size and weight of carry-ons, for example, can be strict, and the cost of checking a bag can ramp up the cost of your flight. Also, check the meal service. Increasingly, low-cost carriers are offering for-sale food items, but they may be more the snack than meal variety, which may or may not work for your family. Similarly, if mom and dad enjoy an in-flight cocktail, they likely will have to pay for it, as compared to many mainstream carriers, which usually offer complimentary drink service.
As to flying comfort, though, don’t assume low-cost flights are any worse than flying steerage on a mainstream carrier. Norwegian, for example, uses the Dreamliner on its European routes.