The notification on your phone boasts: A trip across the Atlantic is cheaper than a fight to Florida. And it’s true.
But before you blindly buy into the travel bargains that social media influencers are hyping, you should probably do some homework.
Some deals are legitimately good. For example, Scott’s Cheap Flights was tweeting on Thursday about low fares to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day 2022. That deal checks out, 100%.
With just two searches, we found roundtrip flights from San Francisco to Dublin in coach for $403. For perspective, a roundtrip coach ticket to Miami for the same weekend is $413.
BEWARE OF ADD-ONS
If you buy in, be sure to check the details, though. For example: luggage. That $413 fare does not include a checked bag. Adding that onto our test reservation kicked the fare up $109 to a new total of $522 -- which is still a pretty fair deal.
The extras -- like luggage or seat assignment -- vary by airline and can add up fast. If you’re booking at a third-party travel site, take a second before you purchase to visit the airline’s website. Make sure the travel agency’s calculation of extra costs matches what the airline is actually charging passengers.
If you see a disparity, hold off on booking until you’re sure exactly what the airline will charge you in extras.
LAST MINUTE DEALS
Some of the best airfare deals right now are for last minute international trips.
For example, we easily found a roundtrip coach flight from San Francisco to Stockholm next week for $572. That’s an indisputably solid fare for a summer trip that will start in just a few days. For perspective: a flight to New York City is $538 that same week.
But, before you book that fare -- or any other last minute international deal -- stop to ask a simple question: will the country let me in?
WILL YOU BE ALLOWED IN?
In the case of the Stockholm fare, the answer is likely: No. Due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, the Swedish government continues to enforce an “entry ban.” American tourists are not likely to be allowed in.
Sure, the airline will gladly sell you a ticket to Sweden. But it’s up to you to ensure you’ll be permitted to enter.
Don’t get caught. Do some research before booking.
As of this writing, more than four dozen countries are open to U.S. tourists, according to NBC News. Many others, however, are either closed or have restrictions in place.
Need help? Use the NBC News map on this link to help guide you. Then, to be safe, confirm the country’s status on its immigration website.
Some fantastic fares are popping up between the USA and the U.K. Lately, a roughly $500 roundtrip fare from San Francisco to London has been somewhat commonplace.
The U.K.’s entry restrictions are looser than Sweden’s. Nonetheless, there are steps to follow, COVID tests to take, and places where the process might bog down. Worst case: you’re ordered to do a mandatory 10-day quarantine.
So, sure, the $500 fare might excite you. But the U.K. border agency’s website might also give you pause. It discusses a “quarantine hotel package.” Google it. It’s hardly a vacation. You’d need to book a managed quarantine hotel for ten days and eleven nights, as well as quarantine transport and COVID-19 tests for days 2 and 8 of quarantine.
Does that dose of reality cast that $500 flight deal in a different light?