Europe still on your travel wish list? There’s good news.

ConsumerAffairs

No passport? There’s an answer for that, too.

Over the summer, did you price a trip to Europe and decide it was too expensive? Well, it was, but now that rush is over, and travelers with pent-up wanderlust have gotten their fill. Prices to fly across the pond are good again. Like really good, according to Going.com and other sources.

One of those data sources – Cirium Diio Mi – says that there are 14% more seats available for U.S. to Europe trips than there were last summer. And if you’re a United or Delta loyalist, there’s even more. United has 18% more seats available and Delta has 19% more.

A thank you to budget airlines

Going.com’s Scott Keyes told ConsumerAffairs that the single driver of cheap flights is the competition between airlines. “Even if you never fly a budget airline, we owe them a debt of gratitude for forcing cheaper fares on your preferred airlines,” he said, pointing out that there are several new budget fare kids on the block. 

One of Keyes’ picks is Norse Atlantic which has eight U.S. cities on the schedule: Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Orlando, San Francisco, and Washington DC.

Whether it’s Bangkok or Berlin, London or Paris, Norse has you covered. When ConsumerAffairs gave it a run for its money, we found $352 roundtrip fares between Boston and London and $291 from New York City to Paris round trip. 

Points deals are good now, too, Keyes said. For example, he’s seen round trips to Barcelona for 22,000 points.

“We’re even seeing some stellar fares now for travel next summer,” he said. “The bottom line: If sticker shock kept travelers from going to Europe this summer, they should get their passports ready because prices are falling, and we expect to see a whole lot of cheap fares to Europe in the next few months.”

Yes, getting a passport is slow, but…

The U.S. State Department’s passport office is hamstrung trying to meet the demand it’s been seeing for the past few months. However, there’s a way around that.

Travel expert Wendy Perrin says that the State Department allows expediting services (called “courier services”) to submit passport applications and renewals for expedited processing. 

“Essentially, they get the equivalent of an Emergency or Urgent Travel appointment and drop your application off directly at a passport office,” is how she couched it.

It’ll cost you, though. And it’s not cheap, either – like as much as $1,000. But, David Alwadish, the Passport & Visa Services' CEO at one of those services – ItsEasy.com – told ConsumerAffairs that it provides a money-back guarantee.

In Perrin’s homework on expedited passports, she found Passport Plus Visas, based in New York, which purportedly can get someone a new passport in four to six business days for $550 (plus shipping, on top of State Department fees) or more depending on how fast the traveler needs one.

“But no matter which service you need or which company you choose, there’s an important caveat.: The Passport Services agency limits the number of daily applications couriers can submit (and that goes for all offices across the country),” Perrin said. “So, think ahead because you’ll likely have to make a reservation with an expediting service, and they may not have a lot of slots.”

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