We Found $75 Tickets to Europe. Here’s the Catch

Last Friday, we spotted a Dallas-to-Moscow flight with base airfare of just $75 round-trip. Again, base airfare. The total ticket price that passengers actually pay includes surcharges, taxes and fees but even with all that added in the total was still a bargain at $420.

What you need to know about such fares, and how to find them.

LISTEN: Travel expert Rick Seaney says deals appear without warning.

$75 Europe Ticket Rises to $420

This particular $420 ticket (the price has since risen) was available on Lufthansa flights in September and October. We spotted it in FareCompare’s vast and ever-growing streamed airfare data; it was also posted by a site that looks for Dallas bargains. Here’s how the ticket broke down:

  • Base airfare – Dallas to Moscow: $37.50 each-way ($75 total)
  • German Security Charge: $18.60
  • German Passenger Service Charge: $61.60
  • Russian International Terminal Use Charge: $8.40
  • Lufthansa fuel surcharge: $178.20
  • US International Departure Tax: $17.70
  • US September 11th Security Fee: $5.60
  • US Passenger Facility Charge: $4.50
  • US Dept. of Agriculture Fee: $5.00
  • US Immigration Fee: $7.00
  • US Customs Fee: $5.50
  • US International Arrival Tax: $17.70
  • Russian Security Charge: $6.30
  • Russian International Terminal Use Charge: $8.69

Grand total: $419.79

Why do we show you this? So you can see how little the actual airfare component of a flight to Europe can be compared to the combined charges for everything else. The big item is the fuel surcharge – nearly $180 – but you may be surprised to learn that’s low compared to other carriers (including some U.S. legacy airlines).

How to Find Super Cheap Flights to Europe

The Dallas-Moscow airfare was one of several deals launched by Lufthansa and other Star Alliance airlines last week, but we found no ad for this ‘sale’ and the deals received little media attention. How to find these fares next time they materialize?

Set airfare alerts: We make it easy to set airfare alerts on FareCompare; just tell us where you want to go and we’ll tell you when deals show up – and sometimes you can find incredible deals. Two things to keep in mind: 1.) Be flexible when you can fly, and 2.) if you see a fare you like book it immediately. Don’t let alerts languish until you get around to them  because the cheapest seats are always limited and if you don’t buy it, someone else will.

Fly when Europe is cheap: Some very good deals are available in late fall and much of the winter (through late March). If you don’t mind the cold, you can find cheap flights.

Follow airlines, follow bargain hunters: Follow FareCompare on Twitter and follow your favorite airlines. Another idea: FlyerTalk is a community of savvy travelers who always seem to be up on the very best deals so follow them, too.

Be open to adventure: If you w want tickets to Europe but are only willing to fly to London, Paris or Rome, you’ll pay top dollar; if that’s what you want, have a great time. If, however, you’re concerned about your budget or just want to go somewhere a little different, the best deals this year are on flights to Dublin, Milan and Scandinavian countries.

One more thing: You may want to forget those so-called mistake fares such as cross-country flights for $5 or so each-way; the U.S. Department of Transportation has signaled (for now anyway) that airlines do not have to honor such tickets.

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Updated: May 27, 2015