European Airfare Drops Up to 68 Percent

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Airfares to several European cities have dropped as much as 68 percent from January prices.

Tom Parsons, CEO of BestFares.com, observed the dramatic price plunges. The website compared airfare offered for May 22nd and found travel on the same date dipped as much as 68 percent from the beginning of the year. The steepest decrease the website found is for airfare from Atlanta to Dublin, which dropped 68 percent from $1,276 in January to $404.

Other reductions include Boston to Milan dropping 62 percent from $868 to $332, as well as Dallas to Rome dropping 61 percent from $918 to $357.

USA Today interviewed Parsons, who suspects the drop stems from airlines aggressive pricing in hopes of robust travel that did not pan out. "Americans just weren't going to pay that kind of money," Parsons said.

Parsons also commented on the Icelandic ash cloud that shut down European airports the past week, saying it is not a factor in the price drops. However, he did predict airlines could further lower fares if spooked travelers skip European vacations this year.

"The volcano," he said to USA Today, "puts more pressure on airlines to bring prices down and open up more seats for lower prices. The war stories from travelers haven't even started. Some might say, 'We may not want to go.' "

Other airfare deals that can be found right now include $309 New York to Paris ($668 if booked in January); $317 Los Angeles to London ($693 if booked in January); and $367 Houston to Rome ($868 if booked in January).

Parsons advises travelers who bought tickets at higher prices to consider calling airlines and requesting a price adjustment if the airfare difference is greater than the fee charged to change international itineraries. The fee to change itineraries typically runs around $250 per ticket.

"We've seen real good drops," said Parsons. "(Some who booked earlier) could be entitled to a voucher or refund for the difference."

According to Parsons, July and early August are "prime time" for travel, and he speculated prices may not fall much further.

"If there's any fluctuation for (summer)," he told USA Today, "it'll happen in the next four to five weeks."
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