I haven’t booked a flight from Europe-SF or SF-Europe for over $250 in years. (and usually closer to $175, tbh.)
- Knowing the budget airlines that run these long-haul routes
- Knowing the key cities to search from.
- Using the best search engine.
1) The Best Airlines to Use:
- LEVEL – Fly direct from Barcelona to Oakland 2x per week starting at $179 one/way
- Norwegian Air – Norwegian has a great feature on their site called “Destinations” where you can see a breakdown of monthly prices from one airport (San Francisco/Oakland) to all destinations in Europe.
- WOW Airlines (San Francisco to Reykjavik from $129 and to many destinations across Europe for cheap… plus the optional, extended layover in Iceland!)
- Thomas Cook (Manchester, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Paris, Oslo, Belfast City, Southampton, Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Glasgow to San Francisco all under 200pounds.)
- French Bee (formerly French Blue) just began a new route between San Francisco and Paris Orly beginning at $189 one/way.
2) The Best Cities to Fly in/out of
- Manchester (on Thomas Cook)
- Barcelona (LEVEL)
- Paris (French Bee)
- Oslo/Stockholm/Copenhagen (Norwegian)
3) Best Flight Search
A combination of Google (using their map feature) and Skyscanner (Use ‘Everywhere Search‘ if you’re flexible) will always find you the best deals.
full disclosure: I work as a freelance writer and ambassador for Skyscanner (but only because I think they’re awesome).