american airlines most recent europe promotion highlights the “new normal” in ticket prices

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There was a time, not too long ago, when a bargain round trip [or “return” for the Brits and Aussies] ticket from New York to London or other European cities could be had for somewhere between $500 and $600. Sadly, those prices went the way of the cassette tape and MC Hammer.

American Airlines, a company I fly with often and work their frequent flyer program for all its worth [it is actually one of the better ones] often has promotions that are sent out via email blast to anyone who signs up. Being on these email distributions is a good way to keep your eyes open for any significant shifts in price or, by some miracle, a truly affordable transatlantic ticket.

The current promotion, Experience More Europe for Less, claims that starting at $327 each way based on a round trip purchase [that would be $654], one can fly from New York City to Europe on American, British or Iberia. Digging a little deeper, we find that yes this is perhaps true – but only to Dublin. Flights to Madrid start at $341 each way [$682 round trip], to London at $401 each way [$802 round trip], to Paris $460 each way [$920 round trip] and to Rome $461 each way [$922 round trip]. There is a little bit of good news and more bad news here.

The bad news is that what we are looking at in terms of the least costly flights is what we need to wrap our heads around and consider the “new normal” in terms of ticket prices. Given the plethora of new taxes and fuel surcharges, it is what it is. And we all know that once a new tax or fuel surcharge appears it is here to stay.

The what-I-had-hoped-was-good news about this promotion is that while you must purchase your tickets by April 10, 2012, you only have to begin your travel by October 27, 2012 and complete your travel by October 31, 2012. That means that if you are lucky, you may be able to score an $802 New York to London round trip during the peak summer months – right? WRONG!

More bad news: prices are not valid for travel May 22, 2012, through August 23, 2012.  So what this really means is that you have the opportunity, if you are lucky, to get a ticket at these “bargain” [?] prices, to leave a week from now [because you must purchase at least seven days in advance] and only travel through May 22. So, April 6 through May 22.   From there, you could then try from August 24 through October 31. In other words, this is at best a Spring and Fall promotion.

Even more bad news: if you try to change your ticket, you will pay a $275 change fee.  Ouch.

In terms of the specifics in the fine print:

Taxes: Prices includes (a) a federal excise tax of $3.80 per U.S. domestic flight segment, defined as one takeoff and landing, of a customer’s itinerary; (b) up to $18 per round trip in local airport charges; and (c) September 11th Security Fee of $2.50 per enplanement originating at a U.S. airport. For international destinations, government taxes and fees of up to $240 varying by destination, are included.

Purchase Requirements: Reservations are required. Tickets booked on AA.com must be purchased at least 7 days prior to departure or within 1 day of making reservations, whichever comes first, but no later than 11:59 p.m. (CT) April 10, 2012.

Travel Days: Prices are valid for travel between the U.S. and Europe; Monday through Thursday; other days are subject to higher prices. Prices are valid for travel between the U.S. and the U.K.; Monday through Wednesday; other days are subject to higher prices.

Travel Period: Sale prices are valid for outbound travel through October 27, 2012. All travel must be complete by October 31, 2012.

Embargo Dates: Prices are not valid for travel May 22, 2012, through August 23, 2012.

Min/Max Stay: A Saturday-night minimum stay is required and a 180 day maximum stay is allowed.

Reservation Change Fee: Between the U.S. and U.K, if reservations change criteria are met, changes are subject to a $275 fee for changes or cancellations. Prices are nonrefundable.

Ticket Type: Prices shown are each way, based on round-trip Economy Class travel purchased on AA.com, and are in U.S. dollars.

Availability: Seats are limited and prices may not be available on all flights. Prices and schedules are subject to change without notice. International prices are subject to government approval.

To try your luck with this promotion, visit American’s Experience More Europe For Less.

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