Flying to Europe for Christmas 2023

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Getting away for Christmas has become really popular, particularly since the end of the pandemic. Our motivations can differ: letting someone else do the cooking, escaping commercialism, or simply using the time off to explore a new destination. In this article, I’ll discuss the flying part of your Christmas trip with tips on how to find the best flight deals, whether to book legacy or low-cost airlines and potential challenges!

Best Time to Book Christmas Flights

According to Google Flights, the best time to book flights for Christmas is around 71 days before departure. This means that booking flights in mid-October can help snag the best deals for travel between December 23 and December 25. Specifically, the week after October 15th can throw up some of the best bargains. If I were you, I’d set up a Skyscanner or Google Flights Price Alert for my preferred destination and airline. As a backup, the first week of November can be a good time to get a discount on the usual pricing. Of course, if you’re risk-averse, book as early as possible to avoid the stress of last-minute arrangements.

Europe Cabin Baggage (Ryanair, Easyjet, Wizz Air)

If you’re planning to travel in Europe, you’ll need cabin baggage that will fit the Bag Sizer. This is THE most popular cabin bag that FITS, sold on Amazon. And it’s cheap and cheerful! (Works on Spirit in the US too!)

Buy IE/EU/UK Buy US/CA

Legacy versus Low-Cost Airlines

Flying within Europe usually means weighing up the options between a legacy and a low-cost airline. I recommend comparing like with like, meaning you should price out your journey as follows:

Base Fare

How much is the airline charging you?

+ Ancillary Charges

Seat selection, all baggage charges, priority boarding

+ Cost to location

Is the airport remote? How much to get to your target location by bus or taxi?

Check the total of your potential Legacy Flight versus your Low-Cost Flight – the prices might be very different!! Perhaps you want to treat yourself to a more expensive product for Christmas with a business-class seat. That’s great! However, bear in mind that in some cases, only low-cost carriers have routes that include the more popular Christmas destinations for 2023.

Popular Destinations

Many of the “popular” Christmas destinations for 2023 are smaller cities, including Metz in France, Vienna in Austria, Bergen in Norway and Reykjavik in Iceland.
Click here for a full list or explore the lesser-known Christmas Markets

Winter Flight Schedules: are you willing to layover?

The difficulty with reaching smaller European cities like Metz (Lorraine Airport) via air is the lack of direct flights in Winter flight schedules. You’ll have to accept a layover or find a route that also includes driving or a train. Bear in mind that smaller airports will not have multiple flights to your end destination. If you get delayed on your first flight, you’ve missed your second flight.

Most Ireland or UK passengers will find a direct route to Vienna, Reykjavik or another popular destination, Zagreb, easier.

Frankfurt Christmas Market – Pic: Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Risks of Christmas Flight Cancellations

If you’ve been watching aviation news in Europe this summer, you’ll know about the travel disruption caused by strikes. There is always a risk that disruption can take place over the Christmas period. I’d love to tell you how to avoid it, but you can’t if it comes up unexpectedly. However, you can at least book good quality travel insurance and pick an airline very wisely based on their recent experience of disruption.

Conclusion

The Christmas break can be a great time to see a European destination at a quieter time of year. Book your flights wisely to get the best deal, and decide now if you’re willing to take the risk of a layover. If you’re planning the perfect Christmas getaway, have fun and I hope your flights show up on time!

Cover photo from Wikimedia Commons

I'm Patrick, your Irish guide to the skies and beyond. With 58 countries visited, my journeys have taken me from busy economy to fabulous first-class.

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