In the jungle of offers and prices of the airlines, it is not so easy to find cheap flights to the USA. We will introduce you to the best platforms for comparing flights and give you some tips and tricks for booking your flight.
In order to find the best offers for cheap flights to the USA, there is no way around comparing the prices of the various providers. A lot of work is saved by the various flight search engines, which access the websites of the airlines and show you the cheapest and fastest flight connections within a few seconds.
Once you have found a suitable connection, the flight search engine redirects you to the provider's website to book the flight. In return, the flight search engine receives a commission from the provider.
The following is a brief introduction to the most popular flight search engines:
The metasearch engine Skyscanner was launched in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2001. With its help, flights, hotels as well as rental cars can be searched by price and location. Since Skyscanner has many partners, you can usually find the best flight prices there.
You'll also find a variety of other features, such as the price chart, which allows you to compare airfares over specific time periods. Skyscanner has around 30 million users per month and is available in more than 30 languages, including as a mobile app for Android and iOS.
The free travel search engine momondo is available in more than 35 countries and allows you to compare the prices of flights, hotels, and rental cars. For your search, you can apply different filters, such as for flexible flight dates or selected airlines. Besides the price overview, you can also find travel tips and inspiring blog content on the momondo website.
Google, the search engine giant, offers Google Flights, a flight search engine that is characterized by a particularly user-friendly interface. The benchmark function (a kind of bookmark) tells you whether the airfare displayed for a connection is cheap, regular, or rather expensive. But be careful: the price displayed by Google Flights is not always the best.
The Kiwi search engine is particularly helpful if you are looking for very flexible flights. For example, you can specify a place with a radius of +250 km as the departure airport. As a destination, a country or even a continent is sufficient. The departure and return dates can be chosen very flexibly as well.
The search engine of the New York-based company Kayak is characterized by a simple user interface and functions like a flexible airport and date search as well as a price alert.
There are several ways to get to America. Depending on how flexible you are in your travel planning, you have the following options:
With many major European airlines, you can comfortably get to the USA directly with a non-stop flight. Some examples of direct connections from Europe to the USA are:
In addition, US and international airlines offer non-stop flights from all corners of the world to the US. Check out flight connections of the following providers:
If you're not in a hurry and willing to make a stopover or two, you can make big savings on flights to the USA.
When planning a stopover, always make sure that the changeover time on your connection is not too short. Particularly at major European airports, such as London Heathrow or Paris Charles de Gaulle, you can quickly encounter stress if the changeover time is too short.
As a general rule, you should plan for about two hours of changeover time when transferring from a domestic flight to an international flight. If your journey includes a transit airport in the USA and you have to go through immigration, try to book a flight with at least three hours of transit time. That way, you won't be running out of time in case of flight delays!
Tip for changing planes in the USA
On the plane, try to get a seat as far to the front as possible, near the exit, and be the first to leave the plane. Go directly to the immigration queue (without stopping at the restrooms)! Long-haul planes usually carry over 300 people – and you certainly don't want them standing in front of you.
If two cities with larger airports are located in close proximity to your destination, you may be able to save a few dollars by taking a so-called open jaw flight. Open-jaw flights are flights where the destination airport of the outbound flight and the departure airport of the return flight are not identical. For example, you can fly from Munich to New York City on your outbound journey, but take a flight from Philadelphia for your return trip.
Or perhaps you're planning a road trip through the USA with a different start and endpoint? In that case, it makes sense, for example, to arrive in Los Angeles and fly back from Las Vegas. Most flight search engines allow you to select different departure and arrival points or to include alternative airports in the surrounding region.
If you choose the open jaw option for a road trip and rent a car in the USA, check if there is an additional one-way rental fee when booking the car.
You can catch non-stop flights from major cities in the Asian Pacific region and the largest US cities, mainly to the US West Coast, but in some cases also to New York or Chicago. American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta, for example, provide you with many direct connections to Asia and Australia.
But also national airlines from the Asia Pacific region offer you non-stop flights to the USA, e.g., Japan Airlines, ANA, Air India, Qantas Airways, or Singapore Airlines.
Here are some examples of connections:
Prices for a direct connection between the Asia-Pacific region and the United States usually range from €1000 to €2000.
Often, you can find cheap flight connections between Europe and major American cities. From London, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Oslo, or Stockholm you can get to the USA with the following airlines:
Flights between Europe and popular tourist strongholds and metropolitan areas in the USA are usually cheaper than flights to smaller places. Therefore, when looking for cheap flights to the USA, you should focus your research mainly on connections to these cities:
With a little luck, you'll find connections between Europe and these cities for as little as around €350.
If your destination in the USA is not one of the hubs for international flights, it can sometimes be worth it to fly to a major airport and continue from there with a low-cost American airline. Cheap flights in the USA can be found with:
Note, however, that you must allow plenty of time for changing flights! Three to four hours are recommended.
At the first arrival airport in the USA, there will always be an immigration and customs check. Moreover, if you book your flights separately, you will have to collect your luggage and check it in again. You may also need to check in again at the counter and go through another security check for the onward flight.
Also, if you book separate flights, you are not covered if your first flight is delayed and you miss the onward flight. In this case, you cannot rebook for a later flight free of charge. We, therefore, recommend this booking method only to very risk-averse and experienced travelers to the USA.
In terms of the ideal booking time, there is a lot of speculation and advice on how far in advance flights should best be booked. Some say "as early as possible," while others recommend booking around two months before the desired departure date.
As a matter of fact, airlines don't show their cards, and prices can go up or down from day to day, so there's no magic formula in this regard.
If there are still at least six months to go before your planned trip to the USA, you can still compare prices for a few weeks and wait to see if it gets cheaper. Of course, only if your nerves can handle it. If you have to fly with the whole family during the already busy vacation season on fixed travel dates, play it safe and book early.
With repeated identical booking requests from the same device, you sometimes get higher prices displayed. Therefore, it is worthwhile to delete the complete browsing history and cookies on the computer/mobile phone in between.
If you are very flexible, you may be able to take advantage of last-minute deals. Some airlines offer cheap flights to the USA a few weeks before departure or at very short notice. Condor, for example, often lowers prices significantly shortly before the departure date, thus giving away remaining seats on the plane. However, since you cannot rely on last-minute offers, you should book your flight early for your long-awaited annual vacation.
There are also rumors about the cheapest day to book a flight. Sometimes, people say that it is cheaper to book flights on a Monday or Tuesday, or generally during the week. However, there is no general rule that always applies. You can only find out whether there are actually differences in the booking day if you compare the flight prices for your desired connection several days in a row.
Since the USA is a huge country with many different climates and landscapes, the best time to travel depends mainly on your desired vacation region. The prices for flights to the USA can also vary throughout the year and during the week, depending on the day of the week. Basically, you can assume the following favorable or expensive travel times:
Since the summer vacations in both Europe and the USA are between the end of June and the beginning of September, this is the peak travel period for many families. Of course, the airfares go up as a result.
Cheap flights to the USA are more likely to be found outside the high season, from the beginning of September to the end of May. The cheapest months tend to be the winter months of November, January, and February.
Airfares can also increase around the holidays. Therefore, you should rather avoid them. Find out about the major national holidays in the US, e.g., Thanksgiving or Independence Day, and also keep an eye on local particularities when booking your flight. For example, trips to New York are very popular during the Christmas season. In this case, book your flights early to get a good deal.
It is often cheaper to fly during the week. If you are flexible with your departure day, you should definitely compare prices for different days. However, it is entirely possible that the cheapest flight to the USA will be on a Saturday, which is why you should also include Friday to Sunday in your booking request.
Last but not least, we have collected some more tips and hints for booking your (cheap) flight:
No matter which provider you choose and whether you are flying direct or with a stopover – check carefully what baggage fees apply and if there are hidden booking charges for certain payment methods! Often, you will find differences between the individual airlines.
The permitted baggage sizes of the individual airlines also differ in some cases. Since the airlines usually charge a fortune for transporting overweight luggage, you should think carefully about how much baggage you need for your trip when booking your flight to find the right offer for you.
With the major traditional airlines (e.g., Lufthansa, Air France), you receive a meal and snacks on flights, as well as free alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine. On cheap flights to the USA (e.g., with Eurowings), however, you usually have to pay extra for in-flight meals.
In general, fewer services are included in the fare for low-cost flights, and many things have to be booked separately. On Condor flights to the USA, for example, you get a very limited in-flight program (one free movie + series or similar), a larger selection can be added for €7.99 when booking.
Online portals and airlines always offer you a range of insurances when you book your flight. It is generally advisable not to take out insurance spontaneously when booking a flight, but after thorough research with providers who offer you the best conditions. However, you should always have good international health insurance.
Travel agencies often have special contingents with the airlines. Therefore, a visit or call to a travel agency may be worthwhile in order to get hold of a cheap flight to the USA.
If you prefer the convenience and want to spend your USA vacation in the same place or hotel (e.g., a beach vacation in Florida), you should consider booking an all-inclusive travel package. This means that you only need to make one booking, and you can buy your flight, hotel, transfers, and meals all in one go.
By booking an all-inclusive travel package, you are also covered in the event that a provider (e.g., the airline) goes bankrupt before your journey.
With an ESTA, you can stay 90 days visa-free in the USA. Apply online now!