You’ve started planning your big trip to Germany.
Soon you’ll be sucking down liter steins of beer with lederhosen-clad Bavarians or immersing yourself in the über-cool culture of the country’s urban centers.
Then again, maybe hiking through pine forests and exploring medieval castles is more your thing.
Either way, the very thought is enough to give you fernweh (wanderlust).
But before you get too carried away with your sehnsucht (longing), you’ll need to sort out the logistics.
More specifically, you’ll need to book a flight.
I spent two years as a travel agent, sending antsy travelers to faraway destinations like Germany. During that time, I managed to learn a few tricks of the trade.
So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about finding a cheap flight to the land of sauerkraut.
With the money you’ll save, you’ll have stacks of extra cash to spend on bratwurst and beer.
Where to arrive and depart in Germany
Germany is a massive country, at least by European standards. Picking the right place to fly in and out of can lead to serious savings.
Major airports in Germany
Frankfurt Airport, located in Germany’s financial epicenter, is the country’s main international airport and the fourth busiest in Europe, welcoming around 60 million arrivals per year.
About 75 miles (120 km) outside the city, Frankfurt-Hahn Airport serves as the low-cost carrier terminal.
Munich is the country’s second gateway, while each major urban center has an airport of its own.
Not planning on landing in Frankfurt or Munich? No problem. Most international carriers offer interline connections to all major German cities.
However, a connecting flight won’t necessarily be the best deal. Germany has an awesome public transport system, meaning a high-speed train or local bus could be cheaper and perhaps even quicker than flying the whole way.
Open jaw tickets
“Open jaw” is an industry term that refers to flying into one city and out of another. Depending on your itinerary, these special airfares could work out cheaper than backtracking to your original destination.
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The tricks of the trade
Know your booking classes
All airlines use booking classes to price their fares, each of which is allocated a predetermined number of seats. When these seats sell out, travelers must purchase the next cheapest available fare.
Being flexible with your dates is crucial. After all, a cheaper fare is more likely to be available for a Tuesday morning flight than one on a Friday night.
Buying tickets early is equally important. The closer you come to your departure date, the fewer cheap booking classes will be available.
Skyscanner used to be king at quickly scanning availability. These days, however, I find Google Flights to be faster and more reliable.
Booking class availability differs on each flight. If you’re taking multiple flights to your end destination, research the price of each ticket individually. For example, it’s no good to find a cheap fare to Frankfurt but have an expensive onward connection to Berlin. Look around for alternative connections or travel overland instead.
Keep an eye out for specials
Bargain hunters love a good airfare special, most of which involve a drastic reduction on the rack rate.
Generally speaking, the best time to search for long-haul specials is three to six months before departure. Intra-European and domestic fares, on the other hand, tend to be released one to three months ahead of time.
But with so many competing airlines, how can you know when a sale comes around?
My best advice is to say yes to marketing. Sign up for email newsletters and like Facebook pages to keep up to date on the hottest airfares to Germany.
Notification services such as Hopper or Scott’s Cheap Flights can make the process easier, as well.
Granted, you’ll receive a bit of spam, but you can always unsubscribe once you’ve scored a generous deal.
Travel out of season
As is the norm in the travel industry, airlines charge more for flights during busier seasons. Supply and demand, as they say.
In Germany, the peak summer season is from June to August when the weather is fine and the living’s easy.
Another high season kicks in around mid-December to mid-January as locals come home to visit their family and tourists arrive to relish in those wholesome Christmas markets.
Check airfare rules to determine seasonal dates and fly outside of peak periods to save some serious coin.
Choosing an airline
As the backbone of the European economy, a dizzying array of flights land and depart Germany each day.
If it’s quality service you’re after, check out Skytrax for reliable airline reviews.
Google Flights and Skyscanner are great at finding the cheapest fare, but be aware that they don’t always include low-cost carriers.
Germany’s national carrier, Lufthansa, services a staggering 220 destinations worldwide. Along with their partner airlines, they’ll fly you from anywhere in the world to any German destination on a whim.
Prices are reasonable and their service is on point.
Major low-cost carriers that service Germany
For the thrifty traveler, these are the most prevalent low-cost carriers in Germany:
- Ryanair services over a dozen German cities from multiple European destinations.
- easyJet flies to eight German cities from multiple European destinations.
- Eurowings, which recently merged with Germanwings, flies to 220 destinations from 19 German cities. The carrier offers cheap domestic flights as well.
- Although not strictly a low-cost carrier, Condor offers budget direct flights to popular holiday destinations in Germany, as well as in the rest of Europe and Asia, Africa, North America and South America.
Flights from Continental Europe to Germany
All European national airlines cover at least one German destination. Bargain hunters might get a better deal with the following low-cost carriers:
- airBaltic flies from Riga, Vilnius and Tallinn to five German destinations.
- Blue Air is a Romanian airline that flies from numerous European destinations to Cologne, Stuttgart, Munich and Hamburg.
- flybmi connects eight German destinations with multiple cities in Europe and the UK.
- Helvetic connects Zurich and Rostock.
- SmartWings is a Czech airline that flies from Prague to Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Hamburg.
- Transavia is a Dutch airline that connects Munich to Amsterdam and Berlin to Nantes.
- Wizz Air is a large Hungarian-based airline that connects multiple German destinations to Eastern Europe.
Flights from the UK to Germany
British travelers hoping to holiday in Germany should be able to find a bargain on the following airlines:
National carriers British Airways and Lufthansa can be expensive but are more reliable and have better service.
Flights from Oceania and Asia to Germany
Australia and New Zealand are too far for direct services, so flights must connect in Asia en route.
National carriers Qantas, Air New Zealand and Lufthansa tend to offer the quickest routes, although they aren’t necessarily the cheapest.
The following Asian carriers are well-regarded and often have good value fares. Each flies directly to Germany:
Backpackers after the cheapest possible fare could fly between Berlin and Australia on Singaporean-based, low-cost carrier Scoot, which recently merged with Tigerair.
Flights from North America to Germany
The following North American airlines have direct services to various German destinations:
- United Airlines flies direct from Chicago, Houston, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington to Frankfurt.
- Delta Air Lines flies direct from Atlanta, Detroit and New York to various German destinations.
- American Airlines flies direct between Philadelphia, Charlotte and Dallas to Frankfurt.
- Air Canada flies direct between Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto to Frankfurt, as well as from Toronto to Munich and Berlin.
- Aeromexico flies direct between Mexico City and multiple German destinations.
Flights from South America to Germany
Lufthansa is the only airline to fly direct from South America to Germany, with flights connecting São Paulo, Rio de Jainero, Buenos Aires, Bogotá and Medellín to Frankfurt.
Most travelers fly to Madrid on carriers such as Air Europa, LATAM, Aerolineas Argentinas or Avianca and either get an interline connection or a separate low-cost carrier to Germany.
With this information at hand—coupled with patience, perseverance and perhaps even a spot of good luck—you should be able to secure yourself a cheap flight to Germany.
Now that’s all done and dusted, feel free to get back to focusing on your sehnsucht.
Harry is a South American-based freelance writer who covers travel, the arts and culture, among many other things.
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