Cheap European weekend trips are coming

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Soon Americans will have an easy way to sample those supercheap vacations than Western Europeans always seem to be enjoying. Up until now, Americans haven't been able to easily take advantage of the no frills airlines, such as Easyjet and Ryanair, that enable Western Europeans to hopscotch their region cheaply and on short notice. The key problem is that none of the major transatlantic routes from the U.S. have stopped at the airport hubs that offer quick onward connections aboard these discount airlines. But that's about to change.

As we recently reported, on October 29, American Airlines adds daily flights between London's Stansted airport and New York's JFK. This development means that you'll be able to fly to the central hub of British-based discount flights from anywhere in the U.S. that American Airlines flies.

Even better, Easyjet will make it easy for you with its new vacation packages. You can combine one of its supercheap flights--(think $30 plus $160 in taxes round-trip between London and Rome)--on a no-frills plane with a discounted stay at over 10,000 hotels across Europe. EasyJet has a hub in England, but it will roll out the packages in Germany, France, Holland, Italy, and Spain during the next month. You can book the packages at its Easyjet Holidays website.

Yep, as Budget Travel reported in another blog post, it's becoming a low-fare world.

But here comes the bait-and-switch. Just as Americans are about to get easy access to Europe's discount fares, a new report suggests that the discounted fares aren't such great deals. A survey reported in London's Guardian found that, when flights offered by no-frills and full-cost airlines were compared in terms of excess baggage fees, allocated seating and a meal, full-service carriers were about a third cheaper. You see, Europe's low-cost airlines--even more so than America's low-cost airlines--charge fees for all aspects of a trip, such as passengers wanting to sit together, in-flight meals and extra baggage.

For example, the survey found that "the average minimum cost of an Easyjet flight to Malaga in the next week is $231, but British Airways' average is $250." Go a couple of pounds over your bag weight-limit at check-in, and you'd be better off flying with British Airways because it includes many of the extras in the price of its ticket that Easyjet charges fees for." A tip...Be sure to find out the weight limits on luggage that your airline charges. More than any other fee, this one could surprise budget-conscious Americans traveling on Europe's low-fare carriers. Weight limits as low as 30 pounds per bag sometimes apply. You can find weight-limits listed on the websites of the low-cost airlines. And you can find the websites of the low-cost carriers by visiting WhichBudget.

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