Flights To Ireland
For direct flights from the U.S. to Ireland, the truth is that you have limited choices (direct flights from Canada to Ireland are likewise limited). Right now there are only two airlines going non-stop from Amerikay to Eire: Aer Lingus and Delta. Their rates are pretty similar, running from about $480 per person round-trip in February (the lowest fare rate time of year) to anywhere from $850 – $1,000 round-trip in summer high season (June 15th-Labor Day).
Book Early To Save
Naturally, rates go higher if you wait until the last minute to book. Even in January, a ticket purchased 10 days ahead of your chosen flight day will cost almost the high-season rate of $700. Aer Lingus has been known to offer a super-cheap $100 per flight now and then in the dead of winter, but only once every few years and only if you respond to the offer immediately. Opting for a flight with stop-overs can turn your journey into almost a two-day trip. Airlines including American, Lufthansa and Air India require you to do downright silly things like fly from the northeast to North Carolina (or even make several stop-overs in the U.S.) before crossing the pond, and some of their rates are actually higher than the non-stops. The one sensible option here seems to be Delta, which often allows you to save $130 or so on your round-trip rate by making one stopover in the U.S. At present, the rates arent very different if you fly into Shannon or Dublin, the two most popular international gateways into the country.
Cheap Flights To Ireland From Europe
If you are visiting Europe before going to Ireland, youll have better luck. Discount airlines like Ryanair will fly you from the continent into Ireland, sometimes for rates that seem almost unbelievably low. Ryanair will fly you from London to Belfast, Shannon or Cork for 5 Euros (no, thats not a typo Even major carriers like British Air offer very low-cost flights from London to Ireland.
You need to be careful, however with discount airlines. Although you can now fly between almost any two cities in Europe today for just 20 Euros, you should not expect a luxury experience. Discount airlines strip their planes down, pack in as many passengers as possible, and often dont offer very convenient flight times. Because higher-paying flights get priority on airport schedules, the budget airlines schedules often change. If youre a true road warrior, youll probably be happy with the experience. If you dont often travel and want to make this a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, youre probably better off sticking with the major airlines.
Beware The Hidden Fees
Aer Lingus starting charging fees for baggage in early 2007, and then proceeded to raise the fee before the year was out. Its just one of many ways that either the airline or the government will pinch you for a few extra dollars on your airline ticket to Ireland. Whether you buy online or from a travel agent, make sure to keep an eye on the total net fee including taxes and surcharges before giving out your credit card number. A lot of travel websites, in particular, show low fees on their search pages but arent such a great deal when you get to the final purchase cost.
When To Go: The Weather Factor
Personally, my favorite time to visit Ireland is in mid-June. Ive been amazed to find how uncrowded it can be at that time, I assume because kids everywhere are still in school and families arent traveling much at that point. After July 4th, the old island can get pretty crowded with tourists from American and from all over Europe.
What about that famous Irish weather? Well, the summer is obviously the warmest time, but you may be surprised to know that the driest months in Ireland are April, May and June, Dry, of course, is a relative term in Ireland. No matter when you go, you can expect to see a good deal of rain. Thats especially in the very popular tourist regions of the west, where clouds coming in off the ocean tend to release their moisture as they hit the Irish coast.
The Rain, Here And There
The good news, however, is that it usually rains there intermittently not all day long. One of my favorite recollections of visiting Allihies in County Cork back in the 1970s was when I looked outside and bemoaned the fact that it was raining again. The lady who owned the B&B where I was staying said Why dont you go down to the beach, it might be sunny there. Thinking she was crazy but having nothing better to do, I walked the 200 yards or so to the beach. Lo and behold, the sun was blazing there at least until the next cloud bank came in. One thing you can bank on is that from November through March, most days in Ireland will be dark, short, and pretty wet.