Denmark is Within Reach (and within budget)

January 15, 2016

It is no secret Denmark is expensive. Danish citizens face one of the highest tax burdens in the world, and as a result, receive some truly amazing social services. From the general cleanliness of the cities, to the relative lack of apparent desperation, it seems Denmark has this whole government thing figured out. Unfortunately as a traveler to Denmark, you will occasionally have to shoulder some of this cost. All this being said, there has never been a better time to visit Denmark. For Americans, a perfect storm of travel trends has put Denmark within reach for even the most budget conscious.

In 2014, Norwegian Air Shuttle started offering some remarkably economical flights to Denmark, more specifically, Copenhagen’s Kastrup Airport. Norwegian seemingly operates to the beat of its own drum. Unlike the other major international carriers, Norwegian offers only one-way fares, has no complex rat maze of reward miles, and operates a fleet of state of the art Boeing 787 Dreamliners. How are the rates so mind bogglingly low? Simple, they charge for everything else. Seat reservations, checked baggage, the meal, and even water, carry a fee. This could be construed as the climax of airline nickel and diming. However, I choose to see it as heightened transparency. On Norwegian, there are no secrets. You choose how to spend your money. Who wants to buy airline food anyway?

Norwegian Air Shuttle operates daily non-stop flights to Denmark from Los Angeles and New York. From Los Angeles, fares can often be below $250 dollars. From New York, rates under $200 are ripe for the taking. As stated above, these prices are for the bare-bones traveler. Last October, I couldn’t resist the temptation. The experience was much better than expected. Norwegian offers similar in-flight amenities and comfort, at a fraction of the cost. As a resident of Los Angeles who has family in Denmark, Norwegian Air Shuttle is the best thing to ever happen to my wallet. With a little planning and some flexibility, I can now be with my family in Copenhagen in nine hours, and for around $300.

I realize that Copenhagen is not as high on everyone else’s destination list. It should be. Kastrup is one of Europe’s best-designed and friendliest airports. For a first stop in Europe, there will be minimal culture shock and clamor. Furthermore, the city center is easily accessible within 30 minutes by the efficient metro system. Use the flight savings to spend a few days in beautiful Copenhagen. Taste the unique food, experience great museums, and an added perk, almost all Danes speak excellent English. Copenhagen is the perfect place to start your trip off on the right foot.

I get it. Rome, Barcelona, Berlin, and Paris are still calling. Hop back on the metro and you can be there in a few hours. Fly with Ryanair, Norwegian, Iberia, or Easyjet and it will often cost you less than $50. From there, Europe is totally wide open. This is the true golden age of budget travel. Spend your hard earned money on the things you actually want to do at your destination, not getting there. When your vacation time sadly elapses find another budget-friendly flight back to Copenhagen or end your trip in one of Norwegian’s other hubs, London, Stockholm or Oslo. Expect to pay a around the same price, if not a little more, for the return trip. Flying from London is also more expensive, but the deals are always there if you know where (and how) to look.

Before booking a flight to Denmark, first check the website Skyscanner.com. Here you can see a matrix of pricing for both ends of your journey. Sometimes a few days can make a huge difference, so be flexible if possible. The cheapest flights to Denmark are on the weekdays during the winter months, (although usually not December) for obvious Northern European climatic reasons. That’s what is so great about Skyscanner, the deals are right in front of you. Assemble a perfect Franken-journey to your singular specifications, including choosing where to go after enjoying Copenhagen. Simply enter your departure date, and type “everywhere” in the destination field. Skyscanner will show the cheapest fares listed by country.  With this information, it’s impossible to make a bad decision. Don’t be shocked to find tickets for under $10!

Still not ready to pull the trigger? Assure yourself on the fabulous Hopper Smartphone app. Hopper offers a little less search flexibility, but boasts an ingenious algorithm to help you decide when to finally take out that credit card. I don’t know how it works, but I know it does. Whether it runs on mathematics or pixie dust, it will save you money. So find your perfect travel date, create an alert on Hopper, sit back, and relax. When the time to pounce is right, an email alert will let you know. Trust Hopper and take the guesswork out of booking airfare.

The US dollar is strong. The flights to Denmark are among the best values around. Copenhagen is a world class Lily pad to start your European leapfrogging. If you live near Los Angeles or New York, you have no excuse. Visit Copenhagen and you will fall in love with the eclectic mix of modern and medieval. Norwegian Air Shuttle is poised to make Scandinavia the new hub of trans-Atlantic travel thanks to their revolutionary approach. So drop your preconceptions about flying at the gate. Ditch that unwieldy checked bag. Most importantly, don’t forget to pack some snacks. People with families, solo backpackers, businessmen, this is your golden ticket. Finally ship home some famous Danish designs. Stay two weeks instead of one. Go to five cities instead of three. Do it all. Yes Denmark is expensive, but getting there no longer is.

By Andrew Sedo

1/5/2016

Leave a comment: