Couple of months ago a friend of mine living in Finland was telling me about this Groupon deal. For a set fee you would fly for “free”, and only have to pay for the taxes/fee associated with the ticket. At that time, I didn’t pay too much attention to the offer, because I was outside of Europe and the deal only applied to flights within Europe. The deal resurfaced again the other night, and I decided to have a look at it.
Please note that the offer page is in German, but the deal is open for anyone. If your German is less than perfect, you can always use Google Translate to translate the page to your preferred language. The deal is that you only pay 35 CHF ($38) and you can fly to/from Zurich to the following destinations; Budapest, Dusseldorf, Nice, Venice, Hamburg, Munich, Bucharest, Brussels, Frankfurt, Paris, Edinburgh, Helsinki, and Florence. But, the voucher is not valid just between these cities. It appears to work on most routes within Europe.
The key is that you need to book the ticker at least 7 days in advance. The major drawback is that not only you need to pay the real taxes but also the “fake” fuel surcharges that most of the airlines file with the tax component marked as YQ/YR.
If you are planning to buy one or more of these coupons, do yourself a favor and check the flight availability and pricing using http://www.airfasttickets.ch/groupon.ch/. Remember to compare with sites like Expedia.com.
Quick verdict after going through numerous possible itineraries:
– Most of the time there wasn’t a deal to be had using these Groupon coupons
– Often the flight times were bad and you might need an overnight accommodation in key cities when connecting
– They only choose fares that have VERY low base and VERY high YQ/YR fuel surcharges
– If they cannot find low base, the engine won’t return any choices
– Some of the booked fare classes would be non-earning ones in frequent flyer programs, but that is not unexpected for relatively inexpensive flights within Europe
– They try to skew lot of bookings to Air France-KLM probably because of the way they publish most fares i.e. low base but high YQ/YR
– You need to use lot of time, if you are planning to score a deal using these Grouopn vouchers and then you probably won’t find one
Here are five actual examples I did.
1. Helsinki to Beirut February 10th returning on 14th
Groupon’s Airfasttickets.ch couldn’t find any options for these dates. Expedia returned numerous choices.
Then I decided to check another day. Flying out on 8th of March and returning on 21st. This time airfasttickets.ch returned quite a few choices.
The taxes/fees (mainly fuel surcharges) would be 332.03 euros.
The Expedia couldn’t replicate exactly the same itinerary, but I believe that the fare base is the same. As you can see the base fare is only $42.
2. Stockholm to Athens on 9th of February and returning on 16th
This time Airfasttickets.ch returned the second cheapest option that was shown on Expedia. The taxes/fees on the Airfasttickets.ch ticket were about $3 less than the price that Expedia had for the entire ticket.
The taxes/fees (again mostly YQ/YR) are 201.16 euros.
Expedia’s price is practically the same as the Airfasttickets.ch’s taxes/fees alone.
3. London Heathrow to Larnaca on April 8th returning on 15th.
Airfasttickets.ch returned that nothing was available.
Plenty of options available on Expedia. I guess that they couldn’t find a fare with a low enough base to make money on their coupon deal.
Decided to check a date in June. Outbound on 7th and back on 14th. This time there was options on Airfasttickets.ch as well. Expedia’s price for the itinerary was $304.80 and the taxes/fees on Airfasttickets.ch’s ticket $248. The options that Airfasttickets.ch gave would require an overnight in Wien.
Expedia for the same itinerary.
4. Madrid to Oslo on July 7th and back on 11th
Expedia shows quite a few different options on various airlines.
Airfasttickets.ch only returns options on Air France. The Air France option is far cheaper using Airfasttickets.ch, but would require an overnight in Paris, and an airport change on the way back. Also, the price is about the same considering the price of the voucher purchase than the lowest commercial fare on Brussels Airlines.
Expedia’s price for exactly the same itinerary.
5. Budapest to Amsterdam on August 15th and return on 20th.
This was the only case where buying from Airfasttickets.ch website using the Groupon coupons would make any sense. The direct Malev flights won’t show up on Expedia or even at Orbitz. The price on those Malev flights is 81 euros + the Groupon coupon fee.
Expedia did have rather reasonable priced KLM flights for $196 all inclusive.