New fuel efficient aircraft and emerging markets are prompting more carriers to serve Eastern Europe directly from North America. That’s a tremendous asset to travelers looking for beautiful and affordable vacations.
Earlier this week, American Airlines announced new summer seasonal service to Dubrovnik, Croatia, one of my favorite cities in Europe. While the route will only run between June 7 and September 27, 2019, it represents a wonderful boost for this city of 45,000 people.
Over the last couple years we have seen increased service to several cities in Eastern Europe. There are now many ways to reach Eastern Europe from North America, including:
- Los Angeles/New York/Washington/Miami/Toronto to Moscow
- Air Canada / Rouge
- Montreal/Toronto to Athens (seasonal)
- Montreal/Toronto to Bucharest (seasonal)
- Toronto to Budapest (seasonal)
- Toronto to Zagreb (seasonal)
- Air Serbia
- New York to Belgrade
- American Airlines
- Chicago/Philadelphia to Athens (seasonal)
- Philadelphia to Budapest (seasonal)
- Philadelphia to Dubrovnik (seasonal)
- Delta Air Lines
- New York to Athens (seasonal)
- Newark to Athens
- LOT Polish
- Chicago/Los Angeles/New York to Warsaw
- Chicago/New York to Budapest
- Ukraine Airlines
- New York to Kiev
- United Airlines
- Newark to Athens (seasonal)
- Uzbekistan Airways
- New York to Riga
Defining “Eastern Europe” can be contentious. I know I could include Turkish Airlines and Azerbaijan Airlines in the list, but I’m not. I’m also not including Prague since it is further west than Vienna and I would never classify Vienna as Eastern Europe. Arguably, Budapest might better be classified as Central Europe also.
A History of Mixed Success + A New Generation of Aircraft
Let’s not forget, however, that it is not as if carriers have never tried service to Eastern Europe before. Over a decade ago, Delta launched flights to Budapest, Bucharest, and even Kiev. The routes did not last. Olympic Airways could not sustain its service between New York and Athens, though the problem may have been less that route and instead deeper structural issues with that ill-fated former flag carrier of Greece. More generally, many of these flights are purely leisure and can only be supported during the summer months.
But what’s different now is a new generation of fuel efficient aircraft, like the Boeing 787, that make this travel more economical and therefore more feasible than in the past. New A321XLR may make even more sense and allow for year-around travel that would otherwise be untenable.
I expect even more service to cities in Eastern Europe in the months and years ahead. Let’s stop and reflect for one moment that we are in another golden era of aviation. True, seat pitch is tight and airlines are nickel and diming us like never before, but I cannot recall an era of more international choice at cheaper prices than now. It’s a great time to fly to Eastern Europe. It’s simply a great time to fly.