Looking for a fare deal from Seattle to Europe? Consider leaving from Vancouver

Seattle travelers looking for the best air fares to Paris, London, even Bangkok this summer and fall might want to consider starting their trip in Vancouver, B.C.

Round-trip fares are hundreds of dollars cheaper for flights out of Vancouver International despite Delta Air Lines' addition of new non-stops between Seattle and London last month that promised to put a dent in the competition from British Airways.

"The new service continues to highlight Delta’s growing commitment to making Seattle the West Coast gateway for one of the world’s largest airlines," the Port of Seattle said in a welcome message to Delta recently.

No doubt having an alternative to British Air on London non-stops is welcome, but lower fares  - the "commitment'' that matters most to most travelers - apparently are not part of the plan in Delta's push to remake Seattle as its West Coast hub.

A recent check on Kayak.com for midweek fares for July travel brought up a low fare of $1,962 for the Delta non-stop (code share with Virgin Atlantic) vs. $2,061 for the British Air flight. Yes, that makes the Delta flight a better deal, but the real savings comes from flying out of far-more-competitive Vancouver where the choices on non-stops were Virgin Atlantic for $1,319, Air Canada for $1,331 and BA for $1,1496. Delta's flight (with a connection to the Seattle non-stop on the way over) was $1,419. 

Fares on July flights to and from Paris reflect similar gaps. There are no non-stops between Vancouver and Paris, but there are some good fares on connecting flights. Delta and code-share partner Air France were charging $1,846 for Seattle-Paris non-stops vs. $1,421 for flights out of Vancouver, with a connection in Seattle on the way over and JFK on the way back. Air Canada offered $1,330, with connections through Montreal.

The disparities continue into fall, a time when fares in general drop to more reasonable levels. Delta and BA were quoting $1,212 on Seattle-London midweek non stops for early  November travel vs. $941 for  BA non-stops out of Vancouver; $935 on Lufthansa and Air Canada; and $969 on Delta, with connections in Seattle on the way to London and Amsterdam on the way back. 

Seattle/Paris in November showed up at $1,343 for Delta and Air France's non-stop vs. $941out of Vancouver with connections in Seattle on the way over and Amsterdam on the return.

A Twitter follower (follow me at @carolpucci) brings up another reason to consider Vancouver if you're trying to use frequent flyer miles. British Airways has "too many techies" flying business and first-class from Seattle,'' writes @DrKoob who finds it's easier to find award seats on flights out of Vancouver. 

Asia: Same story

It's not only Europe that cheaper to reach via Vancouver. Same holds for some Asian destinations. Example: A round-trip Delta flight to Bangkok, via Narita on the way over and Narita and Portland on the way back is $1,467 out of Vancouver in June vs. $1,706 out of Seattle. The lowest fare out of Vancouver is a $993 Japan Air flight via Narita vs. $1,220 on Emirates out of Seattle via Dubai.  

Bottom line: Taking BoltBus, QuickShuttle, Amtrak or even driving to Vancouver from Seattle might be worth considering for your next family trip. The Vancouver airport Park 'N Fly offers  a monthly rate of $113, including taxes and 24-hour shuttle service.

Vancouver International, by the way, was named air travelers' No.1 airport in North America  by Skytrax on March 26, 2014 (Seattle-Tacoma International ranked No. 8), and No. 9 in the global top 10. With lots of amenities, including a dental clinic, airport hotel (Fairmont Vancouver), spa, hair salon, dry cleaners etc., it's not a bad place to spend an extra few hours.  Regardless of the airline or class of ticket, passengers can access to first-class lounge facilities at one of three pay-in Plaza Premium lounges.

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