It may not be necessary to fly non-stop to get where you’re going, but it sure is nice. Delays that turn comfortable connection times into mad dashes to the gate are not pleasant. There is also the slight annoyance of departing for your trip to Europe by heading in the exact opposite direction to connect in Montreal or Toronto. The chance to fly non-stop might also serve as that last bit of incentive needed to make you book that trip you were thinking about. Here is a run down of the non-stop destinations from Halifax to Europe in 2019.
Most of the non-stop routes to Europe are seasonal. The exception is the first one on my list – Halifax to London Heathrow on Air Canada which runs all year. This year has been especially unpredictable due to the unfortunate 737 Max 8 situation. When those planes were taken out of service it made it difficult to plan a trip around non-stop availability because both Air Canada and WestJet use this aircraft out of Halifax. Icelandair was scheduled to use the Max 8 as well but they have cancelled all flights out of Halifax for 2019.
According to the current Air Canada schedule, daily non-stop flights to London Heathrow will resume August 1st. Whether that will actually happen is still up in the air. Service is reduced to 4 days a week in November.
London Heathrow is a convenient airport if London is your final destination as you can hop on the tube and go right into the city. There is a train service called Heathrow Express but it costs more and takes you to Paddington Station so unless you are staying nearby you would need a taxi from there to your lodging. Another option if have a considerable amount of luggage is to book a car service that can take you right to your hotel and gives you the certainty of a set price.
WestJet has in recent years added more options for Maritimers flying to Europe. This year there are non-stop flights from Halifax to London (Gatwick), Dublin, Glasgow and Paris. The 737 Max 8 issue has meant some changes were required. At the moment, non-stops are still available using a different plane (the older 737) to London, Glasgow and Dublin. These planes are not commonly used on transatlantic flights but Halifax’s location on the east coast puts them within range. The Paris non-stop has been suspended till August 3rd.
WestJet service to London from Halifax is scheduled to go until October 25th. Gatwick is further from London but there is train service from the airport using Gatwick Express or a regular train. The former is slightly faster and more expensive, but likely more comfortable if you have lots of luggage. It goes to Victoria Station. The other rail options, Southern and Thameslink, could be better for you depending on where exactly you’re headed in the city.
Until this year the non-stops to Dublin flew from St. John’s NL but that route is no longer in service. For those of us in NS, however, it’s a great opportunity to fly a relatively short transatlantic flight. It’s just a bit longer than flying to Calgary non-stop. If not renting a car, you can take a bus from the airport to other locations in Ireland if you wish to skip Dublin itself or save it till the end of your trip.
With similar flying time to Dublin, Glasgow is a great destination if you have an aversion to extra long flights. There is easy bus transport into the city centre where you can catch a train to Edinburgh or elsewhere in Scotland. Everyone who lives in New Scotland should visit the old version at least once.
As mentioned above, WestJet suspended service to Paris until August 3rd. For those already booked it meant changing to WestJet flights via Calgary or through other cities using WestJet partner airlines. Hopefully the Max 8 situation will be resolved and those non-stops will resume. WestJet flies into Charles de Gaulle airport where you can take the RER train into the city.
Condor flies from Halifax non-stop to Frankfurt beginning June 1st. The aircraft used on this route is a wide-body plane so the 737 Max 8 situation does not apply to the Condor schedule. If your travels will take you to another part of Germany you can buy a Rail & Fly ticket. This gives you the flexibility to take any train upon arrival while avoiding the higher cost of a walk-up ticket. The cheapest tickets for long distance trains are the online advance purchase ones but you will be restricted to a certain departure time which is risky when arriving by plane.
Recently Icelandair cancelled all of its 2019 flights from Halifax to Keflavik airport. This was very disappointing news for those planning a trip to Iceland. Flying Icelandair was also a great option for anyone travelling to Scandinavia or other parts of Europe with an easy connection in Iceland. Hopefully Icelandair will be back next year.
Finding Flight Schedules
The two websites I most often use to search for schedule and airfare information are matrix.itasoftware.com and Google Flights. Another option when looking for non-stop destinations is to check the wikipedia page for the relevant airport. Although there is typically an official airport website, they are not always up to date. There are also websites like Flight Mapper and FlightConnections.
Good Non-Stop Fares
I did a bit of flight searching to see what kind of non-stop fares I could find into the future. Summer flights at a decent price are certainly more scarce than those in the autumn. I tend to consider airfares from Halifax under $1000 return in summer to be in the “good” range. That drops to the $800 level in September/October. With the advent of fare classes such as “Economy Basic” or “Economy Light” always remember to check the terms of the fare to see if booking a different type would be preferable in your circumstances.
Here are a few examples of return fares on Google Flights that meet that standard as of the time of my search this morning. These fares are available on some other dates was well (or they may be gone within minutes of posting this). But they will give you a ballpark idea of the current lowest fares on these dates. If you’re looking to book be sure to keep an eye on fare trends so you can pounce when a fare comes along that fits your budget and works for your schedule.
Halifax to London Heathrow (Air Canada)
$818 Aug. 4 – 16
$772 Aug. 25 – Sept. 5
$732 Sept. 8 – Sept. 22
Halifax – London Gatwick (WestJet)
$696 Sept. 14 – 22
Halifax – Glasgow
$762 Oct. 2 – 16
Halifax – Dublin
$678 Oct. 8 – 16
Halifax – Paris
$620 Oct. 1 – 10
Halifax – Frankfurt
$714 June 6 – 25
$835 July 14 – 25
$754 Sept. 8 – 26
Mix and Match One-Ways
Halifax to London Gatwick
Frankfurt to Halifax
$431 Aug. 11
$409 Aug. 24
I have flown to Europe from Halifax on Air Canada, Icelandair, Condor and the long-departed Zoom, but I have yet to fly WestJet. With four destinations to choose from it seems like a good bet that I will get the chance to try it out at some point. I have flown on the 737 Max 8 previously and had a good experience so I’m keeping an open mind about future flights on the controversial aircraft once the safety issues have been declared rectified.
I don’t enjoy flying or spending time in airports so my preference is to fly non-stop to get the journey over with as quickly and easily as possible. However, last year I flew a two connection flight to the Europe for the first time and it really wasn’t that bad. Not ideal but not an ordeal either. With the uncertainty surrounding the 737 Max 8 and the general uncertainty that always exists when you book a flight, it’s a good idea not to get too attached to the prospect of flying non-stop. In the end, the important thing is arriving at your destination safely.