Winter airfares to Europe fall, but the value of the dollar against the euro is sinking

Daydreaming about a winter getaway to Europe?

The good news is that round-trip airfares between Seattle and London or Amsterdam have dropped below $600 for travel in mid-January and early-February. That’s one-third the price of what tickets sold for during the peak of summer.

The bad news is that the value of the dollar is sinking against the euro, making hotels and restaurants more expensive than they were just a few weeks ago, but still cheaper than last spring and summer.

A spot check for fares listed on showed round-trip tickets for midweek travel to London available for $550, including taxes and fees, on US Airways in January and early February. The site showed $596 fares for Seattle/Amsterdam round-trips on Lufthansa and United. Several airlines were quoting $625-$650 for Seattle-Paris round-trips.

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The dollar, meanwhile, tumbled to $1.44 per euro, down from $1.25 in October after hitting a record high of $1.60 earlier in the year. This means that a hotel room priced at 100 euros costs $144 at today’s exchange rates, compared to $125 two months ago and $160 last spring. Analysts blamed near-zero interest rates and a rising federal budget deficit for today’s decline.

The dollar still buys far more in London than it did this time last year. A hotel room priced at 100 British pounds last December cost $200 when the exchange rate was $2 to one pound. The rate today is $1.54, putting the cost of the same room at $154.

Carol Pucci: