Old World Autumn

Taking advantage of off-season Europe starts with seat selection

By Will O'Bryan
Published on September 6, 2012, 7:39am | Comments

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Virgin's Premium Economy

Virgin's Premium Economy

''Almost every overseas traveler will tell you that the 757 is not the best way to cross the Atlantic,'' says the well-traveled Mutzabaugh. ''Pretty much any wide-body is going to be more comfortable.''

Speaking of comfort, airlines are also cashing in on economy passengers looking for a little bit more, though not prepared to pony up a business-class fare. Even in this premium-economy landscape, there is wide variety. It might be some extra inches of legroom in United Airlines' ''Economy Plus,'' or more legroom, a wider seat and dedicated cabin and check-in with Virgin Atlantic's ''Premium Economy.''

One search engine that includes these intermediate cabins as a search variable is Fly.com. A handy tool for figuring out the difference between seats is Seatguru.com.

''Whether it's worth it really depends on each traveler's preference,'' Mutzabaugh says of the up-sale. ''Some people wouldn't consider flying across the Atlantic if not in business or first class. But some wouldn't pay $50 more for Economy Plus. You have the whole spectrum.''

While figuring out your ride may be daunting, an autumn destination in Europe may be equally confusing. Limited time? You may want to arrive at an airport with easy access to everything. Covering a lot of territory? Try an airport connected to a train station, such as Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

Mutzabaugh puts his money on a German holiday – but he's never far from his signature flexibility.

''I'm a huge fan of Berlin,'' he says. ''It's such a cool city, it's hard to go wrong.''

Then again, he continues, ''If you're looking to travel in fall, one great advantage can be the southern third of the continent. Rome, Madrid, Barcelona…. It probably won't be super hot, but not super cold, either. It may not be the best time to go to the beach, but if you're seeing a city, the lines might be a third to a quarter of what they'd be in the summer.''

And if you just can't stomach the idea of giving up that traditional Thanksgiving, rest assured that it's hard to travel European capitals without bumping into a Hard Rock Café, where – with exceptions – a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings is on offer. Yes, Virginia, you can have Europe and your turkey, too.

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