How To Find Cheap Flights To Sofia: A Reader’s Question

Jun 10, 2009 6 Comments by
Bansko Jazz Festival

Bansko Jazz Festival

We’re all up to it now. Finding cheap flights. Taking a break – and with the economic crisis in full swing – this should mean a ton of cheap flights to Bulgaria.

Well that’s what you should think. And this is, I am sure, typical of many a reader — here’s an email from Maeve Manogue this morning wanting to fly out for the Bansko Jazz Festival:

“Hi Lance, I recently signed up to Bansko Blog and am finding it really useful. It’s great to find some POSITIVE reading about Bansko among the “doom-and-gloomers” ;o)

I’m looking to go to Bansko for the jazz festival in August, but the London – Sofia flights are suddenly getting really expensive (currently, the cheapest London – Sofia is minimum £200rtn) – and they’re rising by the day! So I just wondered if you had any insight as to why this might be? Is there something going on in Sofia that week or is it just that it’s peak summer holiday time / schools off or something like that?

Hope you can help un-baffle me!! Cheers, and keep up the good work on the blog!”

Why Have Fares Increased?

I now have a better idea as to why this happens after speaking to Bulgaria specialist booking agency, Balkania Travel. This travel agency is run by expat Bulgarians in London – Vania and Valery and the team. They offer a great service, and over 50% of the time they beat the cheapest fares I find through skyscanner.

But why have fares gone up?  Well the first obvious answer is simple – supply and demand. The airlines can’t make money with everyone paying £50 (over half of which is tax) so thay have been trimming their flights.

Then of course there are some people who now understand the media can talk nonsense on the weather. For example, in the UK they say: “its going to be a baking hot summer”. How do they know? Its hard enough forecasting a week ahead let alone months.

And how many times do people really believe that a long range forecast is accurate.

Euro Currency Movements

There is the improvement in the pound against the all important euro. Well in my view the pound will strengthen further. Yesterday it was £1 – €1.16. I think it will be £1 = €1.25 by August — making a holiday in Bulgaria, for non euro earning visitors, a fair bit cheaper than last winter.

Once we see the pound improve a little more, then an overseas holiday will be more affordable. It will certainly feel psychologically more justifiable.

So Bulgaria Air has stopped flying from Manchester (previously twice a week) and Bulgaria Air has also stopped it’s once a day flight from Gatwick…. So now there are nine fewer direct flights a week to Sofia!

This is a real shame, particularly as the Gatwick departure times were excellent…10:30am take off and a punctuality record that, in my experience, beats every other airline I have ever flown with. Who would have thought that?

Charter Flights

There are fewer charter flights to the coast (Bourgas especially) and Varna this summer. So some travelers will be using Sofia as their destination. The charter flights left are obscenely expensive – think €325 to Bourgas. So rural Bansko property owners will use Sofia.

In addition, its quite likely that the Bansko Jazz Festival will see more UK property owner visitors than last year. More of their property is complete for owners to use.

I really apologise for stating the obvious BUT there is still competition between the airlines. We  can see clear evidence of this by British Airways now cheaper than Bulgaria Air from Heathrow…and if you take luggage and have a drink on board — are also cheaper than Easy Jet.

Apart from recent 20% off sale, Wizz Air are mostly more expensive.

Can We Book Cheaper By Booking Late?

Probably not — so book TODAY!

At just over £200 — the psychological barrier for a ticket price — this is more than a few weeks back. But comfort yourself that you’ll claw back the €40 or more through super cheap living expenses in Bulgaria.

Try Balkania Travel for BA and enjoy a drink and food on the plane…

No annoying extras or pesky in flight hard sales.

Sale smessages….usually blasted over the tannoy at painful volumes. And whilst I’m on a flow I can be sure as night follows day that I NEVER want a buy scratch card, expensive car hire, or anything else, thank you very much. Not convinced that traditional airlines can be better?  You take a check in hold bag for free.

Organise your car hire/transfer at lowest rates by reading my tips in this article:

Then you can take comfort that you’ll claw back the €40 flight cost through Bulgaria’s super cheap living expenses…1.5 leva (€0.7) for a large beer. And 10 leva (€5 approx) for a decent meal. Its cheaper than cooking yourself.


WAIT… for a special offer. This is very risky now. There is less than a 20% chance this happen, in my view. This is the one time of year airlines can recoup earlier losses and, if there is reasonable demand, they will hold out. BUT I think Bulgaria Air may do an offer soon as they will not be filling up their planes charging more than BA.

So on a light hearted theme — and somewhat off topic — but to add some humour today, I came across this amusing video of Michael O’Leary talking about the “services” that may be available on his new Ryanair transatlantic service for business travelers! Please do not watch this if you are under 18, or prefer not wish to hear words of a sexual nature.

Winter Flights To Sofia

If you are looking for a winter trip then the problem will be worse. The tour operators are cutting back on their commitments. This will mean again that supply and demand will push prices up.

A load of people will be thinking of “roughing” it in Bulgaria. After paying €60 for six hot chocolates up in the mountain in Courcheval and other similar TROIS VALLEE Resorts in France, family skiers, and intermediates in particular, will be wanting to sit back and take stock. Look at their finances – and then book a cheap Bulgaria ski trip. Be it to Bansko, Borovets or Pamporovo.

If you’re reading this please register at this site for a ton of free info to ensure not only that you have a great value ski trip to Bulgaria but also one of the best you have ever had. Accommodation options are here:

Tips for getting cheap flights:

  • register with Wizz Air, Easy Jet, Ryanair etc
  • call  Balkania Travel tel: 0207 636 8338.  Use them, and they even may call you to tell you about future BA and BG Air flight deals
  • watch out for flight release dates. 1st December is a popular date for Easy Jet and others.
  • book popular dates, if you can, the day the flights are released
  • fly indirect. Austria Air from London via Vienna to Sofia is a great compromise

More Questions Please

Thanks again to Maeve for her question.

If you have a question related to Bulgaria, or Bansko: then do comment below — or send me an email:

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About the author

I enjoy tech, apps, entrepreneurship, podcasting and collaboration with others. I love travelling as well as skiing, hiking, MTB, paragliding, cooking and good food.

6 Responses to “How To Find Cheap Flights To Sofia: A Reader’s Question”

  1. LanceNelson says:

    Just spoken to Vanya at Balkania Travel – she reports that the winter flight situation will be much worse than the summer due to the fewer flights.

    Bulgaria Air are already sold out returning 2,3,4 and 5th Jan 2010.

    Currently they have return flights for £140.

  2. plamen says:

    I always use the service of Balkania travel and they seem to be very polite and professional. Quoted fares are less than those on Internet.

  3. LanceNelson says:

    Quick update to the article.

    Austrian airlines deal now £165 thought out he summer. Fly via Vienna. But a good alternative to over €250.


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