Yes, fares to most European cities from the US remain high. But once in a while, we find reasonable deals, such as a recent fare from New York JFK to Madrid and Barcelona for $450 round-trip, peak summer dates, tax included, on Air France, or last year's $378 summer-with-tax round-trips from the East Coast to London.
But what if London or Madrid isn't where you want to go? Then you hop on a budget European airline to get where you want to go, at fares that are often ridiculously low, even when taxes (and baggage charges) are added on.
For example, Ryanair often has 20 cent fares from London's Stansted Airport as well as smaller Luton Airport to various cities on the Continent. Usually, there are restrictions and blackouts, but the fares are easy to find if you do a flexible search. With taxes, these fares end up more like $20-$40, but still, they're cheap as can be. So you fly from the US to wherever happens to be on sale, and then use a discount European airline to go on from there to where you really want to go. The savings can be significant. You'll find other budget Euro carriers under the "European Low Cost Carriers" heading of our route maps page.