At last, I have my ticket! It may seem as though buying a ticket for the end of September in the beginning of July is a perfectly reasonable time frame. Trust me, it isn't. In just one week the cost of tickets jumped by nearly $200!
The only reason I waited this long was because I had not known the precise date I had to arrive. In all honesty, I still don't. I will have an enrollment appointment either a little after or a little before the start of the semester, and I have yet to find out what it'll be. Since I have 0 clue as to when I get that information, I decided to ask RWTH Incomings when they expected it might be. This gave me a date range, and I booked my flight for just before the earliest date. The peace of mind from having a ticket is worth possibly arriving earlier than necessary.
While searching for my flight, I discovered that cheaper does not equal better. The cheapest fares I found all involved either a 1 hour layover, which cuts it way too close, or staying overnight in Istanbul of all places. I'd rather pay an extra $100 than risk having to buy a new ticket or spend the night in a sketchy city by myself.
That being said, when comparing prices for identical flights Priceline and CheapOAir beat Kayak and Expedia almost every time. Oddly enough, fares for the Irish airline Aer Lingus were cheapest going directly through its website rather than third parties like Travelocity. This was not the case for any other airline.
As mentioned in my last post, the closest airports are in Düsseldorf, Bonn/Köln, and Frankfurt. Technically, a closer airport exists named Maastricht-Aachen Airport. However, it is so small that I failed to find a single flight to it.
Although Düsseldorf or Köln/Bonn were closer than Frankfurt, the larger airport had its advantages. A greater number of flights go through Frankfurt each day. Thus, the selection and the pricing was overall better. For a $30-$50 hike in bus ticket price, I could find $100 cheaper flights. An extra 50 bucks is worth spending another hour en route.
I currently haven't the faintest idea what I should do for baggage. However, once I have my living arrangements sorted, it will be far easier to determine just what I need to bring and how to transport it. For now, I'm leaving tomorrow for tomorrow.