After many years of travelling between France and the USA, the teachers at the French Language Salon share their tips to find the best price:
Using the tips that follow, you will have the keys to finding cheaper tickets. But, be careful with the travel time, transfers, airport changes, etc. Those are, honestly, constraints not worth the savings sometimes.
If you are extremely flexible about comfort or dates… it will be a lot easier for you to find cheap tickets on low-cost airlines like Norwegian Airlines or WOW Air. If not, here are our tips.
Where to look?
Some say to stay with your favorite company, others to try low-cost airlines or only to use price comparison websites. Actually, you need a clever blend of those.
- First, research on a comparison website like Skyscanner.com. Select the cheapest airlines and read their reviews. The flight lasts 7 hours minimum so a little bit of comfort is not too much to ask for.
- Then, verify on the airlines websites if the prices are the same. Sometimes, comparison sites add fees and at the end, so sometimes it Is more economical to book directly with the airline.
- No recommendation about the airlines, it will only depends on your needs.
When to go and when to buy the tickets?
This is what is going to make all the difference. Avoid traveling during the holiday season unless you really want to see Paris during Christmas or take your spouse to France for Valentine’s Day. Same for the summer season (July-August). Quite the contrary, choose the low season: The months of September and March-April are often cheaper and the weather at this time is perfect for tourism.
We recommend you to start your search 6 months in advance. Set up an alert for your vacation dates and follow the changes in pricing. Two or three months before the departure, it is time to get your tickets. The evolution of the prices since the creation of the alert should give you a pretty good idea of a “fair price”. Don’t wait too long, last minute tickets can sometimes be worth it… or be prohibitively expensive.
What departure and arrival cities?
Yes, it is important as well. For the departure city on the East coast, New York, Atlanta or Philly are good starting points because direct flights are easier to find and cheaper due to the numerous airlines. Unfortunately, for the West coast, a transfer will be harder and often more expensive to find.
For the arrival city, it depends on your final destination. Of course, if you go to Paris, Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Orly (ORY) Airports are the easiest ones to get to, mostly with public transportation. But if you go to the North or the North East of France, I recommend you check Belgian airports (Brussels) or German airports. Why? They happen to be cheaper sometimes and actually closer from your destination than Paris. And it doesn’t cost anything to search. For southern destinations, check Northern Spanish cities or southern French cities like Lyon (LYS), Nice-Côte d’Azur (NCE) or Bordeaux (BOD).
What to be careful with?
- Transfers between 2 airports can be complicated to deal with, if your plane is delayed at one location you could potentially miss a connecting flight!
- If you have a stop, choose one over 2 hours long so that you have a safe amount of padding for any problems that could arise.
- Check the total duration of the trip (careful with the 39 hours trip if you are impatient or not good on airplanes!)
- Departure and arrival airports can be different when booking through deal websites. If you make a mistake, it will take you about an hour to get to Orly from CDG.
In short, check and make sure you have the correct information about your trip, a second of inattention can happen even to the most aware traveler.
If you follow those recommendations, you should save money and if you are lucky, a lot of it! The average price of a ticket can double if you don’t know where to look. No promises though, luck is a big part of the deal and also how much time you spend on looking. Keep on the lookout for opportunities and jump on good deals!