Friday, September 28, 2012

How to Score Affordable-ish Business Class Air Fare to Paris

With the summer travel season wrapped up, it's time to start thinking about fall and winter plans.  I'm not an expert but do keep a more-than-casual eye on travel trends and prices.  I recently purchased airline tickets to Europe and might have uncovered a Transatlantic sweet spot in November enveloping the Thanksgiving holiday.
Back to the scene of many fun crimes!
My husband is turning 50 (but he acts 35!!) in November.  He wanted to return to Paris and spend a solid week in La Ville Lumiere.  I sucked up and started searching for deals.  My philosophy is to fight for business class on international flights and save money by purchasing the cheapest flights available when traveling domestically.  I also want his 50th birthday to be that memorable once-in-a-lifetime experience and don't want the air travel to suck the life force out of us.

I booked this flight on August 21st.  My professional life makes my leisure time a bit inflexible.  I'm a planner, perhaps too much of one.  Travel experts like Peter Greenberg suggest booking airline flights 45 days before your planned departure.  He also suggests that Christmas travel be booked 60 to 75 days in advance.  Greenberg offers more holiday travel tips here.

I weeded through deals on Costco Travel (always my first stop) American, Virgin Atlantic, Delta and United, leaving from DFW to Paris' Charles de Gaulle.  I played with Air France's rates and found some decent prices for business class with departure dates ranging from Sunday 11/18 through Friday 11/23 and returning prior to Thursday 11/29.  Those dates seem to yield the most wallet -friendly fare whether traveling economy or business class.  Prices increased significantly with return flights beginning Thursday the 29th.

For the sake of this trip, my "cheaper" travel dates are departing on Wednesday, November 21st and returning on Wednesday, November 28th.
  • Economy on American DFW was about $1056 round trip per person.  The price started shooting up around $100 per person returning on the 29th and thereafter.  Biz class started on the "cheaper days" about $4831.  I ended my search on right then and there.
  • Delta Business class shot up from $2591 returning prior to the 29th to about $3716 returning just a day later.
  • Air France turned out to be the best deal with the best flight schedule for us.  I purchased two business class tickets for about $2150 per person.  The same itinerary, just one day later on Air France shot up to $3483 per person.  No thanks.
Sure, this is a lot of money to spend on air travel around the Thanksgiving.  But I had my big girl pants on and have saved for the trip.  Additionally, the business class tickets will help us get through certain security checkpoints a little faster. 

The next step is choosing an accommodation.  We had a beautiful suite at Le Sofitel Arc de Triomphe during our 2010 visit.  Here's a link to my TripAdvisor review.  It was wonderful but we're thinking about doing an apartment or another hotel we stumbled upon: Le Pavillon de la Reine in the Marais.  We had a magical afternoon there eavesdropping on a gorgeous, well-known American model sound incredibly affected while discussing her Malibu vegetable garden during interview with a Paris magazine.