Fare wars

Christmas windows and skeptical bystanders

After a relatively slow summer for airfare sales, the last few weeks have seen competition heat up. Beth and I had a list of places we were interested in visiting this winter–Vienna, Amsterdam and Portugal were top of the list, along with Paris (no, we can’t quit that place). I kept an eye on fares, including tracking a few itineraries that fit timeframes that would work for us. We didn’t have to go anywhere at anytime, and decided that if the right opportunity showed itself we would make a decision.

That opportunity landing in my inbox a few weeks ago. Crazy low fares from Raleigh–a short drive from us–to Paris and return. We jumped on it and booked travel for our entire family.

Here’s the best part of the story: Earlier this year Beth had chosen to give up her seat on a flight to Chicago, and netted a thousand dollar travel voucher. Between that and the sale, tickets for the three of us were just over $300. Total.

I’ve seen even better deals the past week, from numerous airlines. WOW, which I’ve flown a few times, had round trips from BWI (Baltimore/Washington DC) to Paris for under $250. Super economy fares, for sure, but a few hours of less-than-stellar comfort could put you in the City of Lights during Christmas market season.

And fortunately the exchange rate with the Euro is still decent. That means our cost of traveling won’t be out of control, and we were able to book a two-bedroom apartment a block from the Metro, Beth’s favorite restaurant, and the only street in Paris for much less than a hotel. Paris for a fraction of the cost of a trip to New York, Chicago or many other US cities? Sign me up.

Pro tip: If an airline asks for volunteers to give up a seat, don’t jump at the first offer. Playing the waiting game can pay off. The offer for Beth’s seat started at $400 before landing at a much higher amount.