Flying to Paris
There are many airlines that fly to Paris. Depending on where you're flying from, you may find direct flights easily.
My home airport is Boston, so my perspective comes from planning I've done from my home base.
In the early Spring, I fly indirectly as there are few direct flights to Paris from Boston that time of year. It used to be that ticket prices went up at the end of March, but I've noticed that that isn't always so. Things are always changing so don't assume anything.
There are a few things you should decide before choosing your flight. Make sure you know the order of importance for the following:
Knowing which items have the highest priority will help you choose the right flight. Unless you have upgrades to first class, you won't be able to get it all
WHERE TO BOOK
There are LOTS of places to book your flights on-line now. I use Expedia and have had good service. But I always check the airline's site too, just in case. I usually find it's easier to see which days will be discounted.
I've also found that the prices seem to be the same everywhere, within a few dollars.
Be careful though, as some sites show you the total with tax, while others can make you feel like you've found the greatest deal ever, until you see the taxes and fees in small print.
BEFORE YOU CHOOSE
Before you buy your ticket, you may want to check out this site: SkyTrax. It has fantastic information about things like seat size, pitch (room for your feet), best seats to sit in, airline and airport ratings, and lot more.
ALWAYS CHECK THE AIRLINES' SITES
The airline's sites is where find baggage requirements and restrictions, information about check-in, ordering special meals, seat size, amenities, etc. There's lots of information you'll need to know before and after you secure your flight.
Is travel insurance necessary? Well, like all insurance, it's meant to insure against unforeseen circumstances. You could save money by skipping it, but I don't recommend it. Life happens and it would be a tragedy to lose the money you've paid for your trip.
Although airlines will often let you reschedule your flight - for a fee - there are times when you may not be able to reschedule that week or two in the foreseeable future.
Travel insurance also covers more than just your flight. Most likely you've rented your apartment or paid for your hotel ahead of time. Travel insurance is for those costs as well.
Just be very careful that you understand the policy and what it covers before you buy it. There are varying amounts of coverage. It is well worth doing your homework and calling for help if you need to. Calling the company will also give you a good example of their service.
Often you can buy this at the same time as your flight. However, by purchasing insurance from a specialized company, you will get more than generic coverage. And most likely, you'll be able to get your health coverage from the same policy. One stop shopping is helpful, especially if you have a claim.
IN MY EXPERIENCE
The direct flights are usually the highest priced. I have often wondered how it can be less expensive for me to fly to Chicago from Boston and then to Paris than it is to fly directly. I also have no desire to fly in and out of Newark or New York airports. And, as I get older, the convenience of getting to Paris quickly is appealing.
I have flown with Iceland Air and liked their good prices during the off season and would do it again. Although you get off the plane in Reykjavik, it's a small airport. Going through border control is easy and everyone is friendly. We had just enough time to freshen up in the ladies room, buy a cup of good coffee and it was time to get onto the next plane. We got into Paris in the early afternoon. They also offer nice spa packages if you'd like to spend a day/night there along the way.
But if you fly anywhere close to Summertime, the price advantage disappears. Delta, Air France, and KLM are partners and their schedules are pretty similar. American Airlines and Continental fly direct too.
Flying from Boston, we leave in the evening and get to Paris 6 1/2 hours later. It's early morning so Charles de Gualle airport and Paris are just waking up. Going through customs and getting luggage is pretty easy as it's not too crowded. Later in the day, there are a lot more people to navigate around.
The one disadvantage to arriving early in the morning is that accommodations don't have check-in until mid afternoon. Call ahead and you may be able to negotiate an early check-in with your apartment or hotel. If they cannot allow an early check-in, ask if you can at least store your baggage with them until check-in.
It's definitely something to keep in mind. I never minded when it was just me and my backpack but now it's a different ball game, especially with kids in tow. Spending jet lagged hours wandering the streets of Paris with your baggage is not ideal.
Fortunately, the last few times I rented apartments that were ready when I was.
#4 Where to stay
Useful Travel Resources
Booking your flight