Cheaper to fly into London or Paris

Generally speaking, is it cheaper to fly into London or Paris from the states? We are planning a trip and will fly into one and out of the other, no preference. There are 9 of us so even even the smallest amount of savings makes a difference. Thanks!

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

You should check prices both ways, but you might find this paragraph from an article in The Economist on "exhoribitant UK airport taxes" informative: "Though the forum concludes that Britain is still an attractive business destinationcoming in the top ten on measures like openness to foreign ownershipits report castigates Britain's expensive Air Passenger Duty (APD), a departure tax levied on outgoing passengers. The tax is as high as £184 for long-haul business tickets, and comes on top of pricey airport surcharges that, at Heathrow airport, will increase by 40% in real terms over the next five years. This makes Britain an expensive place to visitor even change planes in. In France, air-departure taxes are ten times lower than they are in Britain, and in Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands, APD has been axed altogether." http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2013/03/britains-exorbitant-airport-taxes Note that it is a departure tax. So in theory it should be cheaper to fly into Heathrow, take the train to Paris, and fly back from there.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7953 posts

It's impossible to guess. Today's answer might not be tomorrow's. Also, we don't know what your departure airport is, but it probably won't make much difference. Here's the way to attack the scoundrel, using kayak.com: Make the first stab using your airport with a round trip to each city. In fact, open two windows so you can see the parallel machinations. Don't be clever and put in a specific destination airport (LHR, GAT, CDH, ORY). Instead use LON and PAR which will catch both big airports in each city. Make the departure date on a Tuesday (Wednesday would work as well, you're just screwing around so far). Make the return date mid-week as well. Click the blue 'make my dates flexible' then use the '+/- 3' days option. You'll get prices; more importantly you'll get a matrix off to the side showing when the best day of the week is. You'll see that the good prices are Monday through Friday with Tuesday probably being slightly better. Pick the best price date. Amuse yourself by seeing what happens if you change the return day to a weekend. Remember what that best price date was. Start over. This time, use the multi-city function. You don't need the confusion of flex dates since you've already killed that rat. In one window Use YOU and PAR on the first line and LON and YOU on the second. In the other window it's going to be LON on the first and PAR on the return. (YOU being your airport's designator.) Do this periodically until you find a price you like and buy the tickets. Right then. There's no magic between buying for tomorrow and buying for a year from now. It's priced out by computer projections - - anybody saying otherwise is only providing anecdootal information or is full of crap.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7953 posts

Lola's point is valid, but taxes and surcharges are included in the ticket prices, they're not add-ons. Conversely, and anecdotally, London tends to run a bit cheaper than Paris for us. Note 'tends'. The wholes mess is a frigging mystery.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

My experience is strictly with British Airways. I monitor the flight prices just for fun (we generally fly on miles, but I like to be informed on other options). The BA website shows prices for outbound and inbound separately. Flying RT from Seattle, the return leg (departing from Heathrow) is around $150 more than the flight going into Heathrow. I assume that is because that nasty departure tax is included in the price. </p> Of course it may be different wit hdirrerent airlines or from a different US airport. But if you are looking to fly open jaw, into one airport and out of the other, I suspect it will be cheaper to do your return from Paris. The other interesting thig I have noticed is that it is often cheaper to fly through Heathrow and on to another airport, than to stop in London. For example, on the flights I was monitoring (Seattle to London and Seattle to Zurich in July), the Zurich flight generally ran about $200 LESS than the flilght to LHR, even though one would be on the same plane between Seattle and London, and then going farther on the Zurich flight.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

The wholes mess is a frigging mystery. It certainly is. I can't recall how or where I could do this, but once I was able to see the breakdown of the fare. It was shocking to see that of a fare of about $1200, the actual ticket price was only about $450. The rest was all taxes, fees, fuel surcharges, etc. etc. etc. And supply/demand doesn't seem to have much impact, at least none that makes any sense to me. Grrr...

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7953 posts

Figuring out the fees and taxes on a particular ticket is about as easy as eyeballing the gas pump while you're standing around with nothing else to do. It's actually about fifteen percent of the ticket price, not a third. A carrier is doing pretty well if it can clear five percent on a seat leg. Chunking money to regional partners and such takes up about ten percent. Labor is about twenty percent, so is fuel. Fuel is the big variable that's hard to project anymore. Another big variable is maintenance. It's most certainly based on supply and demand. Every machine has an hour or month limit within which it must go through major inspection or overhaul. Obviously it would be optimal to wait until the last minute so you could wring the least number of these out of an airframe's life span. You can't let this happen during peak demand period or you'd have to have spares waiting in the wings. Landing, departure, and parking fees are figured in for each segment. So is the cost of fuel at that stop. (Fuel's not as simple as you think. Besides the requirement to get somewhere, and a reserve for an alternate depending on the weather, there's a fuel reserve requirement for loss of pressure at the midpoint and consequent higher consumption at low altitude to get to one of the termini or an enroute divert field. There's more but it gets really, really boring. But, with the fuel price at point X, it might be good to buy extra there and lug it to the next place, unfortunately it costs fuel to haul fuel.)

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7953 posts

Istanbul is an example of a cheap destination for miles flown. Everybody thinks it's because TurkAir is a flag carrier. Nope, the rest get the same deal. It sells cheap gas and has hardly anything in the way of fees. It takes a lot of noodling to get that five percent profit. Back when I was brilliant, I used to think I could guess ticket prices based on petroleum futures. Right now I'm working on a pork belly algorithm that's beginning to show promise.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7953 posts

KERRI PAY ATTENTION In the transportation section under 'airfare sticker shock', Roberto just posted that you can put in multiple destinations and departure points on one form. I thought he was nuts, but just tried it and it works like a charm. I haven't tried it for mult-city.