Please sign in to post.

roundtrip or multi-city: weighing the cost

Hello:

We are planning a two-week trip to France mid August or so. Exact dates still TBD.

We are focusing on Burgundy down to Provence, so aren't interested in spending time in Paris this trip. We are also in Sacramento, CA area.

Cheapest flights are SFO-CDG. That means that we have to make our way back to Paris at the end of the trip and use one of the days at the airport the night before the flight. We could probably get this flight for ~$600-800/person.

Doing multi-city adds about $1K more to the airfare cost. Also going from SMF adds about $1K to the cost. I would love to go into Paris, head down to Burgundy, then fly home from Marseille or Nice.

I suppose this is really a personal decision whether to use $ for airfare or save $ on airfare and use for other activities, knowing that you would still need to spend about $300 to get back to Paris and spend the night there.

What have people done? If you chose the money saving option, were you glad you did, or did it become a hassle and you wished you had spend the extra $? If you chose the more expensive airfare, was that worth it?

Just looking for some thoughts from all you fellow travelers.

Thanks

Posted by
6778 posts

I'm probably an outlier but I do everything I can to minimize transport costs (including flights costs) and direct all savings to other "on the ground" spending. If getting back to Paris costs $300 (and it sounds like it's an inevitable cost you can't escape), then what would the remaining $700 in additional costs ($1,000 - $300) buy you exactly? You have to put a price on that $700. So far, you've only identified the $300 as the additional cost for lodging in Paris the night before, and that in itself is not enough to offset a 1k difference in price. It's not even clear if the $300 would be truly additional spending (meaning you'd have to add another day to your vacation time) or if it's simply a matter of switching the city in which you'd be spending the last night of your trip. Either way, you'd have to pay for a hotel somewhere. All you care about is the marginal difference between Alternative A and Alternative B.

There is no general answer to your question because it's so context specific (it totally depends how much time total you have on your trip, how much of an inconvenience backtracking would be, total time and costs involved in backtracking, among other variables). In some situations, scrimping on airfare may not be worthwhile - in others, it may. It's hard to generalize.

My advice is to clearly spell out ALL the costs and Pros and Cons of Alternative A and B for yourself (and others in your party), and use that to drive your decision. Your valuation of the trade-offs is too murky at this point.

Posted by
10344 posts

Back-tracking a significant distance to get a roundtrip flight can make sense if the time required for back-tracking is not great. But if it is, then you save the time but it's more airfare. An important task for you is thinking in detail about what are the true costs of back-tracking to Paris in terms of the obvious things, cost and time, but thinking carefully about how much time it will take versus the other option. In the end you have to make your best decision for you based on the facts of your situation and so it's difficult for others to give you advice that will substitute for your informed judgment.

Posted by
21356 posts

Give you exact travel dates. I find a little hard believe the open jaw option is over $1000 difference. We do almost all our trips via open jaw and rarely find it to be more than a hundred or so more expensive. And sometimes cheaper. Now, small airport can be a problem. But mid August is still peak time so deals are less available.

PS Just did a quick search. It is more expensive. First time I have really seen that BUT a $600 RT fare to Paris out of SF is unbelievable. I cannot get anywhere close to that out of Denver in mid-August. Something is forcing low fares from SF. It would add about $400 + or - $50 to return from Marseille or Nice. But you do have to deduct your cost of returning to Paris and the lost of a full day. It could be close to a push.

Posted by
65 posts

There are some times that it is cheaper to just buy one way tickets and not buy multi city through the airline. Watch the flights and when one goes down in price buy it, and then wait for the other to go to an acceptable level. This seems to work better on domestic flights than international, but it is worth checking. The one major downside is that if something happens, you are on seperate bookings and could be two seperate cancellation fees.

Posted by
19525 posts

I think one-way tickets are only worth considering if they're on budget transatlantic carriers like Norwegian Air Shuttle. Hoping for a deal on United, American, Delta, Air France, etc., is a lost cause.

I'm retired, so I'm blessed with the time to take long trips. I opted to more or less waste a day at the beginning of this year's trip to save about $500. I'm currently planning to spend the first part of Day 2 seeing one of the neighborhoods in my arrival city (which I had intended to skip), so if I'm not too jetlagged that morning, the day won't be a total loss.

I often spend the last night of a trip at an airport hotel, but you better believe it's not at the Hilton. I make darn sure that hotel doesn't cost me more than I'd pay downtown.

I don't know what I'd do in this case, with a 2-week trip. Can you travel to Europe every year, or do finances dictate that such trips are much less frequent? Is time off from work or responsibilities at home the limiting factor rather than money? Those are questions I'd ask myself.

Posted by
21356 posts

Ya, but how do you beat $300 each way from SF to Paris? The best fare from DC is a touch over $700 RT.

Posted by
1040 posts

Multi city flights are worth examining, but they are not always worth it. On our last trip to France, we started in Paris and ended in Nice. Our flight home was from CDG, so we took the train from Nice to Paris. The train was nice because it took us from one city center to the other, the ride was comfortable, scenery great, and the total travel time was similar to flying. In addition, we had a fascinating conversation on the train with a French gentleman and his son.

Posted by
12578 posts

I am assuming that $1000 extra for multi-city is for 2 tickets? That is what I am seeing on British Airways. That is, SFO into Paris and back from Nice at $1154, while the roundtrip to and back from Paris is $683.

This is what you see with some of the smaller airports like Nice. I do not see how pricing one way at a time,as suggested above, can help.

I think you have incorrectly figured the cost of travel back to Paris to catch the flight there. You don’t count the cost of the Paris hotel because you are going to spending the night in a hotel somewhere anyway. The train ride back from Marseille St. Charles to Paris takes just over 3 hours, and you can do it late in the day so you have most of that day in southern France. Prices for the direct train booked several months ahead are as low as $58 pp on trainline.eu.

Posted by
918 posts

For our last trip to France, we flew into/out of Paris. We took the train (purchased at the CDG airport train station) to Avignon upon arrival and rented a car. We toured around and ultimately dropped the car in Nice. We took the train back to Paris where we spent the last 3 nights. Our airfare was $440 so it was pretty easy decision to make. We were vary happy with our trip and costs.

Posted by
1508 posts

I have made my way back from Prague to Vienna the night before for an early morning flight. It seems similar to what you might do. I had booked the round trip flight before deciding to go to Prague. But really it wasn't bad--we took an evening train and then had to take a second train to the airport where we booked a hotel. I think that is what you would have to do.

You do miss the last night in Europe in a city rather than the airport hotel. I do value that but would not have spent $1000 for it. We bought food and took it on the train so although not ideal, it was fine.

The other thing to consider is longer flight time. I am thinking that you will have one more connection going home flying from Nice. I dislike connections as it increases the probability of things going wrong.

Posted by
12578 posts

Maybe it doesn’t have to be an airport hotel in their case. It depends on the time of their flight in the morning. Since they haven’t booked flights yet, they could choose one that departs CDG late morning or afternoon, and spend their last night in Paris.

Posted by
6185 posts

are there no cheap flights from Nice or Marseille to CDG on the budget carriers?

Posted by
10344 posts

As just mentioned by Stan, the intra-Europe flights on budget carriers, well, they can be pretty unexpectedly affordable.

Posted by
6584 posts

EasyJet flies into Nice from Paris.
Marseilles has no budget airlines flying into Paris.

Posted by
8434 posts

SMF (Sacramento International) is my home airport. I've always flown from Sacramento rather than San Francisco for 2 reasons. 1. My husband worked at the airport (for almost 30 years) so we got to park free in the employee lot. That's a huge deal when you travel for up to 6 weeks. He retired last month, so that ship has sailed. 2. The time it takes to get to SFO is longer than how long I have to layover somewhere (often SFO). My last 3-4 trips to Europe have been using miles. When they run out I'll definitely look at the inexpensive flights from SFO. What airline are you looking at? I have friends who have flown multiple times on Norwegian from SFO - CDG with good experiences. Cheap flights can be found from Marseille to CDG. Take a late afternoon or evening flight to Paris and stay at an airport hotel for your last night before coming home.

Posted by
7878 posts

Yes, open jaw on this route is more expensive, but you can lessen the cost with a one-way internal flight on AF or EasyJet from Nice the night before, or take the fast TGV fron Marseille or Aix the afternoon before. It’s about $100 each, not 300-600. . Then stay at an inexpensive airport hotel; it doesn’t have to be the Hilton. Try Ibis. It’s the same as you’dpay in Provence. Go late in the day. It’s only about 3 hours out of your day.

As for Sacramento—I'd drive and leave the car at an airport hotel on a Park, Sleep, Flydeal, and get a good night’ssleep before crossing the Bay and driving back to Sacramento the next day.

Posted by
2641 posts

I like to give the airlines as little money as humanly possible. A thousand bucks? Splurge on meals, experiences and hotels. The TGV from Marseille to Paris only takes 3 1/2 hours and it’s a great time to relax and remember what a great trip you had. Plus a last night in the City of Lights!

Edit: GRAB THAT FARE BEFORE IT VANISHES!!!

Posted by
4908 posts

I definitely wouldn't spend a grand just to avoid returning to CDG for a flight home. As others have said, It's easy enough to get back there for much less cost by train or maybe separate budget flight. Time and money are the tradeoff variables, in this case the cost wouldn't be worth the time saving to me. Spend that dough on something else this trip or save it for the next trip. Or retirement or kids' college or whatever. ;-)

Posted by
4125 posts

There is something wrong with that open-jaw fare. I'd check it again for both Marseilles (MRS) and Nice (NCE).

Posted by
7878 posts

I did check it for Nice last summer. The open-jaw was 500 more to add the one leg onto my r-t Delta ticket. So we just bought one-way Air France tickets for the evening before at $100, and went into the city to meet friends for dinner but slept at the airport.

This year on a different itinerary from a different city, it is cheaper to keep the legs as one itinerary, so go figure. Just shows that we have to explore all possibilities before clicking on "buy".

Posted by
516 posts

FYI, we decided on roundtrip out of SFO to Paris.. We will either fly from Avignon to paris or take the train, and spend the last night near the airport. The price was about $1K less to fly in/out of SF. We will spend the extra $ on wine and food while we are in France!