Spring flights to Spain/Paris. How much is too much?

Hello travelers! I am looking to book a 15 day trip to Barcelona, Madrid, and Paris in late April-Early May 2013. I need to purchase flights from Columbus, OH to BCN, from BCN to CDG, and from CDG back home to Columbus. According to Kayak, flights are currently priced at $1350. That price sounds astronomical to me as I booked open jaw flights to Italy for half that 3 years ago... My question is... due to all the changes to the airline industry over the last few years, is the price of $1350 unreasonable? I'd hate to wait too long to purchase looking for a good deal and end up having to pay even more. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how much flights should cost and what your personal experience has been. Thanks in advance!

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
916 posts

That's $100-$200 higher than in the spring of 2012 from the midwest US. You are unlikely to duplicate fares from three years ago, when the economy was slower and airlines were in or near bankruptcy. Gas is more expensive now, and flight capacity more tightly controlled. In your place, I'd commit in early 2013. That's far enough in advance. But why go through CdG each way? A multi-city route, into one city and out of another, while a more complicated ticket, will save valuable time for sightseeing, and not necessarily cost a lot more. In any event, don't spend six months worrying whether you have spent $100 "too much". This is supposed to be fun!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10889 posts

I think the fare is reasonable for a three legged flight. It is not uncommon for round trip tickets to be about the same price.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

I'd wait until December or January at the earliest. I can't imagine the fare will be any higher then, and it might be significantly less. For a late March departure to Europe I've never booked any earlier than mid-December, and usually much later.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2281 posts

I'm seeing fares in the $1250 range in Late April-early May. Flying midweek can save $100. The BCN to CDG leg is $100 right there. I found a really good deal for you midweek under $900. The catch? (there's always a catch) Fly by way of Helsinki and it takes 22 hours. As previous posters have mentioned, keep an eye on fare watches and sales do come along every month or so. We got open jaw from Chicago for $800 in September, but that was by keeping eyes and ears open for deals. So if you can get this for under 4 figures, I'd jump on it.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7213 posts

We flew to Barcelona on March 31st this year, primarily because the cost went up April 1st. April is high season in Spain (as is October), although this year we froze almost the entire month. One thing you might try is shopping nearby airports. Sometimes you can save hundreds. You then have to decide whether the savings is worth flying out of a less convenient airport. We intitially had a direct flight to Madrid (from Dulles) with a hop to Barcelona, then flew home from Madrid. Our tickets were $750 each, $650 for the roundtrip plus $100 for the one way hop. Unfortunately the hop was on Spanair - which went out of business after we bought a ticket - so we had to change. We ended up with a hop to Newark then direct to Barcelona from there and home on our original schedule. Fuel prices continue to be at or near record highs. If it were me, I'd follow rates closely but wait awhile before purchasing. I wouldn't jump, unless you find a great deal, until two months out. If fuel prices drop, you're likely to see some better prices.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1970 posts

Just got emails from Air France today about sale prices. If you can drive to Cincinnati, Chicago, or Detroit you might get a better deal.

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
948 posts

Early winter airfare never came down this year....and if it did, we are talking a few dollars less. I know because I have been obsessing over airfare to London since January, which was over $1000. It is now sitting at $1000. There was a 5 hour sale, where tickets were $600 and I missed the opportunity to nab that fare. So I gave up on London and considered Spain.....if the tickets are expensive, the accomodations and foods will be way less in Spain than they are in London. I ended up paying $940 for a ticket leaving in December and coming back in January. I have never paid that much for a round trip ticket for winter travel, ever. I am flying into Madrid and out of Barcelona. So your air fare is only a few hundred dollars more than mine with travel into france. Should you buy it? Keep an eye on it for the next 2 month and then pull the trigger when you feel like you have a deal or when you feel like a sale isn't gonna happen. Good luck.

Posted by Jen
Charlotte, NC, USA
78 posts

If you are comparing to 3 years ago, you are going to be shocked. My mother and I went to Italy in 2009 and are going to London/Paris for the same time period in 2012. I used miles for both flights. My mother flies in/out of Newark NJ, where prices are generally good because of all of the competition between the several international airports in the area. In 2009 she paid $650 round trip to Rome in October. For November 2012, she paid over $1,100 into London and out of Paris. I live in Charlotte NC, so with less competition the airfares are usually more pricey...before using my miles i priced my flights for both trips. 2009 would have cost me $800, 2012 would have cost over $1,200. Definitely expect prices to be WAY up.
Have you considered booking a multi-city ticket from Columbus>BCN and then CDG>Columbus? Generally, you can bok an intra-Europe BCN>CDG flight through a European airline for a lot less than you could wrapping that flight in with yout International flights from the States. Try Orbitz, which would show you British Airways and such, easyjet.com and ryanair.com (look out for the "extra charges" on the cheap airlines though!)