Transatlantic airfare is usually the priciest part of a trip to Europe. The latest January sales, however, ease the cost of getting there -- especially to France and England -- saving the real sticker shock for those $7.50 cafÂ¿ au laits in Paris.
There's some justice in the world when a dollar amounts to about half a British pound yet airfare to London is only $93 from Boston, and $99 from New York.
1-800 FlyEurope (tel. 800/359-3876; www.1800flyeurope.com) will ferry you from the east coast to eight major cities in Europe, as far east as Munich, for less than $300 both ways. New York to Frankfurt, for instance, is only $259 round-trip ($317 from Chicago, and $377 from San Francisco). Washington, D.C. or Cincinnati to Amsterdam are as little as $289, and $387 from Los Angeles.
From the home page, scroll down to Hot Deals then click "Wonderful Winter Airfares." Discount tickets must be purchased by January 30, good for weekday departures through March 17, based on round-trip reservations. Taxes and fees up to $200 may apply.
For couples flying from the West Coast, Air Tahiti Nui (tel. 877/824-4846; www.airtahitinui-usa.com) affords an unbelievably cheap inroad to Paris: nonstop, round-trip air from Los Angeles is $498 round-trip for two -- that's $249 a couple, practically two for the price of one -- if you agree to travel together on specified dates.
Air Tahiti Nui is the main commercial carrier to French Polynesia, certified by the French Civil Aviation Authority. Discounts are valid only for departures via flight TN22 on January 17, 21, 22, 28, 30, 31, and February 2,5, 6, 7, 12, 14, and 20; and for returns via flight TN21 on January 22, 30, and February 1, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 17, 24, 27, and 28. Taxes for two are not included.
If you want to travel when the Champs Elysees is in bloom, fly Air France (tel. 800/237-2747; www.airfrance.us). Their discount rates cover travel into early spring, through April 16. New York to Paris is $300, from D.C. and Chicago it's $333, and from San Francisco it's $452. Taxes are not included.
If you're hopping between European cities, you can save hundreds of dollars by flying budget carriers such as Dublin-based Ryanair (www.ryanair.com), which Google named the most popular airline on the Internet in 2003, or the friendly, Toronto-based JetsGo (www.jetsgo.com). See www.flybudget.com for a compilation of safe, low-cost airlines and the airports they service in the region where you're traveling. From there, you'll have to book your flights on the carrier's Websites. It's worth the extra legwork for what you can save.
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