February 2, 2004 -- Everybody loves a pleasant surprise: birthday presents, a sunny day in a northern winter, Getting to stay on vacation an extra day. Air France knows this, so they're playing an entertaining game through next Tuesday where every day they'll be offering sale fares to a different European destination.
If you like Air France's fares, you'll have to buy your tickets that day for travel through April 4. The tickets require a 7-day advance purchase and Saturday night stay, you can stay in Europe up to a month, and all flights require a stop in Paris.
Their sale fares come from their 12 US gateways, all of which have nonstop flights to Paris -- Boston, New York JFK, Newark, Philadelphia, Washington Dulles, Cincinnatti, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Here's Air France's calendar:
- Today: Barcelona
- Tuesday: Zurich
- Wednesday: Athens
- Thursday: Berlin
- Friday: Nice
- Saturday: Madrid
- Sunday: Milan
- Next Monday: Vienna
- Next Tuesday: Paris
All these tickets are available only on Air France's US Web site, www.airfrance.com/us.
Whee, or Non?
Air France's sale fares are fun, but they're not always the lowest.
Today's fares to Barcelona, for instance, are the following (plus tax):
$431 from Atlanta; $319 from Boston; $431 from Chicago; $433 from Cincinnatti; $469 from Houston; $455 from LA; $393 from Miami; $357 from New York; $336 from Philadelphia; $455 from San Francisco; $336 from DC.
Air France's sale fares from Philadelphia were lower than we could find anywhere else. But when we searched on Orbitz for March dates, we found a bookable $483 (including tax) fare from Chicago to Barcelona on Lufthansa, the equivalent of a pre-tax fare of around $360 -- significantly below Air France's fare. From Miami, Orbitz found us a bookable $440 on Iberia, the equivalent of a pre-tax $340 and $50 below Air France's fare. And from DC, Orbitz dealt us $370 including tax, once again under Air France's fare.
In case you're curious about tomorrow's fares, Air France gave us a peek. Fire up those browsers and compare these fares to Zurich, all plus the usual $100-120 tax:
$430 from Atlanta; $355 from Boston; $412 from Chicago; $411 from Cincinnatti; $450 from Houston; $431 from LA; $393 from Miami; $347 from New York; $336 from Philadelphia; $355 from San Francisco; $406 from DC. We suspect the Philadelphia and San Francisco fares are the true gems of that bunch.
As always, shopping around will get you the best deals. But if your upcoming travel plans include one of Air France's sale destinations, wait a few days and throw the current sale into your calculations.