Here is a question that torments many of us as the summer holidays approach: should we buy our plane tickets now, wait a few weeks, or even take them at the last minute?
As it is not an easy one to answer, we went to seek professional advice. We therefore met with Jean François Drageon who runs the Calparrio travel agency in San Francisco.
For him, the answer is clear: “Yes, you can buy your plane tickets for the summer right now, without hesitation and at least for three reasons :
The first one is that all airlines except TAP have undertaken to reimburse tickets in the event of flight cancellations by them or to issue credit notes (valid for 18 months) for the value of tickets. It is up to the customers to choose what’s suit them best. And even if they have a ticket issued by TAP, if they paid for it with their US credit card, they could object with the credit card company if the flight is canceled; they will be reimbursed.
The second reason is the inventory of the number of seats as we say in our jargon … There are few direct flights planned between the United States and Europe over the coming months.
From May, even Air France will only operate five flights per week, and KLM has reduced its own numbers for Amsterdam as well as Lufthansa for Germany. As for United Airlines, after putting SFO-CDG direct flights on the market a few weeks ago, they canceled all of them until October 2021.
The last reason is called competition; until the announcement by FrenchBee of the resumption of its direct SFO-Orly line just before the summer, the prices for direct flights or with connection on Air France and its competitors were around $1,500 per ticket.
But since last week, the travel market responding to the law of supply and demand, prices have fallen by nearly 30% and are around $1000 including luggage … Traveling by direct flights when you have toddlers is priceless!
So, yes, it’s time to take your tickets because there is no risk” confirms Jean François Drageon.
Yet the question that often comes to mind when you frantically search for Internet tickets on the lookout for the summer’s good deal, is what is the advantage of booking through a travel agency?
For obvious reason, Drageon is not going to tell us that it is a bad idea to use an agency, but the argument that hits the mark is precisely in the event of a dispute or the need for rebooking …
“First of all, we always offer the cheapest prices on the tickets. Most of the time, we find the same deal as our clients on the internet but if they take their tickets through an agency, in case of problem, the agency has a real ability to negotiate with the airlines.
For example, if rebooking is necessary, we are able to work directly with the companies. Take the case of FrenchBee: Calparrio is the only agency with a direct contract FrenchBee the United States. Concretely, this means that last year when they canceled their flights, we quickly refunded tickets purchased through us, while FrenchBee customers who had purchased directly on the Internet had to wait 12 months to request a refund … In the meantime, they had to be content with a credit note.
Another point that plays to the advantage of the travel agency is when the market is hot and the tickets are expensive… travel agencies have the ability to find and negotiate deals covering tickets + car rental and to make the whole package more attractive. “
Finally, we asked Jean François Drageon if he could make a difference on other services than airline tickets.
The answer was quick to come and he gave us the tip of the so-called temporary transit (TT) long-term car rentals which are very suitable for summer vacations.
“You have to have your residence outside of EC, that you can to prove it with a copy of your green card or a paper attesting to your place of residence, and hold a US or French driving license.
Here’s a real-world example:
- Car rental called “TT” from July 10 to August 10 taken at the airport in Paris and returned to the same place. Family category, fully insured, the cost is $ 1,578.84 (research done April 26, 2021). Beware that the booking has to happen at least 25 days before departure.
- “Classic” car rental from July 10 to August 10 taken with the same criteria costs $ 1,767 without insurance (price noted at Sixt).
If you rent for at least 21 days, it is interesting to explore this track … “.
And our last question concerned the restrictions put in place over the past year to re-enter the United States imposed on certain categories of visa holders.
“There too, there is a solution … For example, you can go to France for 3 weeks and spend 2 weeks in Mexico or Punta Cana before returning to the United States. Entry into the United States is not prohibited from these countries … It is obviously a more expensive solution but which deserves to be considered. It is a good way to end your summer vacation. ”
We let you find the solution adapted to your situation but if we are to believe Jean-François Drageon, professional for more than 35 years, organize our holidays now and think of something else while waiting for the return to France!
Enjoy your Summer!