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Book Flights To Paris: the best time to buy and best websites to book your flights

Updated on January 26, 2011

Basic Info for booking flights to Paris

You have to make plans very soon for the rest of this summer and next fall if you're going to have good air tickets and accommodations in Paris. If you're going to other places in France, which I strongly suggest you think about, you have a lot more time to get good places to stay.

Since it's getting late, I'm going to put up some of my best suggestions in a number of categories.

FINDING FLIGHTS

To me, the most convenient and comprehensive world flight finder is

Kayak.com

This is the Swiss Army Knife of flight finders. It searchers airlines as well as flight brokers so you get a huge number of quotes. But the quotes can be managed in ways that suit you: by time of day, by airline, etc. It's is fast, fast, fast. It's worldwide, so if you want to continue from Paris to Berlin or Dubai you can get it all at Kayak. (I have no financial interest in this site, I just use it all the time.)

Now that I've clued you into Kayak, let me give you my ticket buying strategy. I write down a span of dates I'm willing to fly on. If I'm flexible enough I might put five different days for leaving and five for returning. It's not often I find the exact flight I want on the the day I want at the first throw of the dice. Using Kayak, I get an idea of the flights available, the airlines I prefer, the prices, etc. Personally, I never use a single reservation source like Orbitz, they offer just too narrow a range of information.

And then I call the airlines I most favor. The best time to call is after about 7:00 p.m. It doesn't matter what time zone you're in, as long as you're getting into the slack evening hours so you won't be put on a long hold. Of course, the later the better; agents are available 24/7, so if you're a night owl like myself, it's a great strategy for not being put on hold.

The reason for calling an agent is this: It's fine to buy your tickets on line, there's nothing wrong with it. But the airline agents you get on the telephone know more, have more up to the minute info and can really help you (but be very friendly to them-they usually respond to a little friendly humor). The airline's agent can and will search through a number of possible days for you. Say you pick July 10 as your most preferred date but can also leave any time from July 5 through July 15. Just ask them and they'll search through all those ten days for you and offer you times and fares. Or, if you can only fly on July 10 or July 6 or July 8, they'll search those dates for you. They can do it very fast. You could do it on line, but probably not as fast and I suspect with less up-to-the-minute information. Remember, there is a river of thousands of reservations flowing and changing constantly, so everything is possible.

And remember, when you book a flight with an agent you can ask for your favorite seating. (Mine is on the aisle so I can stretch my legs. I try to get it on the two-on-the side set of seats so fewer people will not be stumbling in and out over me and there is less likelihood I'll be next to a large family with kids (I love kids-outside of airplanes). In some planes (like the Boeing 767-300 used by American Airlines) there is in the economy section what is called a mini-cabin immediately behind the business class. It is much quieter and more private than the rest of the economy class area and costs the same-ask for it.

FINDING SEATS

You can find the seating configurations with excellent recommendations for almost every airline and every type of airplane at

Seatguru.com

I strongly advise you to look at this site.

Also, remember that talking to an airline agent you can ask for one of a number of kinds of dinners, such as vegetarian or kosher, on flights where dinner is served.

FLEXIBILITY

And, finally, if you don't get the reservation you want right away, keep calling the airline back. There are always cancellations, even at the last minute. If you're flying with frequent flyer miles, you can make your reservation and keep changing it as much as you like without penalty as long as the destinations stay the same. If you are paying cash, it might be worth a hundred dollars to change your reservation once to what suits you best.

Keeping Healthy and Relaxed While Traveling

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    • Scotty Doc profile image

      Scotty Doc 

      10 years ago

      Good hub Harlan - have you any experience of using Skyscanner? It seems to offer a good set of functions. I found it when browsing on http://europe4vacations.com

      I enjoy your hubs - well done

    • profile image

      Marc Duchesne 

      10 years ago

      Hello Harlan : thanks for sharing with us those excellent tips & tricks. Very useful.

      _Marc

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