‘Ticket prices have doubled’ – Foreigners in France face high prices for family Christmas trips

After two years of travel restrictions, many foreigners in France were looking forward to a trip home to see family this Christmas, but now spiralling ticket prices - especially for air travel - have made the trip unaffordable for some.

For Local readers who live in the US, Australia, India and other long-haul destinations, visiting family and friends during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays is a big journey that can only be done by air. 

As the first winter holiday season in two years without travel restrictions in place, many who were looking forward to being able to finally see family – but then they checked the ticket prices.

The website Hopper noted that airline tickets in September were 22 percent more expensive when compared with 2019 prices, and 43 percent pricier than in 2021. 

The Local asked readers whether travel costs would be an impediment for travelling home this year, and almost a third of respondents said they would not be flying “due to high costs.” 

One reader, Mike, is still planning to travel to the United States this Christmas, but he noticed that the cost was “much higher.”

“It actually made a difference on our schedule,” he added. 

Another respondent, Kevin said he had noticed tickets to his home in the United States were “about €300-€400 more per ticket.”

Americans are not the only ones dealing with higher prices though. Michelle Newman, an Australian in Paris, has not been back to Australia in over two years. 

Even though she will still be making the trip, she noted that “ticket prices have doubled.” Another potential trouble spot for Australians, Newman pointed out was that “there is no longer a direct flight from Dubai.”

Indian readers of The Local have been faced with similar price-related dilemmas when it comes to travelling home. Abhijeet Shegokar, who lives in Paris, said that flights were as much as “60 percent higher” than they normally would be.

This was echoed by reader Swastik Rath, who lives in Lyon and noticed prices to go home were “30 to 40 percent higher.”

For many foreigners living in France, this winter season will represent the first time they are able to head home for the Christmas/ New Year holiday since the start of the pandemic, so some have decided to pay the high prices anyway.

“We had to cancel last year because of Omicron,” said Kathy Gallagher. “Not a chance this year as we have a new grandchild to see!”

In response to ticket prices going up, many readers had advice for how others can affordably travel home this winter.

“Book in advance” was the most common answer. Victoria, who lives in Marseille, said she puts “alerts out on multiple websites.” She recommended patience, packing extra clothes “in case your bags are delayed,” and “[being] willing to change dates.”

Other readers, like Ken who lives in Paris, also advised flexibility with dates: “The flight prices changes depending on your exact depart/arrival date, you could still find decent price if you’re flexible with your travel dates (+- a few days),” he said.

This is an option for those planning far enough ahead – using Google Flights calendar tools and other flight scanning websites, foreigners living in France can save various date combinations for their future holiday and receive periodic price updates. While this takes a bit more wiggle room with exact times and dates, as well as extra planning, but it can be a great way to snag a good deal if one arises. 

For some, there were precise timelines for when to book early, one respondent said to do so “three months in advance.”

For those heading back to the UK for the Christmas/ New Year’s holiday, Susan Robinson recommended trying to “travel mid week.” 

“I now spend a little more on my flight to get nearer where I live as trains in UK are not reliable because of strikes and taxis are now expensive because of the petrol/diesel going up,” added Robinson.

The other option is travelling outside peak times, and some readers told us that had given up on a family Christmas and were instead travelling in October or November.

While this may not be available to families tied to school calendars, it can be a potential way to save money while still getting to see family and friends.

Many thanks to everyone who answered our survey and shared their tips.

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French airline staff threaten strikes over Christmas

Unions representing cabin crew on several airlines have threatened to take strike action over the Christmas holidays in a series of increasingly bitter pay disputes.

French airline staff threaten strikes over Christmas

Cabin crew for Air France have already outlined dates for possible strike days, while unions representing staff at Easyjet and Ryanair are threatening “massive disruption” unless their demands are met.

The SNPNC-FO union, which represents cabin crew working in France, is calling for pay increases for its members working for budget airline Easyjet, warning that if no agreement is reached there will be a “very high risk” of walk-outs over Christmas.

Strikes, prices and services – what you need to know about travel over Christmas 2022

No exact dates have been proposed yet, but the union says that the current pay offer does not cover the rising cost of living, adding “the management will be responsible for the disruptions suffered by our customers”.

Cabin crew at Air France have filed a provisional strike notice from December 22nd to January 2nd, although whether staff actually walk out depends on how the pay negotiations go.

“This notice should serve as a warning to our management,” explains a union leaflet. “If this warning is not heeded, only a strong mobilisation will be able to tip the balance.”

So far the only confirmed strike action is at Air Antilles and Air Guyane – which mostly run flights between France and the Caribbean and French Guyana. Their staff will be walking out between December 17th and December 22nd, unless there is a breakthrough in pay negotiations. 

Ryanair crew working in Belgium have also threatened strike action over Christmas, although so far their French colleagues have not revealed any strike plans. 

Things look better for rail and ferry travel, with no strikes currently planned – although anyone with a trip to the UK planned should be aware of strike days planned by British rail staff over the Christmas and New Year period.

French airport ground staff and air traffic controllers won themselves a pay rise after strike action over the summer holidays. 

You can find all the latest strike information for France on our strikes page HERE.