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Thursday, October 27th 2016

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from YUL." - Chris Myden

Montreal To Paris | How To Get The Best Deal On Flights

Guides >> Europe >> France >> Flights from Montreal to Paris

The Ydeals Noise-Free Guide To Getting The Best Deal On Flights From Montreal (YUL) to Paris

Ydeals logo There are thousands of travel sites out there, all wanting you to believe they have unique or special prices on airfares to Paris. The truth is, they don't.

They rely on marketing noise to hide the fact that there are really only two sources of unique prices on flights to Paris.

This guide will remove that noise and show you what those sources are, so you can stop wasting so much time when searching for the best Paris flight deal.

So, what are these unique sources of prices on flights from Montreal to Paris ?

Unique Source #1 - The Major Airlines

There are 12 major airlines that offer fares from Montreal to Paris, and they are:
Air Berlin, Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Delta, Finnair, Lufthansa, Royal Air Maroc, Swiss International, and United Airlines.

How many airports does Paris have?

From Montreal, there are two Paris airports that people commonly fly in and out of.

  • Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
  • Orly (ORY)

All of the major airlines listed above use CDG, which is the major airport in Paris. It's only certain charter airlines that fly from Montreal to ORY airport, and we'll be discussing this later in Unique Source #2 - The Charter Airlines.

Where should I look to get the best Paris holiday flight deal?

All you need to do is search the major airlines, preferably all at once. My current favorite way to do this would be using Google Flights Explorer because you simply enter 'Paris (all airports)' into the 'To' box, and see current airfares from all the major airlines out of Montreal, to both Paris airports, at one time. Not to mention how easy it is to browse through different date combinations.

Even if you're planning to go for a longer date range than Google Flight Explorer supports (currently up to 2 weeks), it will give you an excellent idea of what the typical bottom price is right now, and which airline(s) it can be found on. Use it as a starting point, and then use a tool with more precise travel search options, such as...

My second favorite way would be to search airline prices using Kayak. It has all the sort and filter options I need, and searches all major airlines. Click on 'Make my dates flexible' and set it to '+/- 3 days'. You may be surprised how often being a little flexible with your dates can result in a better price.

Similar to using Google Flight Explorer, in the 'To' box on Kayak, use 'Paris, France - All airports (PAR)' as your destination, to make sure you search both of Paris's airports. With any decent travel search engine, if you use the 3 letter code PAR you will be searching both airports. You can also click on 'airport map' right underneath the 'To' box, to pick and choose which airports you want to search.

What about the thousands of other vacation booking sites that have airfares to Paris?

This is the noise. There is no shortage of travel dealer sites or flight offering brands trying to convince you that they have the cheapest flights from Montreal to Paris. The truth is though, there's only one unique source of prices that they're gathering their prices from, and that's the prices from the major airlines themselves. Since they can't offer a lower price than the airline itself, there's already virtually no markup.

There's a few reasons why I think travelers waste an enormous amount of time checking multiple websites, hoping for a better deal than the one they already found (studies show it to be an average of 22 different sites over 10 periods of research!). The first reason is just human nature. We all want to compare prices and make sure we're getting the best deal.

I happen to think the biggest reason is simply the noise of travel marketing. With so many travel sites and brands competing for your travel budget dollars, all hoping you'll book through them, combined with the fact that not one of them will *ever* admit to you that their source of prices is the same as everyone else, it's little wonder travelers waste so much time searching.

What about searching an airline's website directly?

There's nothing wrong with doing that. It's usually just a lot easier to search all of the airlines at once, with a better interface using a good flight booking search tool. It's amazing how poor many of the airline's search interfaces are. The fares found on any half-decent search engine will be the same as the fares found on the airline's own website.

One thing you can do is just use an airline seat booking tool to search all the airlines at once, and then go to the airline's own site to book it once you've figured out exactly which flight you want, and what the price is.

What about my local travel agency or independent travel agent?

They're seeing the same prices you are. Depending on the agency or agent, they may or may not charge you a 'booking fee' on top of the airfare price, for their time. As there's virtually no markup on the cost of flights, they can't offer you a price that's any cheaper than from the airline, or from a search tool that properly searches the latest airfares.

When should I book to get the best price?

This is never an easy question to answer, as airfares are not 100% predictable. Airlines start by setting their price at a level they think will fill the maximum number of seats, based on the demand they expect to see. If they experience less demand than they expected, they may decide to lower them. If they experience more demand than they expected, they may raise them. Unfortunately, a lot of factors that influence demand can be unpredictable.

How long a person can wait it out in hopes of a better price is a personal decision. Personally though, I am usually not afraid to watch prices on the major airlines up to about 8 weeks before departure in hopes of a better price without fear of the price rising. But everyone has a different tolerance for risk.

What about last minute deals out of Montreal?

Last minute airfare deals to Paris on the major airlines don't really exist. Typical of most airfares on the major airlines, as you get fairly close to the departure date, if the airline has done their job correctly, and filled most of the seats on the plane, they feel the last remaining seats become more valuable, and often decide to raise the price.

What's a decent economy seat price to Paris?

From Montreal, flights to Paris on the major airlines tend to bottom out around $750 - $850 roundtrip after taxes. This is just a general guideline though, based on average demand periods of the year. And note that we're talking about the major airlines here. Charter flights can be cheaper, as we'll see below in Unique Source #2.

Airfare prices are highly affected by demand. So anytime you can think of a reason that there might be higher demand than usual for flying economy to Paris (such as dates when many people in Montreal have holiday time) you can expect prices to react accordingly.

What about one way flights to Paris?

One way flights to Paris on the major airlines can be a terrible deal. They are often even more expensive than a roundtrip flight! This is often the case with international flights overseas on the major airlines, unlike flights to destinations within Canada and the U.S. where prices are generally 50-60% of the roundtrip cost. To get a good one-way price to Paris, you'll likely need to look at Source #2 - The Charter Airlines.

What about non-stop (direct) flights to Paris?

From Montreal, there are non-stop (direct) flights to Paris (CDG) on the following major airlines: Air Canada, Air France, and Lufthansa.

As we'll see in Source #2 - The Charter Airlines, there are a couple more airlines that fly non-stop (direct) from Montreal to Paris.

What about a multi-city flight? Such as into Paris and out of another city in Europe?

Searching for multi-city flights in travel is still a bit of a pain for travellers. Even Google Explorer currently can't handle it, as there's too many possible combinations. I'm sure eventually someone (likely Google) will put enough processing power behind it and create something useful for searching multi-city fares.

But until then, you're stuck with searching one departure date at a time when it comes to multi-city fares and experimenting with different European destination/departure combinations. Most of the decent travel sites will offer a multi-city option (it should be right next to 'one-way' and 'round-trip').

Kayak would be my preferred option here. Just click on the 'multi-city' option and in the first box, enter in Montreal (YUL) to Paris (PAR), or whatever airport you want to fly into, and then in the second box, enter Barcelona (BCN) to Montreal, or whatever airport you want to fly out of.

You never really know what you're going to get with a multi-city fare. From Montreal to Europe, it can often be around the same price as a typical roundtrip fare to the same destinations (or an average of the two). Sometimes it can be slightly more. In rare cases it can even be cheaper. Of course, you're still left with figuring out the cost of getting between the two airports.

One little trick I've learned with Kayak is to keep it on the 'roundtrip' option, and make your dates flexible (3 days before and after). And then in the 'To' box, enter up to a maximum of 4 destinations, using the 3 letter airport codes, separated by commas. For example, you could enter: PAR, LON, AMS, FRA

This will search flights to all 4 of these popular European cities at once, and look for cheap multi-city combinations into one city and out of another. Many of the results will just be the typical roundtrip flights, but when you scroll down the results, look for the airport codes that are highlighted in pink. These are the flights involving two different cities.

To use this method effectively, you need to get to know the 3 letter airport codes for the destinations you're interested in. Just Google the name of the city, followed by 'airport code' and you should be able to find it quite easily. (Google usually shows it at the top, or on the right hand side of the page).

Unique Source #2 - The Charter Airlines

There are 2 charter airlines that offer fares from Montreal to Paris, and they are:
Air Transat and Corsair.

Air Transat flys to Charles de Gaulle (CDG), the largest airport in Paris, just like all the major airlines do.

Corsair on the other hand, is the one airline from Montreal that flys to Orly Airport (ORY), which is located about 20km south of central Paris. (That's closer than CDG airport, which is 30km NE of central Paris).

Where should I look to get the best flight deal to Paris?

In Unique Source #1 - The Major Airlines, I showed you how to search the major airlines in the best way possible. Those same techniques will cover the latest charter fares on Air Transat and Corsair as well. BUT, here are some exceptions I've noticed over the years...

  • Prices on Air Transat's own site, www.AirTransat.ca, on rare occasion can be different than what is listed in the common search engines. It's usually worth a separate search. After searching, hit the 'Flexible Dates' tab to make it a little easier to see what's available.
  • Canadian tour operator Sunwing offers fares to Paris, by using Corsair flights. It can be worth searching www.Sunwing.ca, as the prices on rare occasions are different than what's available in the common search engines.

What about vast number of other travel sites that have charter airfares to Paris?

This is the noise. There are *many* travel sites and brands that sell Air Transat and Corsair's charter airfares to Paris. Most of them are based in Canada. You may already be familiar with some of the sites & brands that spend the most on advertising, such as:

RedTag iTravel2000 Flight Network Sell Off Vacations Tripcentral
Flight Centre Signature Vacations Sears Travel Escapes Marlin Travel

This is by no means a complete list of all the Canadian-based travel sites. The only important thing you need to know as someone searching for the best deal from Montreal to Paris is that all of them are retrieving their prices from the same source, and all trying to sell you the exact same flights at the exact same prices.

One site or brand can't offer a lower price than their competition, as there is virtually no price markup on flights, and they can't legally change the airfare prices themselves.

In other words, it is a huge waste of your valuable time to bother checking any more than one of the Canadian-based travel sites. (And if you've checked out prices using the search engines I already mentioned, it's a total waste of time to check any of them, as those searches already cover the current charter airfares to Paris).

A large number of Canadian vacationers out there that have been fooled into thinking they are comparison shopping, since no travel site or brand would ever admit that their prices are identical to their competition.

What about my local travel agency or independent travel agent here in Montreal?

If it's through a travel agency in Canada, or a Canadian travel agent, you can just think of them as being identical to the sites I just mentioned above since they're accessing the exact same prices from the same sources.

Depending on the agency or agent, they may or may not charge you a 'booking fee' for their time, on top of the airfare price. As there's virtually no markup for commission on the cost of flights, they can't offer you a price that's any cheaper than from the airline, or from a search tool that properly searches the latest airfares.

When should I book to get the lowest price airfare to Paris?

The advice I gave in Unique Source #1, about 'when to book' on the major airlines applies to charter flights to Paris as well. The one big difference though, is that there is a greater possibility of charter airlines offering a significant price drop around 4-6 weeks before departure (sometimes even less). The major airlines pretty much never do this, so you can typically 'wait it out' longer when watching charter airfares than when watching fares on the major airlines.

Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that a charter airline will drop their price, as it depends on whether or not they end up with some seats that they couldn't sell, which is an unpredictable event.

What are the drawbacks to flying out of Montreal with the charter airlines?

Compared to flying one of the major airlines, the biggest drawbacks to the charter airlines are usually:

  • The seats are more cramped
  • No seat back entertainment (Air Transat is working on upgrading their fleet to offer this)
  • If something happens with your plane (cancellation, delay, etc) or flight plans, the charter airline's probably won't be able to do anything for you, since the number of flights they have is limited. Contrast that to the major airlines who typically have more flights on a regular basis, and might be able to do something about it.

What about one way flights to Paris on the charter airlines?

On Air Transat or Corsair you can usually find one way flights to Paris for about 50-60% of the cost of a typical roundtrip flight. You may recall earlier in the guide that the major airlines usually have terrible one-way prices on international flights overseas. Charter flights can be of great benefit here.

What about non-stop (direct) flights to Paris?

From Montreal, Air Transat flys non-stop (direct) into Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Corsair flys non-stop (direct) into Orly (ORY). Both take about 7 hours.

What about a multi-city flight on the charter airlines? Into Paris and out of somewhere else in Europe?

The advice I gave about multi-city flights in Unique Source #1 - The Major Airlines applies here as well. Air Transat can be a good one to look at, as they sometimes drop their fares on flights coming back to Montreal from certain cities in Europe. Corsair can be worth a look if you're looking to come back from somewhere in France.

One thing about the charter airlines is that you can look for the cheapest one-way flight into a European city on one airline, and then look for the cheapest one-way flight back home from a different European city (either on the same airline, or a different charter airline) and have it possibly work out to a great price. This is a strategy that wouldn't really work on the major airlines, since their one-way fares are disproportionately expensive.

What about finding cheap flights to somewhere else in Europe, and then finding a cheap flight to Paris from there?

You may want to read the guide about How To Get The Best Deal On Flights From Montreal To Europe, which contains ideas about which European cities are often the cheapest to fly into, to see if this would save you any money.

Typically though, Paris is already one of the cheapest European cities to get to from Montreal, so combining a flight to another European city with a flight to Paris is not likely to work out to a lower price overall.

What about cheap flights to Paris from U.S. airports near Montreal?

If you've ever read my guide about flying out of U.S. Airports within driving distance of Montreal, you may know that I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see an airfare from a U.S. airport to Paris that's at least a certain number of dollars less per person than the airfare from Montreal.

How much cheaper it needs to be depends on which U.S. airport you're flying from. Below, I'll list how much cheaper I feel it should be from each U.S. airport, to be worth the drive.

From Plattsburgh, New York (PBG)

I feel it could be worth the drive, when you see an airfare from Plattsburgh to Paris that's at least $150 less per person than from Montreal.

Flights to Europe from Plattsburgh are typically not great deals though, compared to flights from Montreal where there is no competition. In fact, this is a destination where people in the U.S. might want to drive up to Canada to save money on airfares, rather than the reverse.

From Burlington, Vermont (BTV)

I feel it could be worth the drive, if you ever see an airfare from Burlington to Paris that's at least $225 less per person than from Montreal.

Similar to Plattsburgh, flights from Burlington to Paris are usually more expensive than from Montreal, so it's not typically going to be worth your while.

I think I've found a great deal on a Montreal flight to Paris!

Excellent! Please share it with your fellow travel lovers, they will appreciate it and thank you for it! You can post it in the YUL Deals Facebook group (click 'Join Group', at the top-right, when you arrive), where thousands of people from Montreal are crowd-sourcing the best deals, and sharing great travel advice.

Or if you prefer, you can always give me a shout through the YUL Deals contact form or on Twitter @YULdeals or through Google Plus. Great deal finds are always appreciated.

Why should I trust this Paris vacationer's guide?

Chris Myden Ydeals The info in this guide is based on my observations of the travel industry over the years, including all the thousands of websites out there, and where all the different players get their prices from and how they interact with each other.

The goal is to remove the noise of travel marketing, so people can stop wasting so much valuable time searching the same prices over and over.

But, as social proof of it's accuracy, feel free to join the YUL Deals Facebook Group (click 'Join Group', at the top-right, when you arrive) and publicly disagree with any of it, or make a comment below. Critiques are always welcome!

I think I have some info that could help improve the Montreal airport to Paris travel guide!

Great! Please post your info in the Facebook group above, or contact me directly. Suggestions for improvement are always appreciated. Let me know if you see something that seems inaccurate or outdated.

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