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April in Paris . . . chestnuts in blossom . . .
We interrupt the news about skyrocketing airfares with a new low-cost option for West Coast travelers heading to France.
After restarting its San Francisco–Paris flights this past fall, French Bee, the low-cost carrier out of Paris’s Orly Airport, is now launching a new Los Angeles–Paris route with discounted fares starting at $321 each way (or $642 round trip).
Starting April 30, French Bee will begin operating nonstop flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Paris–Orly International Airport (ORY) three times a week, on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. The frequency will increase to five times weekly in June and to six times weekly in July. Flights depart LAX at 7:45 p.m. PT and arrive at Orly the following day at 3:35 p.m. local time. Return flights depart Orly at 2:50 p.m. local time and land at LAX at 5:15 p.m. PT the same day.
The introductory fares are for French Bee’s Basic Economy class, which includes just one 26-pound carry-on and no meals—you’ll have to bring your own food or pay extra for the ultra-long flight (the flight between L.A. and Paris is nearly 11 hours). The fee for checking a first bag is $45 and for a second bag it’s $90.
But the airline also has a sizable Premium Economy fare class that includes two 50-pound checked bags, two meals, free drinks, and priority boarding. Premium Economy tickets from Los Angeles to Paris start at $679 one-way.
There is also an in-between option, called “Smart” class, which includes one 50-pound checked bag and an in-flight meal. If you ask us, this seems like the “smart” choice among the three fare classes.
The L.A. flight is good news for more than just those traveling out of Los Angeles. French Bee has partnered with Alaska Airlines to allow travelers to purchase a single ticket when connecting from destinations Alaska serves throughout the United States. In addition to San Francisco, and now Los Angeles, French Bee also offers direct flights from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Paris-Orly starting at $162 each way.
French Bee flights take place on newer Airbus A350s outfitted with 411 seats. All seats have adjustable headrests, USB and electrical outlets, headphone plugs, and in-flight entertainment on seatback screens. There are four Wi-Fi packages available for purchase: a Hello package for texting ($4); a Social package for scrolling ($9); a Geek plan for emails and internet surfing ($17); and an Addicted package to stay connected throughout the flight ($29).
For an extra $37, passengers can access the new French Bee Prime Lounge near the boarding gate at Paris–Orly 4. In the lounge, travelers get included Wi-Fi, international newspapers and magazines, and a selection of beverages and snacks.
Travelers can change their French Bee flight for a different date free of charge provided the fare is the same; otherwise, they will have to pay the fare difference. For a flight canceled by the passenger, fliers will receive a future flight credit to be redeemed within one year.
In mid-March, France moved the United States to its “green list” of countries, which means that fully vaccinated U.S. travelers can enter without a prearrival COVID test, and unvaccinated U.S. leisure travelers can enter the country as long as they present proof of a negative COVID test from within 72 hours of departure (for a PCR test) or within 48 hours of departure (for an antigen test). According to the U.S. Embassy in France, the French government will also accept a positive COVID test taken at least 11 days but no more than six months prior to arrival in lieu of the negative COVID test result.
U.S. travelers are also no longer being asked to fill out an online health declaration form prior to arrival.
As of February 1, 2022, in order to be considered fully vaccinated by the French government, those age 18 and older must have been vaccinated no more than nine months prior to entry, or they need to have received a booster COVID-19 vaccine dose.
Unvaccinated children under 12 are exempt from the testing requirement, but those age 12 and older must submit to the same testing requirements as unvaccinated adults.
Effective March 14, France has also suspended the use of its Pass Vaccinal (or Vaccine Pass), which was official proof of being fully vaccinated that was required for entering numerous establishments, including museums, cafés, restaurants, public transportation, and entertainment venues. France also lifted its indoor mask mandate in March, though individual businesses can set their own mask requirements and, of course, travelers and citizens can continue to wear masks if they so choose.
As for those returning to the United States from France, as of December 6, all international arrivals, vaccinated or not, need to be tested for COVID no more than one calendar day before their flight to the U.S., a requirement that remains in place as of press time. And all foreign arrivals into the U.S. must be vaccinated.
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