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The Bargain Corner

Charter Flights Abroad

March 27, 1988|JACK ADLER

Charter flights remain a low-cost method of travel, despite the drop of the dollar. As a result, more companies may offer charters to the United States from abroad, with American travelers benefiting.

An example is a French company, Go Voyages in Paris, which is offering Paris-LAX charter flights from May through October.

To fill their planes, turnaround flights from LAX to Paris are sold to Americans. These flights are sold by a local sales agent, Ambassador International Travel, phone (213) 383-1287, for the French company.

Charter flights sold in the United States for the turnaround trips are governed by U.S. Department of Transportation rules. Thus, money paid to the charters by Americans must be put into separate escrow accounts for each flight.

The same relationship can work the other way, with American operators granting European companies the right to sell charter flights from Europe to the United States. Some charter operators, however, are based in the United States and Europe. In any case, there are a considerable number of charters to look into.

A passenger buying a ticket in France would pay about $379 each way in July. But the one-way price for a ticket bought in the United States for July is $249, and $498 round trip.

Compare other low-cost flights to Europe. Using LAX-Paris-LAX as an example, you could get an APEX fare on scheduled airlines for $922 round trip in July, which is high season, and thus has higher rates. You could also buy a bulk fare seat to Paris, still on scheduled airlines, in July from or through consolidators for about $700. Both kinds of fares involve conditions and restrictions, which might affect your choice.

When faced with empty seats close to departure, charter operators sometimes offer discounts. But you need considerable flexibility to be able to travel on this basis and you'll have to know if the discount applies on a one-way or round-trip basis.

It's also a good idea to check the routing of charter flights, as they may not be nonstop.

For example, these LAX-Paris flights stop each way at Frobisher Bay, Canada. Also learn the name of the airline and the configuration of the jet. These flights are scheduled to be on American Trans Air aboard an L-1011 with a 344-seat configuration.

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