Although we’re still in the middle of 2021, the seasonal non-stops from Halifax to Europe are starting to hit the schedule for 2022. If you’re itching to begin planning a trip, it’s a good idea to at least be on the lookout for great airfare deals for next year. And if London and Paris are on your list, right now you can lock in a super multi-city fare.
WestJet Seasonal Non-Stops from Halifax
For those of us who normally depart from YHZ, WestJet’s seasonal routes provide a terrific opportunity to get across the pond without first backtracking to Montreal or Toronto or heading south to Boston or New York. In addition, there is Air Canada’s (usually) year-round service to London Heathrow and the seasonal non-stop to Frankfurt (and occasionally Munich) on Condor. Next summer will also see Eurowings Discover, a subsidiary of Lufhansa, flying that route as well.
The following destinations are currently scheduled to be available non-stop from Halifax on WestJet with these start dates:
London Gatwick – May 1, 2022
Glasgow – May 1, 2022
Dublin – May 2, 2022
Paris – May 7, 2022
(Manchester had also been in the cards at one point but there is no indication yet if that route is still on WestJet’s agenda).
Halifax into London and out of Paris
If you plan on visiting more than one city on a trip, it can often make sense both logistically and economically to fly into one and out of the other (known as an “open jaw” ticket). Note that this particular city combo works best with London first as departures from its airports levy high fees that you’ll avoid by heading home from Paris instead. Take the Eurostar between them.
Booking two one-ways versus one multi-city ticket
When flying into one airport and out of the other, you have two options. You can book two separate one-way tickets or a single multi-city itinerary. One benefit of the latter is that if you have to cancel your trip, you’ll only face a single cancellation penalty. (But WestJet’s current free change policy for bookings made before July 31, 2021 makes this less of a factor).
However, sometimes it will be considerably cheaper to book it as two one-ways. Also, if London is your first destination, buying separate tickets also gives you the option to fly Air Canada if you have a preference for Heathrow or have a promo code or some incentive to book Air Canada over WestJet on the outbound. (This doesn’t work in the opposite direction though, the low one-way YHZ to LHR on Air Canada is something of an anomaly).
Halifax to London one-way is $323:
Paris to Halifax one-way is $292:
$615 Basic Economy – Multiple Dates Available
This price is the basic economy fare so make sure to review the terms and conditions in case regular economy suits your needs better. If you pack light and don’t care about seat selection, basic economy might be okay. Otherwise, you can pay a bit more for additional inclusions in the fare.
To easily find the dates with the lowest price, use Google Flights (or ITA Software) to scan the one-way fares using the calendar search as shown above. Then input your chosen dates into the multi-city search.
You’ll see at this point that Google Flights directs you to book separate tickets to get the low $615 fare. For comparison, booking one multi-city ticket is $731.
If you can redeem some WestJet dollars (WSD) toward your booking, that makes the deal even better. Aside from earning WestJet dollars by flying, you can get them by signing up for and spending on an RBC WestJet MasterCard or RBC WestJet World Elite MasterCard. You can also acquire WSD by converting RBC Avion points earned with an RBC Avion Visa Platinum or RBC Avion Visa Infinite credit card.
London Accommodation and Sightseeing
Depending on the length of stay, it might make sense to book a vacation rental so you’ll have a little more space than a typical London hotel room along with some facilities to make your own meals. If you’d prefer a place with a front desk, you can look for serviced apartment options like Citadines. Or, if you just want a place to sleep, consider a budget chain like Premier Inn, Ibis, Point A, Travelodge or Z Hotels. Check reviews carefully and make sure to see what transport links are nearby.
Rates at chain hotels fluctuate so you’ll need to monitor prices over time. London tends to be pretty expensive so It can be a good city to redeem loyalty points if you have any at your disposal. If you’re not looking for upscale accommodation, I’d say the most reasonable points options are IHG Rewards or Choice Privileges. After the switch to dynamic pricing, it’s now possible to get a room on some dates for under 25,000 IHG points per night. Choice is tricky because you can’t book a reward stay more than 100 days out so you won’t know exactly how many points you’ll need till then. The challenge with Marriott Bonvoy in London is the relative scarcity of lower category hotels, but the ability to get five nights for the price of four helps a bit.
There are a variety of ways to save money in London but the hands down best tip for sightseeing in my opinion is the ongoing London Days Out Guide 2FOR1 promotion. Buy a 1 or 7 day paper travelcard at a National Rail station to use on the tube and buses (NOT one loaded on an Oyster Card) to take advantage of these offers. (If you’re travelling round trip to London in and out of Gatwick, your National Rail ticket will also qualify for these 2 for 1 deals on and between your inbound and outbound journeys.)
Paris Accommodation and Sightseeing
For lodging in Paris, it should be noted that short-term rentals are regulated. If you’re going to book something on a site like Airbnb, ensure first that it’s legal. (In fact, Airbnb was recently fined 8 million euros for allowing rentals to be listed in Paris without registration numbers.)
As for points hotels, I would say Paris is a bit tougher than London. There are fewer chain properties so scoring a free stay is more difficult if you want a central location. I suggest loading up on fixed value travel points like Scotia Rewards, TD Rewards etc. to give you the flexibility to book a small independent hotel in a convenient spot with good reviews. Another strategy would be to get some Hotels.com gift cards at the grocery store to maximize your credit card’s multiplier bonus and earn some stamps on your stay.
There is no equivalent to London’s 2 for 1 deals that I’m aware of, but the next best thing is probably the Paris Museum Pass. If you’re going to be visiting many of the city’s most famous sites, the pass can save some money on admission and time waiting in the ticket line.
If you’re contemplating travel to Europe in 2022, a trip to London and Paris is a classic choice. The chance to get a low fare in the $600s from Halifax with a non-stop both ways makes it especially appealing. Hopefully leisure travel will be back in full swing by then. Meanwhile, you have lots of time to sort out affordable accommodation and plan your sightseeing priorities.