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Why is airfare more expensive if you are staying over 30 days?

Dear Anita,

I would like to send my children (ages five and eight) to spend their summer in France with their grandparents. Why is airfare more expensive if you stay over 30 days? Is there any way around it, even if I book my tickets five months in advance?

I really don't understand this rule. How can it be more expensive for an airline company to have people stay over 30 days knowing that a plane ticket for Europe in the summer is already outrageously expensive?

Thank you for your response,


Dear Veronique,

This is one of those airfare quandaries that makes no sense to the traveler. Airlines placed a 30-day cap on tickets because they wanted to crack down on back-to-back ticketing. Back-to-back ticketing is when a passenger buys two discount round-trip tickets that require Saturday-night stays, paying less altogether than for an unrestricted ticket. For a Philadelphia-Paris trip for example, one ticket would show the traveler starting from Philadelphia and the other shows him or her starting in Paris. Then the passenger uses half of each ticket to make the trip. Most airlines prohibit back-to-back tickets and have created sophisticated software to ferret them out. Airlines will penalize fliers who they catch breaking the rules—although passengers who book back-to-back tickets on two different airlines can't be detected…yet.

However, there is a way to avoid expensive fares for stays longer than 30 days: consolidator tickets, which are purchased by airline wholesalers and then resold to travel agencies at substantial discounts to fill empty seats. These tickets offer more liberal minimum or maximum stay requirements, interline (airline to airline) ticket combinations, stopovers, and cancellation fees, which are far below those of non-refundable fares. Some airlines even allow frequent flier miles on consolidator tickets. These tickets are also usually less expensive than the lowest published fares.

Consolidator fares and conditions of sale vary since airfare market conditions change constantly. You can buy discount tickets directly from consolidator agencies or through a reliable local travel agent.

I hope I've been helpful. Happy travels!

Anita Dunham-Potter

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