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Discount Ryanair summer flights on sale: 8 French travel updates

We also look at the app to get on fully booked trains, increased motorway tolls, the cancelled Christmas rail strike and more

Clockwise from top left: Christmas rail strikes avoided, increased tolls from February, the SNCF Connect app, Ryanair’s summer flights from France Pic: kamilpetran / Sergii Figurnyi / Hadrian / Shutterstock / SNCF Connect

This week you may have seen our stories on the Ryanair passengers left behind at Carcassonne airport, how the Paris 2024 Olympics will affect travel and the opening dates of the French ski resorts.
Here are other updates about travel to, from or within France:

Rail travel:

The SNCF can now tell you when a place becomes available on a train that was previously fully booked.

The new function was added to the SNCF Connect app on November 30 and allows for TGVs, InOui and Ouigo trains that are fully booked to appear in the results when people search for trains.

If the train is full, the option “Etre prévenu si un billet est dispo” (Be told if a ticket becomes available), will appear next to it.

People who select this option are then placed on a waiting list that works on a first-come-first-served basis.

If a ticket becomes available, people have a limited time to purchase it, varying between 10 minutes and 2 hours, depending on how much time remains before the train’s departure.

The function is exclusive to the SNCF Connect app. It is not available online.

Note that while the alert system is free and compatible with railcards, it does not offer any particular discounts.

A similar system has been available for Ouigo trains since 2022.

Read more: Ways to save money on train travel in France

TER trains may become less expensive after an MP proposed reducing VAT on tickets.

At present, TER regional train tickets include 10.5% VAT, but under the proposal of MP Antoine Vermorel-Marques (Les Républicains, Loire), this would be reduced to 5.5% - the same level as a baguette.

“It would help encourage people to take the train more, and see a real difference in price between the train and the car, which would help with road congestion and decarbonisation efforts,” said the MP.

The proposed VAT reduction on TER tickets would cost the state around €52,810,000 (based on 2022 travel figures).

Big Christmas rail strike called off.

The proposed strike by the SUD Rail that would have hit holiday rail travel, has been cancelled after a meeting with other unions.

“We decided not to be the organisation that would weaken the development of a powerful union movement,” announced SUD rail secretary Julien Troccaz.

He nonetheless described the SNCF’s 4.6% pay increase as “insufficient.”

The three other large rail worker unions were opposed to strike action in December, but may well choose to strike in the new year.

“This chapter is not over yet,” warned the secretary of the CGT Cheminots union. 

Previous article: French unions threaten Christmas and New Year rail strike 

Air travel:

Ryanair has opened booking for 2024 summer routes from France with discounted flights.

Nine million seats on flights between the end of March and October 2024 are now available for reservation on its website at a promotional price of €35.99.

The low-cost airline has also opened booking on flights for the same period from the UK with a similar offer of £31.99, with 37 million seats available.

Ryanair has also opened a new route, available immediately, between Paris-Beauvais and Dubrovnik, Croatia, with prices from €51.99.

Another route to Dubrovnik will start in April from Brussels-Charleroi, which will also have a route to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, starting in the same month.

Easyjet announces new route to Balearic islands 

The new flights between Montpellier and Palma, Mallorca will begin on April 1, 2024, with tickets available from €35 on Easyjet’s website.

The route will run twice a week, with flights on Monday and Thursday during the spring, switching to flights on Friday and Sunday during the summer months.

This addition will be Easyjet’s fourth route from Montpellier in 2024, in addition to Basel, London Gatwick and Luton airports.

At present, Seville is the only destination in Spain accessible from Montpellier airport, with year-round flights from Transavia.

 

Easyjet has to return 3,000 flight slots at Gatwick to British Airways.

The flight slots, which determine when an airline has the right to operate at an airport according to runway traffic, correspond to three planes’ worth of traffic. 

This will reduce Easyjet’s capacity at Gatwick airport from 81 to 78 planes.

Easyjet acquired extra flight slots from British Airways during the Covid-19 pandemic when BA reduced its capacity at Gatwick, ceding its slots to Easyjet and Spanish low-cost operator Vueling.

BA is now looking to expand its presence at Gatwick again, largely through its subsidiary BA Euroflyer.

 

Passengers will get more protection from flight cancellations under new proposals from the European Commission.

Airlines are already obligated to provide a duty of care and to provide rerouting, reimbursement and compensation in case of cancelled flights, however the European Commission says this does not go far enough.

Under the new proposals, drawn from the experience of cancellations during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the bankruptcy of travel agency Thomas Cook in 2019, airlines will have to actively inform passengers of their rights and contact them in case of cancellations.

Reimbursement will have to be in cash, and come no later than 14 days after the cancellation.

In addition, travel agencies will no longer be allowed to demand more than a 25% deposit 28 days in advance of trips, and in case of cancellation, travel agents will not be permitted to offer payment in gift vouchers.

“We want to make sure that the right to reimbursement is unimpeachable,” said European Commissioner for Justice and consumer rights Didier Reynders.

“These proposals will provide concrete solutions to concrete problems.”

Read more: Travel: How to be reimbursed if affected by strike action in France 

Road travel:

Motorway tolls will increase in 2024 but less than in previous years.

The prices of French motorway tolls increase each year on February 1. In 2024, they will increase by 3%.

The rise will affect all tolls, increasing prices to:

  • €15.75 (up from €15.30) from Toulouse to Narbonne
  • €59.20 (up from €57.42) from Bordeaux to Marseille 
  • €41.50 (up from €40.25) from Paris to Nantes
  • €57.80 (up from €56.06) from Bordeaux to Lyon 

This moderate rise, which is below current year-on-year inflation, has come as a pleasant surprise to motorists. 

36% of the toll price goes into the state coffers, and Actu.fr reported that motorists feared they would be penalised to help finance the 2024 budget.

Minister of Transport Clément Beaune said the fears of a high increase were “fake news”.

However, motorway operator Vinci had indeed requested an increase of 5% according to Actu.fr.

“I told them ‘no’,”  said Mr Beaune, confirming the increase would be only 3%. “Only the state can ultimately validate any increase in tolls.”

Mr Beaune also suggested that future increases would be lower still.

“We will see, depending on 2024 inflation figures,” he said. “[The 2025 increase] should be around 2.5%, so the price will still rise, but only moderately.” 

Read also: 180,000 unpaid fines for no-barrier French motorway section

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