Paris Attacks Create A Dilemma For Travelers | KUOW News and Information

Paris Attacks Create A Dilemma For Travelers

Nov 19, 2015
Originally published on November 30, 2015 11:56 am

Julija Svetlova had already made reservations at two Paris restaurants, booked hotels and paid for the two-hour Eurostar train from her home city of London last week when she turned on the television.

"I was about to pack my luggage on Friday, and then I just sat down and started to see all the stuff happening in Paris," she says.

Svetlova and her boyfriend stayed up until 3 a.m. watching the news. Brokenhearted, they canceled their plans.

"I actually went online and I saw that both of the places we were supposed to go to on Saturday, they were just basically half a mile away from [where] all these attacks happened," she says.

Svetlova, a photographer who had hoped to visit photo exhibitions in Paris, says she's determined to eventually make the trip.

"It's just hard, you know, it's just scary because you kind of think you're not safe anywhere," she says.

Joe Diaz has heard of many similar canceled adventures. He's the co-founder of Afar, a travel magazine

"[A] family of four canceled a trip that they were going to London, Paris and Barcelona," he says. "Another couple canceled a trip to Provence that they're going to be heading to in December. You've seen some business conferences cancel."

Diaz says he was in Paris last weekend, and intends to go again in three weeks.

"France, and Paris specifically, is probably one of the ... safest cities in the world right now because of what's happened," Diaz says. "And I think for us it would just do a disservice to cancel a trip in a place where I think they need those visitors and they need that support the most."

Rick Seaney, CEO of comparison shopping site FareCompare.com, says he thinks the dip in travel is temporary. He says the typical pattern following a terrorist attack is that travel declines for a few weeks. So far, he says, he hasn't seen traffic, searches or demand change dramatically for Paris or France.

"The airlines are waiving ... change fees if you already have a ticket, for example, for just the immediate time period, the next couple of weeks or so," Seaney says. "They're not even waiving the fees if you had travel in December, so if they were worried about that, they'd actually be refunding tickets and canceling flights."

The latest Paris attacks come on the heels of other attacks — in Beirut, the downed Russian jet in Egypt, and on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, also in Paris. Seaney says if demand declines and remains low for more than a few weeks, the airlines' complex ticket-pricing systems will pick up on it.

"It may lower those price points as it senses the demand isn't as good," he says.

And typically, even in areas where there is real or perceived increased risk, lower prices often bring back travelers.

"Even with the security risk, we saw a lot of people traveling to Mexico against the common wisdom to fly down there, because it was a third of the price as it was the year before," Seaney says.

Julija Svetlova, the London artist, says she thinks travel and security lines will become more of a hassle. But she will not be putting away her passport because of the terrorist attacks.

"I will definitely not stop traveling because of that, because things like that can happen anywhere and you can't predict it," Svetlova says.

In the meantime, she's been trying to get through to Eurostar to reschedule her trip. She says every time she calls, though, the line is busy.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Paris attacks struck a city that, among other things, is a city that people around the world really, really love. People also love to visit and save their money for that moment they can stroll along the Seine. Now many people wonder if they can. Some would-be tourists spoke with NPR's Yuki Noguchi.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Julija Svetlova had already made reservations at two Paris restaurants, booked hotels and paid for the two-hour Eurostar train from her home city of London last week when she turned on the television.

JULIJA SVETLOVA: I was about to pack my luggage on Friday. And then I just sat down and I started to sit down and I started to see all this stuff happening in Paris.

NOGUCHI: She and her boyfriend stayed up until 3 a.m. watching the news. Brokenhearted, they canceled their plans.

SVETLOVA: And I actually went online, and I saw that both of the places we were supposed to go to on Saturday, they were just basically half a mile away from where all these attacks happened.

NOGUCHI: Svetlova, a photographer who had hoped to visit photo exhibitions in Paris, says she's determined to eventually make the trip.

SVETLOVA: It's just hard, you know, it's just scary because you kind of think you're not safe anywhere.

NOGUCHI: Joe Diaz has heard of many similar canceled adventures.

JOE DIAZ: A family of four canceled a trip that they were going to London, Paris and Barcelona. Another couple canceled a trip to Provence that they were going to be heading to in December. You've seen some business conferences cancel.

NOGUCHI: Diaz is cofounder of Afar, a travel magazine. He says he was in Paris last weekend and intends to go again in three weeks.

DIAZ: France, and Paris specifically, is probably one of the most safest cities in the world right now because of what's happened. And I think, you know, for us it would just do a disservice to cancel a trip in a place where I think they need those visitors and they need that support the most.

NOGUCHI: Rick Seaney is CEO of farecompare.com, a comparison shopping site. He says he thinks the dip in travel is temporary. He says the typical pattern following a terrorist attack is that travel dips for a few weeks. So far, he says, he hasn't seen traffic, searches or demand change dramatically for Paris or France.

RICK SEANEY: The airlines are waiving fees for change fees if you already have a ticket, for example, for just the immediate time period - the next couple weeks or so. They're not even waiving the fees if you have travel in December. So if they were worried about that, they'd actually be refunding tickets and canceling flights.

NOGUCHI: The Paris attacks come on the heels of other attacks - on Lebanon, the downed Russian jet, and the Charlie Hebdo newspaper. Seaney says if demand declines and remains low for more than a few weeks, the airlines' complex ticket-pricing systems will pick up on it.

SEANEY: It may lower some of those price points as it senses the demand isn't as a good.

NOGUCHI: And typically, even in areas where there's real or perceived increased risk, lower prices often bring back travelers.

SEANEY: Even with the security risk, we saw a lot of people traveling to Mexico against the common wisdom to fly down there because it was a third of the price as it was the year before.

NOGUCHI: Julija Svetlova, the London artist, says she thinks travel and security lines will become more of a hassle. But she will not be packing up her passport because of the terrorist attacks.

SVETLOVA: I will definitely not stop traveling because of that because things like that can happen anywhere, and you can't predict it.

NOGUCHI: In the meantime, she's been trying to get through to Eurostar to reschedule her trip. She says every time she calls, though, the line has been busy. Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.