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They Couldn’t Afford Taylor Swift Tickets in America. So They Flew to France

Last summer, Wenfei Xie, a doctor from Kansas City, Missouri, went to see Taylor Swift in her hometown. She met a fellow Swiftie at the show who had reached out to Paris’s La Défense Arena to purchase tickets to Swift’s four-night stand. The fan had been shocked to learn that tickets cost significantly lower than in the U.S. Xie booked a VIP suite for herself and a few college friends, but her overseas travel plans quickly spiraled. Ultimately, Xie arranged for 12 VIP suites over three nights for a total of 291 people, many of whom are members of a Facebook group for physicians. 

“It’s really cool to meet other people who are similar to you and bond over your love of Taylor Swift,” Xie tells Rolling Stone. “It is expensive, but it’s all relative. If you want to see her and you’re making a vacation out of this, you’re probably spending less or equal to what you would pay in the U.S. on StubHub with their fees and probably not even getting as good of seats.”

Xie, who began planning the trip last summer with numerous spreadsheets to keep track of all the attendees, didn’t profit off the endeavor. Each person paid €1,700 face value for suite access that includes food, champagne, and private bathrooms. By comparison, suite tickets for Swift’s concerts in Miami or New Orleans are currently selling for $5,000 to $8,000 each without any food or beverage provided. 

“People ask, ‘Why did you do it?’” Xie says. “But how many times in your life do you have an opportunity like this? To bring so many cool people together and see what kind of joy that it brings them has been really cool.”

Xie and her extended group are far from the only international fans jetting to Paris for the opening of Swift’s European tour leg, which has created a fervor in the French city this week. More than a quarter of tickets for Swift’s Paris shows were purchased by Americans, París La Défense Arena CEO Frédéric Longuépée told NBC News.

Many missed out on last summer’s U.S. dates or struggled to buy tickets for the upcoming North American leg, which costs thousands on StubHub. Resale laws in France have kept congruent ticket inflation at bay, encouraging fans to spend their money on airline tickets and hotels to experience the Eras Tour overseas instead. For many, the flights were less than domestic U.S. flights and the sheer volume of hotels ensures that affordable options exist. It was an opportunity a lot of North American Swifties couldn’t resist. 

In France, the law specifies that tickets for sporting and cultural events can’t be sold above face value. Ticketmaster France provides a seller-to-seller reseller platform, which is governed by these regulations. “You may not list resale tickets for a price above the face value of the primary tickets, except with the agreement of the event organizer which you will be informed of when you offer resale tickets for sale on the resale platform,” the vendor notes in its rules. 

(From left) Brigid Ellis, Dana Fitzgerald and Chelsea Wittich flew to Paris to see Taylor Swift as a cheaper alternative to U.S. tickets

Brigid Ellis

The resale market is starkly different in European markets such as France compared to the United States, which has helped to encourage Swift’s fans to travel internationally for the Eras Tour. As Billboard noted last week, countries like France and Germany have strict caps on resale, taking away some of the incentive for scalpers to upcharge fans however much they think a customer would pay. 

No such restrictions exist stateside, where brokers and scalpers argue that concert tickets are a buyer’s property, and that ticket holders should be able to sell them for however much they like. The platforms that house resale have little incentive to institute caps given the money they get on ticket sales. 

As StubHub’s chief business officer Cris Miller told Rolling Stone in 2022: “We believe artists have a right to be able to sell their tickets at whatever price they see fit. And similarly, once that ticket is rightfully purchased by a consumer, we respect that ticket holder’s right and freedom to resell their ticket, freely as a truly free market should allow.”

That free market has led to some serious FOMO for Swifties who want to see their favorite artist perform live. Parents feel an added pressure to score tickets for their kids, which becomes amplified when their friends get to go and they don’t, a result of both availability and cost. The solution? Head to Europe. 

“They feel like,‘The cool kids are going, why am I not going?’” says Washington state resident Jennifer Johnson, who brought her teenage daughter to Paris after failing to get U.S. tickets. “There’s going to be a portion of sales that are completely random, because it is just who gets chosen from the ticket lottery. But then there are the people who will dish out $10,000 for a ticket. It becomes the haves and the have-nots for the people who are willing to buy those tickets.” 

Last summer, Cheri McCormick’s 13-year-old daughter, Ellie, was so desperate to see Swift perform she stood in the parking lot of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California for four hours to “Taygate” an Eras Tour concert from outside the venue. McCormick had tried to buy tickets, but couldn’t get a code via Ticketmaster. At the time, resell tickets went for $2,500-3,000 for obstructed view seats. 

“I am all for free enterprise, but it’s disappointing that the Ticketmaster debacle and viral frenzy for Stubhub tickets left my daughter with zero chance to see her favorite artist of all time,” McCormick says. “I wish tickets would have been more accessible to her and her peer group.”

Ellie’s dream is coming true this week in Paris. McCormick purchased two tickets for $1,500, which she says is “easily at least half or even a quarter of the cost of lesser seats with obstructed views in much larger stadiums for the upcoming U.S. shows.” She booked flights and a hotel using points, making a vacation in Paris a “far less expensive venture” than a concert in Santa Clara. 

Swifties Briley Gedrick, 10, and Brenner Lehrer, 9, in Paris

Brooke Gedrick

When Swift announced the initial leg of the Eras Tour in 2022, Swiftie outrage from the tour’s infamous Ticketmaster on-sale reignited conversation around the broken ticket marketplace, both against the live music giant Live Nation Entertainment (Ticketmaster’s parent company) and the resale market. While Ticketmaster was the official selling partner for tickets, thousands of fans were out of luck before Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan presale even ended. Fans had to sign up for the presale and be “invited” for a chance to buy tickets, but few people actually got the chance to place an order.

But due to France’s stricter laws, Shelly Ferry was able to turn the Eras Tour Paris shows into a full-on family holiday. She traveled to France from Great Falls, Virginia with her 15-year-old daughter, two of her daughter’s friends, and her three sons, ages five, seven, and 14. She initially purchased VIP tickets through the venue for night two totaling €780, and then an additional four floor seats through the ticket lottery for night one for €300 total. 

Ferry decided to fly overseas after pricing out a similar trip to Florida. “I would have loved to see Taylor in Miami and had reached out to rent a suite, but the tickets came out to $17,712 for four people without flight, hotel, rental car, parking, etc.,” she says. “We’re going to Paris [and] seeing Taylor Swift for two nights for significantly less. At the last minute, I decided to take my three boys and even with the plane tickets, the extra hotel room, and concert tickets, we were still spending almost the same or less than Miami or L.A.”

“People will fly out of the U.S. to get surgery because it’s so much cheaper to just do it in another country,” adds Johnson. “It’s kind of the same thing.”

(From left) Tina Tarantola, Jocelyn Frohm, Cortney White, Kimberly Schoofs awaiting Taylor

Kimberly Schoofs

Carolyn Emerson, who is part of Xie’s group of physician fans, brought her husband along for the show to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.  “There’s a mania around this tour that has gotten out of control and the ticket sellers and scalpers love having a scarce product to sell,” Emerson says. “ What concerns me is the process, stress, uncertainty, queueing, refreshing, and dynamic pricing that it takes to even buy tickets nowadays. There need to be laws passed prohibiting reselling above face value. You should be able to resell your ticket if you can’t go, but prevent people buying tickets just so they can make a profit on reselling them.”

Laura Lindsay, Skyscanner’s Global Travel Trends Expert, confirms that it can be better value for North American fans to seek out Eras Tour concerts in Europe. “You’re unlikely to make huge savings, but combining cheap overseas flights and accommodation with cheaper concert tickets can sometimes mean a similar overall cost,” Lindsay says. “If you’re able to travel for the concerts in Europe, your memories of seeing the tour might also include some incredible French pastries, Norwegian fashionista-spotting or Italian pasta. Prices are driven by demand and supply, and a strong dollar means European hotels might be cheaper than their equivalent in the United States. So, for example, instead of traveling on busy domestic flights over July 4th weekend, it might be cheaper to fly to Amsterdam for the Eras Tour dates.”

Earlier this year, Maryland tried to add a resale cap for concert tickets in what would have been one of the biggest ticketing policy changes in any state in years, but that provision was removed from the ticketing bill the state signed into law this week. 

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Some artists such as the Cure, Zach Bryan, Billie Eilish, and Pearl Jam have implemented non-transferable tickets and fan-to-fan exchanges on recent tours to keep fans from getting gouged on the secondary market. But some states don’t allow for tickets to be non-transferable, and brokers will still try to get around transferability limits at shows. Still, according to a National Independent Talent Organization analysis of The Cure’s tour last year, those limits are effective at keeping prices down.

Tickets for the European dates are still available on resale websites. The European leg of the Eras Tour will run through the summer, wrapping with a five-night stand in London in August. After that, Swift will play a final round of shows in North America, with concerts scheduled in Miami, New Orleans, Indianapolis, Toronto, and Vancouver. In December, the Eras Tour became the highest-grossing concert tour of all time, according to live music trade publication Pollstar, with the tour becoming the first-ever to gross more than $1 billion.

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