Airline picks for travel to Italy

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Dec 14th, 2007, 01:00 PM
  #1
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Airline picks for travel to Italy

Dear Folks:

My wife and I are travelling to Italy in June. We will probably go open jaw, into Venice and out from Rome. We live in Connecticut, so we can leave either from Hartford or Boston.

There seems to be three basic ways to do this.

1) We can travel on Northwest through Amsterdam. We could do this from BDL, so its easy. OK service, but a later arrival in Venice because of the change in Amsterdam. (Has anyone done the 757 transatlantic from Bradley or elsewhere?)

2) We can travel via JFK on Delta or Phili on US AIR. The advantage is that we change planes in the US, and arrive in Venice directly after the long leg. The disadvantage is that I keep hearing horror stories about substandard service and beat up airplanes on these routes.

3) We can travel through Heathrow on either British Air or Virgin. On Orbitz I've seen through tickets transferring to BMI to Venice, or, in the case of Virgin, Alitalia. The advantage is better service and IFE (and the possibility of booking premium economy). The disadvantage is the change at Heathrow (why is this supposed to be so unpleasant?), and the later arrival in Venice.

Anyone have thoughts on the relative merits? I have been very impressed by the expertise on the list.
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Dec 14th, 2007, 01:34 PM
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I'm not a big fan of NW, but the non-stop from BDL would be appealing if you're significantly closer to Hartford (Windsor Locks) than to Boston. One big downside (to me) of the BDL-AMS flight is that it's on a narrow-body 757, which is not really the most comfortable way to fly to Europe.

Heathrow has been an awful place to transfer for multiple reason: severe limits for carry-ons, long security lines, and aggravating changes of terminals. However, when T5 opens in spring to handle most BA flights, many problems may dissipate. And, the carry-on rule will be relaxed soon.

I would not use the US non-stop to Venice. You'll arrive in Venice early in the am, very probably tired and looking for somewhere to refresh yourself. There's an excellent chance that your hotel room will not be ready at that hour -- really is not a big advantage to arriving early.

One other possibility, if you want to avoid the awful feeling of arriving in Europe after a mostly sleepless night in a crowded plane: Take the BA morning flight from BOS or JFK, stay overnight in a hotel near Heathrow (you can get a decent price through Priceline), then fly on to Venice the next morning. Same price as the overnight flight connection on BA, and you start the day in Venice feeling refreshed.
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Dec 14th, 2007, 02:51 PM
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I would take Rizzuto's last advice, and -- as much as I detest Heathrow -- stay overnight there, get a decent sleep before heading to Venice...

Right there at Heathrow there is this modern Hilton which we stayed in one night, couple years ago (it must have been inexpensive, since I'm cheap), and were very pleased with. Their buffet breakfast (which was included) was excellent.
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Dec 14th, 2007, 04:06 PM
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LilRicky
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Rizzuto's advice works for me; great idea!
 
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Dec 14th, 2007, 11:14 PM
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Northwest 98 to AMS, a 2 hr 40 min connection, and then KLM 1653 to VCE arriving at 11:20 AM

That's 11 hrs 40 minutes travel time and it is done.
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Dec 15th, 2007, 08:06 AM
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Lufthansa just make sure its on the airbus. They have a evening flight out of JFK puts you into Venice at 9:30am with one stop.
Numerous flights from Rome via Frankfurt.
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Dec 15th, 2007, 12:31 PM
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We also live in Connecticut, and are flying to Rome in March. I investigate many options, and decided on Northwest airlines leaving from Boston instead of Hartford. We will be leaving our car at our daughter's house near Boston, thus avoiding parking charges. The problem with the the BDL-AMS-Rome option is that the return flight leaves Rome at 5:55 AM. We really dislike leaving this early in the morning on the trip home. To us, it sort of ruins the tail end of the trip. The Rome-Amsterdam leg of our trip leaves at a more civilized 10:20 AM. I was also very happy with the NW airfare of $558.

Amsterdam is one of the best cities in Europe for making flight transfers, with an average connection time of about 1 hour. Only Zurich and Munich are better, with average connection times of around 50 minutes. Heathrow is one of the worst (along with Paris CDG) with 2 hours + being the norm.

It is possible to fly from BDL to JFK or Newark and pick up non-stop flights to Italy on either Delta or Continental. Given the congestion at the New York area airports, I would not recommend this option.



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Dec 15th, 2007, 12:47 PM
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Other options from Boston include Swiss (through Zurich). The problem is that the layover times in Zurich are too short/long depending on the flights selected.

You can also fly Air France from Boston to either Venice or Rome via Paris CDG. We used this option on our last trip to Italy.
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Dec 15th, 2007, 11:47 PM
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The BA options don't really work, and terminal 5 won't help much: BA flies to Venice from Gatwick.

In June, the only flights to Venice from Heathrow will be bmi from T1 (to which there will be no flights from the US eastern seaboard) or Alitalia from T4 (to which Delta and Continental will be flying from the eastern US). Using Virgin (who ALSO operate a daytime eastbound flight from JFK, but arrive at T3 from where there are practically no flights to Italy) means changing terminals for the Venice connection, and there's not yet any evidence Terminal 5's opening will make this any less stressful. There's no hotel actually in the T3 complex (Mamamia is talking about arriving at T4, which is about three miles away), so taking the daytime flight means catching a bus to an off-airport hotel, or getting the free train to the T4 Hilton.

The reason many people dislike Heathrow stems from the fact that more people choose to use it for international flights than any other airport, anywhere, ever. They make that choice because flights to it suit more people's preferences than flights to other airports. Your choice seems to be between Virgin's superior service and timing and the better connection experience, but inferior flights, offered via Amsterdam or Frankfurt.
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Dec 16th, 2007, 08:15 AM
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My thanks to all of you for your insight. I think flanneruk sums up the trade off involving Heathrow nicely.

Here are two more questions:

1) What actually is involved in transferring terminals at Heathrow, either to do BA to BMI or Virgin to Alitalia. I am envisioning passing through immigration and getting on a bus, then checking in again and passing through security. I am assuming my bags will be transferred by the airline. Is that about right? And if so, does that take 2 hours? 3 hours?

2) Is there anywhere to get a shower either in the various terminals at Heathrow or in Amsterdam? I am not a frequent flyer and do not have any club memberships, so I suspect this will have to be a shower open to the general public. Has anyone done this?

This board is terrific!

Hazard
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Dec 16th, 2007, 10:52 AM
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Iberia has 5 day a week non-stop service between Boston and Madrid. There is about a 3 hour connection available in the same terminal (4S) to Venice and about a 2 hour connection in the same terminal on the return.

We used IB via MIA to MAD and MAD-BOS in November. We found the business class to be more to our liking than either BA or AA. I'm sure someone on this forum can speak for their tourist class.
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Dec 16th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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I took a shower in terminal 4, but that was years ago... I think it was next to gate 9, at the end of the wing which is to the right of the Starbucks stand....
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Dec 16th, 2007, 07:55 PM
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Having taken a flight to Gatwick from the US last month,then spending the night before continuing on out of Heathrow to Delhi-I would definitely take the nonstop to Venice out of JFK or EWR and then the nonstop back from Rome. The hotels are VERY expensive at both Heathrow and Gatwick(yes,even on a Priceline if you can get availability when you want).
Other reasons:
You are going to pay more in taxes flying in and out of the London airports than others in Europe.
You are still going to have to wait in London for a room as most flights from the US land very early and you can usually not get your room till early afternoon-at least you could get to Venice,get some sun and have a coffee and enjoy the sights while waiting for your room.
You will always feel better with "nonstop" overnights to your destination!
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Dec 17th, 2007, 04:31 AM
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Honestly, I don't see why this is a question. NW/KL through Amsterdam will be a better overall experience than any other option. You can leave from your home airport and a connection in AMS is better than a connection at ANY other airport for this route. And it isn't the most luxurious and doesn't have IFE, but that 757 has 34" of seat pitch, which is 2-3 more inches than BA or Virgin. To me, at least, that is worth more than a couple of extra movie options.
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Dec 17th, 2007, 07:09 AM
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Try Air Lingus to Dublin, and then on with Ryanair. Research baggage limits.
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