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drive 2 hours for direct flight ? or connection from "home" airport ?

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Aug 21st, 2011, 01:23 PM
  #1
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drive 2 hours for direct flight ? or connection from "home" airport ?

Flight prices are within $50 (for 5 people), so that is a wash.

Option #1:
- drive ~2 hours to EWR.
- direct flight to MXP.
- *horrible* seat selection - would be in seats next to bathrooms. (which I HATE!)


option #2:
- drive ~30 minutes to airport.
- connect through FRA (which I don't like). tight connection, but flights go every hour from FRA so would hope for next flight if there is a problem.
- great seat selection.

wash:
- price
- flight times
- airline (Continental vs. US Air - status on both)


thoughts ?
surfmom is offline  
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Aug 21st, 2011, 01:38 PM
  #2
 
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CO uses their 767-200 to MXP. None of the seats are actually right next to the lavatories. Plus, there's always a chance to switch to other seats closer to flight time.
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Aug 21st, 2011, 01:48 PM
  #3
 
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Things I'd consider

Have you considered airport parking costs (I've found huge discrepancies between different airports).

How does the driver feel about the extra drive time before and after an international flight?

Time of year? Will weather be a factor.. delays? cancellations?
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Aug 21st, 2011, 02:15 PM
  #4
 
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For overseas flights we have driven up to 2.5 hours to get a direct flight. Sassy-cat has some excellent questions to ask yourself. For us - it was always worth it. I hate to start a vacation with air trouble...(of course a direct flight doesn't guarantee that - but it reduces the odds greatly in my mind)...
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Aug 21st, 2011, 02:25 PM
  #5
esm
 
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I live in a small town. The decision for me would depend on time of year and chances of delays and cancellations. There are fewer flights to our small airport and only one airline so chances of being stuck are greater for us.
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Aug 21st, 2011, 05:12 PM
  #6
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wow, you guys are awesome!

@rkk,
I called and talked to an agent -- the seats are all booked by a large group, so I think we'd have less chance of getting 5 together and displacing part of the group. Of course, that doesn't mean that there wouldn't be changes, I just wonder if it is less likely ?

Our best options for seats would be 17E,F (middle/aisle of middle section), 17K (aisle), and 18 K, L (aisle, window). The bathrooms are directly behind row 18. Or at least they are shown that way in the seat diagram ? I just think we'd hear people in and out and banging the doors all night.

@sassy,
good thought about parking $$. We usually park in the garage next to the airport, so I'm comparing EWR vs. PHL. I think PHL is cheaper, probably works itself out with rounding?

Driver doesn't care. On outbound, EWR flight is about 2 hours later, so time is basically a wash (assuming no traffic problems). On inbound, EWR flight gets in about 2 hours before PHL flight, so also a wash. Would be returning the Monday after Thanksgiving, so hope that all the holiday traffic is done by then.

Time of year? Thanksgiving. who knows what can happen then?!?

@ill,
I agree that I would prefer a direct flight. I admit, I have an irrational dislike of the seating options. I guess I should just get good earbuds and an eyemask and get over the bathroom thing!

@esm,
neither airport is really "small" since I"m comparing PHL to EWR. Obviously, EWR has more direct flights to European destinations since they have more carriers and PHL is somewhat limited to USAir and carriers going to hubs only.


thanks everyone.
I still don't like making this decision. I asked the kids and I think they voted for PHL. Of course, that's probably how I phrased it.
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Aug 21st, 2011, 05:38 PM
  #7
 
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Rows 16-18 are choice seats on CO's 762. Quiet mini-cabin that all the elites love them. The only issue is that 17A and L don't have windows. Nothing to worry about the bathrooms.
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Aug 21st, 2011, 05:54 PM
  #8
esm
 
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Sorry surfmom, I saw EWR but somehow missed PHL! Good luck with the trip.
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Aug 21st, 2011, 07:48 PM
  #9
 
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I see no reason to drive to Newark. Last thing I'd want to do after a long flight is drive two hours or more.
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Aug 22nd, 2011, 03:42 AM
  #10
J62
 
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I drive 2hrs to take a non-stop over a one stop flight out of a closer airport all the time.

To me, the non-stop is reason enough.
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Aug 22nd, 2011, 09:30 AM
  #11
 
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I personally don't see any advantage to a non-stop flight; in fact I appreciate a little time to stretch out at the connection.

But the biggest advantage to me is cost. From Cleveland, I can take a taxi to and from the airport for about $30. I pay no parking fee. If I drive to the airport, parking is at least $10 a day, or $140 for a two week trip. I use the $140 for a very nice meal. And I have no driving to do on returning from a long, late, flight.
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Aug 22nd, 2011, 09:44 AM
  #12
 
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Your overall travel time will be less with the non-stop, even with the extra driving time. Coming back, flying non-stop from MXP on CO generally means a later (i.e. better) departure time than an early departure to FRA.

If parking costs is similar, I'd go to EWR. Less chance of mis-connection. Less chance of missing bags.
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Aug 23rd, 2011, 11:38 PM
  #13
 
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If you decide to drive, you're banking on traffic not being too bad, and that's no given in that region. The other consideration: Are you going to feel up to driving two hours, maybe more, after a long flight? I wouldn't, so for me, it would be an easy choice. Then again, I can't sleep on planes, particularly in coach.
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Aug 24th, 2011, 03:47 AM
  #14
J62
 
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I don't get the concern about driving home upon return. The flight from Europe back to the US is a day time flight, and you'll depart and arrive at an hour you'd normally be awake & alert.

It's not that different than flying from NY to SF and driving 2hrs when you get there. Do people really get that wiped out by a daytime flight?
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Aug 24th, 2011, 07:15 PM
  #15
 
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I drive 3 hours each way to fly out of ORD. I have two 'local' (one hour from home) airport choices (small regional airports) but opt to fly out of ORD instead, because of possible weather issues which can and do cause delays with the smaller regional planes.

I like parksleepfly, personally. I pay for one night at a nice hotel near ORD and then usually get 2 weeks free parking at the hotel, and very often it is parking inside a structure so that I don't have to deal with ice/snow in the winter. The hotels provide shuttle service to/from the airport on regular schedules so I'm never waiting very long for my ride to my waiting car.
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Aug 28th, 2011, 05:08 PM
  #16
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thank you everyone for comments.

@rkk, you are the zen master of flying - thanks for the input.

@andrews/J62, you are the yin and yang of my subconscious. One minute it is worth it, next not so much!

@cleveland, cost is about the same for parking either way. EWR is a bit more expensive than PHL, but it is probably rounding when I look at the entire trip, but a good thought!

@rkk, (again). Good point about less chance of missing bags. We try to do carryon only, but it gets challenging with 5 people. Last trip, we had 3 "clothes" bags (duffel size) and everyone had a backpack with books, electronics, etc. We haven't planned whether or not we can do it carryon only.

@andrews/J62, I have mixed feelings about the 2 hour drive. Coming home last time, I expected everyone in the backseat to fall asleep - but they didn't, which made bedtime much easier. The downside, though, is that 2 hours is long enough in the car that they need "entertainment" - which means digging out stuff we've tried to save for the trip. The 30 minutes to the PHL airport is short enough, everyone looks out the window. I forgot that last time and put backpacks in the way back and we had to stop and dig them out for the drive.

The 2 hours only becomes a problem is traffic is a problem. And who knows ?!?

@simpson, good thoughts about parksleepfly, but for this trip, since we fly out at night, kids are still going to school that day.

new alternative in next post.
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Aug 28th, 2011, 05:21 PM
  #17
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new alternative (and one that I'm leaning towards at this point in time). (same cost as the other choices)


outbound: PHL - LHR, LHR - Milan (LIN)
inbound: Venice (VCE) - LHR, LHR - PHL
=> British Airways

Advantages over other options:

+ prefer to connect through LHR than FRA. better options in Terminal 5 for food and those things that I've remembered enroute that I forgot (grrr).

+ WH Smith in LHR (especially fun to find different authors for the kids)

+ BA flight departs at 7:05pm so more chance of falling asleep than a 4:25pm flight.

+ arrival in LIN vs. MXP (closer to Milan, smaller airport)

+ departure from Venice instead of driving back to Milan on the last day (and staying in an airport hotel). The other options were too expensive out of Venice. Also, BA has a flight at noon (ish), so we don't have to be at the airport at 6am. Downside is that we get home at 8pm (the late flight from LHR on British Airways).

Downside:

- British Airways doesn't give out seat reservations in advance -- we will either have to pay to select seats or hope that we are okay at checkin (although as a family, I think we get priority).


question for the all-knowing experts... will we have to clear immigration and customs in LHR or do we stay in the secure area and clear immigration when we land in LIN ?

I'm hoping to clear immigration in LIN since I know LHR immigration lines can be long. I expect it is to clear in LHR and re-stand in line for security.

thanks
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Aug 28th, 2011, 10:22 PM
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You don't go through immigration at LHR since the UK does not belong to the Schengen common travel area that Italy is part of.
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Aug 29th, 2011, 06:05 AM
  #19
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rkkk for the win!


I dreaded the idea of going through immigration at LHR - hassle, lines, etc. Also, now we'll have time to shop/eat in T5. I was browsing the list of shops and I'm sure the kids would be excited to get a 2012 Olympics tee and they have a shop or kiosk in T5.

Since we can book these British Airways flights (are we allowed to call them BA or is that still verboten?) using cc points and only pay for the seat reservation fee, I think this is our best option.

any other thoughts ?
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Aug 29th, 2011, 07:26 AM
  #20
 
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You call the FF program where you have miles, not BA unless your miles are with BA. Expect to pay hundreds of dollars for each ticket for fuel surcharge and taxes.
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