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lovetotravel2 Feb 23rd, 2010 07:51 PM

Favorite airline to Europe? nn SFO-BUD/ AMS-SFO
We need air end of Sept 2010 SFO-BUD / AMS-SFO
The last two summers we have traveled happily with United SFO-LHR-SFO,
they were on time and our luggage arrived (that's all I ask for these days!).

I have checked 1800FlyEurope, Kayak, Trip Advisor,Travelocity, Orbitz, etc etc
Best fare is coming in about $1076 on British Air (directly on their website).
Booking this far out, with possible schedule changes, is it better to book directly
with the airline?

It's our 30th anniversary and we don't mind paying a little more for peace of mind and ease of travel and luggage. Would love to hear who you would recommend on these routes.

wally34949 Feb 24th, 2010 01:06 AM

Yes, book directly with the airline. They will have your E-mail address and can let you know of changes to the flights.

I had a bad experience in Dublin, Ireland, two summers ago. I arrived at the airport at 2:00 p.m. for my 4:30 p.m. flight. The flight had left at 9:00 a.m. due to a schedule change. The company I booked with never told me of the flight change.

BA is good, but make sure they give you time in London. Flying in economy, they will only give you 25% of the miles in their FF program.

DonTopaz Feb 24th, 2010 04:18 AM

Happy Anniversary!

To maximize the likelihood of your luggage not getting misplaced, the best course of action is to use a single airline if you need to change planes. Swiss would be a very good choice: they fly from SFO to Zurich, and they have connections from ZRH to both Budapest and Amsterdam. Swiss is a top-notch airline with reliable service, their efficient is excellent, and Zurich is an especially easy airport in which to connect.

Another reasonable choice is KLM. They fly non-stop from Amsterdam to SFO, so you would not need to change planes on your return flight. They do have a connection in AMS to Budapest, for your outbound trip. KLM's economy service is probably not as good as that of Swiss, but there's really not a whole lot to differentiate economy travel as long as the flights aren't canceled, etc.

I would avoid United. Many people do have ok experiences with them, and the Economy Plus seats that they offer to their elite members is more comfortable than their standard, cramped seating. However, their service is vastly inferior to that of most other carriers, they are especially bad if the flights are canceled or delayed, and they do not operate flights to Budapest.

lovetotravel2 Feb 24th, 2010 08:30 AM

I do like the idea of the KLM nonstop AMS-SFO. On the outbound they connect with Hungarian Airlines AMS-BUD. Hubby doesn't like the sound of that. The Swiss Air website is not user friendly for open jaw flights. I will try to call them later. I guess the advantage to BA is it is the same airline all the way. Thanks for the suggestions!

lovetotravel2 Feb 24th, 2010 09:33 AM

I just got the Swiss Air schedule via Kayak and they connect to Helvetic Airlines (Fokker 100)
ZRH-BUD. I think British Air is looking like the best option both fare wise and schedule wise.

travelgourmet Feb 25th, 2010 03:29 AM

Not sure what the problem is with taking Malev on AMS-BUD. They aren't the world's best airline, but they are decent enough. It all depends how much you care about the non-stop for the return.

Another option would be to fly SFO-CDG-BUD for the outbound, which would be all on Air France. You could combine this with the KLM flight back. For some random dates, though, this seems to price out pretty high.

Still, BA isn't a bad option, particularly if they come out the cheapest and with a good schedule. T5 is an excellent place to connect and the BA in-flight product is pretty decent. The only downside is the abysmal mileage earning rates, if that matters to you. Might be worth pricing out a premium economy ticket, too.

lovetotravel2 Feb 25th, 2010 06:04 AM

Regarding BA, I tried to verify on their website that we would stay in Terminal 5 for the connection but couldn't figure it out. Is that true? We are not interested in the miles. Looking for convenience, bags to arrive and decent fare. Thanks!

travelgourmet Feb 25th, 2010 06:42 AM

Yes, you will be in T5 for the entire trip. The only BA flights not at T5 are some to Spain, Singapore/Bangkok/Australia, and a couple of other random places.

You can check the terminal on the LHR website:^General^Flight+information^Which+terminal ?/

lovetotravel2 Mar 1st, 2010 05:11 PM

I just found on Delta website a great fare and I think a mighty fine schedule!
SFO/JFK/BUD - Delta all the way with 2hr 20 min. change JFK
AMS/SFO - nonstop KLM (DL codeshare)
$1094 for end of Sept
Since we have to change planes somewhere enroute to BUD this doesn't seem that bad.
And I can get seat assignments at time of booking on the outbound DL flights.
British Air is pricing at $1072 but have to connect LHR and can't get seats until day before I think.
Also was looking at KLM outbound via AMS but that is pricing at $1289.00.
Swiss Air via ZRH is $1381.00
I'm still not sure if I should book yet for late fall. Not so worried about fare but rather about schedule changes. Any thoughts on Delta out to Budapest?

wally34949 Mar 2nd, 2010 01:07 AM

They probably use a 767 which means no individual seat video. Correct me if I'm wrong. San Francisco to JFK in economy isn't a lot of fun, IMO. Delta flight attendants can be very talkative. They have no problem making a loud announcement if people are sleeping.

travelgourmet Mar 2nd, 2010 03:14 AM

<i>They probably use a 767 which means no individual seat video. Correct me if I'm wrong.</i>

They are currently upgrading, but no guarantees for that time frame. Still, I don't find this a huge issue for overnight flights, where I am doing all I can to sleep.

<i>San Francisco to JFK in economy isn't a lot of fun, IMO.</i>

Neither is SFO-LHR... On the plus side, SFO-JFK is on one of their internationally-configured 757s, which have AVOD and power ports in the front of coach. I believe they are adding internet, as well.

<i>They have no problem making a loud announcement if people are sleeping.</i>

That is what headphones are for.

All in all, I think this is a trip that you should prepare to endure, not one that you should prepare to enjoy. It is just a long time stuck in a metal tube. I don't think booking on Swiss (which is rather ordinary for long-haul) or BA, rather than DL, is going to dramatically change that.

As to the pricing, I'm not crazy about it, but pricing has been stubborn lately and coach prices have really risen. Still... I'm not sure I would jump on this. Not sure it will go down, but I'm also not convinced that prices will go up between now and September, either. Personally, I don't sweat schedule changes - if it is too onerous, then you can always get a refund. At the end of the day, the AMS-SFO flight ain't going anywhere and neither is SFO-JFK. JFK-BUD might see a change, but they have a monopoly on this route, so I doubt it gets completely chopped. Even if it did, just push for them to accomodate you through Paris or AMS.

<i>can't get seats until day before I think.</i>

You can now pre-assign on BA, but it will cost you extra, unless you have status.

lovetotravel2 Mar 2nd, 2010 12:17 PM

Thank you for all the great insights travelgourmet. I laughed over your comment about "enduring" the flight - that is all we expect - we certainly don't expect to "enjoy" it! All we ask is that we arrive and our bags arrive with us!!! The other thing I really like about the Delta conx thru JFK is we arrive BUD 10:45am whereas the other flights that conx in Europe arrive early evening. Since we have locked in land arrangements already in Europe I may just go with the Delta now, booking thru Delta website and be done with it.

lovetotravel2 Mar 21st, 2010 06:54 PM

I still have not booked this air yet - have been watching Kayak daily. Delta SFO-JFK-BUD/ AMS-SFO (KLM) is now pricing at 1329.00. KLM SFO/AMS/BUD-AMS/SFO is 1289.00. British Air is $1072.00. I guess in the back of my mind I am wondering if British Air will come out with some super fares after the strike? I am leaning toward the KLM for $1289 at the moment.

Dayenu Mar 22nd, 2010 08:42 AM

Good luck! I've been watching the fares for August SFO-CPH, and every time it's either bad schedule (fixed dates, flying on Sunday) or "your rate is no longer available".

I got KLM/Delta for $1,300 - now they start from $1,500.

bratsandbeer Mar 23rd, 2010 04:42 PM

Not sure if it is the usual thing, but Delta lost my children's luggage both ways on their last trip with Delta. Have heard this has happened to a lot of travelers with Delta. Another thing is you can check out the star ratings on airlnes. British Air I think it 4 star along with Lufthansa and others. Delta, Continental, are 3 star. They are all listed.

We are looking for flights now too. Icelandair was one of the cheapest if you happen to live in a city where they fly out of. The only problem is there was a volcano eruption in Iceland last week and not sure how serious that was.

wildbird1275 Mar 24th, 2010 06:56 AM

If you wait until after Easter, all airlines should be announcing some fare sales I think...

Dayenu Mar 24th, 2010 09:58 AM

Brats, I read about this volcano - it was off-shore, and some towns or villages were evacuated as a precaution of possible flooding - they thought the iceberg over that vulcano could melt.

Now, don't shoot the messenger :) I only repeat what I read.

CarolA Mar 25th, 2010 04:00 PM

Just a note. I fly over 100,000 miles a year on Delta and check luggage about 50 percent of the time. I can't recall the last time my luggage didn't arrive with me so.... I am not sure they are any worse then anyone else. (Actually the only luggage "horror" story I have is on SW which has a great reputation for luggage :) )

lovetotravel2 Mar 25th, 2010 05:10 PM

I finally did it. I booked the British Air for $1072 because on Kayak the other airlines kept going up and up. But then my savings was eaten up when I paid $120 to preassign our seats on the transatlantic flights ($30 pp per flight). I'll wait on the seats for the inter-European flights til 24 hour checkin. Anyway, so I probably won't be checking back on this thread since decision has been made but thanks for the help and good luck to all of you still needing to book! Happy Travels!

Dukey Mar 29th, 2010 06:51 AM

ONE HUNDRED TWENTY DOLLARS for pre-assigned SEATS???? I am sorry but THAT is a rip-off!!!

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