Strategy for airfare to Italy

Sep 20th, 2005, 12:03 PM
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Strategy for airfare to Italy

Will be looking for 2 plane tickets from Ohio to Italy for Fall 2006. We live in CMH and could fly out of Columbus, Cincinnati, Detroit or Indianapolis. We are USAir FF, but we don't have enough mileage for Europe r/t. Ideally, we would like to fly into Venice and out of Rome or vice versa. Low price airfare is very important as we want to be able to eat well and stay in nice hotels. With Delta & Northwest going broke, are consolidators safe? If so, which ones are legitimate? Which would you recommend? Would you buy travel insurance? Thanks!
aliska is offline  
Sep 20th, 2005, 01:46 PM
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Since saving costs is important, I would fly out of Columbus, unless you find a great deal elsewhere. I live in Cleveland, and even the long-term parking is really expensive; I've found I can save quite a bit by taking a taxi to and from the airport, rather than driving and parking.

I would suggest flying into Venice and out of Rome, because many of the flights out of Venice are very early in the morning, and it takes a while to get to the airport. We once had to get up before 4 am to catch a boat to the airport for an early flight. Thats no fun.

Delta and Northwest are hardly the only airlines going broke. Only the discount lines, such as Southwest, are doing ok, and they don't fly overseas, so I would just not worry about the health of the airline that best suits you. At the same time, I would not buy a ticket now for a flight over a year away. Prices almost never are good that far out. Four to two months before the trip one often sees good prices, but that is just my observation based on experience, and things certainly could change. I would look constantly, hoping to find a sale, and then get serious about four months before your departure date.

I've not dealt with consolidators and the like, as I have found the airlines themselves are offering remarkably good prices, and I don't want to insinuate a level of bureaucracy between myself and the airline. I did once buy tickets through expedia or travelocity (I've forgotten which) and the savings were not that great, and there were all kinds of problems with short connection times and a connecting airline that apparently kept cancelling our tickets, so I had to be calling almost weekly, and was a little uncertain about our third leg when we embarked on the first (all did go well, however).

You have plenty of time to find a good deal. I would suggest you research which airlines serve where you want to start and connect, and then keep monitoring them until a price you are happy with shows up. Bear in mind that the very low fares that you sometimes see are for a very limited number of seats (sometimes even only one), so they sell out quickly. Be prepared to buy immediately when a good fare crops up.

I personally think travel insurance is valuable, but a lot depends on your willingness to accept risk, and what kind of health insurance you already have. I dug into the small print of my hospitalization and found out that if I am ill or injured overseas, I am pretty much on my own, and a lot of airlines won't carry someone who is ill or injured, so without travel insurance I would have to come up with a lot of money to evacuate either of us.

Enjoy your trip.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Sep 20th, 2005, 02:30 PM
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clevlandbrown gave great advice, but I'm going to be devil's advocate on one point... I prefer departing from Venice because I find it the most relaxing place in Italy and the perfect way to end a trip.

Granted, you might get one of those 6 am flights (NOT relaxing), but there are also flights out around 11 and 12 on airlines like USAir, United, and Delta to US cities.
jbee is offline  
Sep 20th, 2005, 03:52 PM
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Thanks both Cleveland Brown and JBee. I guess my anal control personality is showing - should we really wait till 2-4 months out before making plans? I am worried about coordinating hotel arrangements as well. We looking to go to Italy in either September or October, are those busy tourist months? Last year when we went to Paris and London we got our tickets a year in advance as we used USAir FF miles.
aliska is offline  
Sep 20th, 2005, 05:53 PM
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aliska, while it's always important to keep looking for deals, it's true that very best deals to purchase tickets are often 2-4 months out. On extremely rare occasions, I've booked as far as 10 months out -- but that is extremely unusual and I had a very good feel for the fares on the itinerary I was working with so I was able to jump on it.
Flyboy is offline  
Sep 20th, 2005, 08:41 PM
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You cannot book more than 330 days out, so start monitoring around November/December.

I personally strongly recommend looking at connections through a major gateway, usually London, rather than hoping for low prices to Italy. For instance, you can probably get a cheap(ish) flight to London, then use a low-cost carrier to fly to Venice, then from Rome back to London. The combination of the London round trip plus the LCC flights intra-Europe will probably be less than an open-jaw routing from the US to Italy and back. Not enough flights to Italy compared to London, and scarcity = higher prices.

Look at for lists of LCC routes and links to websites.
Gardyloo is online now  
Sep 21st, 2005, 02:04 PM
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I cant disagree that Venice is a delighful place to end a visit, or to start one. It is a magical experience.

If you are using FF miles to get your tickets, ignore my advice above. While I am still hoarding our miles, I do monitor availability on our favorite airline, and the FF seats are first available about 330 days out, but disappear within days, only to reappear about a week out. I don't have the nerve to wait until a week out to get tickets, so I found another use for our miles.

Advance planning is important, of course, but when I try it, I often get strange results. If you find a hotel you like, for example, and try to book a room now on line, they will probably tell you no rooms are available, not because they are sold out, but because they don't work that far in advance. A phone call will usually work.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Sep 21st, 2005, 07:24 PM
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I would route myself by driving/flying to Cincinnati and flying nonstop to Rome on Delta and then come home from Venice nonstop on Delta through JFK back to Columbus.(Or vice versa depending if you want that early Venice departure?)September and October are still busy to Italy but not as bad as the summer months of May, June and July.
dutyfree is offline  

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