Trip to Italy, from SFO

Nov 19th, 2005, 01:34 PM
  #1  
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Trip to Italy, from SFO

Hi everyone, it's my first post here!

Here's my situation... Going to Italy with my wife for 2 weeks (approx. June 2nd to June 17th 2006).

I will need to book one 'award' ticket (have many Delta Skymiles points---enough for one of the seats). So, given the airline alliances with Delta, I'd like to book travel on Air France or Alitalia.

Now this may seem a bit weird, but we'd prefer to fly the main leg/s on a 747-400. Air France seems to be the only carrier in that alliance that has 747 travel to/from Italy (with 1 stop).

Preference would be a 747, non-stop and direct, SFO to FCO (or even Milan), but I can't find such service on ANY carrier out of either SFO or LAX (at least not online anyway---would rather not have to talk to a human, and so would the airlines! ha).

Okay, so that's the air portion of this trip and you know my preferences/situation there, so feedback/thoughts please? We're quite content with just ONE stop each way, but no more than that. Air France seems to have the best thing going in that case (SFO to Paris on a 744, then smaller jet on to FCO/Rome).

Now for the hotels and regional travel... we'll be with friends while in Rome, so that's all set.

But for regional travel (we're going to do a counter-clockwise loop through Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy), we're going to get Eurail passes.

My wife's never been to Europe before, so of course she's thrilled with how all this looks 'on paper'. She loves the train too, so Eurail will be perfect.

We plan on staying in Venice, Innisbruck, Luzerne, Paris, and Nice, before returning to Rome for the flight home. So we need hotels in all those cities (1-2 nights each). Any hotel recommendations? Budget is not too much of a concern, but 'charming' yet 'reasonably luxurious' without being a 'chain' type of hotel in each city would be the best description of what we're looking for in a hotel.

That's about it. Any comments/experiences/suggestions appreciated. Thanks!

James
back2boston is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 02:25 PM
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Forget about plane type. There's absolutely nothing to be "earned" by flying a 747. More crowded, no personal screens on AF's 747s.

When you're using miles, you can't be that picky. Just call Skymiles and tell them you want to go from where to where on what date. And have them check all availables. You'd be lucky just to get the exact date and destinations you want.
rkkwan is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 03:49 PM
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BTW, if you have to fly the 747 using Skymiles from California to Europe, you have three flights to choose from:

AF SFO-CDG
AF LAX-CDG (one of three flights; the other two on 777)
KLM LAX-AMS

AMS is a better airport for transit than CDG. But I assume you are in the Bay Area.
rkkwan is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 10:14 PM
  #4  
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Yes, I'm in the bay area.

Okay, on revisionist thinking, we're actually leaning toward 777 travel versus 747's. After all, they are far newer, more advanced, etc.

Researched further since first post earlier today, and it's looking like (given the SkyMiles requirement) Alitalia will be the way to go. We can catch a direct flight on Song to JFK, then a direct flight to Rome via Alitalia on a 'trip-7'. Can come back that same way as well.

The other option that would suit us would be the 747 on Air France (SFO direct to Paris), then on to Rome, both ways. Been reading a lot of bad stuff on epinions about Alitalia (but like everything else on epinions, there are positive comments about Alitalia as well).

Comments on Alitalia relative to Air France?
back2boston is offline  
Nov 20th, 2005, 05:11 AM
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Good, now that you've forgotten about 747s. [Not that it's a bad plane. If you're flying first class or business, the 747 is great!]

Okay. You have 5 airlines to choose from, to get from SFO-FCO with one stop: AF, KL, AZ (Alitalia), CO & DL.

AF. 744 to CDG, connect to a short hop to FCO. This is in my opinion the worst choice. You leave SFO late, and won't arrive Rome until mid-afternoon. No personal screen in coach, and most people hate connecting in CDG. On your return, your FCO-CDG flight leaves at 7am, meaning early track to the airport.
Only good thing is that on your return, you clear US immigration/customs at SFO and don't need to worry about connections and reclear security.

KL. It'll be on a 777 next summer (right now it's an old MD-11). It has most of the negatives of AF, but the 777 has personal video screens, and connecting at AMS is easier than CDG. But on the return, you leave FCO even earlier, at 6:35am. [Consider staying the night at AMS. Uusally same price for the ticket.]

AZ. AZ flies JFK-FCO and EWR-FCO on their 777, with video screens. For JFK, you'll use DL; for EWR, you'll use CO to get there. Song will no longer exist by next June, and those flights will fold into DL. DL may move the planes around, and you may not have a personal TV for that long flight. Chances are it'll be on a 757 on either DL or CO. Single aisle plane for that 5-hour flight. I think DL sells food on board, on CO it's free. One other problem with the DL/AZ connection at JFK. AZ uses Terminal 1, DL 2&3. You need to take the SkyTrain and reclear security.

DL. 767 to FCO from JFK and ATL. No personal video screen. If you pick JFK, at least you don't need to change terminals. For ATL, you don't have to reclear security either, and some SFO-ATL flights are on wide-body 767s.

CO. 767 EWR-FCO. CO's 767 have personal video screens. No change of terminal at EWR, but SFO-EWR is on a narrowbody plane.

For all these JFK/ATL/EWR connections, you leave home earlier, but arrive Rome in the morning. On your return, you leave FCO mid- to late-morning, instead of 6-7am. But you have to go through US immigration/customs on the east coast and reclear security. Still, you gain a few more hours in Italy then AF/KL.

Wildcards -

1. AZ's service and reliability record is questionable. They may have a strike anytime.

2a. Who knows what's going to happen to DL by then?

2b. Who knows if the partner airlines will honor your Skymile award ticket if DL's gone down by then?

Finally, all this may be academic. First, you probably won't be given all these choices to start with. Second, you also need to pay for the other ticket. If you want to book that one soon as well, you need to check on prices - but I suggest you wait, as all are $1,200+.
rkkwan is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2005, 05:31 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
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On June 2nd 2006 you can fly DL entirely SFO-CVG-FCO:

DL 1708 SFO-CVG 10:57 - 18:20 B 737
DL 32 SVG-FCO 19:00 - 10:20 B 767

I agree that B747 is nothing special !

Fabio is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2005, 05:32 AM
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sorry I meant CVG-FCO (Cincinnati) not SVG-FCO
Fabio is offline  
Dec 16th, 2005, 10:09 AM
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I would agree with Fabio in going through CVG (Cincinnati) to Rome on Delta. Its a smaller airport than CDG (Paris)with less hassle/walking,etc.Connecting in Frankfort or Paris is a big pain,It seems like you spend almost 20 minutes just getting to your gate and then you have to allow enough time to transfer.If you want to go to Milan or Venice first-Delta flies from JFK and Atlanta which you could connect from SFO.Instead of backtracking to Rome you mentioned Nice ? How about leaving nonstop from there on Delta to either JFk or Atlanta and then back to SFO?747's are not that great anymore unless you sit up in the dome area for first class.
dutyfree is offline  
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