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Trying to decide which carrier to use

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Jul 11th, 2014, 08:05 AM
  #1
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Trying to decide which carrier to use

My husband and I are planning a trip to Rome next May. We'll be flying out of Indianapolis and, thus, will have to travel to one of several hubs to catch a direct flight to Rome. We have a 10% off voucher on United, but since price isn't my only concern, I'm willing to consider other carriers. My biggest concerns are on-time performance, especially on the way to Rome and arrival time. We are flying coach (yuck) and want no more than one stop.

On United, we'll have to fly out of Dulles and Newark. From a layover standpoint, I prefer the itineraries out of Newark. I typcially build in a decent layover on both ends and the Newark itineraries are better in that regard. I also like that the Newark flight gets into Rome at 7:45 a.m.. We have to catch a train from Termini to get to Umbria, and I'd sure prefer to make the train that leaves just before noon. But neither airport is known for its on-time performance, and that's a definite concern.

Delta has a flight out of Atlanta that gets into Rome at 7:30 a.m., so that would be swell. Atlanta appears to have better on-time performance, too. Granted, we may end up paying a bit more without the assistance of the United voucher, but getting headed out on time is worth some money.

The remaining airline I've been looking at is US Air out of either Philly or Charlotte. Those flights get in later and we'd also get home later, so they're not my ideal. AT this point, then, it would appear that the two top contenders are Delta and United. Does anybody have any preference themselves as between the two--with their respective departure airports in mind?

So far, the other airlines--American, Air France, British Air, etc., are not competively priced, but I am keeping an eye on them. Some fly out of Chicago--an airport that I'm familiar with and which there are many flights to from Indy.

Thanks for your advice and help!
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Jul 11th, 2014, 09:23 AM
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Any US carrier going international is going to be quite similar in 'experience', they're all going to be bad.
So if you have 10% off on United, I'd use that. I'm also more a fan of Newark over Atlanta (maybe that's the New Yorker in me though!)
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Jul 11th, 2014, 09:41 AM
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LOL; it's sad, really, how low our expectations our when it comes to flying. I used to enjoy it; now I'd rather get a root canal.
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Jul 11th, 2014, 10:13 AM
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Unless you enjoy spending time in economy setas on airplanes, Atlanta should be ruled out as a connection point. On a trip where you need to fly to the north and to the east (IND to Rome), it makes little sense to begin with a flight that goes just about due south.

It's almost always better to have an itinerary that has 1 connection rather than 2.

I don't know of any non-stop flights from IND to Europe, so the only way to have 1 connection is to change planes somewhere in the US or Canada. That also limits your trans-Atlantic airline to a US airline, Air Canada, or Alitalia. No airline is going to be terrific in economy, but Air Canada is probably the best of the bunch. You can actually book the Air Canada flights via Toronto as United codeshares (though I don't know the conditions of your 10%-off coupons).
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Jul 11th, 2014, 10:15 AM
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I agree that you should use the 10% coupon on United. It's really a wash, as to which carrier will be best, but at least you can save some money.

We fly United for long hauls like that, and they have been fine. Their Star Alliance partners, like Lufthansa & Austrian, are slightly better.

We flew American home from the Caribbean last month, and had a bad experience with the check-in, because we had extra bags to check and the lady seemed very put out with us.
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Jul 11th, 2014, 10:27 AM
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You could also fly Air Canada from Indianapolis through Toronto to Rome. It's price-competitive, and the Toronto airport while large is efficient. However I would wait to see what prices look like at the start of 2015 before making a purchase.
Two thoughts: In the past decade, multi-city tickets have become a good deal, flying into Rome and home from Venice for instance. Usually the flights cost about the same as going out-and-in from one gateway city and it could save you the time and expense of returning to Rome to go home.
The second thought is that memory tends to soften reality.
Do you really long for the time when you could not get advice this way or buy your own tickets? Or were lucky to have a tiny screen hanging out of the ceiling five rows away for entertainment? Or were locked in a plane that permitted smoking? For all the discomforts of economy class flights which are now full enough to pay the operating costs, some changes have been for the better.
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Jul 11th, 2014, 12:36 PM
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Just a clarify: The United voucher cannot be used on a code share flight, so that rules out any United/Air Cananda itinerary. Those flights also require us to fly first to Chicago and then to Toronto. I'd really like to have only one connection each way on this trip. So, I'm not considering that option, and at leat right now on United, those intineraries are only slightly cheaper.

Also to clarify, we are flying in and out of Rome because Rome makes for the easiest gateway to Umbria AND we're spending four nights in Rome on the way home. So, a multi-city itinerary doesn't help us with this trip, although I will remember it for future trips. I have considered the option--if the flight times into Rome just aren't getting us there early enough for my life--to just spend a night there before heading to Umbria. It would add a day to our trip, but hey, there are worse things.

As for traveling to Atlanta before flying to Rome. I don't see the folly in that if the flight times/prices are otherwise to my liking and the carrier offers better performance (although you're right that sitting in coach longer than one has to is a PITA), but it doesn't sound like anybody has any strong objection to going through Newark on United, so I'll continue to focus on that as my best option.
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Jul 11th, 2014, 02:22 PM
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To fly from IND to Rome via Toronto, there's no need to go through Chicago: take the non-stop Air Canada flight from IND to Toronto, then connect to the Air Canada non-stop to Rome.
BTW, flying via Atlanta (compared to Toronto) means spending an additional 2 hours 40 minutes on the plane round-trip.
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Jul 11th, 2014, 02:55 PM
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Another consideration that is important to me is the type of plane. I like having two aisles--4 aisle seats in each row and greater mobility. I'll take a slightly longer or more expensive flight to avoid a single-aisle on a long-haul especially overnight flight.
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Jul 11th, 2014, 03:29 PM
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@Don, if there is a direct flight from Iindy to Toronto on Air Canada or any other carrier, that's news to me. I just ran a search on Air Canada's site and all routes were via Chicago. If you have a flight number, let me know.
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Jul 11th, 2014, 03:39 PM
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Okay; now I see the direct flights. There are other things I don't like about the itinerary. We would have a long layover in Toronto on the way home and wouldn't make it home until late. Plus, it gets into Rome later than I'd like. I understand your point about the length of flights, but it's lower on my priority of concerns.
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Jul 11th, 2014, 07:47 PM
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Air Canada is generally no better than UA or DL in terms of equipment and service. Use the UA voucher if it saves you money. You can tell which actual flight may or may not be late, but you know you're not paying more.
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Jul 12th, 2014, 03:17 AM
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I disagree with Don about the Atlanta flight. I don't like flying from the east coast because the flights are shorter and you don't have as much time to get some sleep. I prefer a long overnight flight so I can get a few hours sleep and I'm not so tired upon arrival. The reality is the flights you are looking at are only 1 hour difference flying time TATL. I would look at the scheduled aircraft and seats. Some planes are more comfortable than others.

<<
You didn't say where in Umbria, but there are lots of trains so I wouldn't worry about making a certain one. There might be a few more trains from Rome's Tiburtina station. To reach it from the airport, you take the local train (not the Leonardo Express) which departs every 15 minutes (8€). Depends on where you are going in Umbria though.
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Jul 12th, 2014, 08:40 AM
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Whatever decision you make, consider the 'plus seats'. They make the long haul flight almost tolerable.
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Jul 12th, 2014, 09:27 AM
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That was my thought as well, Marnie. I'd opt for a carrier where I could get premium economy seating. That is an option on United. I'm guessing you don't have a status that gives you free access to economy plus, but the price to buy an economy plus seat isn't much. And every inch of legroom on that long a flight is precious!
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Jul 12th, 2014, 12:25 PM
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For me, comfort is more important that the food or IFE. I'd also try to get more leg room if I could.
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