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A newbie type query on intra-Europe air travel

A newbie type query on intra-Europe air travel

Old Jun 19th, 2012, 06:49 AM
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A newbie type query on intra-Europe air travel

I am far from new here, but I am a tad concerned about taking economy air carriers within Europe. We have always traveled within Europe by train, but our trip coming up in October includes cities too far flung for train travel.

From London to Florence, we are looking at Meridiana (which I am so clueless about that I am not totally sure if that is the airline's name or a service like Travelocity!) and from Milan to Paris we are looking at Easyjet, which charges $600!)

So can people offer assurance to a slightly nervous flyer that these carriers use "normal" planes and are OK to fly on? I know, I know, a stupidly naive question but that is where I am when it comes to air travel within Europe.....
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 07:13 AM
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Meridiana Fly is the second largest company in Italy and is as "normal" as Easy Jet.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 07:14 AM
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Sorry - meant the second largest air carrier in Italy.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 07:20 AM
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There are scads of these airlines, some budget and some just feeders like ComAir in the US. The planes I have taken all seemed safe and in good condition. I would be more dubious about a charter flight.

That said, here are some things to know or find out about:

1. Many of the budget airlines fly to alternative airports like Beauvais. Though it may be listed as Paris Beauvais, it is out in the sticks. You will have to figure the cost of getting into or out of the city into your costs.

2. The budgets often have strict limits on luggage with very, very high overweight fees. Carryons will be far more limited than the US 'one carry on bag and one personal item.' On some of them, your purse IS your carry on. Period. Or $$$.

3. As in the US, the plane is sometimes a turboprop rather than a jet. Crossing the Alps in a turboprop is an intimate experience. Between Venice and Munich, I swear I saw Heidi and her grandfather herding goats. You may or may not want this much connection with what is going on on the ground (or the mountain in front of you, though they do it every day and will _not_ run into it).

4. Some cities, notably Venice, are plagued with fog and a flight there may arrive or depart from another airport, where you will ride in a bus. Because of winds, Dubrovnik can be one of the most challenging airports in the developed world. In cities with weather issues, your time savings might not be as much as you expect, just as flying in thunderstorm months in the US when ground holds are frequent.

5. Some of the flights do not have assigned seats, sort of like SouthWest. You get a section letter or number to board, and everyone in that section rushes on at once. Thus you may not get to sit with your traveling companion. Presumably you are not joined at the hip.

This isn't to discourage you, just make you aware of some tradeoffs. Millions yearly do these flights quite happily.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 07:30 AM
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Here are the essentials on cheap flights in Europe:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPyl2tOaKxM
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 07:33 AM
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Not a stupid question if you've had no exposure to them.

We use EasyJet quite a bit from Toulouse to Paris and London.

They use twin-engine jets, I never pay attention to models or makers, but they are not tiny on those routes. Config is 3 x 3.

You are charged for each bag checked, size limit is 20 kg or 44 lbs and you can pay for priority boarding if you want a particular seat. We rarely bother with either as these flights are so short. Food and drink is of course at a charge.

You are allowed one free carryon, smaller in dimension than the large carriers but weight is unlimited as long as you can lift it into the overhead.

Caveats, again on the routes mentioned, if a flight is cancelled it may be two days before another flight, particularly off season. My husband was offered accomodation and meal vouchers but he opted for a full refund as he needed to get home. Actually, he still received an overnight voucher for the Holiday Inn Gatwick as the cancellation wasn't announced until 10:30 pm.

For Paris, Easyjet uses Orly, much closer in than CDG for Left Bank hotels.

I don't know the other airline. We try to avoid Ryanair, it's cheap but airports are way out and inconvenient for us. Flybe isn't bad, good services out of Southampton, UK, among other airports--usually very small, cramped planes if that's an issue.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 07:40 AM
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We used Air Berlin in Germany and Vueling in Spain.... No complains whatsoever.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 07:46 AM
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They have changed our lives in Europe. 20 years ago, most of us saved up for that big two week holiday and booked it a year in advance.

Easyjet, Ryanair, flybe, whizz, jet2 and the rest started mainly from bases in the UK to service that market. They now have a huge network of routes to some very obscure places. Many of the routes are subsidised by local governments, many of the operators will crucify you financially if you deviate from the agreed terms.

But yes, many of us in Europe book flights 6 months in advance for 10 euros and live to tell the tale.

Great fun.
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