Flight advice for a first time trip

Old Jun 9th, 2011, 09:38 AM
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Flight advice for a first time trip

My DH & I are wanting to plan our first trip to Italy for October 2012. We are wanting to go to Cinque Terre, Tuscan hilltowns with a base in Montepulciano and end the trip in Florence.

Since this October is four months away I decided to look into flights to get an idea about prices and what I can expect when planning my trip. I have read that the best time to buy plane tickets is between 3-4 months prior to your departure date.

What I would like to know from all of you Fodorites:
1) Would you prefer to fly into Florence or Pisa?
*We are flying from Austin, TX and would like to start the trip in Cinque Terre.

2) How much is too much for a flight that you would sit on it and wait?

3) How much would a flight be that you wouldn't pass up on the price?

4) How soon did you book your tickets before your trip?

Thanks in advance!
louistraveler5 is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2011, 09:43 AM
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I would book my tickets now - since I'm not sure you have a lot of choices given the airports you're using.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2011, 09:55 AM
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Well first of all, esp. on a 1st trip to Italy and looking at where you are going, I would probably go in and out of Rome. But go ahead and price the options and then decide - maybe fly to Paris and then to Florence? but again, I'm thinking, why not Rome?
suec1 is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2011, 09:55 AM
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There are some good airfare search sites that let you evaluate historical prices and upcoming prices for your flights. Try a search on www.kayak.com or www.momondo.com. Kayak also allows you sign up for email fare alerts for price changes. A quick search on flights for October Austin round trip Pisa is only about $1000 which in these days of high fuel prices is pretty good for the two airports which are not "hubs". And you can do "open jaw" into Pisa and out of Florence if that is convenient. It likely does not cost different than round trip.
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Old Jun 9th, 2011, 09:58 AM
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I'd be shocked if you could actually buy tickets now, 16 months in advance. Delta.com won't let me even look past May 2012.

Prices this year may or may not predict prices next year, but it doesn't hurt to get an idea. Kayak.com is a great resource. You can search for a round-trip flight and get a "fare chart" to see what the price for that trip has cost over the last few months. (This doesn't work with the multi-city option, but is still helpful.) You can also set up fare alerts for when fares go below a certain price.

I booked tickets last October for our flights to Italy this May. Looking at prices for the spring last fall, I decided I'd be pretty happy if we paid under $1000, so I set up a fare alert for multiple trips for our dates at that price level. (For example, I did one flying into Rome and out of Venice, one into Rome and out of Milan, etc.)

Eventually Kayak sent me an email saying our trip was now priced at $922 on Delta, so I talked to my friend and we booked pretty quickly. I'm a planner, though, and wanted our airline tickets to dictate the order of our itinerary - if we had gotten a much better fare into Rome and out of Venice, for example, we would have switched the order of our trip, which means any booking we had done before buying tickets would have to be redone. The trick to that is to be satisfied with the price you paid (since you were okay with it in the first place) and not kick yourself if it goes down $100 later.
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Old Jun 9th, 2011, 11:02 AM
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I would start noting the price at least weekly in 2011 for different itineraries - different sets of fly-in and fly-out airport combinations, so when 2012 comes around, you have a recent historical trend of the price fluctuation. While same pattern would unlikely to repeat two years in a row, you have at least some empirical data to help you decide in 2012. You get some idea of when the seats start to fill up and prices start to spike up, at least for the 2011.

I also check hotel prices in the target month. I don't think the availability is an issue in October unless you hit conventions.

Prices are set by market conditions. They vary from year to year. Focus on trend, not a specific number.
greg is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2011, 11:56 AM
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Thanks everyone for the advice.

I would like to give a special thanks to jent103! I am definitely going to sign up on kayak.com so I can receive an alert about ticket prices. I like the idea of setting a price for myself then going for it and not looking back. Definitely, under a $1000 per person is what I will be going for. My DH & I went to Paris in October 2008, our first trip to Europe, and paid $900 a piece. Also, I just finished reading your trip report and I am LOVING it! I can't wait for you to post more. You & I are a lot alike in our planning and travel styles. It's funny because my DH is like M...he is very laid-back. I am enjoying your report!
*I will post the same message on your trip report in case you don't check back on my original post.
louistraveler5 is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2011, 12:17 PM
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With those airports, you might have trouble with under $1000 a piece. If you have flexible dates you will get a better price.

Consider putting Rome and Milan into the mix, you might end up with a better deal.

We purchased for this September at $750 a person into/out Zurich from Kansas. This was much lower than any other options in the Italy/Switzerland/Germany/Austria region that we were looking in. Everything else I saw was between $1050 and $1200. We also had pretty flexible dates when we got that good price.
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Old Jun 9th, 2011, 12:53 PM
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Glad to be helpful! I set up those Kayak alerts any time I'm planning a trip now. They're fantastic.

I do absolutely agree with lindy, though - the more flexible you're able to be on dates and airports, the more likely you are to get a deal. We were locked into a couple of weeks due to M's work schedule, and we knew pretty much where we wanted to go (in some order), so I just plugged in a bunch of possibilities in Kayak and waited for the emails. For example, if you could fly into Milan to get to Cinque Terre, it's possible (I don't know) that that could save you some money, since MXP is a larger airport.
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