Flight questions East Coast to Italy

Aug 15th, 2014, 10:59 AM
Original Poster
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Flight questions East Coast to Italy

Trying to figure out the best way for my family of 4 (including a 4 and 6 year old) to get to Italy. At this point, Rome/Venice/Milan are all possibilities. We will be in Italy for almost a month. We initially planned to leave out to Boston. Questions:
1. The appears to be just TWO nonstop flights from BOS to anywhere in Italy, both going to Rome. They are pretty spendy. How valuable is a nonstop? Valuable enough that it would be smart to fly out of JFK and deal with the initial hassle of getting to NY? The nonstops from JFK appear to be about 35% cheaper for the dates we are going.
2. If nonstops don't turn out to be within our budget, it is easier in your opinion to fly and transfer in Europe, or fly to a another domestic airport (say from BOS to Philly) and then nonstop to Venice?
Trying to limit the amount of headaches with missed connections/luggage/hauling little people through the airport...

franchescainri is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 11:02 AM
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Look into Aer Lingus. A friend usually flies them from NY - Dublin- Rome or Boston- Dublin-Rome and has been impressed with the flights, service and the price
johnnyomalley is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 11:05 AM
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When are you travelling. For me, it depends on the time of year. I am more likely to go for direct flights in the winter months just in case of IRROPS, I don't want to miss a day or two of my vacation because I missed a connection due to weather.
johnnyomalley is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 11:18 AM
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" nonstops from JFK appear to be about 35% cheaper for the dates we are going. "

For 4 people, that is a good savings. I would seriously think about that plan. Take the train, you don't have to fly to NY which might eat the savings, but it may give you better flight options.

Where we live, we always have to do a transfer when going to Europe.
DebitNM is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 11:20 AM
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I would not consider anything but a nonstop to Europe, and with two small children (two of our gc are that age), if you can be in Italy for close to a month, then it's best to afford nonstop transportation. Regardless of when you're going, my daughter-in-law, travelling w/ 10, 9 and 5 yr olds, SanDiego-Chicago-Hartford did not get her luggage for 2 1/2 days in early July; friends who went w/ Viking's transportation through east coast connection (not sure which airport) to Amsterdam only received half their luggage after one week in mid-June. Daughter-in-law delay was due to mechanical problems, the others was unknown but not bad weather, but regardless of when you're flying over, isn't 8 hours enough for you?? It's my limit, so switching there or here, no thank you. We live close by to EWR which is fantastic and see lower prices from JFK on some carriers, but it would cost us the difference in getting to JFK. From the Boston area, you'd have to allow several hours if not the night before at a hotel, so how much are you really saving. When you search for fares, all carriers pop up, especially with all the partnerships amongst them. Don't do it!
aliced is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 11:28 AM
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I once flew Are Lingus from NYC to Dublin and found myself at standing on drizzling tarmac in the freezing rain waiting to walk up the gangplank to board my plane to Italy. Never wanted to repeat the experience.

For me the issue is always the risk of lost or delayed luggage, and the risk doubles every time you switch planes, and it can be harder to track down your luggage if you are also changing airlines. If you plan to stay in a series of apartments in Italy for more than 4 days at a time, with access to a washing machine, maybe there is a slim chance you could actually pack carryon -- although with 2 small kids, won't blame you if you think that is impossible. If you do need to check a bag, best that the checked bag is packed with items you can replace or live without. Children's clothes will be much easier to replace in Italy if need be than adult clothes unless you both wear smaller sizes on the American spectrum.

Can't really say whether driving to another location would make sense since I have never done it. What does make sense to me is to look at layover times for within North America connections vs. layover times for European connections. I think I would rather leave Boston at, say, 11am and fly to a North American airport, pick up my luggage and check it on another plane departing non-stop to Italy at 7pm than fly from Boston to a European airport at 7pm, land at 6am, then have a quick layover to the flight to Italy, and only be hoping my luggage made it on the plane.

Do you have possibilities for non-stop flights from eastern Canaada?
sandralist is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 12:07 PM
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The transfer in Europe depends on the airport and the time between flights. Dublin or London might be preferable because of language issues, but if the connection is too tight it might not work out. For a London or Paris connection, the issue is whether or not one has to change terminal.

In tourist class, Aer Lingus was very limited in terms of food. Breakfast was a cold roll going over. But the connection times were good, as were the prices--we were going to Amsterdam.

As for lost luggage, it can happen, but I suspect less frequently than in the old days given the correct bar-coding of the baggage tag.
Michael is online now  
Aug 15th, 2014, 12:15 PM
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Thanks for all these responses. Really helpful. To answer your questions - this will be for a summer trip, leaving end of June.
Right now, nonstop JFK to MXP is $1182 for our dates; nonstop BOS to Rome is $1858! You can see the difference for four folks!
In the past on international flights pre-kids, we've rented a car one way from RI to NYC for under a hundred dollars, dropped it at the airport, and hopped on our flights. It was cheaper than an other option (bus/flight/train). It might be the trick again.

There are other non-stops out of Philly, EWR as well. On way hand, it is easier, because we can leave right from Providence (we live in RI) and then fly nonstop over from one of these domestic airports.

So the options in a nut shell :
1.BOS to ROME - seriously expensive but pretty convenient with airport location + nonstop
2. RI-Philly-Venice: convenient to get to the airport, but one layover
3. JFK-Milan: no layovers, but schlepping to NYC!
4. all other permutations of BOS to Amsterdam/Berlin/Paris/London

Which is the lesser of the evils, helpful advisers ?
franchescainri is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 12:21 PM
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The thing is, it's not that the luggage is 'lost' but not making the connecting flight or being delivered overseas. I do appreciate a 35% differential on flight prices, believe me, we are retired, but with little ones... it is much tougher all around. Regardless, be sure to pack change of clothes, jacket and swimsuit in your carry-ons. Hey, it's hard enough for me to find a great suit here in the States, never mind overseas, yes, I am a woman of a certain age; the prices of clothing in Europe will have you packing lots of thin layers in your carry-ons! Of course, leave copies of all destination locations w/ dates thereon in outsides of luggage, so that if unfortunately something goes missing, you can be easily found-- cell phones may not be the chosen mode of contact. I hope you find a bargain & have a fabulous trip!
aliced is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 12:23 PM
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I would not go out of way or pay significantly more to buy a direct flight.

The hassle factor is individualistic. You will have to integrate all the hassles to compare which one to choose, unless you are only focusing on one flight segment. Suppose on a flight requiring a layover, you can get good seats while on direct flight, all you can get are seats next to the bathroom. Does a directly flight still worth paying more with driving?

While risk of connecting flights are mentioned, there are also risks with direct flights. What if the flight is delayed so much or cancelled that the airline offers you an alternate flight with layover? Depending on airlines, they might just give you a multi-segment flight you could have bought cheaper now. Some airlines just keep the premium you paid to get a better connecting even when you end up taking multi-segment flights. Other might give you a voucher good for one year. If the airline is not what you usually use, that voucher is worthless.

Layover problem is airport/airline dependent. Some see this as US vs. European airport. However, I would take AMS, CPH,or MUC layovers over the EWR or PHL layovers. You can manage hassles with layovers. Avoid using sprawling airports with short layover time. Also avoid layover airports during usual weather problem seasons. I minimize layover at ATL during the storm season, ORD/JFK/DEN during the snow season, or SFO in the mornings to avoid fog delays, etc. Even if you check luggage, carry-on at least one matching change of clothes so that even without the checked luggage, you can survive much better. So many people put all the eggs in one basket by putting everything, including prescription medicines which even the TSA says don't do it, in the checked luggage.
greg is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 12:47 PM
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Not sure where you are in RI, but I would opt to go to EWR or JFK, and go over nonstop. Kids get up early-- leave 8-9 am, avoiding Metropolitan a.m. rushhour and arrv'g at airport well before p.m. rushhour. Eat at airport, hopefully kids will fall asleep shortly after takeoff and you can have 2d dinner on board quietly. If you are not planning on staying around Milan, would not opt to go into there with Rome or Venice as options. Schedules & prices will change lots by next June. Yes, I am spoiled with our airport, but so many friends/relatives of ours have to constantly make connections from where they live, and, just sayin', no comparison!!!
aliced is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 01:08 PM
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RI is tiny, it doesn't matter where they are. The Q is what would be worthwhile. And the answer is NOT dropping the extra 2800 to go out of Boston.

To the OP: Ultimately, the NYC area has the most options because JFK is still the busiest international airport in the US and EWR is a hub for the single largest carrier (United). So combined, JFK and EWR have double the international flight traffic of the second-busiest international airport, Miami (from which a 40 minute hop can be an international flight). That means flights from the NYC area will be less expensive because there is more competition.

And nonstop flights are not the be-all for international travel. Tired kids make the flights easier. A 6 pm flight from Boston when the hobbits are still wired will suck far worse than a 9 pm flight from someplace else.
BigRuss is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 01:58 PM
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I say if you are flying out of Boston take a connection if you have too. Going to JFK is no picnic and I live close enough to make that choice and I choose Newark hands down over JFK. You typically leave at night for Italy and the kids will sleep. That just my opinion. The extra time of having to deal with JFK to me isn't worth the aggregation. You never know what road will be closed on the way to the airport
01ritz is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 01:59 PM
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I'm with BigRuss. I can't imagine that spending another 3K would be worth it for a direct flight. But hey, only you know how much you have to spend.

We fly from PHL to Venice fairly often. Most of the time we fly out of Pittsburgh and connect in Philadelphia for points in Europe. Sometimes we drive to Philadelphia but honestly, in your case, driving to EWR or JFK sounds pretty awful. We have decided that we prefer connecting in PHL to connecting at JFK. Price differences haven't been a factor for us.

The car: rent one and and rent car seats? Or take your own and pay to park? Then, like us next month, you get back to the US and have to get in your car and drive home (in our case, all the way across Pennsylvania). It doesn't sound like less of a hassle that making one connection.

You're going away for a month. One connection doesn't seem that awful.

Don't check ALL your luggage. That's pretty simple.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 02:02 PM
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No easy answers with this dilemma. Looks as though it is spending a lot for nonstop tickets vs. trying to find the least disruptive route.
You might want to keep checking prices; my understanding is that airline prices change many times every day.
Another thought - someone suggested flights out of Canada. What would it mean to you to fly from Montreal?
And finally, each take off and landing requires ear adjustments. How will that be for your children?
carolll is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 02:53 PM
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Whatever you do, don't buy your tickets on separate itineraries. If you're starting in Boston and your destination is Venice, look for tickets from Boston to Venice. If you miss a connection and the flights are all on the same itinerary, the airline will get you to your destination on the next available flight, at no extra cost to you. Your luggage will be checked through and you won't have to touch it until you get to Venice.

If you buy separate itineraries, at each connecting airport, you'll have to pick up your luggage and recheck it. Furthermore, if you miss a connection, the airline has no responsibility to you at all. The late-arriving flight has fulfilled its obligation to you by getting you to the connecting airport. The departing flight (the one you missed) considers you a no-show.

Also, if you look for tickets for your entire trip, instead of one piece at a time, you often find much cheaper connections. You might find that you save a lot of money by flying Boston to Philadelphia and from there to Venice on a single itinerary.

One of my daughters lives in the midwest of the US, and I live in a rural area in Italy. To see each other, we have either three flights, or two flights and a long train ride. She has been making this trip almost annually since my granddaughter was an infant, and I've made the trip in the other direction at least once a year for over fifteen years. Connections are a hassle, but not an insurmountable one. I would much rather make a connection in the US when I'm going east, rather than make a connection in Europe, when I'm exhausted from the overnight flight. However, I'm often stuck with making a connection on both ends.

Given a choice between connecting in Rome and connecting in Milan, I would choose Rome. We have several times had luggage miss the connection in Milan (and also in Munich), but this has never happened to us in Rome, even with very short connection times. Of course, that's not a statistically significant sample...

It's early to be buying tickets for next June. There may very well be a fare sale before then. I never buy tickets more than three months in advance, and usually it's two months or less.
bvlenci is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 02:55 PM
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I think I just found a plosive flight for you on Orbitz using a fictional October 15 departure date and a November 10 return.

Price is $1200 per person. You fly nonstop from Boston to Rome, but in Rome you switch for Bologna.

10:40 PM
Boston, MA , United States
Boston Logan Airport (BOS) Terminal E
Stop 1
12:40 PM
Rome , Italy
Fiumicino Airport (FCO) Terminal 3
Change of planes. Time between flights: 1hr 50min

Alitalia 615
Airbus A332
4,079 mi 8hr 0min
Seat map
2:30 PM
Rome , Italy
Fiumicino Airport (FCO) Terminal 1
3:30 PM
Bologna , Italy
Guglielmo Marconi (BLQ)

Alitalia 1319
Airbus A319
194 mi 1hr 0min
Seat map

What I like about this flight is that even if you miss the connection, you are at least already in Italy! Worst is over. They will find a way to move you forward. If your luggage gets lost, it will get to you sooner for being routed through Italy than if you transferred in London or Paris.

Anyway, if you don't like that flight, try plugging in your real dates on Orbitz for Boston to Pisa, or Boston to Florence or Boston to Genova (or anyplace else in Italy you think might be near someplace you would very much like include on this trip). You will find connections through Munich and Madrid and other European airports other than the 4 you mentioned, and some airlines might have attractive prices.
sandralist is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 03:00 PM
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Sorry, I can see the cut and paste just jumbled the actual flight times.

The basics are

Leave Boston at 10.40pm
Arrive in Rome 12.40pm

Depart Rome 2.30pm.
Arrive in Bologna 3.30pm

The return is

Depart Bologna at 7.20am
Arrive Rome at 8.20am

Depart Rome at 10.30am
Arrive Boston at 1.55pm

It's all on one ticket on Alitalia so if any flight is delayed, they have to take responsibility for getting you everywhere.
sandralist is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 03:53 PM
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Ah, sorry. I now realize I was mixing you up with another poster who wants to take an extended trip to Italy with kids in October. You are going in June, and Orbitz just won't show the same routing at that price. Lowest ticket fares I see are $1600, with one stop, changing in Europe, not Italy.

And check open jaw flights too. If you were willing to fly Are Lingus into Napoli and out of Venice, cost per person would be just under $1200 next June.

But I think overall that it does indicate that it makes sense to wait, and to try other routings from Boston to Italian cities, not just Rome, Milan or Venice, and to search for open jaw as well. If you do end up with a flight into Bologna, would make sense to take a car transfer directly to Ferrara, which would not be too pricey and would be a more tranquil spot than Bologna, with cheaper accommodations.
sandralist is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 04:00 PM
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June 2015 !
I would start to look in 2015. Any price you see now means little---start in Jan. and do not get nervous until March.
bobthenavigator is offline  

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