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Need help booking open-jaw Sicily flights

Need help booking open-jaw Sicily flights

Old Jan 19th, 2015, 10:40 AM
  #1  
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Need help booking open-jaw Sicily flights

You've been a great help in working out when to go and a general itinerary. Now I'm ready to book airfare and am having a terrible time. We want to fly TO Catania and home FROM Palermo.

Originally, I saw the best flights on Vayama, which I haven't used for awhile, but I'm seeing bad reviews for the site now. I had no trouble when I used them before. On other sites, including Hipmunk, Kayak, Google Travelocity etc. I'm having trouble finding flights with the right amount of time for layovers - I get a choice of an hour (too short for my taste on an international flight) or EIGHTEEN hours, a tad long for me.

I started playing around with the date and there's tremendous variance based on which day I leave/return. I found something on Expedia but the layover is in Munich going over for 1 hour and 20 minutes and coming back, Munich again, for 1 hour 55 minutes. I'm less worried about my baggage getting lost going home.

Lufthansa seems to have the most flights but when I try to book directly at the Lufthansa site, the fares are much higher. United looked to maybe have decent fares (from Vayama and Expedia) but again, on the United site, nothing good.

Any suggestions? We want to travel the latter half of May, this can't be too early, can it?

Thanks as always,
Alice
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Old Jan 19th, 2015, 10:57 AM
  #2  
 
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What do you not like about your Expedia flights? These layover is more than enough at MUC. 1 hour 20 min is too short for LHR or CDG, but more than enough at MUC, AMS, or CPH.

Also, you can tinker with the booking engine to come up with better itinerary. You don't have to take the offered routes as is.
Different booking engine work differently in this respect. At orbitz, you can pick outbound and inbound flights separately if you wish selecting "select this flight" box. I don't know how to do this at expedia. Also once you know usual layover cities, you can construct segment at a time. If the booking engine recognize the routing city as layover and not stopover, your price should be skyrocket.
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Old Jan 19th, 2015, 02:30 PM
  #3  
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Greg, I tried that at Orbitz, but the screen looked awful - I'm thinking it was the browser I was using at lunch at work - I'll try again at home where I have a little more control.

And I'm happy to hear that an hour and 20 minutes is plenty at MUC. I avoid CDG like the plague and the search engines always want to take me to Heathrow and then switch airports! If this is a decent amount of time for a layover in Munich, then maybe I'm home free.

Alice
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Old Jan 19th, 2015, 03:37 PM
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Am I missing something or have you omitted where you are flying from?

Also, Trapani airport is quite close to Palermo, with regular bus connections to the center of town, so also do searches for Trapani airport.

Whatever routing you buy or airline you fly, you really should avoid checking any luggage. That is because the chances of it not making it to Sicily are pretty high, and trying to get it delivered to you in Sicily will be very difficult. Lots of luggage gets lost in European airports --- or never makes it onto flights at the starting point. It really doesn't matter what airline you fly. It's a problem with the airports.

Also, if you havent done this already, go to the airport websites in Sicily and look at their timetables. You might spot a flight that is really useful -- like a non-stop flight to Barcelona or Zurich that puts you in a good position to get back to the US.
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Old Jan 19th, 2015, 03:56 PM
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I travel from Italy to the US at least twice a year, and almost always check a bag. I travel very light, but I always have at least one layover, and often two, and I hate lugging even a small suitcase around my transit airport. I've lost a bag only once in what must be close to 50 trips, and that came on the next flight. I haven't lost a bag once in the past ten years; my sense is that they're getting better and better at getting the bags on the plane.

I agree with Greg that there is usually a quick turnaround at Munich, but I have twice missed a connection there, both times en route to the US, caused by long queues at security. Both times they got me (and my luggage) on another flight with no problem. Once, I even got to my destination before I would have had I not missed the connection, because they sent me to a more convenient airport, which I had avoided because flights were much more expensive to go there.
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Old Jan 19th, 2015, 04:14 PM
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Alice9, I don't know if you saw Anthony Bourdain's show on CNN last night or not (1/18/15), but he did quite a detailed show on Sicily. I can't link it, but if you're interested you might see if there is a way to watch it. It gives some interesting travel ideas.
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Old Jan 19th, 2015, 04:41 PM
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I booked Meridiana from Naples to Catania using Orbitz and Vueling from Palermo to Rome direct with the airline. Best prices and schedules for our dates. I never use another booking agent for the airlines but
Meridiana wouldn't accept any of our US credit cards thus resorted to Orbitz.
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Old Jan 19th, 2015, 04:46 PM
  #8  
 
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Personal anecdotes are always important to the person telling them, but it doesn't change the facts for you. At a recent wedding I attended in italy -- recent, please note that word, meaning within the past 6 months - the majority of the people in attendance had come from North America, and more than 25 percent of them who had checked bags arrived in Italy to discover that their bags were not at the airport. Some of them were able to return to the airport within 24 hours to pick up their bags. Others went for days without their luggage.

The people whose luggage was lost variously came from LA, Cleveland, Florida and Canada, and switched planes in New York, Frankfurt, Paris and London. Some learned their bags had never left North America. Others lost them in European cities.

I realize that the premise of a travel message board is "My personal experiences are all I know so I'm going to pretend to you they are objective fact". But the fact is that more than 20 million pieces of checked luggage are mishandled in airports every year -- and most people find the process of trying to track down lost luggage in Italy an extremely lousy way to have a long-awaited trip screwed up.

When you live in Italy, your baggage getting lost coming back home is no big deal. When you are traveling, it is pretty terrible.
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Old Jan 19th, 2015, 05:08 PM
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Just as an aside, I was in the public area of an American hotel in Paris this morning and listened to an American relating to a conference colleague how he and his wife arrived in Paris on Sunday morning to discover that while his checked bag had made it through airport transfers, hers had not. When they reported it to the airline, the airline simply handed the women a voucher to go buy clothes -- meaning, "we don't know when or if your bag will get here".

Sounds like fun to get a voucher to go shopping in Paris, until the husband pointed out that only a few stores were open in Paris on Sunday, and those they located were holding January sales that made the places a real madhouse. The husband was being good natured about it, but apparently they had several sightseeing "must dos" on their agenda that got dropped so his wife could get some clothes.

Arriving in some place like Catania without luggage is something I would definitely want to avoid.
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Old Jan 19th, 2015, 05:18 PM
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Oh no, don't show this thread to my wife. She would be thrilled to find out her luggage did not make it to Paris, Rome, London, or Milan.
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Old Jan 19th, 2015, 06:20 PM
  #11  
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Let's see. We're flying from the Washington DC area, most flights from Dulles, sometimes BWI. I can't manage a lengthy trip with just a carry-on. I feel like if I can book both legs of the trip on the same airline, the odds of my luggage making it are better. But I generally like 2-3 hour layovers, it increases the odds of my luggage making it with me.

Nanabee, I DID see the Bourdain show on Sicily, and it DID give me some ideas. But I saw it some weeks ago, probably scheduled differently on different networks.

When we flew to Madrid several years ago, leaving from BWI, connecting in Philadelphia, there were a large number of people with connections in Philly - Delta put us all on a bus and they held the plane for us! For this trip, we can consider Philly, which has more flights, but it's really a pain.

Do you think it matters if you connect in the US or in Europe in terms of lost luggage? Or does it matter which airline? Or where the layover is?

Alice
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Old Jan 13th, 2016, 11:22 AM
  #12  
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Okay, I'm resurrecting this topic - I ended up not taking the trip last year due to some family issues, so I'm at the very same point I was one year ago. Flying from Washington DC (which means either Dulles or BWI most likely). I'm open as to dates, but we want to go late May through early/mid June.

The rates are nosebleed high and the times are odd. I'm very reluctant to book direct to and from somewhere in Europe, and then book direct from there to Sicily (maybe the next day), because then if there IS a lost luggage issue, no one is responsible.

It seems that at this point, all the sites are using the same search engine. I also check the specific airline sites.

Is it a myth that certain days of the week are better for checking? Is flying less expensive on certain days of the week? I'd love to get our flights booked so I can start booking accommodations.

Thanks for any tips.

Alice
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Old Jan 13th, 2016, 12:25 PM
  #13  
 
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>>> Is it a myth that certain days of the week are better for checking?

You can easily test this out yourself for your dates (not other dates) on your route (not some other route where the data is gathered).

When you depart and return make a big price difference. Use "flexible dates" options available at most booking engines so see how much tinkering with departure and return dates make difference in prices. Business segment and vacation segments have pricing behaviors. The mid-June is probably one of the worst time coming from the U.S. as airlines will not give away seats cheaply to families who have no choice but to travel at this time of the year.

I usually book cancellable accommodations first then the flights. This ensures that I don't end up staying on days with inflated accommodation prices or no availability due to major events after I hit that "buy" airfare button. If I end up booking different flights, I can cancel accommodations at no cost. The reverse is much harder. Once you hit that "buy" airfare option, you only have 24 hrs to back out for a refund if you find yourself finding suitable accommodations to go with that flight schedule.
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Old Jan 13th, 2016, 01:10 PM
  #14  
 
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I fly from DC in late May (yearly for over a decade). I am considering Sicily this year, and I am seeing round trip flights to Catania for around 1600-1700, which is typical for this time of year. For some reason, flights to Palermo are running higher, but I have not tried open-jaw since I won't have 2 weeks but 10 days, and I'll have to stick to a smaller area.
I have often flown Lufthansa and through Munich, and I would not hesitate to have that length of layover. I do carry-on only, but if you check then I'd hedge my bets by staying in my arrival destination a couple days just in case (versus leaving immediately).
Have you tried kayak.com? I prefer buying direct from the airline also, but if a website is giving a lower fare, I'd risk it for an airline I like (like Lufthansa). Anyhoo, just my experience and good luck!
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Old Jan 13th, 2016, 01:15 PM
  #15  
 
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If kayak is not working out for you, try itasoftware and skyscanner. Also take a look at Norwegian, Virgin and WOW, don't know whether they show up on the aggregator sites.
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Old Jan 13th, 2016, 04:54 PM
  #16  
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Thanks all -

greg, I've also locked down the airfare first, and I do check different dates, it's just tedious. Once that's done, accommodations can be quickly done.

yorkshire, I did see some Lufthansa flights, also Austrian Airlines (a first for me). For the open-jaw, I'm seeing around 1800, so I'm hoping to do a little better.

And thursdaysd, I use EVERYTHING. I'm liking Hipmunk these days, they sort their flights by an 'agony index' - a combination of stops, duration, price etc. Also itasoftware (but now it points you to Google travel), kayak, vayama, expedia...

I'd love to be able to do 2 weeks of travel with a carry-on, but I can't.

And I wish the airlines would pass on some of their gas prices to the consumer....

Thanks so much,
Alice
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Old Jan 13th, 2016, 05:16 PM
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"I'd love to be able to do 2 weeks of travel with a carry-on, but I can't."

Why not? I do check my bigger bag, but it is US carry on size - 22 inches - and I travel for months rather than weeks at a time. I do my laundry in the bathroom sink, but there are other methods. Laundromats, for instance.
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Old Jan 13th, 2016, 06:58 PM
  #18  
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Carry on bags - it's not clothes so much, it's stuff. Meds, toiletries, electronics, camera. I put the things I can't lose in a carry on I take on the plane, and the rest I check in another bag. I take one change of clothes in the carry on as well.

Also - I do like to leave some room to buy things when I travel.

It's just a matter of style. I know people who take multiple huge bags and people who travel with a backpack. And the one trick I learned somewhere on this site was for my husband and I to put half of our things in each checked bag. If one bag gets lost, we still each have half our stuff.

Alice
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