Airfare

ItalySource no longer sells air tickets, since more people want to shop for airfares on their favorite websites or from the airlines directly. However, it helps to talk to us about your itinerary before you select your flights.

To get a quick look at schedules and prices, we suggest that you click here for Orbitz, then click on "Flights" and "Multi-city." The only reason you may want to start with Orbitz is that it usually displays more flight options than other airfare websites, so you can get a quick idea of the scheduling possibilities. Then you can shop around other websites to compare for the best prices.

For most trips to Italy, you will want to fly into one city and out of another. So at any airfare website, you will need to get the input screen that allows you to choose a different city for your return from Italy. That screen is typically called "multi-city" or "multi-destination." On Orbitz, on the first page click the tab for "Flights," because you cannot use the "Quick Search." Then click the button for "Multi-city." Type in your departure city in the USA, your date of departure, and where you expect to fly into Italy, such as Rome. Then type in your departure city in Italy, such as Venice or Milan. For most trips we do, it is less costly overall and more convenient to fly into one city in Italy and out of another. However, if you wish instead to fly into and out of the same city (usually Rome or Milan), please remember that there will be additional cost in money as well as time to return to that city by train. We can help by suggesting the best airport choices to fit our land packages.

On Orbitz (or your preference for another airfare website), you can type in the city names or you can use the three-letter airport codes. Here are the key codes for Italy and Switzerland....

Rome -- FCO
Milan -- MXP
Venice -- VCE
Florence -- FLR

Zurich -- ZRH
Geneva -- GVA
Genoa -- GOA

Pisa -- PSA
Naples -- NAP

Here are some things to watch for in choosing flights and airfares....

  • How many connections? Often, the lowest cost flights have more connections.
  • Are the connection times longer or shorter than you want? We don't like to see them less than 90 minutes between when one flight arrives and the connecting flight departs. For some airports you may need more. We commonly see connection times offered at the Paris main airport (CDG) that are much too short, even less than one hour, causing you to rush and get really stressed trying to make the next flight.
  • The most vulnerable part of many Italy trips is the connection you may have on the flight into Italy, especially if that connection is at an airport in the USA. For example, if you are flying from Los Angeles, connecting in New York, and you miss the flight from New York to Italy. You will probably need to wait overnight for another flight, thereby losing your first night in hotel in Italy (non-refundable), plus an airport arrival transfer in Italy (non-refundable), and maybe even a sightseeing tour in Italy (also non-refundable). There are two things you can do to protect against this problem. The first is to avoid a short connection time (try for 2 hours or more). The second is to get trip insurance, and be sure that it covers you for trip delays.
  • When you are returning from Italy to a US airport, you will need to clear customs at that first US airport, so if you have a connecting flight to another US airport, we recommend aiming for two hours, usually a comfortable margin.
  • At the other extreme, you might see that the lowest-cost flights have a five or six-hour connection time. If you've got the time and patience for that, you may be able to save a lot on the airfare.
  • Just don't buy air tickets without thinking seriously about the connecting times.
  • What is the departure time from Italy or Switzerland? Many flights depart around 7:00 am, some as early as 6:15 am. And since you want to be at the airport well in advance, that could mean getting up by 4 am on the last day of your vacation. If you object to doing that, better look for a later departure.
  • When you look at an airfare quote, be sure to see that airport taxes are included. Airfare quoted on Orbitz or most any major airfare website, will usually include all taxes and fees. BUT when you see sale fares advertised by the airlines and by mahy tour companies, airport taxes are normally NOT included. This is important because those taxes can add $90 or more to the cost of your airfare. Also, the airlines have a terrible habit of quoting sale fares that are just ONE-WAY! So be sure to read the fine print.
  • Try other sources. Orbitz can be a pretty good indicator. But you might find a lower fare somewhere else, maybe even in the travel section of your Sunday paper. And you'll want to check some of the other major airfare websites such as Expedia, Travelocity or Cheap Tickets. Or one of the airline websites.
  • Remember that whatever website you go to for airfares will present you first with a simple option to check roundtrip flights -- for example, Chicago to Rome and back. If you want to fly back from a different city, like into Rome and out of Venice, you must click on the option for "multiple cities" or "multiple destinations" or "more options" to get an input screen where you can request a different city for the return trip. Don't let people tell you that it's too expensive to do that. It may be. But often there is no significant price difference to fly into one city and back from another. And even when there is an apparent savings to fly back from the same city, even up to $100, you may find that the extra money you must spend to get back to that city by train will cancel all the savings. We often see people buy flights in and out of Rome, then tell us they want to go to Venice. Then they find out that the cost of the train ticket to get back to Rome makes the total cost higher than if they flew out of Venice. And then there's that day of vacation that goes just to traveling back to Rome. We suggest that you talk to us about the itinerary before buying your air tickets.
 




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