I am planning a 4-5 week trip next summer (late June through end of July). We will fly out of the New York/New Jersey area and spend the first 2 1/2 weeks touring parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia (Dubrovnik area & Istria area & Plitvice Lakes - possibly leaving out much of the rest of Croatia, only because of time), and also parts of Slovenia (Ljubljana, Lake Bled.) I don't know if we should start in the south and work our way north or vice versa. When we leave this region, we will be flying to Dublin or preferably Shannon) to tour the west coast of Ireland (odd combination, but 'it is what it is' ) for the last 2 1/2 weeks before flying home from Ireland to the USA. My biggest concern is with the cost of the open jaw airfare...Flying into that area of Eastern Europe and then out of Ireland. Are there any airfare guru's who can help me with my international flights. Is it generally cheaper to fly from the NY area (in July) to Sarajevo, Dubrovnik, or Ljubljana? Then home from Ireland to NY area. What airlines would be best, mostly for cost, but also time (I see some airlines will require many stops for the route to Eastern Europe.) I'm pretty confused, I thought someone might be able to guide me in the right direction.
I would suggest comparing each of your potential starting/ending points from New York with the website www.skyscanner.com. You can set parameters (such as how many stops along the way, time spent traveling, price, etc.) which can help aid your decision. I briefly glanced at potential flights from New York to Sarajevo, Dubrovonik, and Ljubljiana and found those prices to to be fairly comparable. However, it is much more expensive to fly home from Shannon than it would be from Dublin. I hope this helps!
Is it generally cheaper to fly from the NY area (in July) to Sarajevo, Dubrovnik, or Ljubljana?
Kerry, there is no "general" answer - you will have to price it out when the time comes. I can't speak for Ljubljana, but neither Sarajevo nor Dubrovnik will be quick or inexpensive to fly into especially during peak season, which is the time you're planning to go. Both cities are too small of an airline market from the US to have competitive pricing (too few people going to Sarajevo and Dubrovnik is just a tiny city). What you can do perhaps (if you have to avoid open jaw flights) is to fly roundtrip to a gateway city like London and to take cheaper budget flights to these cities from the gateway city. But then you're dealing with two separate tickets. Either way, you will be connecting through a much larger European city first. In my case, I decided to get to both Sarajevo and Dubrovnik via Split (had to fly from Split to Sarajevo and took the bus to Dubrovnik).
Someone in another forum just posted the fact that British Airways / American Airlines are having a companion fare sale. When you search for 2 persons traveling the the per person fare is less than 1 person traveling the same route. I just verified it with my own search for June 2017.
All right, having nothing to do, I spent a little time on Matrix ITA. My conclusions.
A multi-city ticket on Delta and partners would be about $2400. I think I used flying to Dubrovnik then to Dublin from Venice.
Then I thought about it this way. Aer Lingus should be involved as the cover New York and Ireland, of course.
So they fly to Italy and that might be a good jumping off location for the Balkans. You can get a multi-city ticket JFK to Milan or Rome return thru Dublin with a 2-week stop over for under $1200. Returning from Shannon jumps it to $1800, so forget that. Ireland just isn't that big a country. Use Dublin. Its a big airport.
Vueling has non-stops from Rome to Dubrovnik for about $150 round trip. You could also do a one way and work your way to Venice from Slovenia, then take the train to Milan or Rome for the Irish leg.
I would spend at least a night in the Italian jumping-off place to insure you have eliminated the delay factor. It seems going that route could save you nearly $1000 per person.
This could fine tuned considerably. Maybe some where else that Aer Lingus flies may be a better gateway to the Balkans. Vienna? Amsterdam? Frankfurt?
As an alternative to Ljubljana, consider Venice, which is relatively close to Ljubljana and an easy shuttle transfer. I've flown with United direct from Venice to Newark before, the quality of United isn't the best, but at least it eliminates a layover. Trieste is also worth considering if connecting via Rome. Vienna and Munich airports are popular with Slovenians but further out. However, if there is a large enough price difference they might be worth considering, despite the longer transfer to/from the airport.
For getting from Slovenia/Croatia/Bosnia to Ireland, I would seriously consider booking a flight with a budget airline, they are the only ones that offer direct flights - Ryanair flies from Venice Treviso and Zadar to Dublin, Aer Lingus flies from Venice, Pula and Dubrovnik to Dublin. Whichever way you go (north to south or south to north) will be fine in terms of weather, the direction of travel is more of an issue in shoulder season than in late June, when it will be warm to hot everywhere. While in the area, avoid long distance travel on the weekends, especially Saturdays, as traffic can become horrendous as tourists from all over Europe cram onto the few highways and public transport links to reach Croatia or return home from their holidays.
Consider using Zagreb as your Balkan gateway/departure point. It's about 90 miles from both Ljubljana and Plitvice Lakes National Park. I flew back to Washington Dulles from Zagreb last fall on a combination of Air Croatia and United, with just one stop in Europe. Zagreb might prove a good bit cheaper than the options mentioned previously.
Be sure to use the "multi-city" option to price out at least the two trans-Atlantic legs together. Do not look for two one-way flights; that would be exorbitant no matter what gateway cities you use. I think the Balkan-Irish leg can be priced separately, since there should be some discount airlines flying the route.
Thank you all, so much, for your advice. I will certainly use it! I'll let you know what I end up booking. Thanks!
I used all your advice to shop my airfare; thought you might like to know what I purchased.
*We purchased Aer Lingus open jaw flights departing US on 6/25 and returning on 7/31/17.*
Out of NYC/NJ (Newark Int'l) to Dubrovnik (with a brief 2 hr layover in Dublin)
Then, Return via Shannon, Ireland on a direct flight to NYC/NJ area (JFK Int'l)
The cost was $986 per person
To get from Eastern Europe, after touring south from Dubrovnik north to Slovenia, we will fly out of Venice to Shannon, with a brief layover in London on a combination of British Air/Aer Lingus for an additional $200 per person.
So, all in all about $1,250 pp including trip insurance of $50 pp for the int'l flight. I think I did pretty well, especially since there are no long layovers, as I saw on other itineraries for much more money.
Again, thank for all your help!!!
Since I figured $1400 with a couple of ground transfers priced in, I think you did very well indeed. I guess flying out EWR and returning to JFK is not a problem for you. Have fun.
Funny - I had a completely different itinerary last month (into Glasgow and out of Liverpool), but two things are identical about your ticket and my ticket.
1) Aer Lingus had, by far, the cheapest price, and had good connections to boot.
2) I left from EWR and returned to JFK, as this was what showed up on the Aer Lingus website (for me, living in Manhattan, they're equal).