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Airfare prices... say it isn't so! ---Heart of Italy Tour---

Hello All,

I am trying in earnest to find a decent priced airfare to Italy for the Heart of Italy tour, starting August 29th. Is it just too late to find a deal?
Initially, I was hoping to fly into London from Los Angeles on the first half of a round trip ticket . Then take a one way trip to Rome, then following the tour take another one way from Florence back to London. Then fly back on the second half of the round trip ticket back home- Los Angeles. When I price this, it is way more expensive than I thought it would be. (1,200 for RT LAX-LHR, and 150 each for the one way)

I tried another approach, where I tried one way tickets; LAX - FCO then FLR - LHR then LHR - LAX..... but EACH flight came up in the thousands!)

Maybe it's stick shock- but it all seems too much.

Can you give me an idea of what is normal. What are you expecting/have already paid?

Thank you travel buddies!

Posted by
3308 posts

The $1200 RT price from LAX - LHR is actually quite good...you should jump on it. If I read it right you have two one way flights - LHR to FCO then FLR back to LHR for a total of $300. Again, that's a reasonable price unless you go with a discount, cut-rate airline where you can't even take a carry-on bag with out huge fees!
Have you tried Kayak.com? They offer a multi-city itinerary fare finder that will help you find the best deals for the dates you want to travel. Study each one carefully before booking - some of the cheapest ones require crazy-long layovers in places like Moscow but once you see all the fares available you'll be able to judge the reasonableness of the fares you have found so far.

Posted by
2008 posts

You might also try pricing out multi-city flights unless you wanted to begin and end in London? Otherwise you could fly into LHR, take the flight to FCO, then fly Florence, Pisa or Milan to LAX without returning to LHR. $1,200 is a good price for this year though!

Posted by
1878 posts

I don't understand why you are seeking to fly to London if your trip is to Italy—is it because you also have plans in London, or because you think it will be cheaper? $1200 to London at that time of year seems like a reasonable deal. (We paid paid $1250 flying into Shannon Ireland and out of Dublin just this past May, having booked the flight in February). LAX to LHR would probably be a cheaper route than most in the shoulder season, but in August it's going to be expensive.

Posted by
74 posts

Try Alitalia.com - they look like they have some great rates round trip to Italy

Posted by
11845 posts

Looks like a good price to me too; we've paid more than that to continental Europe from Minneapolis. I'm curious as well why you want to go through LHR?

Posted by
11193 posts

I'm not sure what you thought was a "proper" price, but I agree with everyone else saying the prices you are finding are not unexpected. If you are basing your expectation on what you paid a few years ago, unfortunately that means nothing. The airlines have gotten much better at filling the planes; when planes are full, they don't need to discount.

Posted by
11613 posts

I have been paying $1200-1500 multi-city for the past six years or so. Winter is cheaper.

Posted by
262 posts

You could book this as RT LAX-FCO, using the train to get from Florence to Rome's airport on the last day of your tour, and your airfare would be under $1300. For example, if you are on the 8/28-9/5 Heart of Italy tour and intending to arrive on the first day of the tour and fly home on the last day, a United flight from LAX on 8/27 leaves at 11:02 a.m., has a do-able (not too tight) plane change at O'Hare, and gets to Rome at 10:30 a.m. on 8/28, the day your tour starts. On the last day of the tour, you would take the 7:38 a.m. train from Florence that goes directly to FCO. It arrives at FCO at 9:52 a.m. There's a United flight that departs at 12:40 a.m. and gets to LAX at 8:30 p.m. The cost of this RT on United is $1299. There seem to be other choices, on other airlines, with other layover cities, also under $1300. The train wouldn't add too much cost. Or too much hassle, given that it goes directly to FCO without a train change in Rome's Termini station.

Posted by
453 posts

Have you looked into flying round trip to Munich and taking a budget flight to Rome for the start of the tour and back from Florence at the end?

Posted by
990 posts

When I budget my trip the airfare part is always $1,200.00 and we fly from LAX also, so yea that is the normal price. We flew LAX-Rome and coming home Paris-LAX on Air Canada because the price was right and the flight times, including layovers were acceptable. I purchased one way from Florence Italy to Paris France for $75.00 each (Air France) but I also saw that if I chose a different date we could have flown for $39.00 each. So move your dates around, try KAYAK to get a feel for all the different airlines option you have but DON'T book through KAYAK and be careful on booking a "cheap" ticket on multiple carriers. Once you see an airfare you like, go directly to that airlines website and book on there. On KAYAK You will see super cheap flights that fly through Turkey or Russia, look at the total travel time (some times it is well over 30 hours...no thank you!) .

Posted by
365 posts

$1200 is a very good price. I just got back from the best of Switzerland tour and between the flight and the charge to reserve an isle seat I paid close to $1800 for my plane trip on Swiss Air. As to the question why would someone want to go though London. If you live on the west coast, it is easier to fly to London to change planes than to go to east.

I also have made the decision to fly non-stop as much as I can even though it does cost more in some cases. I would rather get on the plane and sit for 12 hours than have to fly for six, get off, sit for several hours then get back on another 6-8 hour flight. However, this is my personal choice fully realizing that it will probably cost more, but the time savings and less hassle is worth it to me.

Posted by
1707 posts

(1,200 for RT LAX-LHR, and 150 each for the one way)
Those are very good prices, I think you are not being realistic if you do not think so.

Except for rare sales to Italy, from Boston at least which is much closer than LA I found it is easier to get good prices to our European cities like London and then take one way flights within Europe to Italy as there are so many more options.

From US to Europe and Europe to US if searching for one way flights, only the discount and smaller carriers sell these for truly half price or close to it, the big boys charge insane amounts in what most be a way to discourage this type of booking.
It is not uncommon for a one way to Europe or vice versa on American, Delta, United, Air France and others cost more than a R/T ticket. Most people booking one ways on these airlines are likely doing so with frequent flyer points.
Norwegian and the Iceland airlines are 2 options that are good about pricing one ways.

Posted by
7077 posts

Isn't flying into and out of Milan usually the least expensive.

Posted by
1707 posts

Often Milan is lowest but is from very much city you are coming from dependent and if no flights go direct to Milan you can usually beat the rate by combining different flights to Europe.
From Boston you can only fly direct to Rome and when there are Italy sales, which are rare this will be then usually be the cheapest route Boston to Italy.
There used to be direct flight options to Milan and Venice, they seem to be no longer as airlines are dropping routes and trying to maintain full capacity flights.
From Boston to reach Italy with the exception of one of those rare Rome sales, you will find it cheapest to reach a European city that is more heavily serviced and then find cheap local flights within Europe in those cases Milan is usually no cheaper than any other Italian airport. I booked an insanely cheap flight from Venice to Paris , $70 each way per person with reserved seats and a checked bag per person as an example.

Posted by
308 posts

I just booked Boston-Rome Non stop RT for $676 my previous flight JFK-Milan non stop was around $500 RT

Posted by
2938 posts

As the others have said, $1200 rt LAX - LHR - LAX looks typical for the time of year you're going. However, I'm wondering if you've looked into open jaw pricing, LAX - FCO, FLR (or Pisa) - LAX. Your 2 one-ways add $300 to your costs. They also waste your time and create the possibility of missing your connection at LHR home bound. If you spend a night near LHR, which I would do to avoid the latter, you have the hotel tariff to factor into the cost.

Posted by
2938 posts

Out of curiosity, I just checked skyscanner. They are showing lots of itineraries LAX - FCO, FLR - LAX for under $1200, with reasonable timing. It's best to book directly with airline after finding an itinerary you like. (You check the multi-city box to do open jaws.)

Posted by
26 posts

I would follow theflightdeal.com. Just in the last week, there have been sub $800 flights to both Vienna and Berlin available from LAX for Fall travel. If you find one of those fares, you could then jump on a low cost carrier to FCO and FLR.

That said, you are running out of time before fares are likely to climb even higher than what you are seeing now.

And I'll echo others. Why do you want to fly in and out of LHR? The taxes are among the highest of any airport in Europe.

Posted by
5455 posts

In response to the posting about "sub-$800" fares ... yes, if you travel in the fall, there are good deals. But OP has a tour date in August.
We fly from SFO, and $1200 is my acceptable RT fare -- and we don't fly in the summer.

Posted by
26 posts

Often "fall" sales begin in late August when a majority of US students are back to school. I know that was the case with at least one of those two sales in the last week. With the OP's tour beginning on August 29, they may still get lucky if they keep watching. But I personally wouldn't be comfortable waiting much longer than the end of the month.

Posted by
1774 posts

Just to put it in perspective, we booked in December 2014 for a late February/early March 2015 trip. Out of Chicago/O'Hare direct to Paris CDG, then 17 days later out of Napoli Capodochino to Munich to Chicago. This cost $1120 apiece, which I thought was OK but not great.

Starting in about September I will be looking for another off-season fare, hopefully nonstop Chicago/O'Hare to Rome Fiumicino roundtrip in February or March 2017, and finally with some timing flexibility I want to for once in my life to get a great fare. I would consider one European stop if the layover isn't horrendous. No, not Turkish Airlines with a 20-hour layover in Istanbul--leave that to the kiddies with more stamina!

But I'm just wondering about the best tactics. So far I've signed up on Kayak to notify me. I've heard that between 4-6 months out is potentially the sweet spot for deals, with the warning to jump on a cheap fare (I think anything under $800 round trip would be great) as soon as it's available.

Comments, advice? Thanks!

Posted by
26 posts

For the fun of it, I went on google.com/flights and entered LAX as the departure point and left destination blank for an itinerary from August 27 thru September 7. The OP could fly nonstop to Stockholm with SAS for under $1000 or if they didn't mind a one stopper in Iceland, they could fly to Amsterdam for under $660 with WOW. I'm not sure I'd fly with WOW unless I had a clear understanding about all the potential fees, but it goes to show there are still quite a few ways to get to Europe economically for a late summer departure.

Posted by
1707 posts

Jay ; I really don't think there is a magic answer.
The best rates are likely the airline sales and those are totally unpredictable and happen I would say usually 3 months out.
Problem is other those sales by the time you wait 'til 3 months out the prices will have gone up from where they were 7-9 months out. Also getting into dates 3 months out can result in sold out dates and make your hotel bookings so much harder, assuming you plan on booking flights first and hotels second.

Best advise if you want to catch a sale, is to sign up on each of the airline's websites and you will get there new sales that way before Kayak or similar site it going to give you an alert.
if you know where you are flying and approx. dates you will be able to figure out in advance your possible flight options and carriers.

If you don't want to play the sales game you can get a better rate but likely not those amazing rates you hear of and in that case start monitoring weekly starting 9 or so months out, identify what a good price would be and jump on it when it comes up.

Posted by
5010 posts

London has some of the highest (perhaps the single highest) airport departure taxes of any city in Europe. If you are trying to keep costs down, you are not doing yourself any favors by returning from London (this fee generally only applies on departure - flying in to London doesn't cost you any extra).

Unless you have some good reason to choose London as your first landing point in Europe, it seems like a poor choice to me if you are highly price-sensitive (that is, cheap).

If Italy is your destination, obviously look at flights to Italy. Of course, you can get to Italy pretty cheaply from almost anywhere in Europe, so if you need a cheaper price, look at the LCCs to any place in Europe, but be sure you factor in the sneaky fees, limitations, and how much you value a non-miserable flight experience - plus the extra time/hassle/out-of-pocket expenses for the connections. If price is really your primary (or only) selection criteria, then be prepared to "pay for it" in other ways (cramped seat, inconvenient routing, multiple connections and long layovers, etc. etc.).

Remember, the airlines have fine-tuned their business models to extract as much money from you as possible in a thousand ways you probably never imagined (want a bite to eat? a pillow? a window or aisle seat? want to avoid an 18 hour layover in Newark?). You spend money for convenience/comfort/fewer hassles and a bit of overall happiness. You save money by subjecting yourself to inconvenience, discomfort, hassles and some degree of misery. Pick which is more important to you.

Posted by
308 posts

I buy my tickets in Germany in Euros if usa fares are too expensive. check out usdtravel call them in Germany you will find good fares between usa and Germany. Sometimes its not cheaper but its worth a try. I flew 3 times from Boston to Frankfurt this year and paid about 250 euros one way. American airlines in general are ripping us off.

Posted by
6 posts

@Jay - I use Google Flights to track airfares - there's a calendar with prices which change as you choose your dates.
It really doesn't take long to check the site out daily and you can save itineraries that work for you.
Then, when you go back, you can see whether or not your saved itineraries have changed price.
Last month, on another forum, someone posted about good airfare prices they found so out of curiosity, I checked out RT ORD - CDG, I wasn't going to travel this fall and I had just returned from Paris but a non-stop ORD-CDG in Nov for $688 changed my mind.
I had no intention of going to Rome, why? I don't know, but I was reading something and thought, why not.
Went to Google Flights and started exploring, same low fare (non-stop) for March.
Then I started looking at open jaw.... ORD-FCO/CDG-ORD and found a non-stop flight in March for $688 again but, like a dummy, I hesitated and the next day the fare was over $1100.
I kept checking and my itinerary went back down, $771 this time, I pounced - late March departure, returning mid April.

Long story short - I found excellent airfares using Google Flights.

Edited to add for Jay - I wanted to fly non-stop and didn't find any flights until the end of March, there are a lot of choices with one or more stops in March for approx. $800.

Posted by
1774 posts

Thanks, PresDuLac!

You got a nonstop ORD to FCO, coming back nonstop CDG to ORD, for $771? That's sweet! So, towards the end of your trip you will find your way to Paris and fly home from there?

I think we're going to try to fly into & out of FCO, much as I despise the place. You're at a distinct disadvantage if you don't speak Italian--mine is of the broken pidgin variety!--and the workers seem to be primping and preening all the time instead of helping customers. But oh, well...

Once you found the fare, did you book directly with the specific airline instead of Google Flights?

Posted by
6 posts

Jay - I booked directly with the airline, you can't book with Google - there are links to the airlines at the bottom of the itinerary you choose.

United for the Nov. Paris trip and American for the March/April Rome-Paris trip (7 days in Rome, 9 days in Paris)
It looks like the fares from FCO - CDG are around $115 right now, I've seen them as low as $56, looks like I need to pounce the next time, oops, that's RT, they're still $56 one way.

Also, I added this to my reply above in case you didn't see it - I wanted to fly non-stop and didn't find any flights until the end of March, there are a lot of choices with one or more stops in March for approx. $800.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks everyone!!!!

You all have been so helpful. In case you're curious I ended up with a $1,200 LAX-ROME-FCO and LHR-LAX and a $200 FLR-LCY.
The reason for LHR was to extend the vacation and see London!

Thanks again, your responses are so appreciated.

Posted by
195 posts

Check as often as you can....last year, we went to Italy, and we got lucky because the price dropped for a few hours by several hundred dollars, then later in the day it was back up again. Obviously that strategy can backfire because there's a chance they will just keep going up from here, but after experiencing that, I'd say check several times per day to see what you can find up until buying.

But, as others have said, Italy from the west coast for 1200 isn't too bad. When I've looked other times, 1300-1500 has seemed common.

Posted by
1774 posts

I am not ready to fire in just yet for February or March travel, but I did fool around a little. FYI for me it was easier to set filters (no Turkish Air or IST layover!) and save parameters for an alert with Kayak rather than Google Flights, although I'll continue to monitor both.

For mid-February for 9 days, I was quoted through Air Lingus a 1 stop ORD/DUB/FCO, reverse on the way back, a 1.5 hour layover going, 3 hour layover returning, for $831/pp. For some reason nonstops ORD/FCO are nonexistent in February, don't know why.

I'll keep looking. Thanks everyone for the help!

Posted by
1752 posts

Jay, I booked on May 18 r/t aer Lingus to Rome on February 17-26 and we are paying $680 pp. jumped on it as it was a great price. I start looking for flights as soon as I decide on where and when.

Posted by
616 posts

If you look on edreams website, there are possibilities between 700-900 euros return.
There are some possibilities via London Gatwick with a stop of three hours.
Also interesting are flights stopping for 16-22 hours in Stockholm or Copenhagen.
Companies operating along these routes are Norwegian air Shuttle or Scandinavian Airways.

Posted by
23 posts

I would wait for another time to do this tour, and get a Delta credit card with the 50,000 point sign up bonus. Then use your credit card instead of your debit for all your purchases. Use the money from your debit that would have made those purchases and pay your statement off!

Posted by
1 posts

I stalked skyscanner for six months trying to see a pattern on the best deals to Italy. Our deal loaded a couple of days ago. All three of us, Newark to Milan RT on Lufthansa for $1540 total. We don't have to pay extra for luggage or food. I just needed to leave from an east coast city on the Amtrak route. You are able to search from the US to IT instead of specific cities.