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Flights to Palermo Sicily

Hi,

We are booked on the RS Sicily and Southern Italy tours (back to back) departing from Reno or Sacramento to Palermo on May 7 or 8 and departing from Naples for home on June 4. We are less than 7 months out from our trip departure and I am finding the multicity prices quite high (around $1,400 for basic economy). Is Palermo pricier to fly into than other locations in Europe? I am watching the fares and they don’t seem to be dropping. I normally have good luck booking fares about 6 months out. I scored a premium economy flight open jaws to Scandinavia for this past July for around $1,100 for example. Should I be lowering my expectations for a good fare for our trip? Thanks for your input.

Posted by
709 posts

When I did the Sicily tour last year, I had no luck finding flights from Phila. to Palermo and out of Catania at a price I could live with. In the end I booked RT to Rome, then separate flights to Sicily. I allowed plenty of time (4.5 hrs. I think?) between my arrival in Rome and an Alitalia flight to Palermo.

Posted by
5595 posts

Is Palermo pricier to fly into than other locations in Europe?

Yes, because Sicily is a small market for flights, and Palermo is not a gateway airport in the same way that Frankfurt or Amsterdam or Istanbul is. People don't normally transit through Palermo to get to somewhere else - it's a final destination (or origin). Palermo likely gets most of its traffic from NJ/ NY/ Philly area where families trace back roots to Sicily. I don't suspect that flying from Reno (or even Sacramento) would be less expensive than a larger airport (like LAX) as well. It's simply a demand "thing", a case of a small airline market, and not a lot of competition on that route from where you are.

What I would consider is a round trip to Rome, Milan, or any major city (in Italy or elsewhere) where you can simply take a cheap budget airline (Ryan Air and the like) to get to Palermo. Or pick an airline that will likely go through the East Coast (Philly, Newark, NY) where they'll likely pick up more passengers destined for Palermo. I would start by looking at which flights go to Palermo and from which cities, and then work backwards from there.

Posted by
2003 posts

We took back to back tours this summer-Rome then Sicily. Flying from SMF we found the best fares were RT Rome, by far. Had we not done the Rome tour we would have overnighted in Rome then to Palermo. I don’t book unprotected connections as I have seen significant delays on outbound flights-no time is “enough” when your second flight is a use it or lose it connection. On the way to and from Rome to Sicily we flew Alitalia and the fares were quite reasonable. We overnighted in Rome on the way back and, thanks to recommendations on this forum, we stayed in Rome proper (not at the airport), had another great day, dinner, very nice hotel, with pre-arranged transport to FCO the next morning.

Posted by
3047 posts

Like others, I found it less expensive to book R/T to Rome and then separte Alitalia flights to Palermo and from Catania. I did allow a buffer day on both ends. The Alitalia flights were under $100 each way and that was the higher Economy Classic fare that allows a checked bag, seat selection and limited changes.

Posted by
4433 posts

Mary, take a look and see what the fare is for US>Rome-Naples>US. If that fare is over $1000, then $1400 including Sicily might be reasonable. You can always wait and see if there's a sale around Thanksgiving, but you're gambling. I assume that you'll be flying out of Catania to Naples at the end of the RS tour, so there is another segment that you've not mentioned. Is that right?

Posted by
917 posts

Yes, I have been looking at all options. Round trip to Naples (or Rome) was one option with a separate connection to Palermo and then a flight from Catania to Rome to meet the second tour. I have also looked at flying round trip from Reno out of another US gateway city and then booking a round trip ticket to Palermo or Naples. I am nervous though about missing that separate flight from Naples to Palermo or Rome to Palermo if I book round trip tickets to those cities so I considered booking a hotel for the night in Naples or Rome before proceeding onward. But adding the cost of the hotel room and then an additional flight makes it just as expensive as just flying open jaws to Palermo and then home from Naples. I may just have to suck up the higher cost of the open jaw flight. I am rationalizing the cost by telling myself that I am actually doing two trips to Italy. LOL! I have a few weeks before I hit the 6 month out mark which is when I usually start to get serious about booking flights.

Posted by
4376 posts

Mary,
I, like the others, booked round trip tickets to Milan. I spent a couple of nights visiting Milan before flying to Palermo via Easyjet. After visiting Sicily, I flew back to Milan, from Catania, again via Easyjet.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
1308 posts

I agree sometimes it is worth to pay for ease of mind--and remember time IS money. I don't consider 1400 that bad of a multicity fare for the US west coast to Palermo.

Posted by
403 posts

My open-jaw Chicago to Catania / Palermo to Chicago ended up around $1,000 so maybe $1,400 is not seriously of the mark in the grand scheme. What I did find was that there was very significant savings flying into Catania vs Palermo, it made me reverse my itinerary. Catania is the bigger airport actually. Also, changing the departure dates by a day had an impact. I bought about six months out too, so roughly the same time frame. Good luck

Posted by
10902 posts

Even from New York, flights to Sicily are relatively pricey and relatively complicated compared to most other European destinations. So, from Sacramento or Reno, it's going to be even harder and pricier.

United does have "seasonal" flight from Newark to Palermo and to Palermo. I don't know how many times a week these flight are or what are the dates of their "seasons," but if you can utilize one or both of these flights, it may make things easier (if not cheaper). Otherwise, you have at least one connection, even from a major hub like JFK or BOS, to get to Sicily or Naples.

To find out who flies where from an airport, look at that airport's Wikipedia page. Note that while Palermo is the larger city, Catania is the larger airport with more flight options.

If you are using the idea of flying to another city to catch a separate ticket flight to Palermo, Rome has by far the most options (multiple airlines each with multiple flights per day). What I did was book two flights from Rome to Palermo, one departing 3 hours after my scheduled Rome arrival and another departing 10 hours after. These were non-refundable, and even the cost of the two tickets together was lower than the cost of one last minute or fully refundable ticket. I knew I'd use one and throw away one, and just counted the total cost of the two tickets as my cost for this segment. For my return to the US, however, I spent the night before in Rome; there was no way I'd take a chance on missing that flight.

Posted by
11718 posts

Check Catania as well.

In spite of Palermo being the largest city, the metropolitan area around the Catania Plain (which include the provinces of Catania, Siracusa, and Messina) is the most populous metro area in Sicily (hence the largest airport in the island).

Posted by
917 posts

Thanks everybody for your responses. It looks like there is no simple or inexpensive way to get there from here which was what I suspected and you have all confirmed it. I am just going to have to suck up the extra cost. I will be looking for the best price and routing in the next few weeks and go with that.

Posted by
10902 posts

I just caught a typo that makes my original post not make sense. It should have read:

"United does have "seasonal" flight from Newark to Naples and to Palermo."

Posted by
917 posts

Thanks, Roberto. I will check Catania as well.

Posted by
2249 posts

We flew into Catania since the connections from Wash DC were better, we didn’t have to go through Rome, and because of the arrival time, we would be able to drive to our hotel while it was still light outside. Believe the economy seats were about $1200 round trip per person. We flew United out of Dulles with a flight change n Munich going over, and Frankfurt on the return leg.

Posted by
18 posts

Hi,
I know it’s a 2-hour drive but if you don’t mind flying in and out of San Jose, British Airways flies nonstop to London. Using your dates, RT, SJC-LHR is under $450, and there are flights out of LGW to Palermo for under $100 (EasyJet), and Naples to LGW, $54 (BA). Even adding the cost of overnight stays in London, the overall price should come under $1000 per person. We’ve been using London as our springboard to other countries in Europe the past few years. I use goggle flights to monitor/track prices.

Posted by
917 posts

Hi papillon,

We are in Reno so it is 4+ hours to the Bay Area for us. We don’t mind the drive there and have done it but the drive back when we are jet lagged is just not safe. We have even spent the night in the Bay Area on our return trip and still feel off. But thanks for the info on the San Jose Airport. That is a good deal and may help someone else. I use google flights as well. It looks like the price is coming down a bit and there are still plenty of seats on the flight I am interested in. I will check flights to LGW from Reno and see what we come up with.

Posted by
18 posts

Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I thought you were in Folsom. Anyway, have fun planning!

Posted by
3461 posts

From SFO I went to London non stop then took British air to Palermo. This was some years ago and it was summer.

Posted by
26 posts

You may have missed the boat. I booked Palermo a few months ago for 58,000 miles (I thought remarkably cheap) on Delta from Atlanta. Now I see the same flight costs $1662.