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Milan/Rome Open Jaw vs. Milan RT? $1,000 SAVINGS!

Hello,
My wife and I are planning a trip to Italy in September. General itinerary: Milan/Lake Como/Venice/Cinque Terre/Florence & Tuscany/Rome. I have read guide books, internet sources and this forum on the subject and the plan was to fly on an open jaw from New York into Milan and out of Rome. The best non-stop fares for our flexible dates (Delta or Alitalia) run about $1,135pp. Here's the Issue, there is a round trip JFK to MXP on Emirates for $635! That's a savings of $500pp. I understand the benefits, and general preference, of working north to south over an itinerary that loops back to our starting point in Milan but in this case $1,000 is a lot of upgrades on hotels, dining, entertainment etc., or savings for the next trip. If we did the RT we could re-order the sights possibly leaving Cinque Terre and/or Milan for the tail end. We do also prefer the flight times on Delta, leaving earlier at night and getting into Milan earlier the next day (6:50pm depart/8:55am arrive vs. 10:20pm depart/12:15pm arrive). I find myself stuck and wondering, "What would Rick Steves do?" We are relative international travel neophytes and I would love to collect some opinions from the experienced folks on this forum.
Much appreciated, Steve

Posted by
11613 posts

I think you are wise in your calculations. Backtracking is not often a good idea, but for this amount of savings, you can easily spend the few hours from Roma to Milano and the relatively few euro for the train tickets, especially if you leave your sightseeing in Milano for the end of your trip. Go directly from MXP to Lake Como and then continue your itinerary, leaving Milano for your return.

Posted by
51 posts

I was in the same situation and I went with the roundtrip Milan for July. I am not a complete expert but I have travelled in Europe by train for the last six years. I think the savings is a lot and especially if you are just traveling around Italy, the train trips are all fairly fast and reasonably priced. We are also going to straight to Lake Como, Tuscany, Sorrento,Venice and then we are actually going to train back from Venice to Milan on the day of the flight. Skipping Milan entirely.

Posted by
15640 posts

What would Rick do? Since they are business expenses for him, anything he wants. You, on the other hand are traveling on your own hard earned money. Rome is only 3 hours from Milan on the train. I'd certainly do it your way. Your trip budget just got a little fatter.
Since you can't check in to your hotel until 15:00, I like the later flights anyway. Saves the "How do I kill the 6 hours before I check in?" quandary. And you're more likely to get a bit of shut eye on the late flight.

Posted by
5218 posts

Sounds worth it to me. If it wasn't a direct flight, that might make a difference, but for $1000, I'd make the 3-hour train ride.

Posted by
11983 posts

$500 per person is a lot of money to let go. I'd take Emirates and back track. The train back to Milan is only about $100 pp.

To minimize back tracking you could do a sort of a loop. This is the itinerary you should take:
MILAN > LAKE COMO > VENICE > FLORENCE/TUSCANY > ROME (then back up north) > CINQUE TERRE > MILAN.

In other words do the Cinque Terre on the way back to Milan. You would basically take the train along the coast from Rome to the Cinque Terre (via La Spezia). Then from the Cinque Terre to Milan via Genoa. The train through that route is even a bit cheaper.

One more thing. I understand the love that you all have for Lake Como (Rick Steves and George Clooney had you all brain washed), however since you land at Malpensa, Lake Maggiore is much closer and not a detour like lake Como. You can be in Stresa in 40 min. after landing and picking up your luggage. Lake Maggiore is just as beautiful and has more things to see than lake Como (Borromee islands, Lake Orta and Orta San Giulio, Locarno (CH) and the Cento Valley railroad to Domodossola, the old and quaint town of Cannobio).

Posted by
24 posts

Thank you all for your prompt, thoughtful and affirming replies! It was just what I needed in order to clarify my thinking and commit to the RT to Milan. You guys are great and help make this the excellent forum that it is.

Zoe - Thanks for the suggestion.

judgekw - Have a wonderful trip. Sounds like a nice plan.

Sam - Thanks for the laugh (WWRD?) - good point. Appreciate your perspective on the later flight too.

Posted by
24 posts

Roberto, Thank you for your thoughts and suggestions. The "loop" itinerary you outlined is definitely one option being considered. The coastal train route from Rome to La Spezia sounds interesting and scenic. I will also give some consideration to the option of Lake Maggiore. Our current thought is, after visiting Milano, to take the "slow boat" from Como to Varenna then on to Verona and Venezia. Steve

Posted by
11983 posts

If you have the time you could spend the last 2 or 3 nights in Stresa (lake Maggiore) before flying back home from Milan. That way you see two lakes. Como at the beginning of your trip and Maggiore at the end.

Lake Maggiore is near the Milan Malpensa airport (35-40 min away), and since the Emirates flight departs after 4pm, you have plenty of time to catch it.

Posted by
23 posts

Rick's open-jaw is a good general rule, but you are facing a rare situation. Emirates, for whatever reason, can and wants to offer (extraordinarily) low fare between Europe and US in order to break the strong hold of this market by US/European carriers. The only route it has currently is JFK to MXP. Lucky you! With this understanding of the background you should just grab this saving without feeling unsmart.

Posted by
47 posts

Hi Steve,
I would not recommend for you to fly Emirates , last summer we had that experience and I would never try it again. We had some problems with them ( we are family of 4 -mom, dad and 2 teens)
we never had chance to sit together and after I mention that I can't fly alone, they gave us tickets on the different rows but across the isle...
they seems very busy and food and entertainment they advertised is just not worth it...
so think twice if you decide to fly Emirates.
Good luck and have a great vacation.
P.S.
We had our trip with Emirates from New York to Milan and back to States last June-July

Posted by
7191 posts

I would jump on that deal in a heartbeat!

Posted by
24 posts

I want to make clear that while the Emirates RT to Milan is a great fare, and lower than the competitors, the $500 difference is not an apples to apples comparison. Flying RT to Milan is overall cheaper than the Milan-Rome open-jaw. On my dates, Delta is offering a non-stop RT to Milan for $767 or about $120 more per person than the Emirates flight.

For whatever reasons, Rome is a more expensive destination. For comparison, the Delta non-stop RT to Rome on the same dates is $1,383 (vs. $767 to Milan) and if you bought the one-way return trip only (Rome to JFK) on Delta that would set you back $1,905! Go figure. They must have algorithms much smarter than I am because that makes no sense to me.

As gw300 points out, Emirates is aggressively entering this market and they have those large Airbus A380 jets to fill while not yet being one of the familiar go-to carriers for this route.

Posted by
24 posts

zosialiv, Thanks for sharing your experience. It's so frustrating when a company will not make what seems like a simple accommodation when it's of such great importance to the experience of the customer. Did you not have advance seating assignments? In looking at the Emirates booking process, it appears that one must actually book the flight before you can view the seating chart for available seats. It would be preferable to view the availability earlier in the process as it could effect the decision. Still, Emirates does have superior reviews and ratings to either Delta or Alitalia and I put some stock in those percentages. I view the airlines in much the same way as I view banks... you can't win, but it's your ball and you can loose to whomever you choose. One must try to keep their gratitude higher than their expectations. If my plane lands in an airport, I'm a winner. If I have the luxury of a trip to Italy, I am blessed.