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Sept vs Oct, and when (and how) to book flights

My husband and I want to visit Italy next year, arriving in Rome and departing from Milan. It will be our first trip, and we will probably only have about 14 days. I don't sleep well in very hot rooms, so I'd like to miss the summer heat, and wouldn't mind missing the summer crowds. What are the pros and cons of Sept vs Oct?

Given that time frame, how far ahead to we need to book our flights? Is it best these days to do so online, or ...?

We may have quite a few credit card miles, but given what I've read about troubles with that, I'm not counting on it. Any input re that?

Thanks so much. I've been reading the posts; this is a very knowledgeable group!

Deborah

Posted by
10344 posts

Deborah: You're wise to avoid the summer heat. Sept (avoid the Labor Day weekend) or October should both be good weather months, in general, based on averages. You can review long-term average weather data for Rome by going to www.weather.com. After you look at the averages, then you can decide if you want a better chance of milder weather, go in October instead of September, or not, as you see fit. Lots of people on the Helpline have been there so you should get plenty of advice.

Posted by
139 posts

Not sure who your miles or points are with. That will depend on which airline you can book with and use your points. I was lucky and about six weeks ago was able to transfer American Express points and upgrade to Business elite for a trip in early April. I recommend you determine which airlines you can use and what credit card company's points you will be using and go from there. Once you have identified an airline get on the phone. When doing an upgrade with points I do not know of any other way. They told me I was extremely lucky to get a flight doing this. Mid september should be a good time for the reasons you mentioned. When booking your flight the more flexible the better. I would recommend paying for the ticket and doing the upgrade if you don't have enough points for Business glass. It is the only way I will fly that kind of distance. If you find that you can't use points for the flight consider using them for rental car or something like that.

Posted by
139 posts

Too wordy so I got cut off. The airlines told me that in order to use points you usually need to book a year in advance. This is especially true if you aren't flexible and or hope to use points for the entire price of the ticket. So if you are going in September or October book now and you may have a chance of using your points. Both the airline (at least Delta) and American Express make it real easy. But there are not lots of "mileage, points" seats on each flight. Good luck but act now. And once booked you are "stuck". It is costly to change.

Posted by
710 posts

We used our American Express rewards points for our trip Sept 14 to Oct1. First I tried to use our USAir rewards points, but everything was taken. I booked the American Express points on line in June for Sept. We had to use Air France with them and change planes in Paris going to Rome and coming back from Venice. Someone had told us to book in Sept instead of Oct to avoid the rainy season in Oct. I do not know how true that is, but we were renting a boat for part of our trip so took this adivce. The weather was nice most days, but still crowded at end of Sept. We had a night of thunder storms in Venice and then the weather turned cool. Lots of Australians were on their 3 week holiday. Many from Great Britian and Germany told us they were on long weekend get aways. In all my trip to Europe I had never seen such huge crowds. Someone else told us Italy is a very popular travel destinations. Maybe you should try to avoid the big cities over the weekends as you plan your trip.

Posted by
12 posts

We left Sept. 28 and returned Oct. 11. Started in Rome and came back out of Milan. To say the weather was perfect is the only way I can describe it. Hotest in Rome during the day was 83F and the coolest it got in Milan was a warm 69F. As a frequent flier in the U.S. We used miles to fly. I highly recomend you book your flight 6 months in advance. The earliest allowable by airlines. Depending on the rules with your credit card usually you can change flights for $50.00 per person. Find out. The schedules we found were late afternoon/evening departures from the U.S. and early comming back. I would not spend much time in Milan. Also try to depart out on Linate I think it's called. Malpensa is a good hour by bus from the train station or e75+ by taxi. With those 6-7 a.m. departures there are only a few nice hotels by the airport and your out in the boonines. we stayed at the Crown Plaza. Nice place with a good resturaunt.
Used miles for that too.

Enjoy!

Posted by
126 posts

I fly once a year to Europe on American Express points using 50,000 Delta miles. I usually book in September for April or May. This year I changed it up and booked in March for September. I do know from many years of doing this that a lot depends on the Delta agent you get to help you. I usually spend 2 hours straight on the phone. I know within 5 min if the agent will work with me. Make sure you do not get an overseas agent, your wasting your time. A good agent will work all kinds of routes for you. I usually fly several segments on Air France, with no problem. I can't believe Marie was able to book in June for September. Also if an agent tells you there is nothing available, call back and try another agent. You may have better luck with American. When making arrangements for the end of May 08 it took me 2 hours with Delta for my ticket with not so good connections, and less than 10 minutes for my sister a ticket with American miles with excellent connections-I don't get it.

Posted by
126 posts

Continuation- My first trip to Italy in the fall was Sept 15-30, 2007. We had 13 days of perfect weather (75-82 degrees), no rain. We were in the Cinque Terre and Tuscany, then on to the Pyrenees and Barcelona. I asked the owners of our agriturismo if this was usual September weather and he said that April, May and September are their best months.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for all the replies so far. Sounds like we will plan for the last 2 weeks of September, as a starting point. I need to look into which direction to go, because I have a special sidetrip from Milan I want to make, into 2 small villages nearby, Casorzo and Montemagno. I'll be posting more questions about that later. Next step is to look into flight availability and when we can book for those dates.

Thanks!

Posted by
126 posts

Deborah- another benefit of the frequent flyer ticket is that it costs no more to fly open jaw, which if you are unaware, means you can fly into one city and home from another. Sometimes this is more expensive with a purchased ticket. It also allows you to fly in and out of the smaller airports like Florence, Pisa, Venice, Genoa etc all for the same 50,000 miles (Delta), 60,000 (American) etc, which would be very expensive with a purchased ticket.