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When should I purchase Airfare to Italy?

UPDATE: I did buy my tickets at 1440 each plus an additional $300 for Economy Plus. I think I could have waited and saved at least two hundred each ticket, but I wanted the seats with the insane amount of leg room. That's the price you pay I guess. Next time, I'll probably wait longer.

I'm planning to fly from Kansas City to Venice and then Rome back to KC in mid September. I was looking at airfare on United a week ago and it was 1250. Now it's jumped to 1450-1650. Will the fares come back down at some point? 1250 seemed a little high for airfare in September but 1450-1650 seems insane to me. This is economy but I would be adding Economy Plus. 

​​​​​​​Any advice about when to purchase would be greatly appreciated. 

Posted by
6419 posts

I was looking at airfare on United a week ago and it was 1250. Now it's jumped to 1450-1650. Will the fares come back down at some point?

Who knows there could be all kinds of stuff going like conventions business travel stuff during the dates you want to go.

The lowest I see mid september is $873 with 2 connections on Turkish(no good as you have the long part is Chicago to Istanbul)
and $1269 with one connection on American.

list the dates of your travel and someone will have a look

Posted by
15586 posts

Just checking at matrix.itasoftware American and Delta had a lot of options in the $1270 range with single changes. United had one itinerary for $1320 and all others were $1550. So I would not be married to United.

Its a crap shoot. Airlines run prices up the flag pole and see if anyone salutes. They could drop if there are few takers, but since you will be connecting in North America, people coming from elsewhere could be jumping on the flights at the connecting points to Italy.

Look at flying into Milan and taking a train to Venice and see if that saves significant money.

Posted by
1060 posts

Hi Lisa. Don't be in any hurry to buy; you have a lot of time. Keep an eye on fares for a month or so to get a baseline; then you will be ready when fares drop. Often airlines have a spring sale. Last spring I was watching fares at about $1,000, then all of a sudden dropped to $700, so I knew it was time to buy. Also, consider other options such as flying in or out of Milan, Rome, or Venice; sometimes that might be hundreds less and well worth an extra 3 hour train ride. For instance, I see round trip to KC to Rome mid Sept is currently $991 on American. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
98 posts

My plans are MCI-Venice on 9/13 and then FCO-MCI on 9/28. AA and UA had flights with the shortest travel time. I absolutely know that fares will come down if I wait a few months, but I'm eying some very specific Economy Plus seats on United Airlines that I'm afraid someone else might reserve. Seats 21 DEF on 767-300 have more leg room than first class I think. So much that you can stand in front of your seat - which sounds like a nice option on an 8 hour flight.

Posted by
4695 posts

I'm seeing $1295 on AA (via Chicago on the way over, via Philly on the way home) for those dates, using Google Flights.

Posted by
3307 posts

Have you tried looking at a puddle-jumper from KC to a hub like Chicago or New York? Fares can be incredibly cheap to Venice in September if you can get a cheap flight to a bigger city first. I flew to Venice from Los Angeles for $550 round trip this past September. I would imagine that if you can get to the east coast there would be even better prices? I just played around with the fare calendar on Kayak a little because I was curious...you can fly round trip to NYC from KC for around $240 and then round trip to Venice for $500 - 650. That's quite a bit cheaper than what you seem to be finding. I frequently end up buying tickets through Kayak...good consolidator.

Posted by
490 posts

Lisa,
My local airport are Springfield or St. Louis and prices seem to be a lot higher to Europe from these airports. I have begun to do what Anita suggests - check out flights from main hubs like Chicago or Philly. I often buy a ticket from Chicago and a separate ticket into Chicago from STL or SGF. For example, on AA, ORD to London Heathrow was $650 return in June. When I connected to SGF or STL it priced at $1450 to $1750. That is a lot of extra cash for a 1 hour flight to Chicago. To get around this, I buy two separate tickets and make sure I have plenty of time to make the connections (if you miss your flight you are likely to get hit with a painful walk up price of a new ticket so you MUST NOT miss the flight). I often fly to Chicago the day before and get an airport hotel. It still works out a lot cheaper especially if you are buying a couple of airline tickets for family members. I have even made the 6 hour drive to Chicago to save cash. Last year, I saved over 2,000 dollars doing this.

Posted by
6369 posts

I absolutely know that fares will come down if I wait a few months,

Will the fares come back down at some point?

I am confused by your question and statement

Posted by
1110 posts

Last weekend we got our lowest fare in years ($450) for our favorite flight Bos-Nice in Oct-Nov on Swiss. I subscribed for a quarter to Scott's Cheap Fares ($15) and the alert paid off. You've got to check many dates and preferably several different routes.

Posted by
2975 posts

You need to find what is the sweet spot for you, not the what is comfortable for others on the forum. Prices do fluctuate as you have seen, but they also fluctuate up as well as down. First, you should have an idea of what is the "average cost" and it sounds like you have been tracking this. Then, you need to determine the price you feel comfortable paying. Finally, if having your arrangements done in advance or choosing particular seats is important to you, don't keep waiting too long.

I do want to give you a word of warning that airlines can and do make equipment changes. You may have picked the absolute best seats, only to have that changed at the last minute. Go ahead and get the seats you want, just remember that such arrangements are subject to change.

Posted by
5109 posts

Lisa, I just got a email from Delta about a fare sale, so maybe check directly with Delta today. On Delta, KC to Europe via Minneapolis is a good connection. You might consider checking flying into Milan (non-stop from US) and then taking the train to Venice. Its only a few restful hours on the train, versus making another airline connection somewhere in Europe.

@Anita and others, there are no direct flights from KC to Europe (Iceland Airways coming in May) so all flights to Europe require a connection in Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, etc., so thats built into the price that Lisa is quoting.

Lisa, the price range you're seeing is what we see for most flights to Europe from KC, with occasionally a major sale down below $1000 that is unpredictable and elusive.

Posted by
262 posts

Watch the prices regularly and make a call when you're comfortable. The prices fluctuate up and down on a daily basis, sometimes quite a bit, sometimes as little as a dollar (what pricing model tells them to change the price by a dollar...?) I usually make buy about 3 months out, but I just booked flights to/from Washington DC-Germany in July, the price had dropped about $200 overnight and I thought 'm not likely to see a price much lower and took it. Two days later, it was back up again.

Posted by
123 posts

Lisa,

Congrats on your upcoming trip to Italy! Great questions about MCI-Italy airfares, and you're right that the prices jump around a lot. MCI is my departure airport as well. When I flew to Rome the first time, I wound up paying ~$1100 for a trip in October 2016. As others have noted on this thread, until the upcoming Icelandair arrival, KC tends to be a higher price point airport.

With that said, I strongly recommend signing up for the premium membership for Scott's Cheap Flights. MCI appears on a handful of fare sales throughout the year, mostly for destinations in Europe. When those sales pop up, you can snag tickets to Rome for <$500. That's how I flew to Rome in 2017 and here soon again this year. I even added on the Delta Comfort+ seating for the transatlantic portions of the flights, and the tickets were still quite good for MCI standards (~$800 including Comfort+ seating, before that the ticket was $575 to give you a frame of reference).

Also, sign up for the Hopper app. You can set the app to monitor flights for certain destinations and date ranges up to 11 months out. You get weekly notifications of how prices are fluctuating, especially for major sale notices. Hopper is how I found out about cheap tickets to Scotland and is the reason I'm able to budget 2 trips to Europe this year - woohoo!! I monitor both SCF and Hopper alerts closely. One word of caution: Those major sale notices tend to last anywhere from 1 hour to 24 hours. You have to be prepared to make a quick decision when those notices arrive. If it fits your plans, go for it! If not, you have plenty of time and keep monitoring.

A last recommendation... Don't let the anxiety of picking perfect seats for a flight drive your decision. The reality is that planning and purchase airfare has a margin of error, let alone margin of risk. If the cards align, great! If not, find a next best alternative for the flights and enjoy your time in Italy... which is the goal in the end, right? ;-)

Happy planning and let me know if I can help with any additional KC/MCI flight questions. I've done the puddle jumper option out of KC before as well, so can speak to that if you need.

Posted by
98 posts

Thanks for all the feedback! I think we're just going to have to be okay with paying higher ticket prices. We had our itinerary dates set and we wanted to fly into Venice and out of Rome. I also wanted to minimize the connections to 1 and I wanted one of the shorter flight times. That criteria is just going to result in higher ticket prices. I think the prices were just low a week ago when they were 1250 for that flight versus the 1450 I paid last night. I did end up just buying the tickets. My wife was hesitant about flying to europe in economy but we didn't want to pay for business class. Economy plus was our compromise but it did add $300 to each ticket.

After reading all your responses, I went on kayak and played with quite a few combinations - Flying only out of Chicago or Newark (assuming we would get a separate flight there from KC), and then I looked at the same flights (leaving on a Thursday to Venice and returning on a friday from Rome) 3, 4, 5 and 6 months from today. In some cases it was 100 cheaper but in many others it was the same price or more money. That led me to believe that tickets would not likely come down all that much and would probably go up.

I think the flight combination I want is just going to be more expensive and I'm okay with that.

Posted by
16996 posts

Fewer connections and sane total flight times are worth extra money unless you simply haven't got a few hundred to spare--in which case you do what you have to do to get to Europe.

I covet those lie-flat seats every time I see them, but I'm not willing to pay for them.

Posted by
98 posts

United has a thing where you can buy an economy fare and then upgrade for 20k points + $550 each per leg (to europe). We strongly considered opening credits cards, getting the points and doing this. Would have probably only been an extra 800 a ticket, since we wouldn't have been paying for Economy Plus. In the end, we decided to save the money for this trip. Maybe next time.

We looked on seatguru.com and found the Economy Plus seats with the most leg room - as much as business class or more and got those. Enough leg room to take your carry on and use as a foot rest.

Posted by
684 posts

Lisa,
We've always tried flying Delta for our Europe trips as we chose them for our first trip in 2015 and wanted to keep with the same airline for ff purposes. Our second trip found us flying Aer Lingus since we had a very cheap flight. Third trip, back to Delta flying rt to Heathrow. Now we are taking the RS Village Italy trip in May. I found this to be the most expensive airfare to date. United was our cheapest option but like you we had fairly specific needs. We wanted only 1 stop and since we're flying out of St Louis we wanted that one stop to be in the states. We wanted to arrive in Venice early in the day and we wanted to fly on one ticket (tried the 2 ticket thing in Nov 2016 and I was a nervous wreck). We also like the option of the Comfort Plus with extra legroom. I found this year to be the most difficult to find reasonable airfare. I watched every day for months and finally just bit the bullet and bought 3 months out. Try to concentrate on the journey while in Italy and don't focus too much on the "getting there"!

Posted by
75 posts

re: Airfare anywhere, especially to Europe, I look for extremely lower fares that come up for a specific date(s). We found for ONLY this 5/2-16th, Delta/Alitalia code share $1230 rt for 2. It seems that for all other dates immediately before and after through the summer airfare was at least $ 200+ pp more rt. I search airfares for hours several times/day. When something out of the ordinary pops up for specific dates, I purchase immediately (not and hour later, immediately. Then, and only then, do I look into hotels, etc.)

Posted by
75 posts

re: Airfare anywhere, especially to Europe, I look for extremely lower fares that come up for a specific date(s). We found for ONLY this 5/2-16th, Delta/Alitalia code share $1230 rt for 2. It seems that for all other dates immediately before and after through the summer airfare was at least $ 200+ pp more rt. I search airfares for hours several times/day. When something out of the ordinary pops up for specific dates, I purchase immediately (not and hour later, immediately. Then, and only then, do I look into hotels, etc.)

Posted by
73 posts

In September I booked flights for a trip in May. A Charlotte to Rome direct flight and Venice to Philly to Charlotte coming back cost $1440. Anything cheaper then that either left me with insane layover times or going through a country I had no desire to set foot in. I wanted convenience and safety since I rarely fly and have limited time. I'm glad I got my tickets when I did because now they are more expensive! Granted, the price may drop before my trip but at least I'm settled in to dates and times which made it easier to begin planning. You really can't predict what the airlines will do...some people say, buy now...other's say wait. Do what's best for you and how much planning you like to do in advance. Personally I was much happier getting my tickets way in advance. I admit the cost hurt, but it was a good decision for me....
Good luck!

Posted by
98 posts

Sigh. Now the airfare just went down to $1212. Lesson learned. I shouldn't have even checked. I'll do better next time.

Posted by
16996 posts

I like to monitor fares for quite awhile (ideally for at least a couple of months) to see what the typical range is. Without doing that, it's hard to recognize a great fare or an artificially high one. For the last two autumns there have been some good buying opportunities from my market, but they sometimes lasted just a day or two. This year I wasn't ready to buy then, so I probably paid somewhat more than a more-prepared traveler would have.

I thought it was really weird when an itinerary I was watching kept bouncing between $800+ and $1300+. Then earlier this week it spiked to over $5000! Two days later, it was back down in the $1300 range. Fortunately, that ended up not being the routing I wanted, so I was able to look on the price gyrations with amusement rather than horror. The price variations are computer-generated, based on unpublished algorithms that can result in short-term erratic movements. It helps to have steel nerves. It helps even more to have date flexibility, and geographic flexibility can also save significant money.

Posted by
484 posts

Honestly, do you all listen to any news other than here in this country?
In November, the watchers were saying that all airlines after the first of the year to Europe were going to start raising the cost of flights.
September is a very popular time to fly to Italy...
And I think that it will not get any less expensive... Unless something happens in Italy.. (and the tourists all start canceling their airfares)
Good luck.

Posted by
16 posts

Usually if you buy your tickets on a Tuesday, Wednesday or even Thursday you will get the lowest fare. Never buy on the weekend and for sure never on a Friday. Do it in the afternoon too. I did a lot of research & checked flights about 5-6 times a day, every day, for 2 months. Prices were always lowest mid-week. In the mornings the airlines compare rates and adjust accordingly (so I've heard), which is why prices tend to be better after noon. For this year's trip I paid about $550 round trip to Milan on British Airways and then paid extra for an upgrade to premium economy. Granted, this is for an April trip & probably less expensive than September. Goodluck!

Posted by
1726 posts

I think you still have time to finagle. Maybe worry about Chicago/Venice and Rome/Chicago now and deal with the KC/Chicago & Chicago/KC legs later.

You're just under 7 months out. Start monitoring Google and Kayak now, maybe you already have been. While you probably can get direct flights, certainly examine connections in Europe because those might be less expensive. A 'safe' connection time-wise to my way of thinking is 2-3 hours--you can put that on a filter in both Google and Kayak. Set up a couple of primo itineraries and then watch.

I am not a fan of United, they partner with Lufthansa and if going that route make sure you're on a Lufthansa plane rather than 'operated by United'. Differences are night & day service-wise, usually with no more cost. I'm fond of them and their hubs in Frankfurt and Munich are top-notch in my book.

You can look at 'trends' until you're blue in the face, and yes, September is busier than when we usually travel in March. But if you can get $1000 or less total per person for those two overseas flights, you should grab them, and if you get into May or June and still haven't fired away, then you have to book regardless.

Enjoy your planning!

Posted by
2536 posts

Sometime you really have to think outside the box...Our midwestern (STL) relative is flying on Southwest Airlines to the west coast to stay with us a night before her flight with us to Zurich this summer (July-August). She did this partially because she doesn't like flying alone but was also tempted by the rollercoasting airfares we were tracking. Her airfares remained steady for a one stop flight to Zurich at around $1600 but from our west coast airport (SFO) the prices were $557, then $1300 then $466 per person this month. We bought 3 fares when they were $466 last week. When I checked our itinerary yesterday the same flight was $1900 per person.

I will stop watching this circus but just think creatively. People have been giving you good suggestions to try other airports and airlines. Keep looking and don't give up!

Posted by
2536 posts

Thanks for the heads up Gundersen. I've been following this post for awhile but failed to read the last 5 threads or so. Next time I'll be more thorough!

Posted by
98 posts

Yeah, thanks everyone! I already bought my tickets and going forward I am going to try and not look at pricing so I'm not sad. I think the next time around, I'll hold out a lot longer and see if they won't go down more.