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Recommendation airline to Europe (Paris and Italy)

Hi,

Can someone recommend which airline to use when booking flights to Europe (we will be arrive at Paris then coming back to the states from Rome) in terms of safty, service, and price.

Right now, it seems like US Airway has the cheapest airfare for flights in September. Has anyone used US Airway before and can share their experiences?

Will Europe airline be a better chose, i.e. British Airline, Air France?

Thanks!

Posted by
20 posts

British Airways or Virgin Atlantic are fantastic..Much better service/food/movies than any American Airlines. Also great Airlines to use within Europe are Ryan Air (Cheap) Aer Lingus fly with in Europe and in to the US..I know they fly to East Coast and San Fransisco..not sure in the fly to WA though check there website Another great Airline in Italy is Alitalia.

Posted by
18237 posts

I don't know about flights from/to Seattle, but for a flight from Denver to Munich on USAir I had to change in Philadelphia. All things considered, I DON'T think I would rather be in Philadelphia.

Also, compared to Lufthansa, which I usually fly, USAir was disappointing. They charged for everything - earphones, wine - and the food was not good, and the service was 2nd rate. All-in-all it was not a pleasant experience.

On the other hand, the carry-on limit for Lufthansa is 8 kg, 17.6#, whereas on USAir it is more like 40#. That's not a problem for me, but it might be for some.

Posted by
264 posts

The service on Air France is superb! Wonderful food with a wide menu selection, French bread, French wine, desserts, etc. Also, unlimited self-serve soft drinks while you make the crossing. Continuous all-night movies, (not just one). It doesn't get any better than this!

Posted by
2788 posts

Have you tried any of the consolidators like Expedia, Sidestep, Kayak, etc.?

We fly "non-stop" from Seattle to Europe every summer and have used BA going to Heathrow (both bad experiences) Northwest to Amsterdam (NW-bad experiences), SAS to Copenhagen (both great- but SAS is pulling out of Seattle) and flew Air France for the first time this May returning to Seattle yesterday (5/30).
(very good airline experience, CDG return is a real mess) Reply a PM if you need more information. charlie

Posted by
689 posts

Hi, Jenny,
I too am in Seattle and fly to Europe most years. Get a flight that is non-stop to Europe--Air France has a non-stop to Paris, and that really makes the most sense for your trip. If you take an airline that makes you change in the US, you add a lot of time to your journey. The other nonstops from SEA to Europe are Luftansa to Frankfurt, BA to London, and KLMN to Amsterdam. SAS was going to discontinue their nonstop to Copenhagen but I'm not sure if that's happened yet, and Icelandic Air is going to start to Rekyavik.

I've done that US Air flight to Paris twice, changing in Philly, and while there was nothing wrong with the flight itself it sucks to kill time in Philly (also, they must have the SLOWEST customs I've ever experienced, and there is nothing decent to eat at the airport. TGI Friday's is the best thing there, which is depressing.)

And in terms of "best" airline, it's possible to have a good or miserable experience on any airline. For every person that says "I really like X airline", you'll find 2 that have horror stories.

Posted by
552 posts

I have issues with using a consolidator.

If you can buy the flight direct from the airline for a bit more, I say Go For It!

There's one less layer of snafu to wade through if something goes wrong (like the canceled flight we encountered leaving Prague, that made us a day late and totally wrecked, coming home), and that's a good thing.

I'm not endorsing any airline, and we're flying outbound over the Atlantic on a 757 this time, which I'm skeptical about, but we got a nice enough flight itinerary for just under $600 with U.S. Airways.

At over $100 less than anyone else, I say check it out.

Posted by
552 posts

Okay Christy,

Thanks for ruining my bliss.

Maybe I should just move to Seattle or San Francisco so I can fly non-stop whenever I want to.

Have you heard about the drought we're having here?

Take it easy on me next time... m'kay?

Posted by
12942 posts

Our rule flying from Seattle is to always take the direct flight---no changes in the US. This means British, SAS, Air France, or Lufthansa. (I don't know if the NW dirct flight to Amsterdam exists now that they merged with Delta, but I wouldn't fly them again in any case!)

We've flown British 4 times and never had a bad experience. SAS about 10 (I've quit counting); always great. They are discontinuing service at the end of summer, I believe, but right now (according to Kayak.com) they have the best price for July flights.

Air France looked pricey, but maybe other dates are better. It makes the most sense for your itinerary. You could do a RT ticket from Paris and do the Rome to Paris leg with a budget European airline (just make sure it goes to CDG and not some other airport.)

Posted by
689 posts

Air France has been sending me emails with amazing summer deals--get on their email list! (Though they've been sending these emails for a while so I don't know how availability is). I'm just waiting for them to send their fall sale emails so we can go in October...

Posted by
1455 posts

Jenny
I've flown (to London) US Domestic airlines (Delta, AA, United) and also European airlines (BA, Virgin, Air France).

The European airlines is much nicer... not just the food (if you can call airline food that!) but the service, the ammenities, even down to a small glass of wine with the meal!

The cliche "you get what you pay for" holds true with long flights. I'm heading to Ireland in a few weeks and opted to use a Euro airline rather than saving $200 on US airline.

Posted by
2788 posts

Make sure you know the difference between a
"direct flight" and a "non-stop" flight. A "direct flight" can have several stops but you stay on the same aircraft. A "non-stop" slight leaves Seattle and does not stop until it gets you to Europe - hopefully. From my yearly experience I am willing to pay a reasonable amount more for a "non-stop" flight.

Posted by
3 posts

Jenny,
I also live in Seattle and would agree with Christie. Air France is the best choice if you are flying into CDG. The service is exceptional and the configuration of the plane gives a bit more room to stretch out, vs. domestic airlines. I was very pleased with Air France from start to fininsh.

Posted by
582 posts

I'm flying US Airway in October. It really is the cheapest for me using kayak.com. I know they charge extra for everything, but on the flight, I can do without the wine and good food. I'm getting plenty of that when I get there! So I'm happy with the price I got. I never check through anything anyway, so that's not even a problem. I don't mind not having all the frills because I sleep on the plane anyway. (or I try too) When I flew Air France in November 08, they did have better food and service, but the plane was very hot, and for an eight hour trip, that was terrible! I asked about why it was so hot, and didn't get an answer and I guess there was nothing they could do about it. I don't mind a no frills flight, but safety and the temp is all I really care about. But that's me.
I agree with Christy,"And in terms of "best" airline, it's possible to have a good or miserable experience on any airline. For every person that says "I really like X airline", you'll find 2 that have horror stories."

Posted by
69 posts

I also recommend Air France, I did not have any problems with them. I would fly them again, and the price I paid was actually very reasonable.

Posted by
2788 posts

I recommended using a consolidator to get a listing of prices for different airlines. I book thru the airlines themselves. A 10 hours flight in a 757 with one isle is indeed a test of one's stamina. Air France flies Airbus 330s that seemed to be very new. (no jokes here please)
Happy travels - charlie

Posted by
2779 posts

I know I'm now being very unfair: But with the horrible Concorde crash a couple of years ago and the AF447 accident right now Air France do have the worst safety record of all European airlines in this decade. No other European airline has got such a "high" rate of casualties (still very low compared to regular car traffic). SAS Scandinavian and Lufthansa both connect SEA with Copenhagen resp. Frankfurt with continuing flights to France and Italy and hold an excellent safety record. US Airways are a Star Alliance member and a good airline. Their service is average but OK. However, they do seem to have quite a hard time managing your connections at Pittsburgh and Philadelphia airports...

Posted by
10965 posts

Normally, as a former pilot, I would never say one airline is safer than another. However, I just heard that Air France got a directive from Airbus to change the pitot tubes on its A330's--and didn't do it. It wasn't "mandatory" but an easy thing to do. The pitot tube helps to tell the pilot the true airspeed. In bad weather, a pilot needs this information to fly the plane safely. I wouldn't be surprised if that had something to do with the recent AF crash.

Not following a simple directive like this one concerns me and I hope they make this correction in the near future.

(I edited my previous response because I really didn't want to scare anyone. There are plenty of AF A330's flying safely every day.)

Posted by
1 posts

I really like Northwest Airlines. I've always had great experiences with them. The drinks and everything else on them to Europe is FREE! The food is decent too and I've always found the staff to be very courteous. They fly to Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. It's a huge hub for European travelers, from there you can fly to any part of the world. Their alliances with KLM and AF let you fly anywhere. I really recommend them. I imagine options for travel on them will only get better now that they are merging with Delta.

Posted by
689 posts

Jenny, I was just looking for my own October trip and found $538 (!!!), including taxes, on Icelandic Air. The flights are quite reasonable, too--it's much shorter connecting through Iceland that it is connecting through the US or even most other European cities.

Wow I hate to hear a pilot question the safety of Air France. I was really looking forward to that nonstop service. If it's true Air France is lax perhaps this will be the wake up call?

Posted by
172 posts

Christy, that is an amazing fare! Now I wonder if I should move my trip to October instead! cuz it seems like the Sept fare is still quite expensive! or maybe iceland air will drop the Sept fair as the date gets closer? =(

Posted by
4555 posts

Christy....there's no evidence yet to suggest that replacing or not replacing the pitot tubes caused the Air France crash.

Posted by
16 posts

Icelandic is an interesting airline: they're not nearly as polished as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, KLM or Lufhansa, but they do well for budget travel. Their catch is the stop in Reyjkavik (which can involve a no-penalty stay of up to three days, I think). If you're willing to have the connection, they're okay - just don't expect a red carpet treatment (though they are friendly).

As far as Alitalia is concerned, beware: they're notoriously unpredictable and financially unsound. Their ownership has been in chaos for years, and various parts of their workforce are almost always in some sort of slowdown/strike mode. It's not pretty, and I'd avoid using them if at all possible.

I've flown overseas on Continental and United in the past two years, and both have been fine. They're not as refined as their European competition, but they were both very friendly and professionally run.

I've also flown B757 service to Europe (EWR-BRS and LGW-EWR, both on Continental) and it's been fine. The range on these aircraft is similar to that of the B777-200, now that the 757 equipment has been refit with blended winglets for improved fuel performance. Sure, they're not widebody jets - closer in look and feel to the B707 and DC8 long-range flights of the 60s and 70s - but these jets can fly into smaller airports that offer different gateways to Europe. For example, Bristol, England (BRS), can't take full-size widebody jets, yet can handle a long-range B757.

Good luck!

Posted by
16 posts

One more thing, Jenny: if you're on Twitter, follow @UnitedAirlines - they post some incredible fares for their Twitter followers that often make peak season travel affordable.