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Best of Sicily in 11 Days flights

We have just booked Best of Sicily in 11 Days for late spring. I’ve begun researching flights into Palermo and out of Catania. Fares seem to be around $2500–YIKES. I know there are some workarounds like simply finding a cheaper European city to fly to, then booking a cheaper connection through a European airline. I’m probably going to have to work with a travel agent on this one. Can any previous tour members from the U.S. East Coast tell me any good results they had when booking this one? We will be arriving just a couple of days early and then returning home following the tour.

Posted by
257 posts

We flew nonstop from Newark to Rome. We spent several days in Rome and Umbria and then flew on Ryanair from Rome to Palermo. From Catania we looked at where else we wanted to go in Italy. We decided to fly Ryanair to Pisa and we spent time in Pisa and Siena. We then returned to Rome for a return flight to Newark. We did this trip last February. Our United flights round trip from Newark to Rome were less than $500 each. The Ryanair flights from Rome to Palermo were $60 (USD) each which included bags and priority boarding. The Pisa flight was similarly priced. I simply looked at Palermo and Catania to see what airlines flew there nonstop and to where. Then we decided where else to visit. The extra time before the tour was helpful for us to adjust from jet lag and the time difference. The time after gave us a chance to see more at a relaxed pace before we went home. It’s a great tour and a fabulous part of Italy.

Posted by
3537 posts

Is that $2500 per person or together? Suzanne, are you looking at two one-way fares, or a multi-city (aka open jaw) fare?

I have seen R/T main economy fares on Delta website (Atlanta-Rome-Palermo, Catania-Rome- Atlanta) sometimes as low as $500 pp in the last couple of months more often around $800. Even from the midwest, with an additional connection, they were sometimes less than $1250. Its the sometimes that is the problem, since you can't predict the sales.

PS suggest that you contact the tour hotel directly by email if you want to stay there for your early nights.

Posted by
43 posts

It was open jaw per person--crazy.

And yes, we've already booked directly with the hotel for our pre-tour nights upon arrival in Palermo.

Posted by
12000 posts

You can find out who flies non-stop to what other cities from Palermo and Catania by going to the Wikipedia pages for those airports (not those cities), or on the FlightsFrom.com website.

Posted by
2641 posts

We flew from SEA to PAR on Delta after booking on KLM (code share). We then flew from PAR to Rome on Alitalia (sp?)
for a 10 days and took a 7 days RS tour there. We then flew to Palermo on Alitalia, took the RS Sicily tour and ended up in Catania from which we flew back to Rome again on Alitalia. We made a connection in Rome and flew back to PAR again on Alitalia and spent one night there so we would be there at a civilized time to fly back to SEA. This whole trip was booked directly with KLM/Delta. We paid $2,400 each for the 6 flights during June of this year.

Posted by
3537 posts

Suzanne, another thing. Did you try moving the departure days one way or the other? I found huge differences with some of the flights based on that. But sometimes that would show flights with huge, impractical layover times in Germany or Switzerland.

Posted by
360 posts

What I ended up doing (from the Phila. area this past March), was a RT to Rome, then Alitalia to Palermo and from Catania. Trying to get from PHL to Sicily on one ticket was just not working out.

Posted by
2525 posts

Consider either a roudtrip flight from your area or an open jaw (AKA multi) ticket to Europe. Concurrently, look at related European flights from/to your airport(s) in Europe. As noted, a good source to identify airlines serving various airports is a Wikipedia search. You can narrow your possibilities fairly quickly but consider permutations. Use a travel agent? I think they are on display next to buggy whips in the local museum. What’s your nearest airport?

Posted by
1609 posts

We are doing the Rome tour then Sicily. From the west coast we were able to get RT fights on Delta to and from Rome for $1450 PP on their version of economy plus. Economy was considerably cheaper but we want the extra room. Then we are flying Alitalia to Palermo and back to Rome, overnighting in Rome before our flight home. The Alitalia flights were cheap. If you have extra days, look at round trip in and out of Rome. Go to Kayak or Google flights. You can do this yourself.

Posted by
3911 posts

Suzanne,

I didn’t take the RS tour but toured Sicily on my own this past Spring.

I booked RT flights to Milan, where I spent a couple of nights before flying to Palermo on EasyJet. I then flew back to MXP from Catania, also on Easyjet.

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
166 posts

We did the Sicily tour in May and had a wonderful time, you will love the food!! The day you get to make cookies with Maria is something you will never forget. Hope you have a great time.

Posted by
776 posts

We took this tour in April 2016, and flew from Boston to Rome on Aer Lingus. After spending a couple of days in Rome, we took an Alitalia flight to Palermo on the day before the tour started. After the tour we flew on Alitalia from Catania to Rome, stayed one night in Rome, then flew home on Aer Lingus. Milan also has good connections to Sicily.

This option was very inexpensive compared to flying to Sicily on one ticket. It was so cheap that it more than paid for the extra days in Rome. In addition, it was nice to be able to chill out in Rome before the tour started, and we also appreciated not having to get up early on the last day of he tour.

The tour, by the way, was fantastic.

Posted by
259 posts

We did exactly what Priscilla did, although in 2017. A couple of nights in Milan made for an easy transition to Sicily. Easy Jet is great, but you need to read all the rules and understand the extras that you need to pay for.

If this is your first trip to Italy, I would suggest a couple of days somewhere else in Italy prior to arriving in Palermo.

And no, you don't need a travel agent. You can do this all on your own.

Good luck! Sicily is amazing!

Posted by
41 posts

I'm on a late march sicily tour and nabbed a great deal on United to Rome--less than $800 RT. then i will take local airline to sicily for a few extra dollars.i have been to Rome a bunch of times so will spend extra time in Palermo & Taormina before and after trip. United still has those sale prices so check website under "specials"

Posted by
44 posts

We flew on British Airways to Palermo with an overnight layover in London (stayed overnight at Premier Inn London Heathrow terminal 4).

If you choose another airline to a European city I have also flown on Alitalia within Europe and found that it was fine (good leg room for short flights), however if you have to make a connection in Rome I would suggest leaving plenty of time for the transfer in Rome (we had 3 hours and had lunch in Rome).

Posted by
1990 posts

Suzanne, I right now see flights on United, in May, beginning at about $965 open jaws per person, New York to Palermo, one connection in Munich. I myself took this route back in 2014, although I began on the west coast.

Posted by
106 posts

We joined that tour in April of this year and loved it. We encountered the same problem with airfares from Birmingham. Our solution was to fly Delta to Rome, spend three nights in Rome and then Alitalia flight to Palermo. At the end of the tour, we flew Alitalia back to Rome and the Delta back to Birmingham. Although Alitalia is a partner with Delta, we were unable to check our luggage all the way through on the return so we ended up having to carry on our luggage on the return flights. We usually carry on flying out but this caused us to not be able to bring home a couple of bottles of good Sicilian wine. The connection time in Rome from Catania was a little over two hours but we made it just fine. There really isn't a need to use a travel agent. I booked our flights online. Although we have been to Rome many times, we found new experiences this time and were glad we had the time there. No jet lag by the time the Sicliy tour started!

Posted by
2396 posts

When I took the Sicily tour in 2017, I booked round-trip tickets to Rome and then booked separate Alitalia tickets to Palermo and from Catania. Price of the Alitalia tickets was under $100 each way, but booking separate tickets does "require" at least one night in Rome each way as it's very risky to book separate tickets for same day. If the savings are large enough, maybe you could shift your extra days.

Posted by
788 posts

At the end of the tour, we flew Alitalia back to Rome and the Delta back to Birmingham. Although Alitalia is a partner with Delta, we were unable to check our luggage all the way through on the return so we ended up having to carry on our luggage on the return flights.

When we did this tour, we booked the entire thing through Delta. US - Rome - Sicily, and then the same in reverse. The Rome/Sicily legs were on Alitalia. Our bags were checked through to Sicily on Delta due to their interline agreement.

Returning to the US, I always have to make a connecting flight. So unless I land in a US city and then can drive home, I always have to make one more flight. That always means that I have to check at least one bag if bringing home wine and/or olive oil. Interline agreements don't count here. TSA does. The bag is never checked through all the way due to TSA, so I just know that in advance and plan accordingly.

Posted by
207 posts

When I did this tour in 2015, I flew from LAX to Rome and stayed overnight at the Hilton at the Rome airport. Overpriced hotel since it's right at the airport but I was not going to be able to get an evening flight to Palermo (without sweating whether any of my flights would be delayed). Worked out great to fly to Palermo on Vueling early the next morning so I had almost an entire day in Palermo before the start of the tour. Then I flew back to Rome on Ryanair. Wanted to check both of these airlines out and they were pretty equal in my case. As others have said, check the details on these low cost airlines. I travel with carry on size luggage, but had to check the bag with both of these airlines. No issues though. Then I stayed in Rome for three nights after the tour was over before returning to LA. (In 2015, the tour ended in Cefalu, so thus, Ryanair. It appears they do not fly out of Catania, so Vueling or Alitalia would be your options).
You will love, love, love this tour. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, but I have so many places still to explore!
I booked these flights online - no need to use a travel agent. Just be sure that you have enough time between connecting flights. I always want at least 3 hours. Better to be bored at the airport, than freaked out running through the terminal because of delayed flights!

Posted by
3339 posts

There are many reasonable options within Italy. We had an excellent experience on Volotea.
You do not need a travel agent! Fly to Rome and book Volotea, Ryanair, Vudling to Sicily. Look at Rome Ciampino (CIA) as well as Rome(FCO) for flights from Rome. You can take a taxi to CIA from FCO. Not difficult at all.

Posted by
33 posts

Hi Suzanne,

A couple of things.

When I'm figuring out flights to Europe I use the map view in google flights (google.com/flights) to get an idea of the flight cost from my home airport to any city in Europe. It used to be a lot more user friendly but the map view can be located in the upper left hand corner of the web page.

Although you didn't tell us the dates you were looking at, I assumed you would fly out of Atlanta and in that case, for the dates June 1 to June 14 the cheapest would be $767 pp round trip to Amsterdam. Flight from Amsterdam to Palermo is $157 pp on June 2 and from Catania to Amsterdam on June 13 is $67 pp. Obviously, departure/arrival times and flight lengths are considerations that definitely affect the cost one way or the other. For whatever reason, different airports in Europe have radically different costs from each that vary over a years time flying to and from the US. Europe can have fantastically cheap airfares between cities of different countries.

If I find a good flight to a European city not related to the tour we simply plan for some time in that city or surrounding area before and/or after the RS tour.

I recommend booking directly through the airlines rather than a 3rd party website.

This is rare, but sometimes when you arrive at a different city than you fly out of it can be cheaper to buy a round trip ticket than a one way ticket and simply "miss" the leg of the flight you don't need. I've done it a couple of times. I usually compare one way vs round trip tickets just in case.

My wife and I took the Sicily tour in 2016 and we loved it. Maybe they are different now, but Vueling cancelled our flights to Palermo and out of Catania 6 weeks before the tour started. It worked out OK but I had to scramble a bit.

Sicily is fantastic, enjoy your trip.

Posted by
10098 posts

What I did (flying with a friend, not on a tour) was book Philadelphia to Rome on miles, then pay for separate tickets for Rome to Palermo and Catania to Rome.

For our arrival, we booked two Rome to Palermo tickets - one three hours after our scheduled Rome arrival, one ten hours after. That way, we knew we'd use one and discard one, and I just accepted the price of the Rome to Palermo leg as the price of the two tickets together. Because it was a Monday, the full priced tickets were astonishingly expensive, so even the cost of the two advance tickets together was less. In the end, we made the three hour "connection" with plenty of time to spare, but of course there's no way to know that in advance.

For our departure, we had a night in the Rome Airport Hilton, so we could make our flight back to the US without stress.

Note that while many cities in Europe have flights to Sicily, Rome has by far the most (something like 7 per day to Palermo and 11 per day to Catania on Alitalia alone - and multiple carriers serve these routes). So, if you're planning to do what I did on arrival, Rome will give you more options than any other European arrival city. For your departure, as long as you're planning to spend an overnight in the departure city, any one will work.

To find flights within Europe, use Skyscanner, then book direct with the airline to learn ALL of their rules and restrictions (and on intra-European flights, there are lots of these).

Posted by
50 posts

I booked early March for my Oct trip of this year. The cost was $1250. Long flights however. SEA to SFO to MUC to PMO to get there (24+ hrs) and then back Catania to FRA to SFO to SEA for another 24 hr. I dreaded the trips but actually they weren't too bad. I think I booked thru United. I always use https://matrix.itasoftware.com to scan what's available. I consider length of layovers, type of airplane as well as cost. Part of why I chose this set of flights was that I got to fly on a 787 for the longest flight.

Posted by
33 posts

Following this thread. I'm booked on this trip for November 2019 and will be leaving from LAX. My friend and I would like to stay in Munich for a few days post-trip to check out the Christmas markets, too. I'm leaning towards Lufthansa to get to Munich and then Vueling for inter-European flights, but am open to other options.

Posted by
360 posts

roxasamonte10,
Hopefully you won't reach Munich before the very end of November. I was in Munich Nov. 27 last year and the main Christmas Market at the Rathaus had barely started.

Posted by
45 posts

I hope it's not too late to offer this suggestion. Last May I took the Sicily tour. I flew Norwegian Air from Orlando to London Gatwick, then Easy Jet to Rome. It was EXTREMELY cheap, like both tickets together were under $350. Then I spent the night in Rome to get over jet lag. The next evening I took another cheap flight to Palermo. I don't know where you are on the east coast, but if you can find a flight on Frontier, Allegiant, or even Southwest to Orlando, it may be worth it to you to go that route.

Posted by
1 posts

Booked same trip for Easter in Sicily (where, we understand, it is celebrated with pageants & parades that look amazing). Agree that it was surprising to us to learn that Sicily is trickier & more expensive to reach than we would have assumed. Research included cautions that discount airlines can come with additional risks of add-on fees for luggage, etc., and if flights are booked in pieces that if a leg is lost the whole "body" will be impacted. So, we booked for the two of us, flights on United from Dulles thru Munich then onto the Sicily arrival city of Palermo & the returns from the departure site of Catania back to Dulles for a total of $3500 for the two of us (inclusive of all fees & taxes). This is supposed, we understand, to have the result that if a "leg" is delayed so we cannot make the connecting flight that United will address the issue and have us on the next available flight ASAP. We look forward to the trip and the more that we learn about Sicily the happier we are that we shall be there in the spring (April). PS: We are long-time independent travelers who took a 2 week motor coach tour of England with RS last May and were so pleased with that experience that we selected RS again for this destination. We have toured on mainland Italy several times, 3 times revisiting Venice & the Veneto region, as well as Milan, Rome, Florence & other cities (Ravenna, Bologna, etc.) and loving it all.

Posted by
2396 posts

Like many others on the east coast, I found it much less expensive to book R/T to Rome and then Alitalia flights to Palermo and back from Catania. This works best if you can spend at least 1 night in Rome before and after your tour. You might also look at R/T to Milan, adding flights to and from Sicily. Sometimes airfares to Milan are much less than to Rome or other cities in Italy.

Posted by
10098 posts

If you do go to Sicily via Milan, be careful - many flights to Sicily are from Linate, while nonstop flights from the US land at Malpensa. If you're going to spend a night in Milan, it's fine; if you were thinking of getting a flight to Sicily the same day you land in Milan, it's a different story.

Posted by
776 posts

Air Italy is the old Meridiana Airline. They fly from JFK to Palermo on a seasonal basis.

Air Italy only has 16 planes, six of which are suitable for transatlantic flights.

Posted by
3339 posts

I received an email from Air Italy today announcing their 2019 sales!

Posted by
43 posts

We’ve booked our RT flights to Rome and are now looking to book the one-way flights to Palermo and from Catania at the beginning and end of the tour. Looking at Alitalia now. Fares are higher than I’d expected, starting around $140 for the Palermo flight. I have two questions.......First, how long should I allow for the connection after we land in Rome? I did a sample Google search using our flights we’ve already booked to Rome, and the suggested itinerary allowed a connection of about 1.5 hours to make the Alitalia flight after we arrive in Rome. Reasonable?

Next, what special info do I need to know regarding baggage, etc on different travel classes on Alitalia? I’m not finding all the info.

Posted by
10098 posts

Be sure to look on the International Alitalia site: https://www.alitalia.com/en_en/ This has the same prices as the Italian site, but has an English language option (the Italian site is Italian only). The US website https://www.alitalia.com/en_us/, which you should of course also check, often has higher fares for the exact same flights.

When I took Alitalia from FCO to PMO and from CTA to FCO, one check bag was included. However, just like the US airlines, Alitalia now has a Basic Economy tier. I don't know which fares include what, at this time.

As for connection times, I can only re-post my experience. For FCO to PMO on the same day as my transatlantic arrival, I bought two tickets, one three hours after my arrival at FCO and one ten hours after. I made the three hour "connection" with time to spare, and that included going through immigration, picking up up checked luggage, walking from terminal 3 to terminal 1 (10 minutes), checking the luggage in for the next flight, then going through security. However, I had my arriving plane been late, or if there had been a hold up at any stage (immigration, baggage retrieval, baggage recheck, or security), I could just as easily have missed it.

For my CTA to FCO flight, I arrived the night before my flight home from FCO to the US. Since I was on separate tickets, I wasn't willing to take any chances. Even if I had been willing to take a chance, I would have had to make a VERY early flight out of CTA, to allow three hours for the procedures at FCO (and the security for flights going back to the US is strict, and can take time).