My son and I have booked this tour for May 2015. We live around DC, with tour starting in Paris and ending in Rome. Looking for tips and recommendations on getting there and back again. Easiest thing is a multi-city itinerary -- fly into Paris and out of Rome, but this is currently looking a tad pricey. An alternative is to fly into or out of one city (not necessarily Paris or Rome) and then rail or air to tour rallying points. Thoughts? Tips? Recommendations? If you've done this or a similar tour with different start/end points, how did you arrange your air travel?
Your thought of flying open jaw into Paris and returning from Rome makes sense. Watch airfares over time and when the price is acceptable, purchase your tickets. I run all sorts of simulations when checking prices and utilize Kayak as well as ITA websites.
Also, if your time and wallet allows, look at the prices for a couple of days before and after the tours. The prices vary by day of week and load factors. Getting there early helps get over jet lag. The extra hotel cost and living expenses may not end up saving money, but I'd rather give the money to a Paris hotel than an airline.
Good tips so far, thanks! Definitely planning to pack a day or two on the front end -- maybe use some Hilton points. I also use Hipmunk in addition to those already mentioned. Hipmunk ranks trips by "agony," which actually seems to work.
I would probably fly into London (often cheaper), stay a day or more, then take the train (Eurostar) to Paris for the tour. You can fly back from Rome a few days after the tour if you have the time and interest to stay over. United may have good fares for an open-jaw. I have flown both legs of this trip on United, basing my flights from/to Dulles (IAD).
Tips: if staying overnight or longer in London, there are lots of hotels near St. Pancras station which is the departure station for the Eurostar to Paris. If staying in Paris more than one night before the tour, stay in another part of town from the tour hotel. You will experience a different part of Paris that way. In Rome, there are lots of hotels walking distance from Termini, the main train station. There is a direct train from Termini to the airport. If you have only enough time for the tour itself, just pay the open-jaw fare to Paris. arriving a day early if possible, and return from Rome. You can always go back later.
We are taking the 21 day tour and I check Kayak DAILY! I think you can sign up for alerts too.......Multi city (open jaw) is definitely the way to go...also, we planned on going two days before the start of the tour, which really only gives us a little over 24 hours before it starts......I have found that it's cheaper to fly another day earlier than that. Most flights originate from the coast at night anyway so we wouldn't be missing an extra day of work and the airfare cost savings just about pays for the extra night hotel pre-tour plus it gives us an extra day in Europe :)
If you're feeling adventurous, check out Turkish Airlines' fares. They have some fares under $1000 for travel between IAD-CDG and FCO-IAD next May.
You will not be flying at the most expensive time of the year, however May is the second most expensive time to fly. I always go to Europe the last few days of March, and the weather's usually breaking into Spring about that time.
We flew for $728 roundtrip 3/28/2014 into Budapest and home from Prague. I caught a 2 day sale mentioned on ClarkHoward.com out of Atlanta. There was another one day sale a couple of weeks later @ $850, Otherwise, 2014 was a very expensive year to fly to Europe.
Your idea to fly into Paris and out of Rome is a good one. You can usually pickup a budget airline flight from Paris to Rome in order to avoid those dastardly night trains. We always fly open jaw into and out of Europe to avoid expensive back tracking.
Have patience. Be aware of the posted prices for May, 2015. If and when a much better price pops up, grab it. it's not time to buy yet.
So far the best option (least "agony" according to Hipmunk) appears to be open-jaw with Air Canada out of DCA (layover in Toronto) currently posted at around $1200. Other options are running $1500 on up. Most convenient would be United non-stop both ways, but currently posted at $1800. Not in a hurry to buy (9 months to go after all). Reasonable to expect I could/should see prices drop below $1000?
If we knew for sure we'd all be rich...
Other posters have it right. Look often, and look at different days. I love the +-3 days options of Kayak.com
I think it is too early to buy...I look at prices almost every week...I have paid about 860$ from Los Angeles for a multi city flight. Granted it was November. You may want to look at spending 2-3 in another city before the tour if you have time...London, Barcelona, Oslo, Copenhagen...have had good prices in the last year for me...but of course your airport is different.
The more open you are to time/day/city/airline...the best price you can get...or that is what works for me :)
I am leaving next week on the 14 Day Best of Europe so I understand what you are going through. I am staying one night extra in Paris before the tour and one night extra in Rome, after the tour ends and flying from Newark into Paris and flying home from Rome to Newark. No other flights or cities, just going to Paris and leaving from Rome. I am flying on United direct flight and it cost $1,318.50. I flew last year from Newark to Rome and Rome back to Newark in September 2013 and the flight was $1,503.80. I suspect Rome is more popular and that is why it cost more than this year's flight. The only thing I can say is how many days do you have before and after the tour and then go on Expedia and other sites to see how much the flights are from other cites but keep in mind you will be paying for transportation to Paris and the time factor, or taking connecting flights as they tend to be less expensive than direct flights.
I don't like to take connecting flights, luggage could be lost, ( I check my suitcase), missing the connecting flight or flight delays and the jet lag factor which is the worst for me. So I pay the extra money to go on direct flights. But my best educated guess is taking connecting flights will be the best way to go to lower the cost of the flights. I hope this helps you in making your decision. Airlines have gotten more pricey and will continue to do so.
Wasn't planning to book airfare 9 months in advance, but managed to get it done for a total of ~$1000 for both of us. Thanks for all the tips everyone, but this case is now closed!
Congratulations on those great fares! Now you really do have to let us know which airline you chose ;-)
Was able to use 60,000 AAdvantage miles for the return trip provided we stay in Rome an extra two days (twist my arm!). Icelandair gets us to Paris from Dulles for under $450 per person. Will see if my Hilton or Marriott points cover any of the extra hotel days.
I never understood how flying to a different city and then paying transportation costs and often room costs ends up saving people money in Most cases. Assuming your vacation time is limited, why grind up another day or two when you can be enjoying your limited vacation days. Of course, if you have extra time and not so much extra money that's a different story. Alas, most Americans have less vacation days that funds. Or so it seems for the European travelers..
Not sure what your comment is referring to. We're flying into Paris, where the tour begins, and flying out of Rome, where the tour ends. We're spending two extra days in Rome, which we wanted to do anyway, not running around Europe looking for our next flight. Turns out those extra days will be free (for hotel anyway) due to Hilton points. Overall, we save around $2000 over currently quoted airfares and get to spend two extra days in Rome soaking it in. I'm thinking we've chalked one up in the win column. Is there something I'm missing?