Please sign in to post.

Airfare from ATL to Europe

I'm happy (for lack of better word) to see that I am not the only person noticing that airfare seems significantly higher this year than last.

Am planning a trip to Europe starting around mid-May and returning the first week of June. We are flying from Atlanta and want to end up in Milan. No direct flights to Milan from here so we've investigated London, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels as a connection point. We've seen fares from $1300 to $1700. We are planning on ending up in London and so would like to fly out of Heathrow. Some days the multi-city option is a bit more, others not.

We have less than 4 months to go now. I've only flown to Europe once before and it was in October, not more of a peak time like May. To the more seasoned travelers, does it pay to wait until February or March to book tickets? I've looked at seat maps and the first flight out of here on our chosen day to London looks nearly full.

Thanks in advance for your opinions and suggestions!

Posted by
6881 posts

If you're flexible (on exact dates and connections), try Turkish Air for competitive pricing out of Atlanta.

Posted by
60 posts

Thank you, Agnes. Unfortunately, are dates are firm due to work schedules.

Plus, I didn't mention in my OP but I fly nonstop as much as possible - - I've had a few occasions years ago where I have gotten motion sick so I always try to make it as easy on myself as possible. I'm okay with flying to London or Paris as certain layovers won't be anything and then the flight on to Milan is only about an hour to hour and a half but if we went with Turkish Air, we'd have lengthier layovers and/or flights.

Posted by
6950 posts

You can fly into Milan very inexpensively to from one of the following airports on EasyJet.com:
Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, London–Gatwick, Madrid, Manchester, Munich, Paris–Charles de Gaulle.
Can you get from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to one of them?

Unfortunately, the deep discount European airlines have bypassed ATL, and bargain hunters in the south are having to go out of Orlando or fly to NYC/Boston.

Posted by
3353 posts

Wow, I am stunned you can't fly nonstop between ATL and MXP especially since Delta is HQ'd in Atlanta. But you're right.

Since you have to change planes, I'd do it in Europe. If you can find one itinerary that has you changing flights in either Amsterdam (AMS) or Frankfurt (FRA) and that meets your budget, you'll have efficient airports with which to do it. Don't do this at JFK!

If you have to fly 2 separate airlines to get the best price (I've done that many times), I still recommend the layover at AMS or FRA with at least 4 hours to give yourself a cushion.

Posted by
21317 posts

It sounds as if you have been watching the fares for some time. If you've been doing that for at least a month and haven't seen useful fluctuation so far, I wouldn't count on seeing it in February or March, either. Since you have a strong preference for minimizing time in air and number of stops, I'll point out that it is often the best routings whose prices really increase as the departure date approaches. I am not at all familiar with the Atlanta market, but for Washington DC I've seen the fare gap between desirable flights and not-desirable flights widen significantly as time goes on. The two-stop routing by way of Istanbul may still be available at a price not terribly different from what I saw five months earlier, but the great single-connection option through a manageable airport like Munich may have increased by $400 - $600 or more.

I don't know your precise travel dates, but a quick look on Google Flights suggests you might save $100 - $200 by flying into London and out of Milan. I guess that's because of the unusually high departure taxes from London. Your timing being what it is, from the weather standpoint I prefer your original plan of starting in Italy, but I thought I should mention that reversing the itinerary might be cheaper.

Posted by
1220 posts

Non-stop out of a fortress hub is going to inherently run into 'because Delta and SkyTeam can' pricing premiums, even when passenger counts are a little lower.

The lack of Italy non-stops likely ties into Delta wanting to lean on airline alliance partners for many transatlantic options and Alitalia is something of a hot mess right now financially.

Posted by
60 posts

Isn't it crazy that you can't fly nonstop from Atlanta to Italy?

Anyhow, I did poke around and look at Brussels - - we can fly nonstop into Brussels, have an hour layover before we could jump on a Brussels Airlines flight to Milan Linate. The round trip flight on Delta, going to Brussels, flying out of London when we return is $1253.43 all in for the main cabin coach (where we can select our seats and a checked bag.) The Brussels Air flight would be around $73.

It's sad when $1250 is a cheap flight!

Posted by
1020 posts

What are your exact dates of travel? I just picked random Mid-may first-week-June dates (May 15-June 5) and found non-stop ATL-MXP round-trip for $1337 on Delta's website (Delta flights 174/175). Departing/returning on weekend dates does bump the price up for the same flights to about $2000 (5/18-6/2).

Posted by
6881 posts

Isn't it crazy that you can't fly nonstop from Atlanta to Italy?

You can fly non-stop to Italy, just not to Milan (try Rome instead). It's not a given that there is a non-stop flight to every city-to-city combo someone is looking for - airlines only fly non-stop between cities where business travel and/or other factors are very profitable for them. At the end of the day, something has to give. The more flexible you are, the better fare you can get.

Posted by
3353 posts

Anyhow, I did poke around and look at Brussels - - we can fly nonstop
into Brussels, have an hour layover before we could jump on a Brussels
Airlines flight to Milan Linate.

1 hour is too tight; if you're seated toward the back of the transatlantic flight, you might lose 10 minutes just by deboarding the aircraft.

If this is on two different airlines on two separate tickets, definitely don't do this. On separate tickets, if you miss the flight to Milan, the return portion back to Brussels is cancelled.

Posted by
60 posts

Thank you, Continental. I was just speaking with my brother and he said the same thing. Not only getting off the plane but he said we would still need to check in, since the flight to Milan would be a separate ticket, and that takes more time. And this is why I ask others - - I didn't even stop to think that the flight to Milan wouldn't be part of the original ticket on that itinerary. Doh.

Posted by
6950 posts

Looks like United through Newark is the easiest way to get to Rome. The return from Milan is through Toronto on Air Canada. It's approximately $1500 for your dates.
Italy is just not the easiest place to get to and from if you're flying from North America.

Posted by
21317 posts

Yes, two separate tickets is really dicey. I have never done it, being very risk-averse. Some folks will suggest something like a 4- or 5-hour layover, but there is simply no safe amount of time there, because your transatlantic flight might be canceled, making you far more than 5 hours late into Brussels. In that case, your separate ticket from Brussels to Milan is toast, as is the other flight on that ticket (if there is one).

It's strategically not great to have a ticket for City A when you really want to go to City B. If the first flight is canceled, the airline is obligated to get you to City A, not to some city that would facilitate your getting to City B. So you might end up cooling your heels in Atlanta for nearly 24 hours while all around you there are flights departing for cities with connecting flights to Milan.

If you are going to gamble on a 4- or 5-hour layover, you really should take a look at the Turkish Air option. It is even cheaper, not all that much longer, and it affords protection you give up with the two-ticket strategy.

Posted by
60 posts

I've found out that Italy, and/or Milan, is certainly not the easiest place to get to from here, David. Initially we were going to start our trip in Nice, which is much easier to accommodate. I've never been to Italy so I'm thrilled about going but am pulling out my hair trying to make everything work without it costing an arm and a leg.

Posted by
60 posts

With Turkish Air, we'd have to fly into Istanbul. The shortest flight time that I see on my end is something like 22 hours. Even if we had a 3 hour layover somewhere else, and a 2 hour flight to Milan, that's still around 12-13 hours, which is significantly less than 22.

We were also hoping to get into Milan by mid-afternoon on Saturday the 11th so that we could get acclimated to the city. We also have planned an excursion for Sunday morning so we'd rather not be arriving in the late evening.

Posted by
1204 posts

I feel for you psychotic books, I am usually a Jedi master when finding cheap flights and find it so frustrating when my powers dont work ;p

I did two separate flights last year into Brussels, and then onto Athens. Our gap between the two was 3 hours. We had plenty of time (for customs and gate change). But on our departure out of Brussels weeks later, something happened that stalled everyone and many people nearly or did miss their flights. You just never know. I knew it was a gamble and it worked for us, but ymmv :)

Posted by
6950 posts

My wife is a master at finding cheap travel--her hobby.
But when it comes to flights, the cheapest is not necessarily the best value. We last flew Dublin-Boston for $150, but had to spend the night in a relatively expensive Boston Airport area hotel.

It's too bad that Turkish Airlines takes you out of the way to get to Europe, as they are a really premier airline. Last time I looked, a night in an Istanbul hotel was required. Their prices are up since then, however.
We've been flying out of NYC and Boston to get to the econo airlines recently, however going out we have to book separately. And we are accepting long layovers in case we have to take a later flight for any reason.

Posted by
916 posts

Actually, you CAN fly direct from ATL - MXP on Delta - nonstop service starts May 15. Can you delay your trip a few days? (It's flight #174, leaves at 6:12pm.)

Posted by
254 posts

Last summer I first visited family in Atlanta before my trans-Atlantic trip and was really surprised it was cheaper to fly to Oslo, and elsewhere, from Seattle! Anyway, I used Delta miles for a no- cost very early morning flight to JFK and a cheap flight, overnight, to Europe. Just something else to check into? There were almost hourly options, so I started with the 9 am ATL and long layover at JFK. Caveat:the concern with a series of one-way tickets, like mine, is missing the onward flight(s). Weather would also be less of a factor than winter?

Posted by
3083 posts

I'm a Delta fan and fly almost exclusively with them and their partners. Flying to Europe out of Atlanta, though, has become really expensive. It's the same for my airport (GSP) up the road from Atlanta.

I flew twice to Europe last year through JFK on 2 separate tickets -- one from GSP to LGA/JFK and one from JFK to Europe (Oslo one time, Frankfurt another time). The savings were substantial -- $1000 for Oslo and $700 for Frankfurt -- even with buying the GSP to New York ticket. I gave myself a huge cushion between New York arrival and JFK departure -- 12 hours one time (visited a friend in the city) and 6 hours another time (wandered JFK and did some computer stuff for work). I gave myself a 4-5 hour cushion on the return flight. The extra wait was fine with me given the savings I was getting.

Posted by
2154 posts

After reading this post, I went on Delta.com to check on the flights I want and just paid $822.23 for a multi-city trip Atl - Munich and return from Vienna to Atl, connecting in CDG. Late Nov - Dec. 9th. Delta. We’re in a captive market which has good and bad points. I’m risk-averse as someone else said - I try to book my trip on one ticket.

In 2016 I flew Atlanta to Milan via JFK and returned from Rome FCO direct to Atl. $1100 and, with a $600 voucher I earned for being bumped from a flight, the net cost was $500. I track the flights I want and strike if and when I see the price drop. I have learned not to wait, I buy immediately.

Posted by
3353 posts

Thank you, Continental. I was just speaking with my brother and he
said the same thing. Not only getting off the plane but he said we
would still need to check in, since the flight to Milan would be a
separate ticket, and that takes more time. And this is why I ask
others - - I didn't even stop to think that the flight to Milan
wouldn't be part of the original ticket on that itinerary. Doh.

You're welcome. Taking two different airlines can be done. For example, we wanted to go to Vienna a few years ago but Delta doesn't fly there nonstop from JFK and if we wanted to fly on one ticket, we'd have to fly via KLM at AMS or Air France via CDG. The KLM & Air France legs were way too expensive. So we flew to AMS on Delta and then flew Austrian Air to Vienna 4 1/2 hours later on a separate ticket. On the way home, we flew back to AMS the evening before and stayed overnight at an AMS hotel so we could catch our 9:10am flight to JFK. Austrian Air was under $100 roundtrip between AMS and VIE. So if you find a discount airline and do a layover at an efficient European airport like AMS, you might want to look into it as long as you leave at least 4 hours cushion.

Posted by
4720 posts

Virgin Atlantic fly from Atlanta to Heathrow and the cheapest I found for mid May was $1200. That's with a Virgin flight not a Delta flight (which makes a big difference IMO). Cheap flights from London to Milan can be found with plenty of airlines.

Posted by
3083 posts

I've done what Continental has done, too. A couple of years ago, I was trying to get to Vienna with a friend whose ticket I was buying with frequent flyer miles. Atlanta to Munich was reasonable; Atlanta to Vienna was crazy. So, we flew into MUC on Delta and then flew Austrian from MUC to Vienna on a fairly inexpensive ticket. We figured that the first flight of the day in summer out of an airline's base to a major city had an excellent chance of leaving on time or being only slightly delayed, so we took the 6 am flight out of Vienna to catch an 11:30 flight out of Munich. That gave us an extra night in Vienna (and was why we picked the flight over the train).

Posted by
60 posts

JC, when you say Virgin vs. Delta is a big difference, can you elaborate? Do you mean price-wise or do you mean that you prefer Virgin?

I'm fairly loyal to Delta and generally prefer them over others but when it comes down to the price and schedule, I'll look at other airlines.

Posted by
3083 posts

Oh yeah... I only had a carryon for the Vienna trip, so nothing to collect at baggage claim. Munich also has check-in kiosks throughout the terminal, so we were able to check in for flights from a kiosk without going to the check-in area. I would not have done that return itinerary with checked luggage.

Of note, if you are planning on taking checked luggage, Delta's checked luggage policy states that it will check you and your luggage all the way through to your final destination if you are flying on two Delta tickets.

Posted by
124 posts

May 10th:
ATL to LHR ( flight VS104)
LHR to LIN (flight BA 562)

June 2nd:
LHR to ATL (flight VS103)

$1,303

I think you will be expecting prices to stay around $1200-$1500, so i would buy whatever route/airline is best for you.

Posted by
1076 posts

We are going to Italy in April 2019, and are flying Boston - Paris nonstop on Delta for under $500 (including checked bags and advance seat selection). Then we are taking a separate Air France flight from Paris to Venice. There is a five hour layover between flights to allow for the collection of bags and making our way through security at a CDG. There is a chance that the Delta agent in Boston will allow us to treat the two flights as if they are on one ticket, since Delta and Air France are part of the Skyteam Alliance. On the way home, we are travelling from Milan to Paris on Air France, staying overnight at a CDG hotel, and continuing on the next day from Paris to Boston. The total airfare for all flights is $740, although I should really include cost of the CDG hotel.

If we hadn’t been to Paris recently, we might have included a stay in Paris on the way to or from Italy.

Posted by
4720 posts

JC, when you say Virgin vs. Delta is a big difference, can you elaborate? Do you mean price-wise or do you mean that you prefer Virgin?

I mean that I prefer Virgin. I have a general disdain for all American carriers however I reserve particular dislike for Delta, an appalling airline in my opinion and one that I will do my best to avoid flying ever again.

Posted by
3353 posts

I'm fairly loyal to Delta and generally prefer them over others but
when it comes down to the price and schedule, I'll look at other
airlines.

If you want to take Virgin Atlantic, you can buy tickets directly from Delta's website which allows you to accrue your Skymiles as if you were taking Delta aircraft.

We are going to Italy in April 2019, and are flying Boston - Paris
nonstop on Delta for under $500 (including checked bags and advance
seat selection). Then we are taking a separate Air France flight from
Paris to Venice. There is a five hour layover between flights to allow
for the collection of bags and making our way through security at a
CDG. There is a chance that the Delta agent in Boston will allow us to
treat the two flights as if they are on one ticket, since Delta and
Air France are part of the Skyteam Alliance.

I'm surprised the two itineraries aren't already linked on one ticket because they are both Skyteam. Or did you buy the AF portion at a different time? If so, you can contact Delta and ask the agent to link the itinerary. If you find the agent won't do it, thank the person for his/her effort and then call back until you find an agent who WILL link the two separate itineraries into one. Sometimes it just takes patience and politeness.

Posted by
1076 posts

Re: Boston-Paris round trip for under $500

I purchased these tickets on 9/25/18 for a 4/17/19 departure and 5/7/19 return from Paris. We only had enough Delta miles to purchase on round trip ticket, so I started looking at options. In addition, we had a Delta AMEX card that we wanted to cancel, so we were not interested in accumulating more miles with the card. If you have a Delta AMEX card, they have an option called pay with miles. However, you can only use the pay with miles option on a Delta branded flight, not on a flight that uses a Skyteam partner airline for all or part of the itinerary. The cash equivalent price of the Boston-Paris round trip was $492. The price without checked luggage or advance seat selection was $332.

The Paris-Venice flight was purchased as a separate Air France ticket. It is still possible that I could get the airline to treat this trip as if it were on one ticket.

Posted by
1076 posts

Re: Flights from ATL to Europe

A quick search reveals that relatively low cost fares are available from Atlanta to Madrid.

Posted by
3083 posts

I should correct my post above. Delta will check you in and check your baggage all the way through to your final destination if you are flying on two Delta tickets or on a Delta ticket plus a ticket on certain Delta partners (including KLM, Air France, and Virgin Atlantic).

Posted by
996 posts

Using the dates of May 15 departure and June 8 return, Expedia shows a direct flight on Delta from ATL to MIL. It appears to be economy with no choice of seat selection, though.

Posted by
6 posts

Avoid Turkish Air and look at Virgin Atlantic. Great deals to Manchester from Atl and I'm sure you can book something to Milan from there

Posted by
60 posts

Thank you all for your responses. I'm still searching multiple airports and it's enough to make you sick and crazy.

Posted by
60 posts

So we ended up buying tickets that would take us nonstop to Brussels and then we'll have a 3 hour layover before jumping on a Brussels Air flight to Milan. Seemed to be the best choice with our schedule and the pricing.

Thanks again, all, for your helpful replies!

Posted by
11292 posts

I'm late to this thread, as you've already purchased your tickets. But I have some ideas for you to consider for the future.

One is to take a nonstop flight followed by a train ride. For some routes, you can even book this as one ticket, so you are "protected" (they will put you on a later train at no extra charge if your incoming flight is delayed). I know that many airlines into Germany will allow you to add a train ticket to Germany and some neighboring countries in this way, in a program called DB Rail and Fly. Alas, all airlines are not participating, and it seems Delta is not (Lufthansa from Atlanta would work, though). See here for some details: https://www.bahn.de/p/view/service/buchung/flug/rail-and-fly-english.shtml

Similarly, you can buy flights on Air France that include a flight to Paris followed by a train ride to other French cities, all on one ticket. Details here: see the tabs for Strasbourg, for Brussels, and "other train links": https://www.airfrance.us/US/en/common/resainfovol/avion_train/reservation_avion_train_tgvair_airfrance.htm

If you can't get a fly and rail combo ticket, you'll probably want to wait until arrival to purchase the train ticket, so you're looking at last minute prices and availability. In turn, for some routes that's expensive and there may be sellouts, and for others it's not a problem.

For instance, looking at last minute tickets from Rome Fiumicino airport station to Milano Centrale station, it's €106, and about 4 hours (exact times varies) with one train change. If you had been able to get a decent nonstop fare from Atlanta to Rome, and can live with the added cost of the train, that's not a bad plan.

A few years ago, I had miles to get to Rome, but not to Sicily, so I had to use separate tickets for that leg. Looking at the Rome to Sicily flights, the prices were climbing fast (I was arriving on a Monday morning). What I did was buy two tickets, one for three hours after my scheduled arrival, and one for ten hours after. I knew I'd use one and throw one away, and the combined cost of the two tickets was still cheaper than a last minute ticket would have been. On the way home, I had to spend a night in Rome to make sure I didn't miss my flight back to the US (much more expensive at the last minute than I wanted to spend!).

Posted by
3353 posts

What I did was buy two tickets, one for three hours after my scheduled
arrival, and one for ten hours after. I knew I'd use one and throw one
away, and the combined cost of the two tickets was still cheaper than
a last minute ticket would have been.

Curious, which train did you make?

On the way home, I had to spend a night in Rome to make sure I didn't
miss my flight back to the US (much more expensive at the last minute
than I wanted to spend!).

I always have to do that when the departure airport for my transatlantic flight home is not in the final destination of my itinerary; for me, I often fly out of Amsterdam. So I guess Amsterdam then BECOMES my final destination.

Posted by
3259 posts

For future reference, we prefer Virgin over Delta when flying trans-Atlantic. Virgin's premium economy is much better than Delta's-the seats are actually larger, whereas Delta's only provide extra legroom.

Posted by
11292 posts

"Curious, which train did you make?"

In this case, it was a flight (from Rome to Palermo). We made the 3 hour "connection" with plenty of time to spare. But, of course, we could just as easily have missed it, if there had been any issues (delay taking off, long line at immigration, etc). When my friend returned to Sicily the next year, he did the exact same thing, of buying two tickets from Rome to Palermo, knowing he'd use one and throw one away.

Posted by
1020 posts

For future reference, we prefer Virgin over Delta when flying trans-Atlantic. Virgin's premium economy is much better than Delta's-the seats are actually larger, whereas Delta's only provide extra legroom.

Just to clarify, Delta has only fairly recently added a true Premium Economy product ("Premium Select".) It's on their new A350's, and they are adding it to their 777's (and keeping 9 abreast in coach, god bless 'em.) At some point they will be adding it to their entire wide-body fleet.

The extra-legroom coach seats Cala references are called Comfort Plus.