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Airport Preference for Connections to Italy

From Los Angeles I have the choice of connecting to Venice through London, Paris, Zurich or Frankfurt and maybe other airports I'm not aware of. I'm wondering which airport you would prefer and why. Please feel free to comment about any other connecting airports to Italy in general, for reference. I've only ever flown nonstop to LHR in the past. And do you think a 1 hour layover (same carrier) is a bit nuts? Thanks!

Posted by
8201 posts

Wish you'd said where you're flying out of. The biggest airports in Italy are Milan and Rome FCO. Rome only has direct U.S. flights to Chicago O'Hare, JFK, Atlanta, seasonally Detroit, Dulles, seasonally Newark, and Philadelphia
Milan only has direct U.S. flights to JFK and seasonally Atlanta. LHR has a bunch of taxes and passenger charges that make it more expensive. Many connecting flights will go through Amsterdam, Paris deGaulle, Frankfort and Munich.

Posted by
29 posts

I apologize, David. I'm flying out of LAX to VCE, but I kind of was looking for general reference, as well. I'll edit my post. Thanks for your response. :)

Posted by
15383 posts

I often fly from SFO to FLR (Florence). LHR is not an option for me, since there are currrently no flights between LHR and FLR (only LGW and LCY). I've flown through LHR only twice (to Milan). Not too fond of LHR. CDG is the biggest animal of all. With one hour lay-over, CDG is perfect for missing the flight and having Air France give you free coupons for dinner at the airport while you wait for the next flight to Venice. I can't even count how many times I missed my flight to FLR and had dinner and wine courtesy of AirFrance. If the short lay over is on the way back to LAX, Air France will work very hard to make sure you don't miss your flight back because that's the only flight of the day and they don't like having to give hotels coupon until the next day (which would be great to see Paris at their expense). I often had such short layover from FLR>CDG>SFO. In all those occasions as soon as they open the doors some AF employees enter the plane and yell to those going to SFO (which always had a short layover from FLR) to come with them. Then they take you in a minivan under the gate and wizz through the tarmac at scary speeds all the way to the terminal where the SFO flight departs. FRA is not as huge as CDG, but terminals are big (especially long). That often requires long walks on rolling walkways from one side of the airport to the other. But Germans being Germans, everything is efficient and somehow I've never missed a flight (although once, with my wife with a broken foot, they shut the A380 plane door behind us and rolled back the plane as soon as I seated). If you can walk fast, you can make it in FRA. The easiest and faster to navigate, probably because not as big, are Amsterdam Schipol (AMS) and Zurich (ZRH).

Posted by
29 posts

Roberto, I've been lurking awhile, and may I say I love your posts! You are so informative and humorous. That is so much wonderful feedback and just what I wanted to learn. Thank you.

Posted by
16647 posts

Elaine, if the London route is on British Airways, be careful. Many of the Venice flights depart from Gatwick, so depending on th etime of arrival of your flight from LAX at heathrow, you may have to transfer airports---not good. I would connect at Zurich as my first choice, as it is a smaller, easily navigable airport. We fly in there when headed to Italy, spend the night, and take the train th erest of the way. But it work equally well for connecting flights.

Posted by
11613 posts

Another vote for Zurich airport. Great signage, small enough not to miss your flight (if everything goes perfectly into Zurich, but that applies to any of the airports named). CDG is almost a miss-your-flight guarantee with a 1-hour layover.

Posted by
29 posts

Thank you, Lola and Zoe. That's very helpful. The 1-hour layover would be at CDG. I've never flown anywhere except nonstop, so I appreciate the feedback very much. :)

Posted by
15383 posts

If the price is right, take it. There are 6 AF flights a day from CDG to VCE, if you miss one there will be others. The AF flight from LAX arrives at CDG at 11:35 am.. The first AF flight to VCE after your arrival time departs at 12:35pm, which is tight, but if you miss it, go to the AF desk and they'll rebook you in the very next one to Venice. I've done it so many times. AirFrance has more flights to Venice at: 3:30pm, 6:15pm and 9:20pm. You'll get there the same day, don't worry. Besides since they finished the Terminal 2E a few years back (where your LAX flight arrives) it's easier to transfer to 2F, from where the VCE will depart. The 2 terminals are across the street from each other. 5 min. walk and you are there. Unless there are delays with your flight from LAX, you should make the 12:35pm flight. In the old days, when the US flights arrived at terminal 2C it was a race against time to make the connection.

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks, Roberto. But don't I have to go through Passport control and back through security first? Isn't it point of entry? Or am I confused? Edit: Oh I'm sorry. The info is on another thread running concurrently. You answered there as well, although they are flying AF in the opposite direction, to Seattle. It sounds like an express line exists. Zurich sounds really nice, but AF has more flights. It would be nice to get to Venice before dark. This is the title of the other thread: KLM & AF connection, bags and transfer questions

Posted by
15383 posts

You go through Passport Control first upon arrival (at Term. 2E). No customs, your baggage will go to Venice so you don't worry about that. As soon as you go through Passport Control, proceed to connecting flights. Your VCE flight will depart from term 2-F. So follow the directions to 2-F. Before boarding for Venice at 2-F you'll have to go through security (metal detectors) again. 2-E main terminal and 2-F are across from each other (landside) and there is a walkway gallery between the two. There is also the N1 shuttle bus (airside) which loops around. I think it's faster to walk. The problem is that Term. 2-E comprises the main terminal (Hall K) and also the satellites (Hall L and M) which are connected to Hall K by shuttle. So depending at which gate you arrive, the route might be a little different. The best is just follow directions to 2-F and go with the flow. I know they are building another walkway airside, I don't know if it's finished because I haven't flown to CDG for a few years. Since Continental became United, and therefore no longer part of SkyTeam, for mileage reasons I now fly the Star Alliance, like United or Lufthansa/Swiss (same company) so I now generally connect via FRA or ZRH to Italy. I'm kind of glad I don't have to go through CDG as much, but I'll do so if the price is right. Getting lost in CDG and missing flights is part of life. I got stuck there many times, sometimes for hours, once for 2 days (snow), and they also managed to lose my luggage for good there. Just complain with Air France, they'll give you coupons for food and champagne while you wait for the next flight. Drink and say: Vive la France! If it can be of any help, this is the map of CDG.
http://www.aeroportsdeparis.fr/ADP/en-GB/Passagers/Access-maps-car-parks/Paris-CDG/maps/

Posted by
29 posts

Roberto, you are amazing. I will look at the map, now that you've told me what to look for. Thank you. Still a tough decision, only because the flight prices are pretty similar now. Thanks again everyone! :)

Posted by
1021 posts

I've connected to several places at LHR with no difficulties. But probably your best fare will be through another airport. Frankfurt is my least favorite connection point, particularly if you have a long time between flights. It isn't a very comfortable place in my experience. But for a short connection it will be OK.

Posted by
6898 posts

Elaine, it somewhat depands on the carrier. Being United customers, we fly out of LAX to Frankfurt on United or Lufthansa. At Frankfurt, we can fly to either Venice, Florence or a couple of other Italian airports. Right now, I have my wife and her daughter booked to go from LAX to Frankfurt and then connecting to Venice (a mother/daughter thing. I don't get to go). Works great. Roberto is correct about the walking distance from the International to the domestic terminal but for us, it's better than CDG or LHR. For our LAX to Frankfurt flight, we used to catch the Lufthansa non-stop flight. Now, United wants us to go to Chicago first (although the Lufthansa flight is still there).

Posted by
29 posts

I'm really overwhelmed and grateful for the generous help everyone has given. Thank you. Tex, it's helpful to know Frankfurt isn't that comfortable for long layovers. I'm dragging my husband on this trip, and I hope to make it as painless as possible. Thanks for your input. Larry, your wife and daughter are so lucky you helped arrange their trip! I hope they take you next time. There was another thread that discussed the preference for connections in the US vs Europe. I'd probably opt for the Lufhtansa flight you put them on rather than changing at O'Hare, too. I'm kind of leaning toward taking Air France, but choosing the 3 hour layover. If I were an experienced traveler like Roberto, I might try the 1 hour and let the chips fall. Zurich would be my first choice for ease, but I think that arrives in Venice the latest. Thanks so much for all the information everyone shared. It really helps to kind of have an idea what to expect, whichever airport I end up at. I hope this helped some lurkers, too. :)