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flight help please, buying now

HI! I'm finally signing up for RS South of Italy tour but need help with flight. Delta has PHX to FCO 5/1 but I think the transfer times are too close. Please let me know if you think this is doable or if I should choose a later flight.
Option 1 PHX thru DTW to FCO with 1hr 27m layover
Option 2 PHX thru ATL to FCO with 1hr 22m layover -- cheapest option
Option 3 PHX thru ATL to FCO with 2hr 52m layover -- $100 more option
Sorry for the rush. I already lost out on the AA flight options I wanted. So want to get this booked ASAP.

Posted by
303 posts

I think either option with over an hour layover would be doable. The longer layover seems too long to me. We always fly Delta for the long haul and prefer that experience, but if the layover is too tight you might want to skip it. The way I look at it is you don't want to add any stress to the trip. I've had WAY too much stress over worrying about making a connection. I usually opt for at least an hour and a half unless I'm at CDG! Crazy place.

Posted by
6766 posts

First, is the tour confirmed? You don't want to buy plane tickets unless that's the case. Is the trip on 5/1/19? If so, you have plenty of time, so this sense of urgency is self-induced. You don't need to worry about "losing out", prices will go up and down all the time (and there are other airlines to choose from) so I doubt there's a real loss if you don't bite right now - unless you're getting a spectacular fare. I've had American Airlines change the schedule and connecting time on me (on more than one flight) so many times that I finally cancelled it (for free). That's the downside of booking far ahead - don't get too wedded toward a perfect itinerary since the airlines can change it at will. Even so, you can (and should) call them and they will help you pick an alternative that's acceptable to you.

Options 1 and 2 (5 minutes difference?) are virtually identical, so discard the more expensive Option 1 and go with the cheapest Option 2. There's no point for paying more for Option 3. See if you can find the flight stats to see percentage of late arrival. I think 1 hour and 22 min should be enough. Either way, the airline has to get you there even if you miss the connection. You can limit your risk by not planning anything firm (or that requires pre-payment) on your first day of arrival.

Posted by
5663 posts

I look at fall back options. If you miss the connection, when is the next flight out. If you miss the Option 2 connection, what is the likelihood of available seats on the Option 3 flight? If you are on a prepaid tour or activity, would it make sense to arrive a day or even two early?

Posted by
2773 posts

Actually, I vote for #3. It seems like a more comfortable connection, and if you plan on checking a bag, it is more realistic. While the airline does have to get you out on the next available flight with seating, that will dip into your vacation time. I like my layover to allow time for some movement, bathroom trips, snack to break up the long periods of sitting.

That being said, it seems early to buy into a price/flight with which you might not be happy. I see BA flies out of Phoenix. I'd rather change planes in London than in Atlanta as then there are more flight options to get you to Italy. This is just my preference and I'm partial because I just about always fly BA to Europe (never say never, but...) Altho, I admit Delta is my choice for domestic flights along the east coast. YMMV

Posted by
1339 posts

Thanks everyone. I didn't realize I had to wait for RS confirm. I thought I could do everything now. Let's hope the flights don't go up $300 like AA did in the meantime. Yes, I'm flying in 4 or 5 days early. I don't deal well with jet lag, so that will give me plenty time to adjust and take in the sights of Rome. I'm going to Venice for 4 or 5 days after the tour and will fly home from there.

Posted by
1179 posts

Edgar’s point is a great one.
Choose the airport that has multiple daily flights to your destination. That way you can’t get as stuck if something happens.

I made the mistake of flying through an airport that only had one flight a day. When that flight was cancelled they couldn’t fit me into another flight for several days.

Posted by
5086 posts

One more thing to consider: not all airports are equal when it comes to connecting.

Neither DTW nor ATL are among my favorite airports, and they're pretty different from each other.

ATL is Delta's mega-hub and HQ. It is huge and can take a lot longer to connect there as you might expect. One thing it has going for it is lots and lots and lots of Delta flights. If you miss your connection, you probably have more options from ATL for catching a lter flight (those may or may not be options you like, but even crappy options are better than no options).

DTW on the other hand is one of Delta's lesser hubs (inherited from Northwest Airlines, which Delta bought years ago).

Have you looked at any routings that would go from PHX-DFW-FCO? I always try hard to maximize the length of one leg of the flight (allows you at least a chance of getting some sleep). If there are no nonstops going from PHX to anyplace in Europe (which would be my first choice, if such a thing exists), at least doing the trans-Atlantic leg from DFW would give you a long enough flight to sleep on.

Agree with those above - don't panic, you have time to stalk a flight that works for you.

Also - yes, booking far in advance often means there's a schedule change happening sometime before you go, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, as it frequently offers you the chance to select even better flights that might not have been available when you originally booked - so don't let the fear of a schedule change spook you. Personally, I love schedule changes!

Posted by
1339 posts

Thanks David. The airport info for connections was what I needed. Unlike you, I don't like flight schedule changes. I am flexible once I get somewhere, but want to get there first without any hassle.

Posted by
5086 posts

Unlike you, I don't like flight schedule changes...

Respectfully, I believe that is a mistake.

When there's a schedule change, it opens up different - and better - options. The airline needs to get you to where you want to go, and - here's the pleasant surprise - they actually become more flexible than they would have been otherwise. It is not unusual, after a schedule change, to be able to request a better routing - because they can't put you on your original flight, and they need to put you on some other flight that you are willing to accept. Note that last part: you get to accept or reject their suggested alternative, and you can (and usually should) suggest your own (better) alternative.

If your original flight had more stops and inconvenient connections than you would have liked, and there's a much better flight (a non-stop, or one with better routing) but it costs a lot more so you didn't book it originally, you can request that better/more expensive flight, and they will usually give it to you - at no extra cost.

The thing to remember is this: you bought a ticket, they need to get you there. If your original flight has changed, and you don't like the alternative they suggest, you can counter with your choice of a better (even a much more expensive) option, and they typically will say OK - so you get a better flight without paying extra. I've used this many times to switch from a 1- or 2-stop flight to a nonstop with better timing. The primary restriction is that you can't change the origin or destination, but the intermediate stops (if any) and the time can all be changed.

In my experience, when you get the notification of a schedule change, it's like winning the lottery. Just my 4 cents.

Posted by
3289 posts

DTW is a much easier airport connection than ATL, so the times are not directly comparable. 1-1/2 hours is plenty of time (45 minutes is probably enough) for Delta domestic to Delta international at DTW as it's very likely you will be transiting on the same concourse and there's a people mover that runs overhead from one end to the other if you end up on the opposite side from your final gate.

Posted by
1179 posts

1-1/2 hours is plenty of time (45 minutes is probably enough) for Delta domestic to Delta international at DTW as it's very likely you will be transiting on the same concourse

And if you don’t get the same concourse you get the light tunnel that makes an easy connection.

Posted by
6570 posts

Fly British Airways into London Heathrow nonstop, and catch their connecting flight to Rome FCO.
The other option is American going to be flying into Heathrow starting 3/2019 non-stop from Sky Harbor. Alitalia and British Airways flights can take you to FCO. Last.time we flew into Italy from London, the fares were very inexpensive.

Posted by
1689 posts

hey horsewoofie
what's the difference with option 1 to option 2 in $$? i would take option 2 for 5 minutes difference. like others here say just hang on till you're confirmed with RS tour. when booking your flight home from venice, look at the departing time. flights outta venice usually leave early mornings (6am-7am) ugh
getting up "dark thirty", shower, last minute packing, checking out and getting transportation to airport.

Posted by
503 posts

I'd like to make a couple of points. Read your tour information carefully, they make it very clear that you should not book flights until you receive your trip confirmation.
I have flown in and out of Atlanta for years, mostly for business but also for domestic and international flights vacation flights.. I find it a hell hole (sorry for the language). I have twice ended up spending the night in the airport due to missed connections with the connecting flight being the last one out for night. The airport is crowded, loud and very, very congested. I avoid it at all costs.
My last point ties in with missing the last flight out. Yes, the airline is obligated to get you to your destination but there is no way to insure that you will get out the same day you intended. Last year I missed my "day before the tour starts" rest day because my flight from Cleveland to NY to connect to flight to Scotland was cancelled and they could not get me on another flight until the next day.
So, I would not be comfortable thinking that you have a lot of options if you miss your connection.

Posted by
1217 posts

DTW is my favorite big (but not too big) airport. Really east to connect there, and a very manageable size as long as you're reasonably fit (and if you're signing up for a RS tour, doing a long walk down the McNamara terminal is a mere chance to stretch your legs a bit.)

The more other airports I pass through, the more I've come to stop worrying and love the ATL. Yes, it's way too huge, but it's got a nice perfectly logical layout and common airside area (ie. no having to re-clear TSA silliness unless you're making an international to domestic connection from most international destinations) and is very easy to navigate. Early May is also the dry season in the Southeast so you're probably too early in the year to get summer thunderstorm disruptions.

Posted by
996 posts

I'm sure you already know this, but don't forget that the earlier you book your flight, the greater the chance that there will be changes before your flight departs. There could be equipment changes which mean that your previously selected seat is now a different seat. There could be other issues which mean your first flight is now leaving sooner (or later) than anticipated. This could theoretically happen several times before you depart. Delta is notorious for changing things on Saturdays.

And I'd vote for making the change in Atlanta if you go with the shorter layover. ATL is huge, but it's actually a sensible layout as far as getting from one gate to another. I find that I can navigate it far more easily than many other large airports.

Posted by
3500 posts

If those are the only choices (and this far out you may well find some others), Option 3 seems best. Simply because it allows more leeway if your flight from PHX is delayed by bad weather or a mechanical issue. Better to have the extra time and perhaps be bored than to be running late and be all stressed out. You'll come into one of the domestic terminals and fly out of the international terminal, but that's not a problem as the "plane train" runs to all the terminals and you should not have to go back through security. The only drawback to the international terminal is that the food choices are not that great. The terminal just before the international one has much better choices for food. Trust me, you do not want to eat a Varsity Chili Dog in the international food court just before a long flight.

Posted by
3476 posts

They all see about the same to me. I would take the one with the longer layover just to cover any lateness of the first segment.

And the email confirmation from RS usually arrives within 48 hours of you requesting to be on the tour. At least it always has when I booked tours.

Posted by
1339 posts

Thanks everyone. I got the tour confirmation within 12 hours! I'm someone who likes everything planned and organized. So I booked Option 3. Price went down $50 overnight, plus I agree with Wray and need tinkle time and food without rushing to the next flight. Yes, I know it can change, but that's where being adamant comes in.
Now I am reserving hotels in Rome (Hotel Due Tori, got the last room for my dates) and Venice and am posting a hotel question soon. Then on the reserving entertainment/touristy things. Then sit back and relax for a few months and ride my pony to de-stress.

Posted by
3176 posts

Thanks everyone. I got the tour confirmation within 12 hours! I'm
someone who likes everything planned and organized. So I booked Option
3. Price went down $50 overnight, plus I agree with Wray and need tinkle time and food without rushing to the next flight.

While I prefer DTW to ATL, I much prefer the layover time of Option 3 over your first two options. And you saved money! I too like planning in advance and it looks like you picked a solid flight itinerary. I too hate being rushed so now you can walk around a bit, get something to eat, and realize that the connection time really won't be that long considering you should be at the ATL gate 1 hour before boarding.

Posted by
8625 posts

I'm glad you've got things going! This is going to be a totally different experience from the previous debacle. You've got solid companies you are working with and a group of friends here for support!

I do have a suggestion. If you wind up having plenty of time in Atlanta, I'd walk from concourse to concourse. You'll go down to the Plane Train level, then you can just walk the corridor to the proper concourse. I'm suggesting this because you'll have had several hours on the flight from Phoenix and you'll have a long flight to Rome, so any exercise you can get in between is good. There are also some interesting exhibits along the corridors. There is a neat art exhibit of forest canopy on the ceiling between Concourse A and B, I think, and some pictures of the airport thru the years.

Check the official website at to look at what restaurants are available as well if you've got the long layover.

Of course, if you are pressed for time then take the Plane Train to get you to your departure Concourse quickly.

Do you have a journal or journal app yet? You'll see so much on this trip it's worth writing a bit each day, even bullet points on what you saw, smelled, ate, felt.

Download the Delta app if you haven't yet. Also sign up for email notifications/texts for flight updates. You have to do this for each flight segment.

Download the Mobile Passport app from the government. My brother and SIL used this in June and it worked really well. If you are coming back thru Atlanta they are a participating airport. I have Global Entry so get thru quickly anyway but they tried this out and it worked pretty well.

I'm getting excited for you!

Posted by
2904 posts

@David I'm glad BA works for you because they certainly go everywhere. My experience the past two summers for intra-European flights is that BA's management treats passengers the way I've heard they are treated on budget carriers. I admit that I have never flown the budget carriers, but I would avoid BA if I could(husband insists on flying them because they're free with miles but he wasn't on the one with us this summer when the AC wasn't working well, the flight was delayed at least an hour due to weather, and it wasn't even possible to BUY water in cattle class(they ran out). I'm not usually claustrophobic but I was in the window seat on the last row and it was miserable.

Posted by
2773 posts

I, too, prefer BA even for inter-Europe because it is convenient and will earn me more avios. I agree that their inter-European flights don't provide free food/drink items, so knowing that, I prepare for same.

However, I've always found their personnel to be polite and helpful, and have been upgraded without asking, twice; once when the sitting situation was not good...but then they cleared the area around a person the best they could due to his aroma (he was essentially in my lap)...but that's another story.

Maybe they see I've been a blue member for years and years and will never make it to the next class...and feel sorry for me. That being said, the international flight is my favorite by far for comfort and pleasantness. far.

Posted by
6891 posts

One thing Horsewoofie-- if you plan on eating in the Atlanta airport, do so in your arrival terminal or one of the other ones, but NOT the departure one for your international flight. I think that international terminal there has HORRIBLE options (and it's very big and things are far apart). Meanwhile it's easy to go in between the other terminals if you check the directory and find a favorite place you want to go (I was looking for a good spot to watch football).

My two cents about ATL!

Posted by
1556 posts

Chiming in late to this party, but you selected the correct option. My experience with ATL with anything less than two hour layover has been dismal (especially coming back to USA from Europe). I second the suggestions to look at food options that are NOT in the international terminal. Check Yelp or TripAdvisor for reviews. I ate a pretty decent meal at Sweet Georgia's Juke Joint in terminal C.