Looking for flights for my Rick Steves tour in Sept. Wonder if I should go through AAA which I am a member or look at all the various sites online? Go to the airlines website or use sites like Tripadvisor, Expedia etc???
I would at least get price quotes online before getting one from AAA. A good travel agent can provide some service and be a resource if something goes wrong, but most also charge a fee for their service. If Expedia finds a good flight connection that can be accomplished by code-shared, partner airlines (like Delta/Air France/KLM), then I switch over to the airline web site to place the actual booking.
Many RS tours start and end in different cities, in which case we would look for a "multi-city" booking option on any web site, so you don't have to loop back to the first destination. I think in your case you're traveling into Rome and out from Naples from the West Coast of the USA. From Seattle, I like the schedule for Delta connection options to most of Europe.
Multi City! Thanks, I couldn't think of that word! Kept looking at one way. I'm researching all the sites now. I think I need a glass of wine! So confusing!
The easiest one is skyscanner.com
I just downloaded to my smart phone. Now on to my search!
I like this site.
You can't book here, but you can definitely identify your options.
I booked my multi-city flight with a travel agent this year. I printed out the details from itasoftware and sent it to the travel agent who was able to book it.
For flights I always book directly with the airline I'm using in case there's any changes. And, sometimes you can pick better seats when going directly through the airline.
I agree with Jean I had a terrible time with a discount ticket site a number of years ago- triple charges, no customer service. You can use Kayak to compare flights and rates. If you chose flights then Kayak sends you too a non-airline site, just write down the flights, go to the airline site, Chances are the cost will be the same or close, and you'll be booking directly.
How long does anyone spend online looking for the right flight? Curious.
I spend a lot of time too. I track fares over a number of months before buying so I get a decent feel of when to "bite". I use itasoftware by google (http://www.itasoftware.com/). It is not perfect by any means and has issues with complicated multi-city routing because I have trouble recreating that fare on the airline's own website (in other words, sometimes it uses algorithms of segments that just don't meld together in the real world). It works very well on straightforward routes because you can see a whole monthly calendar and get a feel for how prices look for various dates. Unfortunately, because airline prices are dynamic and change all the time, there is no other recourse other than spending some time to get a good price....it's impossible to predict, and that's why I spend time looking at fares many months in advance. Practice makes things easier. Best of luck to you in your search!
I too shop at Matrix ITA for all my flights. Then I usually purchase direct from the airline.
Where you flying from and to? And what city are you flying out of going home?
I'm flying from Phoenix AZ to Rome then from Naples back to Phoenix.
When I arrive in Rome I am going to take the train to Campobasso Italy to visit with my relatives then come back to Rome to start my Rick Steves Tour.
I haven't flown to Italy or overseas in 5yrs!
So far, looks like Orbitz is giving me the best price. $1402 and the time frame is perfect.
You know, I saw Turkish airlines but was hesitant to look into it. So, you are saying book a flight to LA which is easy from here. then book a flight from LA to Rome through Turkish airlines?
Going to check on that now. Will keep you posted.
Regarding time spent studying airfares, I do spent a considerable amount as savings can be very significant. Utilizing ITA, Kayak, and airlines directly can get us to Europe. Flights within Europe...Skyscanner works well. Discard logic as to airfares and be creative. Use the open jaw concept and maybe reverse it if such can still be effective. Typically and given our "remote" location in the U.S., major hubs in Europe (e.g. Frankfurt) are more economical for arrival and departure plus a second set of tickets (planes, trains) if starting a trip away from a major hub.
As for two tickets (different carriers) to fly to Europe, what's the risk if you fail to arrive timely for your flight(s) with the second carrier? It could be an expensive mess to resolve quickly. Offset the risk with travel insurance?
Arrival time is not a problem. I am going ahead of my tour. So I can look at all options.
When researching flight options early on, most sites want you to enter dates. I have taken 14 RS tours and I select the years tour then have a better idea of my flight dates which tend not to be very flexible. I have always booked directly with whichever airline I select just in case there is any problems later. I also purchase travel insurance as soon as I make my first payment/deposit towards my trip so that I can have pre-existing conditions covered.
@Kaeleku: Well, travel from Kahului to Honolulu is like waiting for the next bus in a big city, if you miss the intended transport. We live where flights to major hubs like Salt Lake City are separated by several or more hours. A delayed or cancelled initial flight on one airline is disastrous if then flying on an unrelated airline with a separate ticket. I searched Squaremouth's website ,and yes, missed connection insurance is wrapped into various policies although most seem applicable for those taking cruises. We typically book tickets all the way to Europe on one airline and do so directly.
We use www.matrix.itasoftware.com for research, but do not use any booking site to actually make the reservation. If something goes awry, it is much easier to deal directly with the airline than a booking site.
Looks like if I do a round trip from Phx to Rome and back from Rome Airport I save $400! Going to LA isn't any cheaper. Still searching. Is it easy to get back to Rome from Naples? Train from Naples right to the airport? Anyone know?
Re: Naples to Rome
I suggest taking a train from Naples to Rome on the day before your flight and spending a night in Rome. You will feel less rushed, and will have a chance to spend another night in the Eternal City.
A couple of years ago, we spent some time in Sorrento. We decided to spend the night in the town of Fiumicino, because we had a morning departure, We took the Curreri (sp?) bus to the Naples airport, and flew to FCO. There are multiple low cost options. The advantage is that you go straight to the airport without having to go into Rome and then out again. Check one of the sites such as skyscanner.com. They'll have links to the airlines own sites. Because we arrived in the afternoon, we did a little sightseeing around the town and had a nice dinner, a very low stress day before departure for home.
I plan on spending an extra day in Naples. And it's much cheaper if I fly from FCO. So what you are saying, which I thought, I can take a bus or a train from Naples straight to FCO, right? Anyone have an idea around how much the train cost?
I'm not familiar with Matrix ITA so I decided to check it out. The flight I want is RT from ORD to FCO. ITA showed me a non stop flight to Rome on United, and on the return, a flight on its partner, Swiss Air, with a one and a half hour layover in Zurich, at a great price, $918 RT. Then I went onto United's website to find that combination of flights, and easily found them, but they priced out at $1,791. How would I book it at the price shown on Matrix ITA?
I found itasoftware to be much less reliable on code-share type (more complicated) flights than straightforward single-carrier flights. It does great on the simple flights. It's likely that the most updated pricing data doesn't upload quickly enough or that the algorithm for melding different segments is "off" in some way, and so you see a disparity. The software is pulling info from the airline reservation systems and there could be a time lag in getting the most accurate data - or you got unlucky and the pricing just changed. There is really nothing you can do if you cannot recreate the price on the airline's own site except to go through the airline carrier's customer service and read to them what you found on itasoftware along with all the "rule" codes associated with that flight (I've never done this because there's a cost to booking by phone, although I can see that it could be worthwhile in some instances).
Agree with Agnes. Try calling the airline customer service agent and see if they can clarify. I don't think there is a way to actually book on the ITA site.
Gloria: Trying to assemble an itinerary from one-way flights will be costly and less secure than using a multi-destination search, now available on many airline and travel-agent websites. www.itasoftware.com offers this function. You will spend some time playing around with that site's various options but the information is valuable. Prices from agent websites will never be cheaper than a direct purchase from the airline. However, a multl-city itinerary can involve airlines that don't sell each other's tickets and then an agency is vital (Expedia, Google, Priceline, Cheapoair, Vayama, etc. -- Orbitz is now part of Expedia.) In my experience, using a retail site to choose your seat assignment is futile. Once you have purchased the itinerary you can go to the various airlines and try for seat selection directly, although policies differ.
(PS: I often find hotel prices are cheaper through an agency than the establishment offers on-line; don't know why.)
Would like to thank everyone for all your help in my search for the perfect flight to Rome! Happy to report I got a round trip flight from Phoenix to Rome and back for $900. Thought that was a good price. I fly Delta.
"I got a round trip flight from Phoenix to Rome and back for $900. Thought that was a good price."
For September it certainly is - good work!