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Where to make first plane stop, Minneapolis to Italy

I have a question for you experienced travelers. We're traveling from Minneapolis to Italy mid March with our preteen son.

Is it better to start out later here and change planes in Amsterdamn in the middle of our "night" of travel, arriving in Rome later in the day? Or is it better and easier, to hop to Newark or Atlanta, then take another plane to Rome, arriving earlier in the morning?

We're having trouble deciding which flights to purchase. Any help would be appreciated.


Posted by
11798 posts

I'm in the mid Atlantic so I try to go direct. I like arriving early because it gives me more time to accomplish something on day one.

For your purpose, an early change that gives you one longer flight to sleep on is probably the better option.

Posted by
1076 posts

Change on this side--did you check ORD? I fly most of my Texas and midwest people through there, however, I go through EWR (NOT JFK) because I fly out of NC. I like getting there in the AM to enjoy Rome. After coming out of baggage claim, I always hit the ATM that is upstairs at FCO before taking the train into town.

Posted by
21170 posts

In our approach to reducing jet lag we prefer the longer leg into Europe similar to Brad's recommendation. We would chose the earlier arrival into Rome. A longer leg gives a better opportunity for a little sleep.

Posted by
1313 posts

I've gone from Seattle to Rome twice, once through Newark and once through Amsterdam. Obviously it's a longer trip from the West Coast, but I prefer flying straight to Europe and changing on that end for a few reasons.

In addition to being able to sleep longer on the first flight, which helps with jetlag, if anything goes wrong with my connection, I'd rather be on the European side of the pond where there are many more flights a day. I once missed a connection to London and was stuck in Chicago until 5pm the following day--lost an entire day of the trip.

Arriving in Rome at midday gives you enough time to reach your hotel, settle in, walk around a bit, have some dinner, and go to bed at a normal hour. Arrive in the morning and you will probably fall asleep at 5pm.

Posted by
4537 posts

Given the choice of connecting in Europe or connecting in the U.S., I would always choose a connection in Europe.

If you miss your connection in the U.S., you may not be able to get a flight to Europe until the following day.

If you miss your connection in Europe, odds are that there will be another flight to your final destination on that same day ... plus, you will be in Europe. As an example, I've missed a connection in London twice because my flight from the States departed late. In both cases, once I arrived at LHR I was able to get on the next flight to my destination and arrived just a couple of hours late.

Finally, in my opinion Amsterdam Schipol beats Atlanta and Newark any day (and I've traveled through all of these).

Posted by
5208 posts

I guess another thing to consider is that an early morning arrival means a long day with a tired preteen. While it might seem tempting to nap, that also has the problem of prolonging jetlag if not limited.

Posted by
213 posts

Since Northwest/Delta is centered in the Twin Cities, many flights from there go through Detroit and from there directly to Rome. Last year my sister and her husband left Minneapolis in the early afternoon, arrived in Detroit by mid-afternoon and were on their way to Rome in the evening arriving in Rome around 10:45 AM the next day. I always prefer to arrive in Europe in the morning so I can "hit the road running." Your pre-teen son will probably sleep better on the flight than you will and will be ready for some action when you get there.

Posted by
1449 posts

As some other posters have written, I prefer to change planes in Europe. If there is a delay or cancellation, its much easier to get another flight within Europe than across the Atlantic.

Posted by
187 posts

Our options seem to be:

  1. leave here at 7:45 p and change planes in Amsterdam in the morning, eventually arriving in Rome at around 3. That means we could check right in to our accomodations if all goes well, then wander a bit, have dinner, and go to bed early.

  2. Leave here at 11 am, to switch planes in Newark or JFK and leave for Rome at around 5:45, arriving in the early morning hours.

My inclination is to go with the first, because it's less travel time and gives us less time to "fill" with a tired kid when we arrive.

But, with the second, we wouldn't have to change planes and fill layover time with a tired kid.

We've done a Hawaiian trip home with no problems, but the tiredness comes at the end of the trip vs. the beginning. Our son handled it well.

I so appreciate your wisdom.

Thank you!

Posted by
1143 posts

Elizabeth, I live in Edina and have gone through Detroit direct to Rome and also have gone from Minneapolis to Amsterdam and then to Italy. Both options worked well. I would not recommend changing in Chicago or Atlanta as they are both very prone to weather delays.

Posted by
1449 posts

The 1st one sounds like the kind of connection I look for. If the plane leaves at all, you will step off of it in Europe. And getting in to Rome around 3 means its almost 4pm by the time you get to Roma Termini, figure another 45 minutes to get to the hotel and check in. So it will be around 5pm when you start out which leaves some time for walking around, dinner, and then a night's sleep.

BTW if you haven't traveled to Europe before (so don't know how you'll respond to the time change) I would suggest asking your doctor for a few nights prescription of a sleeping pill such as Ambien CR. I always bring them and it has made the transition much easier for me.

Posted by
100 posts

I live in Sparta WI (Lacrosse area) which is about 2 hrs south of Minneapolis. We are flying direct on Delta from Chicago to Rome. The flight leaves at 3:45 and arrives in Rome at 8am. I think it would be the best option as it will not bother you too much in regards to the time difference. Also, I have found it cheaper to take a nonstop flight out of Chicago versus 1 or 2 stops from MSP. Hope that helps!