Fly Meridiana fly to Italy and save

NOTE: Meridana fly (formerly euroFly) no longer seems to fly out of New York. This is a shame. Perhaps it will start services again once the economy improves. Stay tuned—and disregard the rest of this page.

The low-cost carrier Meridiana fly now connects New York with several Italian cities and is often cheaper than Alitalia

A Eurofly jetMeridiana fly (www.meridiana.it)—formerly euroFly—is a relatively new entrant (2007) to the transatlantic market.

It was formerly a charter carrier operating under Alitalia (Italy's state airline), but it later took wing on its own, teamed up with Italy's alternative domestic airline euroflyMeridiana, and has started giving the legacy airlines a run for their money.

Simply put: Meridiana fly flies from New York direct to Naples and Palermo. (Sadly, the economic downturn led it, in late 2009, to move its flights to Rome, Bologna, Milan, and other airports onto the seasonal service schedule—which means only in summer; Alitalia and its partners fly direct to Rome and Milan). What's more, euroflyEurofly is almost always cheaper than Altialia.

How much does Meridiana fly cost?

Reid's shortcut to the best fares
All of the airfare hunting techniques mentioned on this site have merit, but, honestly, if I had to narrow it down to three crucial places to check, they would be:

1) The low-cost carrier Meridiana
2) The aggregator Momondo
3) The consolidator AutoEurope

Nine times out of ten, I end up booking my plane tickets to Italy through one of those methods.
I recently ran a high-season price comparison. For roundtrip summer flights from New York, Meridiana was charging $886 roundtrip, all taxes and fees included, to Naples or Palermo. The best fare I could find among other airlines was $1,181 on Alitalia—and that was only to Rome. Advantage: Eurofly.

Now it should be said that Meridiana is not always the cheapest option. Frequently, it is—and its sale fares are hard to beat—but not always.

However, just like when Virgin Atlantic (www.virginatlantic.com) entered the U.S.-to-London market and forced British Airways (kicking and screaming) to start lowering its fares, euroflyEurofly has had a similar salubrious effect on airfares to Italy.

Now that Alitalia (finally) has a competitor, it has been forced to slash its own fares and run more frequent sales. That's what competition does to a market. Adam Smith be praised!

The lowest I ever paid for a Meridiana/Eurofly flight (inclusive of all taxes, fees, and surcharges) was $350 direct to Palermo. I still have to pinch myself to believe that one. However, that was (a) in the low season, and (b) when Eurofly was first starting out, so it probably dropped prices a bit to help drum up business.

I've since spent more expected fares, averaging around $500 to $800 once you add in all the taxes, fees, etc. Still, not bad at all—and with that huge benefit of flying to places besides just Rome and Milan.

I guess what I'm saying is that as with everything in life, don't assume Meridiana is going to have the cheapest tickets, but definitely look into them first so you can at least compare their airfares to those you'll find on major airlines, consoldiators, or at aggregators.

So what is Meridiana like?

I know what you must be thinking: there are chickens running itn the aisles, the luggage is strapped to the top of the fuselage, and the wings are held on by paperclips and duct tape. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I fly Meridiana all the time, and love it. Most of the planes are brand-new Airbuses, with individual seatback screens so you can watch a selection of in-flight movies and other entertainment. The seats are wide enough, leg room deep enough, and food... well, let's not kid ourselves: it's airline food.

What are the drawbacks? Well, unfortunately, Meridiana offers flights only a few times a week (Alitalia and other major airlines fly daily to Italy). However, if you can adapt your plans to their schedule, you can save buckoos bucks.

The other major drawback, of course, is that Meridiana only flies from one U.S. airport: New York's JFK. Having recently moved from NYC to Philly, I can empathize with what a major bummer this is.

If, however, you don't happen to live within driving distance of JFK, there is a solution: Fly into New York on a no-frills airline such as Southwest, then grab that Meridiana flight—bascially, handling your own flight transfer.

I call this the Big Apple Switcheroo, and, believe it or not, it can save you enough over booking to make up for the extra flight and the hassle of ferrying yourself and your luggage around New York. Full story

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