Saving money on airfare to Italy
How to get the best deal on plane tickets to Italy from North America
Remember that old travel truism: no two people flying in the cheap seats actually paid the same price for their tickets, even though they're going to the same place and getting the same service. The guy in 22B might have ponied up $1,300, while the person in 22C with whom he amiably chats during takeoff paid just $320 (note to person in 22C: don't break it to him; you'll ruin his vacation).
This site will help you be that guy in 22C.
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 two crucial places to check, they would be:
1) The aggregator Momondo
2) The consolidator AutoEurope
Nine times out of ten, I end up booking my plane tickets to Italy through one of those methods.The secret to landing the least expensive plane tickets every time is to know where the deals are, search wisely, and never pay retail if you can avoid it.
Here is cheat sheet on how to do this: a brief roundup of all the tips, steps to take, and websites to use to find the cheapest airfare. Click on any one to get much more information and tips on that particular technique.
Know where the deals are—and get them delivered to your inbox for free
- Sign up for E-savers - Airlines and booking sites (Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity ) tout last-minute sales.
- Get fare alerts - Know when the prices to your favorite destinations drop (Airfarewatchdog.com, Farecompare.com, Yapta.com, Farecast.com).
- Read deals newsletters - I try to catch all the really good deals on the ReidsItaly.com twitter blog (twitter.com/reidsitaly), but you should also sign up for esavers at the airlines, and for sale alerts at deals sites like TravelZoo.com, BookingBuddy.com, BudgetTravel.com, SmarterTravel.com, Frommers.com/blog.
Know that timing is everything
- Know your travel seasons - High season (and high prices) is June 15–Sept 1 and Dec 15–Jan 6. » more
- Buy at the right time - The sweet spot is 6–8 weeks out.
- Be flexible - Look into flights leaving/returning a day or two earlier or later for potentially huge savings.
Don't pay retail
- Watch those fees!
With many airlines now charging to check even a single bag, or to pick your own seat, or for the meal, headsets, and even a pillow and blanket, it helps to know the a la carte fees before you fly. These sites take stock of the current fees status:
• www.compareairlinefees.com • www.flyingfees.com • www.kayak.com/airline-fees • www.smartertravel.com • www.farecompare.com
Shop around - Use an aggregator to comparison-shop all the booking engines and travel agencies for you (Momondo.com, Vayama.com, Kayak.com, Cheapflights.com, DoHop.com, Mobissimo.com, Fly.com). » more
- Buy wholesale - Consider a consolidator that buys in bulk (AutoEurope.com, CheapTickets.com, CheapOair.com, OneTravel.com, etc.). » more
- Book blindly - Opaque “Hot Rate” fares from Hotwire.com come with lower costs, but less control over precise flight times and airlines.
- Put in a bid - The bidding feature at Priceline.com offers the lowest costs but the least control. » more
Deploy insider secrets
- Be smart about frequent flier miles - Get elite status on any airline, get perks—no checked bag fees, free exit row seats, first to board, airport lounge—at every airline in its alliance. If you're elite on Delta, you're elite on Alitalia (Skyteam.com, Oneworld.com, Staralliance.com). » more
- Price out vacation packages - Buy air/hotel or air/car (or all three) together at a discount. This is not a tour; your trip is your own (Orbitz.com, Expedia.com, Travelocity.com, AutoEurope.com, Gotoday.com, SceptreTours.com, TourCrafters.com, Gate1travel.com, Untours.com). » more
- Look into alternate airlines - Whether it's a carrier from a third country (say, Air France), or a low-cost upstart.» more
- Investigate the Big Ben Switcheroo - Find a cheap fare into London, then fly no-frills to Italy for peanuts (especially useful to fly direct into secondary cities, besides Rome or Milan). » more
- Aggregators - Personal shoppers for airfare web searches
- Consolidators - Airfare wholesalers
- Sales, deals newsletters, and e-savers
- How far in advance to book airfare to Italy
- Air-hotel vacation packages and air-car packages
- Surviving the airport
- Tips for sleeping on the plane
- How big a carry-on am I allowed?
This material was last updated December 2010. All information was accurate at the time.
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Copyright © 2008–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett