The Big Apple Switcheroo

Fly to New York City on a cheap no-frills airline or low-cost carrier, and from there you can get Eurofly or other airfare to Italy much more cheaply

The New York City skyline at sunset
Don't assume a regular airfare on a major airline is your ticket to the biggest savings. If you fly, say, JetBlue or Southwest into New York City on your own, you can often land a much cheaper Transatlantic fare from there.
Even though I used to live in NYC, I feel your pain. By "your" I mean the rest of America, and by "pain" I mean that sinking feeling you get, right in the pit of your wallet, when it comes to searching in vain for a cheap fare to Italy if your point of departure happens to be deep in the heartlands of America.

I've done a stint in the Midwest (Missouri), and even now that I live back in Philly, finding the cheapest airfare to Europe is a problem.

Sad truth is, those who don't happen to live in New York, Boston, Chicago, Miami, or Los Angeles often get stiffed, because those cities are the major US gateways from which most low prices and sale fares to Italy originate. The "add-on" fares from other U.S. cities can often run into hundreds of dollars, turning that great $350 round-trip rate to Rome into a $1,200 stinker.

I'm here to help.

While this tactic won't work every time, before you go ahead and plump big bucks for an add-on fare from your home airport, first look into trying to make your own way to the Big Apple—or whatever gateway from which the lowest-price ticket leaves—then continuing on to Italy using that lowest fare. » more

(This is a variant on my patented Big Ben Switcheroo tactic, in which you score cheap tickets to London, then use European no-frills airlines to continue on to Italy from there. » more )

This is where the no-frills / low-cost airlines like Southwest and jetBlue come in. They can often get you between any two cities they serve for around $198 round-trip or less. The catch is that "any two cities they serve" bit, because by definition most of these feisty little low-cost carriers don't have nearly the massive route networks of the Big Boys.

But just because jetBlue, Southwest, Virgin America and friends usually offer the best domestic rates, don't write off the larger old legacy airlines. Be sure you check out the price of a round-trip flight from your hometown to NYC with the major search engines and the meta-search sites before you commit. You never know when US Airways or Delta might happen to undersell Southwest on a given day or routing. Rare, but it happens. Do your homework; it can save you hundreds in the end.

Which Way to JFK?

Be careful to note which airports are involved in any Big Apple Switcheroo.

Most transatlantic flights to Italy out of the NYC area leave from New York-JFK (in southern Queens) or Newark (known as "EWR" in air travel code, located across the river from Manhattan in New Jersey).

Many domestic flights into NYC land at LaGuardia (or "LGA," in northern Queens).

All of those major airports are operated by the Port Authority of NY and NJ (

Though Southwest Airlines now uses LaGuardia for many flights, some do still infamously land at itty-bitty Islip (a.k.a. Long Island MacArthur Airport;, an hour's drive east of the city on Long Island. Try to avoid this; nice little airport, but too far out to be useful.

Below I will list all companies currently (2011) running these routes, since each has a different schedule (and not all offer the service every year).

How to get from LaGuardia airport to JFK Airport

For more info...
Prices and details quoted here are for 2011 and are subject to change. For updated information on connecting New York City area airports—and some far more complicated ways using multiple forms of transportation—see this page on the Port Authority of NY and NJ.

For current taxi fares, call 212-NYC-TAXI or 212-227-6186.

For insanely detailed information on how to get to downtown Manhattan from New York's various airports, check out this wiki on

There are (finally) several inexpensive bus services between JFK and LGA. The ride take 30–60 minutes, depending on traffic (budget at least an hour in your schedule to be sure).

A taxi between JFK and LaGuardia takes 30–45 minutes. The official rate is $25–$30.

How to get from JFK Airport to Newark International Airport

Though this is unlikely, you may be on a flight that lands at either JFK or Newark but your departure for Italy leaves from the other. There are several inexpensive bus services between JFK and Newark. The length of the ride varies:

A taxi between JFK and Newark takes 75–90 minutes. The official rate is $74–$78 plus tolls.

How to get from LaGuardia Airport to Newark International Airport

Bus services between LaGuardia Airport and Newark take anywhere from 45–105 minutes, as below:

  • Newark Liberty Airport Express Bus (877-8-NEWARK; - 75–105 minutes; $15.
  • ETS Air Shuttle (718-221-5341; - 45–60 minutes; $32.
  • All County Express (800-914-4423 or 914-381-4223 or 516-285-1300; -45–60 minutes; $32 (plus $25 for a second passenger, $15 per passenger after that).

A taxi between LaGuardia and Newark takes 60–90 minutes. The official rate is $63–$67 plus tolls.

How to get from Islip/MacArthur Airport to JFK Airport

Avoid MacArthur at all costs. It's about a $70 cab ride—and 90–120 minutes or more of your time—to get to JFK Airport.

How to get from Islip/MacArthur Airport to Newark Airport

Islip to Newark? Fuggitaboutit!

Again, avoid MacArthur at all costs. It will do you little good to fly into Islip and find it'll cost you around $100—and two hours or more of your time—to get to Newark Airport, the one from which those great Alitalia fares to Rome leave.

To avoid paying $100–$120 for a taxi, use public transportation. Take the shuttle ($5; tel. 631-588-8844) to the Ronkonkoma station on the LIRR commuter rail line ( Ride the train all the way to New York's Penn Station (80 minutes; $16.25—a bit less off-peak; more if you buy on the train), then switch to the AirTrain to Newark's Liberty International Airport (30 minutes; $5.50; Total cost: $26.75.

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