When to book a flight
That's my question. I'm going to the Venice Biennale. I'm traveling the first week of November of this year. I haven't booked a flight yet and am departing from Minneapolis. Should I book now or wait? I hear conflicting advice. Advise me please, travel gurus!
Check all the airlines that fly to Venice at the time of your travel.
For that use Kayak, it will give you all the airlines and the projected price.
Then go to each airline website and check the same info.
Look for promotions.
Then, decide if you want a direct flight, a flight with stop(s), a flight with partner airlines or if you want to make your own itinerary.
It is said that the advantage of taking flagship airlines is that they are obligated to get you to your destination. After reading tales of passengers stranded on tarmacs for hours or in airports for days (sometimes given hotels vouchers, sometimes not), I tend to make my own itinerary.
I fly a cheap domestic airline to an European hub, then I get on an European airline.
In order for this to be successful, you have to build in, time buffers between flights, like a day.
If your time off is limited, your best bet is a flight from your hometown to Europe direct to your destination, or, at a nearby airport, then continuing on with trains.
Luggage requirement, including number of pieces, dimension and weight and whether or not the airline is picky about those or very lax.
The availability of speciality meals
Quality of service on board, for example is the crew there to keep people hydrated or do they just show up for the duty free cart and the mandatory airline meal?
Quality of the phone response and ease of website navigation.
Ability to choose your seat.
You also have to study the airports you will be flying in and out.
Both of the sites below have airlines and airports reviews
Airline Reviews | Airport Reviews | Seat Reviews | Official SKYTRAX Airline Star Rating
Airline Reviews - Best Reviews of 2012 & 2013 at Review Centre
Airports - Best Reviews of 2012 & 2013 at Review Centre
I do hope that Maverick, FC (Eric) and FrankII are going to chime in, because they have way more international flights experience.
I might have overlooked some things but I hope this help!
What I'm really wondering (hoping!) is that if I wait to book, or watch the fares, they'll drop below where they are now price-wise, which is over $1,200.
According to the "experts," the sweet spot for international fares is 60-80 days out.
I don't believe it.
My suggestion is to put a ''fare watch" on flights for the route you want to fly.
Also, sign up for the weekly emails from those airlines as they sometimes offer specials via email before making them public.
At some point, you have to bit the bullet and buy a ticket. Try that on a Tuesday or Wednesday as those days seem to generally have lower fares.
How many airlines did you check?
It is a really popular event, you might try flying in another city and take the train there.
The Jet Set doesn't use trains.
In Europe, distances are small, you might even consider a rental car, if you can find an hotel with parking in a town close to Venice.
I did what the "expert" recommended and booked my European flight 4 months in advance, I used Kayak "trend pricing" or whatever their prediction price chart is called.
It was a mistake, another airline decided to fly the same route 2 months prior to the event and it caused the price of economy to drop.
However, first class kept raising, so if one plan an anniversary, birthday trip of a lifetime, it is better to book as soon as possible.
Originally Posted by Frank II
Thanks Frank II. I was hoping you'd weigh in. I have the alert set for fare drops on a couple different sites. Yapta being one of them. I think Kayak too. I remember seeing fares once upon a time, in simple graph form, that showed how fare prices rose and fell for any given trip. I tried to find something like that, but with no success.
Backpack, you have a good point. I don't need to be in Venice till November 1st, and have time off before that. Perhaps I can make an earlier side trip and take a train to Venice.
I do think that prices don't vary much by airlines but the service does.
If you need to take lots of things or mind having to stick with a strict luggage weight, domestic airlines are better, but that is just their only advantage.
Italian forum and trips reports on Rick Steves
Rick Steves' Europe: Travelers Helpline - To the Boot
Rick Steves' Europe: Travelers Helpline - Trip Reports
Another option might be flying into Zurich and then taking the train, although train fares could end up approaching the cost of the difference you'd save. You could also try flying into the cheapest European city you can find, and then book a connecting flight to Marco Polo on Ryanair. I have to say, though, $1200 from MSP to anywhere in Italy is probably just about the best you can do, barring some unforeseen spectacular deal.
Another site to check is slowtrav.com. I might have mentioned them before. Their members travel to Italy with great frequency, and their chat boards have lots of people with solid (and recent) advice.
PS: JEALOOUSS. Closer to the date remind me to tell you where I had dinner the last time I was in Venice.
My wife had a great experience flying into Milan, spending several days there, then taking the train out to Venice. Train travel is so underrated by North Americans.
Originally Posted by Rocks
Milan is a gorgeous city and oh so very different than Venice (which is lovely in its own right, but also very touristy IMO). The train wasn't all that expensive (maybe $70/pp?) and was a comfortable few hours zipping through the sunny Italian countryside. I'd do it again in a heart beat!
As with all train travel (especially in Europe), keep your baggage nearby or within eye sight. My brother have a few things stolen right from his bags a few years ago on a train from Italy into Spain. If you watch The Amazing Race, the eventual winner last season had his entire bag just picked up and stolen right from their train car. Thieves are quick and know what they're doing.