For years, one of the most frustrating things for Italy lovers who live in North America has been the high cost of airfare from even big hub departure points. I’ve never understood the reasoning behind it, but flights to Italy are routinely more expensive than flights to Paris, London, or even Amsterdam. So one of the tricks I learned from tour guides leading groups from North America to Italy is to book flights in two segments – one to get you from your North American airport to the cheapest entry point in Europe, and another to get you from that airport to Italy.
Now, this method might sound like it’s more of a hassle than it’s worth, but when you hear that you can sometimes save hundreds of dollars by booking your trip this way you might want to investigate further before you dismiss it entirely.
Use Budget Airlines that Fly to Italy
What makes this way of getting to Italy cheaper is the use of budget airlines in Europe for the second leg of your journey. You may have heard of these airlines – carriers like Ryanair and easyJet are some of the most famous, but there are many more besides those two. Many serve only certain regions of Europe, so some won’t work for a trip to Italy, but it’s relatively easy to find out which budget airlines fly to Italy and then choose from that ample list of options.
Another reason using this two-step tactic of getting to Italy is so clever is that it frees you up from having to fly into Italy’s big hub airports. Of course, if you’re headed to Rome, then you’ll be flying to Rome – but if you were only contemplating flying into Rome because it was the big international gateway and your real vacation starts in, say, a vacation rental in Tuscany, then you can skip the rigamarole of flying into Rome and then making your way to your Italy villa. Instead, you can choose to fly on one of those aforementioned discount airlines into what’s probably a smaller airport but that is much closer to your final destination. You’d have trouble negotiating that tricker itinerary if you were trying to do it all on one ticket, especially if you didn’t want to pay a fortune.
To help you plan your trip, here are some articles about European budget airlines that fly into specific Italian cities. Look for more cities to be added to this list over time.
- Budget Airlines that Fly to Florence
- Budget Airlines that Fly to Milan
- Budget Airlines that Fly to Naples
- Budget Airlines that Fly to Rome
- Budget Airlines that Fly to Sicily
- Budget Airlines that Fly to Venice
How to Fly Budget Airlines to Italy
The first thing to do is find the cheapest fare you can from your home airport to a city in Europe – and then find the cheapest fare you can from that airport to the city where you want to end up in Italy. That’s when you need to start channeling your inner Type A planning personality.
There are a few things you need to keep in mind if you’re going to try to take advantage of the low fares offered by discount airlines flying to Italy – because you really don’t want to go from feeling all smug about saving big bucks on your ticket only to realize you didn’t plan well enough to actually make your connections.
- What airport are we in?
This may seem like a simple thing, but to someone who’s unfamiliar with a city it’s easy to overlook the fact that there’s more than one big airport – and that they may be quite a distance apart. Your flight across the Atlantic may arrive at Heathrow in London, but your flight to Italy might depart from Stansted. Is this a deal-breaker? Not necessarily – it just requires more planning to get from one airport to another, knowing how much that ground transportation will cost and how long it will take, and figuring out if you’ve got enough time between flights to make the transfer happen. The big thing here is to pay attention not only to what city you’re flying in and out of, but also what airport.
- Pay attention to layovers.
This is partly related to the point above, but even if you’re flying in and out of the same airport you need to look at how long your connection time is. What seems like a long enough interval between flights for a normal itinerary may not be in this case. Remember, as far as the airline’s concerned, your trip ended when you landed in Europe – they don’t know (or care) that you’ve booked another flight somewhere else. This means you’ll be doing everything you normally do at the end of a trip, and then doing everything you normally do at the beginning of a trip all over again. Because you’re not booking a trip from start to finish with or through one airline, you have to pay attention to the connection time at your layover – the airline isn’t doing it for you.
- Good thing you love the security line so much, you’re gonna go through it again.
Again, this point is an offshoot of the one above, but it’s important to think about all the things you need to do during your layover so you can adequately plan enough time between flights. Basically, you’ll be doing everything you usuall do at the end of a trip, plus everything you do at the start of a trip – but you’ll be doing them in reverse order and back-to-back. In other words, when you arrive at your European entry point, you’ll go through passport control, go through customs, and collect your bags. Then you’ll leave the arrivals area and go to the departures area, where you’ll check in for your flight, check your bags, and go through security. And keep in mind if the steal of a deal you found on tickets involves transferring from one airport to another, that’s another step in the process that you need to factor in. In other words, you’ll need to leave yourself plenty of time to accomplish everything you need to accomplish during your layover. Oh, and remember that since you’ll be going through security again, those liquid bans will apply a second time.
So, is the hassle worth it?
The big question you may have after reading all this is, “Wow, isn’t it just easier to book a ticket all the way to Italy?” In some cases, the answer will be yes – it really depends on how much of a planner you are (or want to be), and how much money you could save by booking a flight on one of the budget airlines that fly to Italy from Europe.
If the savings are big enough, and if you have more time than money to play with, chances are you’ll figure out a way to make it work. If time is at a premium for you, and if you just don’t want to deal with all the “figuring,” then you’ll probably just book a ticket straight to Italy and be done with it. Budget travelers, however, are advised to at least consider this option as a money-saving measure.
Photo by: David Precious