to Greece Inexpensively- Putting the Strategies Together!
Well, it was
time to go through the search process once again to get
flights to Greece. And once again the flights were more
expensive than I wanted to pay, so off I went into the search
mode. Checking everything search engine I could find to
try to get an idea of the fares. Everything I found for
the Raleigh to Athens flights were over $1100 for travel
in September of 2007. I usually try to put one ticket with
FF miles or my Credit Card miles, but I was a few thousand
short on the Credit Card miles and about 50,000 miles short
with my Delta FF miles.(Delta was bragging about offering
many more seats for the 100,000 mile level- but pretty much
has gotten rid of the 50,000 miles.)
I started playing
around with other cities and found that USAir had some flights
around $600-700 to Italy. As I had a friend in Slovenia
I wanted to see and thought it would be fun to explore Northern
Italy a little on the way to Greece I decided to focus in
on the flights to Italy. I thought that I would fly into
Venice and then take the ferry to Athens. I didn't want
to fly back to Venice on the way out, preferring to fly
direct from Athens to the US(USAir now has direct flights
from Athens-Philly). The open jaw flights from RDU-Venice
and Athens-RDU ran about $2900(2 adults and my 2 year old
daughter). By playing around with the dates I was able to
get the price down to about $2750 which was not bad.
I decided that
I wanted to try to find even better fares so I tried other
European Cities(London, Rome, Vienna, Paris), but nothing
dropped the fare until I tried Milan. The fare dropped to
$2130 for the 3 tickets. This was vaguely reminiscent of
the old days of flying, but I still had to figure out how
to get to Greece.
I looked into
the different Italian departure ports(Venice, Brendisi,
Bari and Ancona) and weighed the cost(starting
a little over 100 euros for a cabin from the southern ports
to over 200 euro from the northern ports) and travel time
13 hours from the south to over 24 hours from the north.
The idea of a relatively inexpensive "cruise"
was appealing(children are free on some of the ferries so
you'd only pay for two adults in a cabin- airplane seats
and deck class are even less if you want to save more money-
but I was a little concerned about the comfort of my family)
so I filed the notes away and then beginning looking into
The only direct
flights seemed to be from Milan or Rome and ran about $150
per person. That was a little more expensive than the ferry(We
would have to buy 3 airline tickets, but only 2 ferry tickets),
but it was a difference of 3 hours of travel time vs. 13+
hours. Another consideration was that we would be spending
1/2 to 1+ day of our holiday on a ferry which would take
away from the time we spent exploring Greece or Italy.
We know had the
getting to Greece options layed out but part of the puzzle
was missing. We had to get from Milan to Slovenia, Venice
and possibly the ferry. The original plan was to drive down
the eastern coast of Italy and meet the ferry in one of
the southern ports(Brindisi, Bari, or maybe Ancona). We
looked at car rentals(again running various searches and
getting quotes from about 10 different auto rental companies.
We found that a one way auto rental to an eastern Italian
port city, either raised the cost significantly or was not
an option with some companies. This seemed to indicate that
we would have to return the car to Milan to get the best
Since there was
no ferry from landlocked Milan, we decided to search more
fllights. We'd pretty much search all the major commerical
airlines so we started to look at some of the discount airlines.
We found the EasyJet web site and ran a search from Milan
to Athens. Lo and behold we found a fare for 22.99 Euro
plus 11 euro tax. A fare of 34 euro per person($45 dollars).
I guess you can figure out what we did!
We rented a car
for about $370 for the week, plus all our hotels and expensives
so the savings were not that great over the flights directly
to Greece, but we got a week in Italy plus flights to and
from the US for a little more than what we would have paid
for a flight directly to and from Greece.
Our flight into
Milan arrived at 630am, and the flight to Athens left at
1230pm so we could have flown in and out on the same day
which would have saved us close to $1000 on our tickets.
So... spending time looking and a little creative thinking
CAN save a lot of money!