Has the Eurail Pass become obsolete? How cheap is cheap when it comes to buying a plane ticket inside Europe?
Low-cost airlines have revolutionised the way we travel around Europe. If at all possible we will take a flight rather than catch a train or a bus and in many cases the choice is made based on the fact that now a plane ticket can cost much less.
However, do we end up travelling just as long to save as few dollars? How convenient are these airlines? Are we missing out on part of the adventure by changing the journey? Would Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have met in the Stansted Starbucks over a Frappuccino and decided to go to London during their 8 hour low-cost layover?
Starting from Florence let’s travel outwards, exploring our destination and mode of transport options whilst demystifying these low-cost airlines with their gamut of terms and conditions.
Are there low-cost flights from Florence Airport? No, the two easiest and closest airports for low-cost flights are Pisa and Bologna. However, if you are willing to catch the train to Rome or Milan your low-cost destinations broaden enormously.
How cheap is cheap?Starting from 0.01 pretty cheap! To get the best prices from Ryanair or other low-cost airlines you need to book in advance and be flexible about your departure days and times. When you search you should always check the day before and after your ideal departure date and also if possible the following week.
From the airport to your destination?The way cheap airlines work is to use lesser frequented airports that have lower grounding costs. The travel time from your destination is usually about one hour give or take a little. For example from Florence to Pisa.
A lot of these airports have set up very good transfer services that run according to the low-cost flight schedule. You can now check their schedules and buy tickets online in advance through www.florenceforfun.org – Airport Transfers (http://www.florenceforfun.org/index.php?lng=1&id=167). In Italy, there are regular transfers to Rome airports, Milan (Bergamo), and between Pisa and Florence. For other destinations check the arrivals information on the airport website, Ryanair destinations section or google it.
This is important information to ‘Know Before You Go’ specially if you have a late night arrival or an early morning departure because the cost of a taxi is guaranteed to be more than your flight.
When is it more convenient to look at a normal airline?
When time is more important than money. www.Meridiana.it is a half way solution. It flies directly from the airport in Florence and a ticket to fly outside of Italy starts from 60 euro before tax. The airports, are in general closer to your destination city and there is food service included.
When is it more convenient to go by train?
For the countries bordering Italy it is still faster and cheaper to take another form of transport. Trenitalia have launched a SMART PRICE ticket to many of these destinations with an average cost of 29 euro one way. Ask for it at the ticket office. Book in advance. Sometimes if you have missed out on the Smart Price Ticket one way you can still get it for your return. Remember also that travellers under 26 years of age get a discount.www.trenitalia.com
Five things you need to know about Ryanair Flights (and a good indication of what to expect from other low-cost airlines)
There is no seat allocation. First on, best dressed.
Check-in closes 40 minutes before the flight takes off, after which time you will be denied boarding.
The Luggage Allowance is 15kg after which you pay 4.50 pounds sterling (approx. 6.50 euro) per kilo plus you are entitled to one hand luggage weighing no more than 10kg.
No food included with the cost of the ticket eat before, take a packed lunch or pay the in-flight service prices (not pretty)
All Ryanair tickets are non-refundable – except in the case of a flight cancellation or a significant flight time change.
Top Student Destinations by low-cost airlines:
Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia, Amsterdam, London, Paris, Prague