The cost of flying within Italy is often comparable to the cost of train travel, although be sure to include the expense of getting to and from the airport. When flying out of Italian airports, always check with the airport or tourist agency about upcoming strikes, which are frequent in Italy and often affect air travel. The work stoppages are called by trade unions over contractual disputes, and can also ground or delay flights to and from Italy operated by several European carriers, including British Airways and Air France.
Things to Think About when booking
When you book, look for nonstop flights and remember that “direct” flights stop at least once. Try to avoid connecting flights, which require a change of plane. Two airlines may operate a connecting flight jointly, so ask whether your airline operates every segment of the trip. You may find that the carrier you prefer flies you only part of the way. Check web sites to find more booking tip, to check prices and to make online flight reservations.
When flying internationally, you must usually choose between a domestic carrier, the national flag carrier of the country you are visiting (Alitalia for Italy), and a foreign carrier from a third country. National flag carriers have the greatest number of non stops. Domestic carriers may have better connections to your hometown and serve a greater number of gateway cities. Third-party carriers may have a price advantage.
On international flights, Alitalia serves Rome, Milan, and Venice. The major international hubs in Italy are Milan and Rome, served by Continental Airlines and Delta Air Lines. American Airlines flies into just Milan. US Airways serves only Rome.
Alitalia and British Airways have direct flights from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports to Milan and Rome. From Manchester, British Airways has daily flights to Milan and Rome. Smaller, no-frills airlines also provide service between Great Britain and Italy.
EasyJet connects Gatwick with Bologna. British Midland connects Heathrow and Milan. Ryanair, departing from London’s Stansted Airport, has daily flights to Milan, Rome, Pisa, and Venice. Meridiana has two or three direct flights each week between Gatwick and Olbia on Sardinia in summer, and daily flights to Rome and Florence throughout the year. From its hub in Brussels, Virgin Express files to Milan, Catania, and Rome.
Alitalia connects Canada and Italy. Air Canada flies to Munich for connections to Rome, Florence, and Milan via Lufthansa. Qantas flies from various cities in Australia via Bangkok, arriving in Rome. Alitalia and New Zealand Air fly from Auckland to Rome with a stop in London. Another option if you’re coming from Australia or New Zealand is Thai Airlines, landing in Rome via Bangkok.
When buying tickets for flights within Italy, on Alitalia and small carriers such as Meridiana and Air One shop around for the best deals. Tickets are frequently sold at discounted prices, so check the cost of flights, even one-way, as an alternative to train travel.