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Old 07-10-2014, 04:15 PM   #1
Green Tea
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Travel within Europe help needed!

I asked a few days ago about international airfare. I was not finding quite what I wanted when sticking with my primary airline. Further searching led me to Virgin Atlantic. It looks great. A RT to London is reasonable.

How difficult is it to land in London, go through customs then get on a new flight out to where my first stop actuality is. We were expecting flights within Europe to various points but hadn't expected to land day one in anyplace other than Barcelona. It appears to be a good bit cheaper to fly Virgin, then forge out on my own.

For those with Europe experience, are flights between major cities inexpensive? Readily available? Will I find myself cursing in Heathrow for now booking the destination straight through? Will I have to exit the secure area to recheck bags for the next leg, or just recheck with the correct airline in the secure emigration area?
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Old 07-10-2014, 04:39 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Tea View Post
I asked a few days ago about international airfare. I was not finding quite what I wanted when sticking with my primary airline. Further searching led me to Virgin Atlantic. It looks great. A RT to London is reasonable.

How difficult is it to land in London, go through customs then get on a new flight out to where my first stop actuality is. We were expecting flights within Europe to various points but hadn't expected to land day one in anyplace other than Barcelona. It appears to be a good bit cheaper to fly Virgin, then forge out on my own.

For those with Europe experience, are flights between major cities inexpensive? Readily available? Will I find myself cursing in Heathrow for now booking the destination straight through? Will I have to exit the secure area to recheck bags for the next leg, or just recheck with the correct airline in the secure emigration area?
There are many, many variables that will determine if this is a good idea or not. Prices vary wildly, but generally a low cost carrier such as EasyJet can be a major bargain if you know what to expect as far as service and additional luggage costs.

One major concern: Heathrow is a nightmare for connections. I can't even imagine what it will be like to go through what you're proposing. We had just shy of three hours to get ourselves from our arrival gate to our departure gate, and it literally took two and a half hours to travel there and get through security. Allow PLENTY of time.
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Old 07-10-2014, 06:03 PM   #3
Green Tea
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Good infö on the Heathrow timing. US Airways was telling me 90 minutes which seemed very quick.

Will I need to leave the secure area and recheck bags, or recheck within immigration processing?
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Old 07-10-2014, 06:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firecracker725 View Post
There are many, many variables that will determine if this is a good idea or not. Prices vary wildly, but generally a low cost carrier such as EasyJet can be a major bargain if you know what to expect as far as service and additional luggage costs.

One major concern: Heathrow is a nightmare for connections. I can't even imagine what it will be like to go through what you're proposing. We had just shy of three hours to get ourselves from our arrival gate to our departure gate, and it literally took two and a half hours to travel there and get through security. Allow PLENTY of time.
Quote:
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Good infö on the Heathrow timing. US Airways was telling me 90 minutes which seemed very quick.

Will I need to leave the secure area and recheck bags, or recheck within immigration processing?
We just went through this last month, and I totally agree.

We flew British Airways from Barcelona, connected in Heathrow, to a code share flight on Aer Lingus to Dublin. Our connection time was 100 minutes, just over the minimum listed for connecting from Terminal 5 to Terminal 1, and let me tell you, it was too close for comfort! We made it, but barely. And that was WITH our bags checked through.

If I had it to do again, I would allow AT LEAST 2 - 3 hours for any Heathrow connection.
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Old 07-10-2014, 06:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Tea View Post
I asked a few days ago about international airfare. I was not finding quite what I wanted when sticking with my primary airline. Further searching led me to Virgin Atlantic. It looks great. A RT to London is reasonable.

How difficult is it to land in London, go through customs then get on a new flight out to where my first stop actuality is. We were expecting flights within Europe to various points but hadn't expected to land day one in anyplace other than Barcelona. It appears to be a good bit cheaper to fly Virgin, then forge out on my own.

For those with Europe experience, are flights between major cities inexpensive? Readily available? Will I find myself cursing in Heathrow for now booking the destination straight through? Will I have to exit the secure area to recheck bags for the next leg, or just recheck with the correct airline in the secure emigration area?
First of all, Virgin Atlantic is a wonderful and beautiful airline. The flight attendants are extremely friendly. It's one of my favorite airlines.

I went to Spain last month. What I did was fly direct to London. Stayed there for 3 nights and the trained from London to Paris to Barcelona. Was basically a full day of traveling but much more relaxing than going through the hustle and bustle of air travel.

When I flew back to London for my flight home, I flew from Bilbao, Spain to London Heathrow and just got a room at Yotel which is in Terminal 4 I believe. Stayed there the night and then got up in the morning and checked in for my flight home.
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Old 07-10-2014, 08:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Deb in IA View Post

If I had it to do again, I would allow AT LEAST 2 - 3 hours for any Heathrow connection.

It all depends on whether or not you are booked straight through. If you have the time and the money is an issue, then allow a lot of time (5-6 hours) and book 2 different RT tickets. Or do a stopover in London allowing yourself an overnight in case of flight problems. Remember, if you book a tight connection (less than 2 hours) with 2 different airlines and not on the same ticket, if you have a problem with the first flight and miss the 2nd, they don't care.. you are hosed.

We just did it recently and did a stopover in London for different reasons - and had a blast in London to make it fun!
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Old 07-10-2014, 08:17 PM   #7
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Virgin is a great airline, I've flown it many times and have never been disappointed. Heathrow, on the other hand, is a big fat ugly nightmare. I've also used the Yotel, like a previous poster, and I would recommend giving yourself plenty of time between flights if possible and renting a room there (you can get them by the hour) to rest in the meantime.
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Old 07-10-2014, 08:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Tea View Post
I asked a few days ago about international airfare. I was not finding quite what I wanted when sticking with my primary airline. Further searching led me to Virgin Atlantic. It looks great. A RT to London is reasonable.

How difficult is it to land in London, go through customs then get on a new flight out to where my first stop actuality is. We were expecting flights within Europe to various points but hadn't expected to land day one in anyplace other than Barcelona. It appears to be a good bit cheaper to fly Virgin, then forge out on my own.

For those with Europe experience, are flights between major cities inexpensive? Readily available? Will I find myself cursing in Heathrow for now booking the destination straight through? Will I have to exit the secure area to recheck bags for the next leg, or just recheck with the correct airline in the secure emigration area?
I flew virgin atlantic to scotland last year, had to change planes and terminals in Heathrow, even going through security again I had time to spare and my connection time was a little under 2 hours.
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Old 07-11-2014, 02:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surfgirl View Post
It all depends on whether or not you are booked straight through. If you have the time and the money is an issue, then allow a lot of time (5-6 hours) and book 2 different RT tickets. Or do a stopover in London allowing yourself an overnight in case of flight problems. Remember, if you book a tight connection (less than 2 hours) with 2 different airlines and not on the same ticket, if you have a problem with the first flight and miss the 2nd, they don't care.. you are hosed.

We just did it recently and did a stopover in London for different reasons - and had a blast in London to make it fun!
After my experience with Heathrow, this is the only way I would do what OP is proposing. Book a cheap flight to Barcelona for the day after you arrive. Get a hotel near Heathrow with a free shuttle.
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Old 07-11-2014, 03:49 AM   #10
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It really comes down to whether you are willing to risk possibly buying last minute flights from London to BCN at a premium, and possibly an overnight stay in London while you wait for those in order to save the money if all goes well.

IF you do this, without planning a couple of days to see London in the interim, I would suggest having at least 4 hours in between flights, and I personally would never try it without about 10 (to allow for delays as well as the headache that Heathrow can be--but is not always, we have found them very hit or miss for lines for security, etc).

That said, with the time change there is a good possibility to have a flight which lands early in the morning, and then take a late evening flight to BCN, leave yourself lots of time and still not need a hotel in London for the night. For ME, it would have to be a LOT of money saved to even consider arriving so much more exhausted in Barcelona, but I am not you


Yes, you would have to leave security to check your bag again for the new airline and then get back in--even with bags checked through and on the same airline, depending on gates we have had to leave and reeneter security in Heathrow.
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Old 07-11-2014, 04:23 AM   #11
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OP, are you just going to Barcelona? I see on your other thread that you were asking about open-jaw flights. You might benefit greatly from the advice of a travel agent if you're booking a complicated itinerary.

Also, I wanted to add that my family of 5 is flying into BCN from Lyon next week on EasyJet. With one hold bag, the total was under $500 USD (round-trip). That's pretty darn cheap, IMO. Cheap flights within Europe are to be had, you just have to be flexible. We're staying longer than I initially wanted because the flights were just too cheap to pass up. We could have come home sooner and saved another night in our rental apartment, but it would have actually cost us more money because of the flight prices.
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Old 07-11-2014, 05:07 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firecracker725 View Post
OP, are you just going to Barcelona? I see on your other thread that you were asking about open-jaw flights. You might benefit greatly from the advice of a travel agent if you're booking a complicated itinerary.

Also, I wanted to add that my family of 5 is flying into BCN from Lyon next week on EasyJet. With one hold bag, the total was under $500 USD (round-trip). That's pretty darn cheap, IMO. Cheap flights within Europe are to be had, you just have to be flexible. We're staying longer than I initially wanted because the flights were just too cheap to pass up. We could have come home sooner and saved another night in our rental apartment, but it would have actually cost us more money because of the flight prices.
I agree that cheap flights can easily be had within Europe with a bit of flexibility and checking prices often. We rarely pay more than 100 Euro round trip, even on a major carries, which includes a checked bag--we nearly always fly Lufthansa

OP, have you also tried pricing your trip as a "mulit stop" itinerary on just one airline the whole way? I suggest trying that, on several different lines, and comparing. On some of DD'S trips to the US, a round trip is pricier than either an open jaw, OR a mulit city. We have actually gotten her FRA to MCI, MCI to DEN, DEN to FRA for LESS than the same airline wanted for roundtrip from FRA to either MCI or DEN and about the same as what they wanted for the open jaw trip without the flight in between.

And, you might also want to look at Icelandic Air, with a stopover for a day or two in Raykjavik either going or coming; they have had some good prices recently.
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Old 07-11-2014, 09:58 AM   #13
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What about flying into Dublin on Aer Lingus?
I did that when going to Paris and found Dublin Airport to be easy to deal with. Going back through security was a little slow but that was because of people in line not being prepared.
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