[NOTE: Contributor(s) to this page are on a need-to-know basis.]
Here are some early thoughts on flights. There are obviously many ways to get to the Eternal City.
Alitalia flies direct MXP and FCO out of LAX and is a high premium airline. One way fares start around $3000 in June of this year. I centered the departing travel date, to Saturday, June 29, 2019, for a benchmark.
United, Delta, American Airlines
U.S. legacy carriers have more reasonably priced flights operating through major hub cities in both the U.S. and Europe ($1500 range for one-way).
Air Force One
Air Force One offers many great amenities but obtaining a ticket is extremely difficult. Let’s stick a pin in this one and move on.
I am most intrigued by Norwegian Airlines, which is a low-cost carrier, think Southwest Airlines of Scandinavia. Norwegian has flights to Europe out of LAX and Oakland. During warmer months, they fly Oakland-Rome nonstop 3 days a week, Tue, Thu, Sat. There are 2 cabin classes, coach and premium.
Coach is 3-3-3 seating with a 31” seat pitch. Premium is 2-3-2 seating with a 46” seat pitch(not lie flat, but significant recline). For reference, United Economy is 31”, Economy Plus is 34” and Southwest is 31-33”. The shortest legal seat pitch is 28” (Spirit, Frontier) Ouch! Both cabins have USB power at the seats.
[See Subsection 1A Part B for more information]
A La Carte Pricing
Fares are further broken down, by how much a la carte pricing you want to deal with. The lowest fare has passengers pay extra for everything, including non-alcoholic beverages. One handbag weighing under 10kg is free. I’m told they WILL weigh your carry-ons.
Price and Route
The lowest one-way non-stop fare, during the last week of June 2019 is $560 with the highest premium flex fare being $1760. Non-stop is 11hrs 40 mins flying time. There is also an option to go through Copenhagen, 15hrs 35 min $508-$1590. I know 2 people who have flown Norwegian to Europe and they both said they would do it again. One has flown both coach and premium and he said he thinks premium is worth it when you consider that Norwegian premium is about the same cost as U.S. carrier coach. For me, the biggest advantage is the travel time.
In July 2019, they will operate Barcelona Oakland nonstops on Mon, Thu, and Sundays. 12hrs 10 min en route. $720-1500 one way depending on cabin etc. They operate 1 stops through Copenhagen or Stockholm every day. Five hour layovers 19-20 hours total en route. $540-1500. Also, I was told that the premium seats sell out very quickly. Currently, their calendar allows purchasing flights through March 2020, so it looks like we could book up to 12 months in advance.
Now for the bad. Norwegian has the 2nd most customer complaints of any European airline. They seem to have a bad reputation when it comes to delays and flight cancellations. I take some of the things I read with a grain of salt because they are a true industry disruptor and the “old guard” never has anything good to say about the “new kid on the block.” The 2020 schedule is not available yet, and they could be bankrupt by then, but they started seasonal OAK-FCO in 2017 and they have increased service from 2 days a week to 3 so somebody seems to like it. I have briefly looked at getting back from Barcelona and will send another email when I know more.