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Flight planning advice, SFO-ATH w stopover or open jaw

Flight planning advice, SFO-ATH w stopover or open jaw

Old Oct 1, 2018, 5:51 pm
  #1  
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Flight planning advice, SFO-ATH w stopover or open jaw

Very early stages of planning this family trip (two adults and two kids) for early June 2019, and I'm hoping for some advice on my flight search. Ideally we'd like to add a couple of days, on the way back, in another European city; could be almost anywhere. Flight cost is pretty important, since there are four of us, and airline quality/comfort matters a bit too since it will be a long flight with kids.

I've been rooting around in ITA and Google Flights and Skyscanner and they all show different results ... and that's without even getting into wanting to add a stopover or open jaw. I did an ITA search where I specified a return-flight connection point at some major airports that might make good stopovers. It gave a pretty short list of results at quite high costs, and didn't even include the flights that it originally produced when I didn't specify connection points, which leaves me not very confident that ITA is casting a wide net for best flights (and that's without even knowing if stopovers would be permitted). For a couple of ITA flights I looked at the rule, which say that stopovers are not permitted. And then I threw my hands up and said, this is one for FlyerTalk.

So I guess my main question is whether there's any particularly good way to search for SFO-ATH flights that allow a stopover or open jaw? And what about the advisability of searching for this flight now, rather than several months from now ... do airlines relax fare rules, or add seats under different fare rules, as you get closer to the actual date?

[EDIT] I'm playing around with Skyscanner's multi-city search, just experimenting with different cities where I might stopover. It's showing good options (almost as cheap as the cheapest direct flight) that are all on Iberia, and every other airline is at least twice as much. Is it possible that only Iberia currently has a fare that allows stopovers? [/EDIT]

[EDIT2] Wow, ITA can't even recreate any of the Iberia routings that Skyscanner is coming up with for a multi-city routing (stopover in MAD) ... gives three and four segment flights on SFO-ATH leg?? ... cheapest being 2X of Skyscanner ... which Skyscanner routing is sold by exploretrip.com, which I've never heard of and ??? [/EDIT2]

Last edited by mc510; Oct 1, 2018 at 9:33 pm
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Old Oct 1, 2018, 11:36 pm
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I would do it this way: cheapest/most convenient RT flight SFO - Europe (where "Europe" is a city you want to visit), and then separate tickets to/from ATH. Since you'll spend some time in the first city you won't have to worry about connecting on separate tickets, and you have the flexibility to plan.
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Old Oct 2, 2018, 9:05 am
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Originally Posted by malmostoso
I would do it this way: cheapest/most convenient RT flight SFO - Europe (where "Europe" is a city you want to visit), and then separate tickets to/from ATH. Since you'll spend some time in the first city you won't have to worry about connecting on separate tickets, and you have the flexibility to plan.
I guess that's the best option if there's really no flights available with stopover or open jaws. I'm just not very certain if that's the case now (because I'm not sure if I'm searching correctly) or whether it will be true in a few months (because I don't know if airlines add seats with more permissive rules as flight date gets closer). Or, to describe my ignorance a little differently, I'm not sure if free stopovers are still a common feature on international flights (my recollection being that they were, quite a few years back when I traveled more).
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Old Oct 2, 2018, 1:41 pm
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Originally Posted by mc510
Or, to describe my ignorance a little differently, I'm not sure if free stopovers are still a common feature on international flights (my recollection being that they were, quite a few years back when I traveled more).
They are, it's just that (especially on ITA if you select "cheapest") nowadays the lowest Y fares are so ridiculously restricted that stopovers might indeed be almost banned.

An interesting stopover that is available at the moment is in Portugal with TAP, where you get up to 5 days for free. Maybe it could be an idea to use that as ATH-LIS/OPO-XXX, where XXX is your gateway back to SFO.

Also, when searching on ITA, try using the multi city tool instead of forcing connection points. It should show you only fares that allow stopovers. I just found this, randomly:

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Old Oct 3, 2018, 8:52 am
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I would agree with malmostoso's idea of finding a flight to Europe you like and then adding Athens as a 'domestic' flight separately. Airlines like Easy Jet have very low fares within Europe you could take advantage of.

One thing you don't say about this trip is how much time you will have and what you want to do with your time other than visit Athens. I have difficulty accepting that just any city will do as an add-on. It has to be a place that is of interest to you all. I would also suggest that adding a city may not be a good idea at all depending on how much time you have and what your children's interests are.

You also don't say how old the kids are. The younger they are, the more important the length of a flight becomes. Shorter being better obviously. Keeping a 5 year old occupied en route for 20 hours is harder than with a 15 year old. So that would make the shortest possible flight distance to Europe appealing and I would certainly not want any connecting flights such as those shown in malmostoso's example with a near 7 hour layover in Heathrow giving a total travel time of 21 hours from SFO to ATH. I would consider a non-stop essential. Price is not the only factor to consider, no matter how important it is, there is comfort to consider as well as you say.
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Old Oct 3, 2018, 11:57 am
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Originally Posted by dulciusexasperis
I would agree with malmostoso's idea of finding a flight to Europe you like and then adding Athens as a 'domestic' flight separately. Airlines like Easy Jet have very low fares within Europe you could take advantage of.
Me too.

Also, I've had some luck with the multi-city search mentioned above. But adding an intra-Europe flight will likely give the most options.
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