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18 replies
Late June 2013: Into HEL, out of CDG
Cil
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This is probably a job for Flightfox.
I’m leaving out of JAX (we REFUSE to drive to MCO) and want to begin in Helsinki, then go to Istanbul, and ultimately fly home from Paris.
We’ve got no more than 3 weeks. Maybe Jetblue/Icelandair/Air Baltic might work?

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I’ve always found really cheap flights from Finnair. Although I hate them. When are you going?

I am leaving from New York, NY and traveling for 64 days
Reykjavik, London, Lille, Berlin, Kraków, Lviv, Istanbul, Selçuk, Pamukkale, Kızkalesi, Göreme, Kars, Bat'umi, Akhalts'ikhe, Tbilisi, Telavi, Istanbul

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oldlady
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Got an e-mail about this sale from Air Baltic on Sunday night: http://www.airbaltic…

Cil
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Mim, I’m flexible, but late June is what we are looking at. Thanks for the advice about Finnair.

Oldlady, I got the same email and wanted to take advantage of it, but my husband is not ready to pull the trigger on any of this stuff yet, our plans are still pretty fuzzy. But Istanbul and Paris are musts, and that northern region beckons.

oldlady
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I think Air Baltic has a big sale about every 6 weeks, so maybe the next one will work for you.

It might be cheaper to stay in Tallinn than Helsinki, also, there are cheap places near the Helsinki airport and good transportation into town — although adding 7 euros per person per trip (14, I think for round trip) could negate any savings. Hilton at the airport and the hotel IN the airport (Scandia??) are good choices for the night before an early flight and often surprisingly cheap. Both are “very odd” though nice, comfortable stays — more details if you’re interested.

Don
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You’ve got a Flightfoxer here. Wink

Mim, what did you not like about Finnair? Did you fly them transatlantic, to/from Asia, or intra-Europe?

Cil, how flexible with dates? What’s the absolute earliest date you could leave JAX, and what is the absolute latest date you need to be back? How long do you actually want to be in Europe — between those 2 dates? A full 21 days on the ground, or did you mean you’ve got a 3 week total window, but maybe only 2 on the ground?

Cil
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Yay Don!
Realistically, we probably only have 19 days on the ground.
I think the absolute earliest we could leave would be Wednesday June 26. Absolute latest would be Tuesday July 16. I was hoping to be in Paris by July 9-10 or 11, definitely through 14th.

Yeah, mim, what did you not like about Finnair? Legroom or more serious than that? I’ve been looking into both Finnair as well as Icelandicair.

Oldlady, I like your advice about the Hilton Airport. We’ve done that twice in Rome and once in Madrid and have never regretted it. I know what you mean about odd but nice. Then again we like smaller cities and probably would prefer staying in Tallinn.
This is getting into more of a Transportation Forum topic, but I’ve also been looking into that St Peter Line deal where you can ferry to St Petersburg and spend the night without having to get a Russian visa. But it’s a bit tricky, sort of reminds me of the Greek ferries in that it seems like more of a loop situation than a back-and-forth set-up.

Thanks guys.

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I flew Finnair tranatlantic last year. Leg room was awful, completely outdated entertainment system – with only half of the screens working both ways two months apart, and there was just something very old about the whole interior. But mostly the legroom.

I’m definitely not a flight snob, but Finnair was a difficult transatlantic for me. Of course most of this is anecdotal, so you may have a much better experience.

I am leaving from New York, NY and traveling for 64 days
Reykjavik, London, Lille, Berlin, Kraków, Lviv, Istanbul, Selçuk, Pamukkale, Kızkalesi, Göreme, Kars, Bat'umi, Akhalts'ikhe, Tbilisi, Telavi, Istanbul

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Cil
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Well, if their equipment has not changed, the legroom still might be just as bad for us as for you. Old interiors always vaguely worry me, because it makes me wonder what the the rest of the plane is like.

Don
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Methinks you were on one of Finnair’s old MD11s (the 3 engine widebody jets, with 1 engine in the tail?). I thought they were rid of those, with 777s being their preferred equipment now. Thanks for the feedback about them.

Cil… I’m checking it out and will post when I find something that might be interesting.

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I put in JAX to HEL, PAR, BRU, IST, LED, TLL, RGA, STO on ITA, used the month search feature from June 26 onward, stay 18-20 nights. I also tried LON, DUB, FRA, DUS, MIL, ZRH, AMS just to see if I could “spot” a wild card at a much lower fare, but best was Dublin only about $100 less, and that won’d help much with this itinerary.

Best published fare (not consolidator) currently among these is $1251 to BRU and back from IST, with United+Lufthansa and decent layovers. We’d still have to add PAR to Baltics, and Baltics to IST (Skyscanner and Dohop.com).

Try Momondo, Kayak, Fly, and 1800FlyEurope.com multi-city for (JAX-BRU, IST-JAX); it might come up better since those include some consolidators.

I’ll have to take a longer look later….

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Thanks so much, Don—I will play around with some of your ideas. I have been looking at Kayak, Skyscanner and Yapta, and of course, WhichBudget. I’ve looked into LON too, but run into issues with the different airports. That published fare is not bad at all, but yeah, still have the Baltic connection.

I did a crazy trip like this back in 2006, probably the exact same amount of time. I remember Oldlady helping me figure out things with 3 EuropeByAir passes to get us from Split to Frankfurt. Everything turned out absolutely fine.
The EBA route map is not working on my Mac; I’ve had (and resolved) this problem before but don’t have time to devote to it right this second. Do they even do passes anymore?

Anyway, if we have to simplify the trip, we will. But Paris and IST are musts.

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The EBA flight pass map is a java application and doesn’t seem to like Apples — won’t load on the IPad either. I brought it up on the windows computer. Windows did not like the security for the version of java it used so I had to do a “load this anyway” thing. The flight pass map does not show anything at all from Helsinki and only a few cities show flights to Istanbul.

Cheapest Helsinki-Istanbul EBA showed on the regular flight search for the random June date I picked was Air Baltic with a connection in Riga (a good visit, IMO) at about $211 — maybe the next Air Baltic sale will help. You can use the regular flight search on EBA and it will show the flight pass symbol if that’s the cheapest option on the airlines (I think over 100) it searches.

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Thank you very much, Oldlady. Yeah I kept clicking on the Flight Pass symbol and nothing happened, but I was able to do a search for airfare. I have indeed heard that Riga is worth a visit.
Maybe we can figure something out with the help of Air Baltic.

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Random dates to give an idea of current one-way pricing:

PAR>IST 9 July $98 Adria Airways via LJU (I looooved flying Adria via LJU a few years back). Found with Dohop.com
RIX>IST 10 July $125 Air Baltic, found with Skyscanner.com

Not suggesting cities in this order—just taking a quick look for an idea of prices to see how they might compare to a $99 flight pass.

EBA map working for me with Opera on Windoze. Interactive map show IST to AMS, EIN, ZAG, ATH only.

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Thanks Don, that’s very helpful. I used to have Opera on my other computer, I wonder if that was how I finally got EBA to work.

Interestingly, LJU had been a destination we considered visiting (rather than Tallinn.) And I had been checking out Adria Airways. I’ve been going back-and-forth about Balkans vs Baltics.

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I’ve been hearing good things about Turkish Airlines, and have been trying MIA>HEL>CDG>MIA, flexible dates, but get all the way to ‘check price’ and then it says there is an error.
Guess there is no availability or maybe the flight doesn’t exist or some such thing.
Tried it with JFK and MCO as well, but keep getting an error message.

edit: Finally got through. Apparently the multi-city thing does not work for me. It did give me JFK to IST round trip for $1,285. But I need to fly back from Paris.

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I checked published fares again with ITA but don’t see anything better. I don’t see anything more worthwhile from other Fl. airports, either.

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Thanks Don. We’ll figure something out. I might have to simplify the trip, which would be okay.