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I'm new here! I'm just looking for some advice and some guidance. So, I feel like it's just better if I cut to the chase.

I'm from Scotland and this year I was accepted to study abroad in the USA for a semester. It's something I've always wanted to do and the school is perfect for my degree, so I feel really fortunate to be given the opportunity. I can't wait to get started!

However...I don't fly very well. I've been to Ireland, Belgium, Bulgaria, Portugal, The Netherlands, Cyprus (North and South), Turkey, USA (x3), Thailand and the UAE and it feels as I'm getting older, I am becoming a bit more anxious on flights. I have a fear of heights, which I think contributes to it.

So, I have been looking for flights and I can find some really good prices from Scotland to North Carolina for around £360 (albeit with a monsterous stopover), however, it requires me to take a 10 hour flight from Glasgow to Toronto (on WestJet), then wait for 16 hours, then take another flight to New York, then wait again, then finally another flight to North Carolina. Ideally, I don't want to be on any flight for 10 hours and ideally, I don't want to have to take 3 flights. When I start looking for other ways to get there - different routes, less flights, less time on flights - and the price is creeping higher and higher.

I was just wondering if anyone knows of any good websites that have features that cater to my criteria? Any people/companies I could phone anything at all, that might improve my chances of getting a better price for a better flight. I'm in no way asking anyone to do the leg work for me, however, if you want to, I'd pay a small fee haha.

Any advice or guidance would be really appreciated.

  • I think the fear of flying part of the question, as well as the pricing part have already been answered here on Travel.SE. Have a search. – JoErNanO Apr 14 '16 at 9:45
  • Can't find a reference, but I heard that going on a flight simulator can really help people who have a fear of flying. I think it is because they suddenly see how calm and controlled everything is in the cockpit. A quick google search brought up this site (1hr for £109) flyipilot.co.uk and they have a specific fear of flying section: flyipilot.co.uk/fear-of-flying – Matt Wilko Apr 14 '16 at 10:09
  • If it's mostly fear of heights, I'd suggest sitting near the center of the plane, and watching a bunch of movies on your iPad. Also let the flight attendants know; they can keep an eye on you and help if you really start to have a problem. – Michael Hampton Apr 14 '16 at 12:00
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    Oh come on, close-voters, this is a question about journey planning by a person who doesn't like being in the air and wants to see options that minimise it. It is NOT a duplicate of a question about how to overcome a debilitating fear of flying. If that's what they wanted, that'd be what they asked for - that's a related question, this is not a duplicate. We've been over this. Twice! – user568458 Apr 14 '16 at 12:59
  • @JoErNanO "Help a nervous flyer find the best flight" is a pretty big clue that they're asking for help finding the best flights for their clear, well-explained criteria. So is "I was just wondering if anyone knows ... websites ... people/companies ... anything at all, that might improve my chances". Other questions about flight tools don't address a specific desire to reduce time in the air. Other questions on fear of flying don't fit a question that is not about curing a fear of flying but rather is about a personal preference based on being "a bit more anxious". – user568458 Apr 14 '16 at 18:10
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Rome2Rio is great for seeing a wide range of options, and it's not just limited to flights. If there are good options involving other modes of transport, it shows them, and it has no problem mixing modes of transport.

For example, you can enter "Scotland" to "North Carolina", and it includes options not just flying from both Glasgow (including some direct flights) and Edinburgh, but also involving travelling to London (which could be by train/coach) and flying direct from there.

Add your exact towns (not necessarily airports: the actual locations you're flying to and from) and it'll take transport to and from them into account. Almost door-to-door. If it's easier to fly into a lesser-known airport just across the border in a neighbouring state then use other transport to get to your target town, it'll show you.

Of course these still involve a long flight - you're not going to get around the problem of needing to fly over the Atlantic! - but at least there can be only the one flight. Another nice feature of Rome2Rio for nervous travellers is that you can see the actual routes clearly on the map. You can see how similar the distances in each option are (including, for example, that going via Canada is much less of a detour than you might think).

I thought there might be an option involving flying to New York then getting the Greyhound bus to North Carolina, but I guess the difference it makes to flying time is so small, and the difference it makes to total journey time is so huge, it's probably not worth it.

  • I have checked out this website before and I loved it, although, I don't necessarily think it gives you the best deals - but it gives you a fantastic visual representation of the journey, which I like. In terms of the Greyhound, I was actually thinking of getting a flight from Edinburgh to NYC and taking the Amtrak down to NC - I can afford the roomette option. I spoke to some people and they said it's a 10 hour train journey, which I was happy enough to do because I thought I could lay in bed and see some new states etc., then she said it's just trees. I wont really see anything else. – user42267 Apr 14 '16 at 9:46
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    You might like this related question: Are there other sites such as Rome2Rio?. To be honest I think the main thing will be getting it down to just one flight with only one take-off and landing. Flights between 6 hours and 14 hours in length are virtually the same, those extra hours just disappear in a numbed-brain blur of inattentive book-reading, terrible-film-watching, dozing, clouds and bland food... – user568458 Apr 14 '16 at 10:07
  • Yeah, I think the best I could do with that is one flight to NYC and then train to NC or bite the bullet and pay more for two shorter flights. – user42267 Apr 14 '16 at 10:39
  • @user42267 There are LHR-CLT nonstops, but a simple fact of life is that the cheap tickets almost always involve changing planes and out-of-the-way routing. – Michael Hampton Apr 14 '16 at 11:55
  • I've gone to south carolina a lot, and almost all of my flights have been LHR -> something in the northeast, usually IAD or EWR -> SAV. The closest you could possibly get on a direct flight would be from LHR to ATL or something, as atlanta's one of the few big airports the southeast US has. – Pyritie Apr 14 '16 at 12:06
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I am sure other search engines have this, but I have only seen it on Hipmunk, an "agony" filter - which sorts flights by a combination of price, number of stops and duration to find one that's most comfortable.

It only caters for flights so you may miss out on alternate means of transport.

I would normally recommend arriving at NYC / Washington / Boston (as these are the nearest airports) but the Carolinas are also very accessible as they are all on the Eastern coast and you can find plenty of direct flights.

The problem is a direct flight between say Heathrow and Durham is almost 9 hours; and if you are not comfortable with flying 9 hours may seem unbearable; however compared with the convenience of having no connections, and it being the quickest option it might be favorable to you.

Some people prefer to break the monotony of a long flight with stopovers (this can also mean a cheaper ticket). The positive side is that you get plenty of time to walk, stretch, eat and relax each time you deplane. The downside is your flight is generally longer - you run the risk of having your luggage delayed, and if you run into any weather issues you may end up staying longer than expected at a particular transit point. However, you may look at this as more of an adventure to write/brag about with your friends rather than another "oh great, stuck in an airport" story.

My advice would be to consider alternate airports and try to fly from a popular hub airport (you have Gatwick/Heathrow and Amsterdam/Frankfurt/Paris in close proximity) to see if there are alternate options available.

  • +1 Great find! The way it shows the flights as timelines side-by-side is really good too. – user568458 Apr 14 '16 at 12:53
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I'm still an avid Skyscanner user.

It gives you a great understanding of what flights are possible with a number of advanced search options available. I then make my own contact with the airlines to try and get the best price possible. Phoning them is really underrated in the modern age of computers as you can almost always get discounts from the advertised 'web fare'

Of the top of my head I know there are daily direct flights to Raleigh, North Carolina from London terminals with a number of airlines. For me, short flights before longer flights helps with the fear. Flying from Scotland to London is an ideal short flight to build up to the transatlantic flight to USA.

See also this question of tips to overcome fear of flying

  • I'd never thought of phoning the airlines directly to ask about reduced flights. Does that work? I thought it was sort of like phoning Nike and asking for a reduced price on their shoes. Would you say direct contact with the airlines work? – user42267 Apr 14 '16 at 9:50
  • it works if you have cheaper prices to compare for the same starting airport and destination but not necessarily the same connections. airlines want your business and not everyone wants to, or has the ability to book online. it works almost always for me with BA. – davidb Apr 14 '16 at 9:56
  • So, if I possibly called BA and told them I can get from Glasgow to NC for X amount (which is X amount cheaper) with X airline, would they be able to beat the price? Something like that? – user42267 Apr 14 '16 at 10:03
  • most possibly yes. although Im sure airlines have price limits. its just finding those limits. – davidb Apr 14 '16 at 10:04
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    Apparently, BA's one way ticket prices are fixed. I asked about a return and the prices dropped by £200 but still WAY higher than the lowest price I could find. – user42267 Apr 14 '16 at 10:16
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I'm a fan of Google Flights - although there are plenty of other options that others would recommend, such as Kayak and Skyscanner.

The nice thing about Google Flights is that you can enter a list of airports you're willing to fly from and to. So in your case, you could search for flights from either Edinburgh or Glasgow, to Raleigh-Durham or Charlotte, and get a bunch of options.

I'd suggest that whatever you do, you allow plenty of time (3 hours, perhaps) in the US if you're connecting there as queues for Border Control can be long. You can instead connect in the UK; American has a flight from Raleigh to Heathrow, for example, and Charlotte is even easier to get to. As has been pointed out, you could also take the train to London, thus making it a single flight - although probably not much cheaper (if at all).

Unfortunately, the way flight pricing works is that the shorter, more direct flights do tend to be more expensive. It can seem perverse that a longer set of flights can be cheaper, but it allows for effective price discrimination. As someone who's terrified of heights too I'm still not 100% happy with flying - although it did at least get somewhat better eventually for me.

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For anyone else looking to minimize time in the air when flying from Europe to North America, it bears remembering that during much of the year, Air Canada and WestJet both fly narrow-body jets between St. John's, Newfoundland and London Heathrow, as well as from St. John's to Dublin. These flights are only about five hours long. There are other flights from St. John's to New York and Toronto, and from there you can get just about anywhere in North America.

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