Flights to Nice

Nice_airport from the airThe best seats, best and worst airports to change planes in, best frequent flyer program, how to find the cheap fares, and the lowdown on the low-cost airlines for travelling within Europe.

Best View Flying to Nice

Flying in or out of Nice, always try for seat A, a window seat on the A side, which will normally give you a spectacular view of the entire French Riviera as you approach the Nice Cote d’Azur airport, and a view of Monaco as you take off.  Every once in a while they land in the other direction, but 90% of the time this seat will give you that view.

Best flight to Nice from the US

Delta/Air France runs direct flights to Nice from JFK in New York, getting you here in just 6 hours with no plane change and no hassle.

If you have to change planes, especially for your return flight, it’s far better to change planes in Europe rather than the US, because international flights give you to free meals, cocktails, movies, blankets and pillows, and domestic US flights give you bupkis.

Best Cities to Change Planes

The smaller the hub the better; major hubs (like Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt and Amsterdam) all have miles to walk and lots of extra security lines/passport checks to get through.  If these are your only choices and you have a long layover, choose Amsterdam because at least it has lots of comfy lounge chairs, massage booths, and even a mini Van Gogh museum.

Never book a trip where you change airports in Paris: this will not only take up an entire day stuck on their ‘shuttle’ bus in interminable Paris traffic, but you will also probably miss your connecting flight, and arrive at your destination a bundle of nerves.

Best Frequent Flyer Program

Air France Flying Blue is the best Frequent Flyer program only because they allow you to use your miles for a one-way ticket at half the mile cost of a round-trip… which is very useful if you are not sure when you want to return or just want to book one leg of a multi-city trip.

Best Way to Find Cheap Flights to Nice

The best airfare deals of the year are last-minute fares in November, when you can fly to Europe for the cost of a local flight.

Just go to Google Flights which includes all the airlines (unlike Expedia and Opedo), and gives you suggestions plus tips on whether a day earlier or later would make a difference, then you click the link and book on the airline’s website. One stop shopping.

TravelZoo‘s Find Deals feature is worth checking, and while you’re at it, sign up for Airfare Watchdog or FareCompare‘s Fare Alerts to be notified when prices drop to Nice.

Air France has fares as low as $500 rt from all over the US in the off-season, especially in November.  British Airways is also worth a check as they can have similar killer deals from the US, but the rub is that you have to deal with a long layover at the massive Terminal 5 at London Heathrow.

  • Trap to Avoid:  Sometimes the great deals are to Paris, Amsterdam, or Frankfurt but not to Nice, and it can be tempting to take the great fare and then book a low-cost airline for the last hop to Nice.  Just know that your bags will not be checked through so you will need at least a 3-hour layover to be sure to claim your bags, leave security, wait in line to recheck-in, and pass back through security.  And, your bags must be really small and light to match the low-cost airline policy (see below) or you will pay a hefty fee for the overage.

Best Cheap flights to Nice from within Europe

Nice has the largest number of low-cost flights in France, but big travel search engines like Expedia and Opedo do not include them!  Google Flights includes them all, so you get the best fares from the majors as well as the low cost airlines, plus tips on whether a day earlier or later would make a difference

There is a search engine that specializes only in low-cost flights within Europe: check out WhichBudget which lists all the low-cost routes available from Nice.

To fight back against all these budget upstarts, Air France has made Nice a hub, which means many more flights and destinations, and at much lower prices, including new routes from Venice, Athens, and Naples, with seats as low as 50€ each way (but that is before adding luggage fees.)

Not to be outdone, low-cost leader EasyJet has also made Nice a hub and has 23 destinations from Nice and counting. They offer the same flights for an astounding 34€ each way (although with EasyJet they add extra fees for everything, so in the end you’ll be at almost 50€ anyway). Since EasyJet’s low-cost comes with low-service, so if the fares are even close, book Air France for more comfort and a more civilized experience.

The great news is that the fare wars will only continue as EasyJet and Air France battle it out adding new destinations a new low fares.   The Nice Airport is even building a Terminal 3 to deal with all the low-cost traffic!

The Lowdown on Low-Cost Airlines in Europe

European Low-cost airlines provide a very popular way to get around Europe for dirt cheap, and are safe and reliable, similar to Southwest Air in the US.  Don’t be scared off by the the low-cost carriers hilariously flaky names like Baboo, Ryan Air, TranSavia the fantastically misnamed EasyJet!  


But as your mother always told you, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch!”  Here’s what you give up with a Low-Cost fare:

  • You’ll get an uncomfortable seat that doesn’t even recline.
  • No place to charge your phone
  • You pay for your luggage (even carry on!)…
  • …but it has to be maddeningly small and lightweight.
  • You are not allowed to carry on a backpack and a purse, which is super annoying.
  • You can’t get even a sip of water without paying.
  • And you even have to pay to pay (10€ credit card fee)!

…But the toilets are still free, yippee!   But still, it is kind of worth it to suck it up for an hour to save maybe 200€, which you can then use to do or buy something super fun at your destination.

The Two Biggest Low-Cost Airline Traps to Avoid

Check-in Luggage:  You can pay to check one bag, but if you choose to pay extra for a second bag… don’t be fooled, it doesn’t give you any extra weight, it just means that you can put the same kilos of stuff into two bags instead of one.   If you show up with an extra bag or extra weight you pay through the nose… and could easily end up doubling the cost of your cheap ticket!   To avoid such scenes I use this awesome tiny travel luggage scale which I got in the US, but you can also find them in the UK.

Carry on:  Normal airlines allow you a carry-on and a personal item, so your backpack and a purse, for instance.  Not Low Cost:  You are allowed only one very small carry-on, so you have to be able to cram your purse into your backpack, or pay 50€ on the spot.  ‘Doesn’t matter if the purse and travel bag are smaller than a normal rolling suitcase: the rule is the rule.  And now your carry on must fit under the seat; if you want to put it in the overhead bin, you have to pay extra!  Extra, extra, EXTRA!

Rufus Roo Big Pocket Travel JacketWith EasyJet, if you pay extra for priority boarding (Speedy Boarding), you also get a little more wiggle room on luggage, so this can be a good way to go.

Here are a few ridiculous solutions to this ridiculous rule: the BIG-Pocket Travel Jacket which you can load up with laptops, books, boots, whatever, and if you are wearing it, none of it counts toward you luggage or weight limit!  Or the latest travel ruse innovation: a neck pillow that you secretly stuff with clothes. Whatever works!

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Photo credits:  Nice Travel Poster available from; Babar en Avion poster is available through;  EasyJet by Nathan Harig licensed under Creative Commons, Rufus Roo Big Pocket Travel Jacket from

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