One of the reasons I started blogging was to show that it’s possible for a family to fly close to free together. Very often the advice on getting award seats is to book separate flights, and I don’t like that idea one bit. There are 4 of us in the family, and I want us to stay together, even if it means more meltdowns (mostly from me).
Few weeks ago, I wrote a post highlighting my plans to make a redemption for 9 people to visit Europe next summer. As expected, we had to get on different flights, but we got our one-way tickets booked, even though we had to change things up a bit. Let me describe the process.
Originally, I planned to use the Avios program for 7 tickets and AAdvantage for the remaining 2. However, I changed my mind and just used Avios for all of the outbound flights. Here are some reasons:
1) BA Avios lets you book on some partners 355 days ahead compared to 331 days through AAdvantage. The outbound flights we needed were already loaded on BA.com, but not showing up on the AA website.
2) It costs $55 per ticket to cancel and redeposit your miles through the BA program, compared to $150 through AAdvantage (for your first ticket, $25 for an additional award on the same reservation). Also, with BA Avios, you can only lose what you paid in taxes up to $40. If your tax is $3.50, that’s the maximum you will lose if your plans change.
I knew we wanted to redeem on Air Berlin, since BA program doesn’t impose any fuel surcharges on that airline at this time. Also, we were planning to go to Munich, so this was the best carrier to fit our plans.
Our desired route was RSW-MUC (Fort Myers to Munich) via Dusseldorf. Since Avios program is distance-based, each segment is priced separately. So, RSW-DUS would cost 25,000 Avios per person, and DUS-MUC another 4,500, for a total of 29,500 Avios one-way in economy. There were 4 economy award seats available on each flight, and no business seats whatsoever.
Originally, we planned to go to Munich together and fly back on separate days. We’ve decided to reverse the order. My in-laws are planning to go to Funchal in Madeira islands first, so I will try to redeem that leg through US Airways Dividend Miles on Tap Portugal (a leftover partner from Star Alliance).
I’ve decided that it would be a good idea to at least book the flight to Europe and hope that the redemption opportunity to Funchal opens up.
Air Berlin flies RSW- DUS on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
So, we booked 3 tickets for RSW-DUS on Thursday, 2 tickets for my brother-in-law and his wife for RSW-MUC on the following Thursday, and 4 of us will fly RSW-MUC on Saturday.
The rest of the clan wanted to spend more time near Munich anyway, so they can do some hiking. We are limited on time since we have to visit my family as well. Plus, we also hope to include Italy in our grand tour.
Saturday worked well for us because my husband can only take 2 weeks off, and this way, we will maximize the time available. Technically, he can’t put in the dates till December, but his boss said it shouldn’t be a problem.
If in doubt, I recommend you purchase a trip insurance that has an option to cancel for work reasons. You can find a quote at Insuremytrip. I’ve said before that trip insurance is a good idea for a family on a tight budget, especially when going abroad.
The cost breakdown
The cost of one economy ticket from RSW-DUS: 25,000 Avios, plus $2.50 in taxes (yes, two dollars and fifty cents!)
The cost of one economy ticket from RSW-MUC: 29,500 Avios, plus $16.18 in taxes.
The flights were booked online. There were no fuel surcharges on either redemption. All of the miles were accrued through sign-up bonuses from cards that I got for myself and my in-laws over the years. The nice thing about the Avios program is that it lets you copay with cash if you are short on miles.
The cost varies depending on the amount, but can go as low as 1.14 cents per mile. Here are some options given for 4 economy seats for Fort Myers-Dusseldorf route:
Avios price options
|100000 Avios + $ 10.00|
|80000 Avios + $ 310.00|
|65000 Avios + $ 470.00|
|50000 Avios + $ 630.00|
|40000 Avios + $ 730.00|
|30000 Avios + $ 810.00|
If you are looking to fly to Europe with the help of Avios, Air Berlin can be a great option. Some routes will cost more, some less, like New York-Dusseldorf that runs only 20,000 miles one-way. Here are US cities where Air Berlin flies to/from non-stop:
Chicago – O’Hare
Los Angeles [seasonal]
Miami – Miami International Airport
New York City – John F. Kennedy International Airport
From Dusseldorf or Berlin (their hubs), you can take a train to Paris, Amsterdam or start your tour of Germany. Air Berlin also flies to many other destinations in Europe at an affordable price. Some routes, like the one to Munich, only add 4,500 miles one-way and $13 in taxes.
Come back tomorrow for the second installment.
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Map were provided courtesy of gcmap.com