Using Avios to Book 9 Award Tickets to Europe. Part One.

Part One

Part Two

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!)

map

 

The cost of one economy ticket from RSW-MUC: 29,500 Avios, plus $16.18 in taxes.

map

 

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
Another great advantage is that you can pool your miles in a household account for all the members living at the same address.

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
Fort Myers
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.

You can read this post that contains screenshots on how to book award seats on BA.com 

Also, see this comprehensive post on when BA program adds fuel surcharges in general.

Come back tomorrow for the second installment.

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Map were provided courtesy of gcmap.com

 

6 thoughts on “Using Avios to Book 9 Award Tickets to Europe. Part One.

  1. Interesting, I didn’t know Air Berlin flew to Ft. Myers. Their route map is confusing because it shows cities that are also operated by partners (example: I know for a fact they do not fly from Germany to Indianapolis. They don’t show the AA-heavy routing until you actually perform a search.) Were you able to find a route map that only showed Air Berlin-operated routes or did you find out about their US destinations via other means? Are you able to get seat reservations for free on AB award tickets? Their cheaper fares usually do not include seat assignment.

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  2. Eric, you are absolutely right in that their map is confusing and includes AA flights. Those would add fuel surcharges. I should have clarified it. As far as I know, those are the airports served directly by Air Berlin:
    Chicago – O’Hare
    Fort Myers
    Los Angeles [seasonal]
    Miami – Miami International Airport
    New York City – John F. Kennedy International Airport
    Yes, strangely, Fort Myers is on the list. Germans love that area for some reason. As far as how I found out about Fort Myers route, I’m a frequent flyer miles junkie! Do you even have to ask? I research these things for fun… Yes, it’s very sad.
    As far as seat assignments, my parents flew Air Berlin on award tickets and had seats assigned. I haven’t checked mine yet. Will update on any difficulties.

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  3. Pingback: Using Avios to Book 9 Award Tickets to Europe. Part Two. | Miles For Family

  4. Pingback: Flying a Family of Five to Europe With a Help of Credit Card Bonuses | Miles For Family

  5. Pingback: Redeeming Miles for 9 Award Tickets From Europe to USA | Miles For Family

  6. Pingback: Transferring Membership Rewards Points to AAdvantage, and More! | Miles For Family

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