I’m not a big international traveler. I would love to go abroad more, but time and money just doesn’t let it happen. Friends of ours invited us to join them on a western Mediterranean cruise in mid-November, which sounded like a lot of fun and the price was right. Problem (good problem) is that other friends are also getting married in mid-November. So obviously we couldn’t skip the wedding for a luxurious vacation (reading this Banchoits?)
Once the date of the wedding was set, I realized that we could attend both the wedding in New York and get to Monaco in time for the start of the cruise! Woo hoo!
When I secured the flights earlier this year (sorry, I’m a little behind with my writing), American Airlines still offered free international gateway stopovers. Sadly, this fantastic perk was axed in April 2014.
Because of the Banchoit wedding, we routed via New York City and were allowed a two-day stopover as part of our onward international journey in the gateway city of New York. We had the pick of the liter of connecting flights from Austin (AUS) to New York City (JFK, LGA, and EWR). Unfortunately, we couldn’t pick the AUS-JFK non-stop on American, so we settled for a one-stop, Austin-Dallas-Ft. Worth/New York-La Guardia itinerary. All flights are in domestic first class.
The cruise starts in Monte Carlo, Monaco and we spent several days there a couple years ago (pre-blog, so no post to link to, sorry folks!) While I’m a big fan of the Nice/Monte Carlo/Cannes area, I’d rather explore somewhere new. I have never been to Germany so we decided to spend a couple days there. As a plus, there was plenty of award availability on Air Berlin from New York.
We are flying Air Berlin from New York-JFK to Berlin-TXL in business class. Air Berlin only offers business class on long-haul flights, so from Berlin-TXL to Munich, we are in economy. Our Executive Platinum status on American Airlines (OneWorld Emerald) got us free seat assignments on the economy leg from Berlin to Munich (it’s the little things in life).
We spent $58.40 in taxes (per person) and burned 100,000 American Airlines AAdvantage Miles (50,000 miles per person) for the Austin to New York to Munich one-way portion of the trip. Because I wanted to see the value of this award ticket, I searched to see how much these exact flights would have cost. Keep in mind that I did this search the same day I booked with miles. Prices vary, but this was the going rate for these flights on these dates.
From Austin To New York, the cost of first class seats for our exact flights was priced at $1,612.00.
From New York to Berlin, the cost of business class seats, again for our exact flights, was priced at $2,758.38. Overall, I think we got an excellent value for our AAdvantage miles.
I’m very excited to try Air Berlin – both the business class and the economy class product. Heck, I’m excited to fly any new airline! Don’t worry, a full review will be forthcoming!
There were several connecting flight options to get from Munich to Nice, France. My mouth watered based on the various airline and city options. We could fly Swiss via Geneva. Or fly Vueling via Barcelona. Or via Vienna on Tyrolean Air (Austrian Arrows). I mean, the options were tantalizing (to me). In the end, we ended up being practical and booked the non-stop flight on Lufthansa (operated by Lufthansa Cityline) for 15,000 United Airlines MileagePlus Miles (per person) and $44.30 in taxes. Here’s what united.com quoted me for this one hour and 30 minute flight ($2,128.40 for two passengers):
To say I got great value out of my miles is an understatement!
I’ll save the details on the cruise for a forthcoming post (gotta stretch out the details to get as many posts as possible, right?) For the basics, we’ll be on the Seabourn Sojourn embarking in Monte Carlo and disembarking in Barcelona. Countries visited will include Italy, France, and Spain. Stay tuned for more details!
The cruise is disembarking in Barcelona and we are going to spend a few days there. We were really hoping to fly Barcelona to London-Heathrow to Austin on British Airways new LHR-AUS non-stop flight on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner (lest we forget I have already done the Dreamliner). Unfortunately that didn’t work out as (1) BA imposes high fuel surcharges on premium seats (think ~$800 in fuel/taxes alone in addition to having to cash in miles) and (2) no premium award seats were available (this is a big vacation, we are not slumming in coach, wink wink). Interestingly, low-level AAdvantage awards were available BCN-LHR-AUS for only 20K miles per person.
We were fortunate and were able to find a one-stop routing (very rare for international flights out of Austin, Texas) all on American Airlines metal. Our routing is Barcelona to New York-JFK to Austin. We are in business class from Barcelona to New York-JFK and first class from JFK to Austin.
From Barcelona to New York to Austin, the cost of business/first class seats, again for our exact flights, was priced at $11,718.40. Overall, I think we got an excellent value for our AAdvantage miles.
What do you think of our itinerary? Have you flown these airlines/routes? What would you have done differently?
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