Free Flight Fiasco

I recently booked an award travel with USAir for my upcoming Oktoberfest trip. I had 100k dividend miles and still paid $111 in feed. Due to my itinerary, I had to choose these dates. A ‘free’ flight is always welcome but I felt like I could have done better. After all, it took years to save up for those free flights!

Flight Itinerary

There
Depart: Charlotte, NC (CLT) 18 Sep 2009
Arrive: Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) 19 Sep 2009
Class: Coach

And Back
Depart: Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) 04 Oct 2009
Arrive:Charlotte, NC (CLT) 04 Oct 2009
Class: Coach

CLT to FRA was fine but CLT to Munich or Berlin would have been better!

It turns out that I could have done much, much better! I left out some items in my How to Find Cheap Flights Post.

Bring In the Cavalry

I travel a bit, but there are others that travel much, much more. And I now bow down before them. There is a frequent flier’s bulletin board FlyerTalk and it covers everything flying on the cheap. And they mean business. Seriously. It took me a week to find the Rosetta Stone for these people!

Errors Made While Booking

It turns out booking via the USAir website was a big no-no. They only offer a fraction of the flights there. For far cheaper I could have used the Star Alliance – an air carrier group of which USAir is a part of – and gotten my pick of any German city – Berlin, Munich, etc and traveled Business Class for only 80k miles! I would have spent less AND have gone to the exact place I wanted to. All I would have had to do is to join the ANA Frequent Flier program and used their search engine to find a way to go. I was robbed!

What to do next

Well, if it was only me, I would cancel the flight (and pay $250 to do it) and rebook on a partner airline for 50K miles, or 80K in business class. But I have a traveling companion for the first week and that brings the re-booking fees up.

What I am going to try to do is rebook the leg of the journey back from Frankfurt to Charlotte. Unfortunately, I have been told conflicting information. Ideally, I would leave from Munich (or Prague) at the same time / date as my current flight out of Frankfurt 10/4/2009. Is it possible for me to do this – and get the 50k in miles back – without invalidating the first leg of my trip? I am not sure, but I will find out!

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