I committed to my ITB Berlin itinerary booking AAdvantage award tickets with three weeks to go before flight time. Five cities and airports in Europe with American Airlines, FinnAir, and Air Berlin. 50,000 miles in award tickets to travel economy class from San Francisco to Berlin for a week. The return flights start on Monday and I reach California on Friday with overnight stopovers in Oslo, Helsinki, London and Chicago.
Crazy AAdvantage award routing for $168 in taxes on three economy class award tickets:
- San Francisco SFO-TXL Berlin with a 7-hour daytime layover in Zurich ($31 + 20,000 miles),
- Berlin-Oslo (22 hours) – Helsinki (24 hours) ($57 + 10,000 miles),
- Helsinki – London (20.5 hours) – Chicago (9 hours overnight) – San Francisco ($80 and 20,000 miles).
The return trip routes through Oslo for a 22 hour layover on the way to a 24 hour stop in Helsinki. London is a 20.5 layover before flying to Chicago. A short hotel night in Chicago is unavoidable with the full day London layover. My hope is about six hours sleep before flying back to San Francisco. The award ticket allowed an option for nearly 23 hours in Chicago, but no need for me to linger in Chicago since I will be hanging out there a few days just before Europe. The option to add AAdvantage award North America gateway city stopovers in New York (outbound) and Chicago (inbound) could have added even more destinations to the trip.
The shortest time flights from San Francisco to Berlin priced at 40,000 miles + $120. My 4-day return trip itinerary with daylong sidetrips to Oslo, Helsinki and London cost an additional $48 + 10,000 AAdvantage miles. The opportunities changed slightly over the past two weeks and the outbound flight routing through Zurich was the most difficult flight segments to catch with its spotty availability.
Priority Club, Club Carlson, SPG and Hyatt points will pay for most of the hotel nights for the trip. Looks like Club Carlson will finally see some points deductions from my account balance building the past two years.
Now I need to figure out how to pack a small carryon, camera and computer for Berlin business and potential Scandinavian arctic freeze.
Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.