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Advice: airline strategy BER<->BOS

Advice: airline strategy BER<->BOS

Old Jul 14, 13, 9:09 am
  #1  
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Advice: airline strategy BER<->BOS

I've recently started commuting between Berlin and Boston (8-9 roundtrips per year), and would like to use FFP miles as a volume discount of sorts, to minimize my total cost. What FFP(s) and airlines do you think I should target?

Some considerations based on my own research:
- If I book the cheapest flights without regard to miles, they tend to vary between LH, BA, KL/AF and EI. For any other strategy, the savings would have to exceed the extra cost.
- Although focusing on one alliance seems to make sense, for any given alliance, it seems there are times when all their flights cost hundreds more than the competition.
- UA MP would let me get award flights without a fuel surcharge, but it seems very hard to get MP miles for cheap flights. (In particular, 0 miles for LH discount economy.)
- As far as I can tell, LH's own M&M miles can't be used for BER/BOS flights without paying a fuel surcharge (except perhaps on US, but US is leaving *A), which makes them near-worthless for my purposes.
- According to this, BA and AA can do BOS/BER awards without a fuel surcharge (on AB or EI, anything else?), but people here seem to think that's the worst alliance.
commmuter is offline  
Old Jul 15, 13, 1:28 pm
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Join Date: Nov 2012
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dublin <-> boston for 12500 avios on aer lingus one way in economy, you could prob book a seperate cheap paid flight between berlin and dublin.

you can transfer amex mr to avios with a bonus that happens several times a year. I just transferred 80K to british airways with a 35% bonus...thank you amex!
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Old Jul 16, 13, 2:54 am
  #3  
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If AA/BA/Air Berlin is best for you, who cares whether people think One World is the "worst" alliance. And btw, how could it possibly be worse than SkyTeam? OneWorld has some excellent partners, including not just AA/BA/AB/EI, but also CX and QF. And next year it will add US. I'm a big *A fan, but for your travel, it may well make best sense to go with AA for redemptions on Air Berlin (or EI, but that's going to be less convenient for getting to Berlin).
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Old Jul 16, 13, 5:11 pm
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If you really just want to travel in economy and save money, without regard to travel time or comfort, it will probably turn out to be best for you to book the cheapest you can get at any given moment and forget about alliances and mileage. After all, loyalty programs were invented precisely to make the traveler ignore the competition. If you do happen to get some mileage, so much the better, but if you concentrate on mileage you will wind up paying for it. "No free lunch" is just a fact of life.
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Old Jul 17, 13, 6:38 am
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LX has flights from BOS to Berlin via Zurich; some fares would qualify for miles in the UA program. If you accumulate AA miles, you can book award travel on IB via Madrid, but you will need to phone AA to book award travel.
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Old Jul 17, 13, 12:41 pm
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Is status worth anything to you? You would be able to get that as well with that many trips. Some of the lower fares that have longer routes will give you opportunity to rack up some more miles if you wanted. You should be able to get enough miles for at least 1 roundtrip award (provided there is availability), maybe enough for 1 roundtrip and 1 one-way. That could add up to a significant amount of savings plus the benefits of status.

However, if you stay loyal for 5 or 6 flights and then suddenly would have to pay $500 more than the cheapest to stay loyal, all that work is down the tubes. On average, if you think you'd have to pay more than $100-$150 more per roundtrip to stay loyal, then it probably isn't worth it. I'm not familiar enough with that particular route so I'm not sure if that's likely to happen or not.
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Old Jul 18, 13, 10:43 pm
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Thanks for advice, everyone. So far I like drdrew's idea best.

@Kacee I've flown EI and found it to be very convenient, especially the part where you go through US immigration during the DUB layover and arrive in BOS as domestic.
@ajnaro I might end up always booking the cheapest, but I still have a choice of FFPs for any given flight. Presumably it's best to pool all my miles in three FFPs (one per alliance), I just don't know which.
@JPG3392 Unfortunately, I almost never see LX among the cheaper options. For example, looking at Oct/Nov flights right now, Kayak shows LX at $1048 vs KLM at $791. For booking on IB, another option seems to be to transfer BA avios to IB. But as far as I can tell, IB metal doesn't fly to Berlin.
@tys90 It's definitely worth something, if only because of the bonus miles. In most programs I would get the lowest status (25% bonus) after 4 roundtrips. That's doable without paying much extra, at least on BA flights. The next level would require me to stay loyal for 7 roundtrips, which would probably not be worth it. For just one example, I dug out my Kayak alerts from May when I was looking for August flights. IE=$1046 UA=$1274 BA=$1424 KL=$1559. (IE, of course, being worthless for status.)
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Old Jul 20, 13, 5:02 am
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Originally Posted by commmuter View Post
Thanks for advice, everyone. So far I like drdrew's idea best.

@Kacee I've flown EI and found it to be very convenient, especially the part where you go through US immigration during the DUB layover and arrive in BOS as domestic.
The EI service to BOS, you clear US immi @ BOS not DUB. Only the JFK flights and maybe some ORD clear in DUB.
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Old Jul 20, 13, 10:34 am
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Originally Posted by kawoh View Post
The EI service to BOS, you clear US immi @ BOS not DUB. Only the JFK flights and maybe some ORD clear in DUB.
I guess they keep changing it. Right now it's JFK and MCO per aerlingus.com. I flew to BOS last year and pre-cleared in DUB.
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Old Jul 21, 13, 10:15 am
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Originally Posted by commmuter View Post
Thanks for advice, everyone. So far I like drdrew's idea best.

@JPG3392 Unfortunately, I almost never see LX among the cheaper options. For example, looking at Oct/Nov flights right now, Kayak shows LX at $1048 vs KLM at $791. For booking on IB, another option seems to be to transfer BA avios to IB. But as far as I can tell, IB metal doesn't fly to Berlin.
Thanks for your comments on my response. IB does not fly to Berlin itself, but it has codeshare flights Madrid-Berlin with AB, and AA miles can be accrued and used on AB as well as IB in any case.
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