PHL to Europe: any pattern to US's award inventory?

 
Old Jan 30, 12, 7:19 am
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PHL to Europe: any pattern to US's award inventory?

It's been years since I've looked for a coach award on US to Europe, but friends and family have been asking for help and I've been doing some research. Generally, the results are discouraging -- needle-in-a-haystack inventory for busy and shoulder seasons. Is there any pattern as to when US loads more award seats, or is the inventory always poor?

The best alternative for Star Alliance redemption seems to by Lufthansa's PHL-FRA flight. But inventory on that one seems weird (at least when I use CO's search function): like there's not much inventory in June, but then it becomes wide open in July and August. Alas, Germany seems to now charge a "carbon tax" even on connecting flights (about $40 each way, I think), so it's not necessarily the optimal solution if you're not actually headed to Germany, but it sure beats US's award availability.

Any other tricks for PHL-Europe award flights? Thanks.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 7:50 am
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Unless Congress passes something, you're likely to pay a carbon tax no matter who you fly on, and it's for the entire flight that arrives/departs in the EC. As taxes go it's not too bad yet - I think most U.S. carriers are charging $3 per person each way.

Jim
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Old Jan 30, 12, 7:54 am
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post

Any other tricks for PHL-Europe award flights? Thanks.
Since most of Europe is on vacation in August I think business travel is way down which is why you see more award seats. As for alternatives, if you are not set on having a nonstop flight from PHL you should have lots of options. You can try IAD, BOS, or NYC which have a multitude of flights to Europe. I usually have good luck out of BOS and EWR. You can also try CLT.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 8:11 am
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I can't imagine doing the frequent flier award/mileage thing without access to the KVS Availability tool. IMO, it's worth the $ for the Diamond level and has saved me counless hours and hours of calling in, hoping for a good agent that's willing to search, etc etc etc. And don't leave out the time it takes to re-coordinate schedules with friends/family when I do find open inventory for award seats.

I recently booked award travel for this fall and the time on KVS + the time to book on US once I found what I wanted took about 20 minutes total. That's including time for friends to confirm that the dates I found worked on their calendars as well...
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Old Jan 30, 12, 9:41 am
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Originally Posted by BoeingBoy View Post
Unless Congress passes something, you're likely to pay a carbon tax no matter who you fly on, and it's for the entire flight that arrives/departs in the EC. As taxes go it's not too bad yet - I think most U.S. carriers are charging $3 per person each way.

Jim
$3 won't make you change your connecting city. But $80 might!

I've heard that the Brits do the same thing on connecting flights through LHR -- at an even higher cost -- but I've never tried booking that way.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 9:49 am
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The BIG hit at LHR/LGW is the premium cabin departure tax... ~$150. It's bad, but not quite as bad at CDG. Although for both LON and CDG I didn't think through connecting flights were subject to the heavy taxes.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 9:52 am
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No it won't, but I have no idea what the cost will eventually be. Initially the airlines will be given some carbon credits gratis, but eventually will have to buy all they need on the open market.

A connecting flight in the EU would just mean more of a surcharge since I assume that most carriers will charge a flat fee per flight. EU carriers, like BA, will be paying the carbon tax on nearly all their flights, unlike U.S. carriers who will only pay on flights to/from the EU. So even though intra-EU flights will pay a lower carbon tax than long-haul intercontinental flights, the sheer number will push the total cost higher for carriers like BA/LH/AF etc as opposed to UA/DL/US/AA.

I'm a little surprised that someone who has their finger on the pulse of the industry wasn't aware of this. DL was the first U.S. carrier to announce the fee about a month ago, followed immediately by US.

Jim

Last edited by BoeingBoy; Jan 30, 12 at 9:58 am
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Old Jan 30, 12, 5:29 pm
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Originally Posted by BoeingBoy View Post
I'm a little surprised that someone who has their finger on the pulse of the industry wasn't aware of this. DL was the first U.S. carrier to announce the fee about a month ago, followed immediately by US.
Yeah, but as noted above, I'm not talking about the 3 bucks. I'm talking about the additional carbon-motivated taxes the Germans charge you as a passenger directly to pass through their airports as a connecting pax. It seems to be slightly under $40. Fortunately, and unlike the UK tax, it doesn't seem to be higher if you're a biz class pax.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 6:02 pm
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Like I said, the EU airlines will most likely have a bigger bill for carbon emissions since effectively all their flights will be affected - that's 2 flights on a connection you're paying the tax on. Plus my guess is that the $3 the U.S. carriers are charging may go up - they started charging that about a month before the carbon tax went into effect and so far are only charging it for flights to/from the EU.

Jim
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Old Jan 30, 12, 6:05 pm
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Back to the original question.....I agree with the previous poster. PHL seems to be fairly difficult for award inventory. CLT, ORD, BOS are typically easier to come by.
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Old Jan 31, 12, 6:58 am
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Originally Posted by shamun160 View Post
Back to the original question.....I agree with the previous poster. PHL seems to be fairly difficult for award inventory. CLT, ORD, BOS are typically easier to come by.
Yeah, due to US's near monopoly, PHL is not a good market for int'l travel. It seems like the only int'l flights offered by foreign carriers in the Star Alliance are Lufthansa's FRA flight and Air Canada's Toronto flight. Fortunately, both these carriers are more generous with standard award seats than US.

I guess the alternatives are connecting to another US city (and, of course, you have to find award availability on THAT flight, too!) or driving to a larger int'l airport, like EWR, JFK or IAD.
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