How I Grabbed a Half Price Ticket to Europe for Oktoberfest

In addition to collecting points and miles through credit cards bonuses shopping portals, one of the keys to travel more, (and inexpensively) is to always be on the lookout for deals or discounts. Just by paying attention and following some travel blogs, (like this one. Hint Hint), I was able to grab a flight from New York to Italy and then from Prague to Beijing, for $132 including all taxes.

So it’s important you’re always on the lookout for deals, especially if you have some freedom to travel when you want.

Earlier this month “Flying Blue” released their Promo Awards for October and November. Flying Blue is the name of the frequent flyer program for both Air France and KLM airlines. And while most people have probably never heard of “Flying Blue,” or flown on one of those airlines, their promo awards can often be a great deal. In this case, Flying Blue is currently offering 50% discount on airline mile redemptions.

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50% Discount? Yes please!

That means while a regular roundtrip flight might cost 50,000 miles/points, you could get it during this promo for only 25,000. In the month of October and November, KLM is offering flights to Europe from Houston, Chicago, and Washington DC with the 50% discount. So you can really maximize your travel and save money if you’re close to one of these cities.Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 1.18.26 PM

What I was amazed at the number of locations I could go to. Paris, Amsterdam, Germany, Switzerland, you name it. They even count Israel as part of “Europe.” Meaning you could get a roundtrip flight to Israel for just 25,000 miles and taxes. While that’s an amazing deal, I decided that going to Israel at the current moment might not be the best timing. But otherwise, a great value.

Instead I decided to head to Europe… Before I head to Europe… and specifically check out Oktoberfest. And while I don’t drink, Oktoberfest just seems like a great time and a great place to be. I decided I’m going to visit southern Germany and then make my way south and west, maybe even visiting Liechenstein and then leaving out of Luxembourg.

So what would a ticket cost if I didn’t have miles/points to use?

As usual, between spending $1,000 and not spending $1,000… I’ll take the latter.

I checked out the one way flight from Luxembourg to Washington DC on AirFrance.

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I checked out Kayak.com for just a regular flight from Washington DC to Munich and then back from Luxembourg to DC if I was going to buy it outright.

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$900 isn’t a bad deal, all things considered. But My preference is definitely not to spend $900.

Instead, I checked out what it would cost to redeem points through the Flying Blue promotion. I wanted to fly into Munich for Oktoberfest and most likely out of a different country, so I priced out one way awards instead.

From Washington DC to Munich would cost me 12,500 points and just $111 in taxes.

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That’s over $1,000 in flights and taxes.

I then checked out a one way flight from Luxembourg back to Washington DC. As I’m thinking of traveling from Munich, southward, and then a clockwise direction, leaving out of Luxembourg would be perfect. Turns out there are great awards available with very reasonable taxes.

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Just $128 in taxes back to the U.S.

That’s $240 in taxes to cover my flight to Germany for Oktoberfest and back from Luxembourg. Even if I grabbed the absolute cheapest flight at $900 and didn’t even consider departure times, stopovers, etc, I’m saving over $650.

As you’re reading this you may be asking yourself, “What the heck is the ‘Flying Blue’ program. As I said, most people have probably never heard of it, much less have 25,0000 Flying Blue miles. This is why it really pays to diversify your points and credit cards. I’m transferring over 20,000 miles from my Starwood Preferred Guest card, and then getting a 25% bonus. So 25,000 miles transferred right over from my SPG card, and I’ve got myself an amazing deal on flights.

Remember when it comes to traveling more and redeeming points and miles, it’s often just as important to be aware of deals or sales. In my case, by having some flexibility in my schedule, by having transferable points, and by keeping tabs on the Flying Blue 50% off promo awards, I’m headed to Oktoberfest and savings hundreds of dollars, if not close to $1,000.

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6 Comments

  1. September 3, 2014 / 2:35 pm

    That’s awesome! I wish I still had the ability to travel on short notice AND off season! Enjoy!

    • Steve Bierfeldt
      September 3, 2014 / 2:54 pm

      Yea, the flexibility definitely is a big part of being able to grab deals, admittedly.

  2. Abbey
    September 5, 2014 / 11:27 pm

    So how do you rack up all these points? Since I’ve used point systems very little, I wonder if your advice can still apply to me.

    • Steve Bierfeldt
      September 7, 2014 / 6:14 pm

      Hi there Abbey,

      A big part of it is credit cards. Receiving bonus points when you open up a new card, or even just using your card for everyday spending. Assuming one can handle their debts responsibly, I’d encourage everyone to use a credit card for everything. Instead of spending $100 cash or debit card at the grocery store (and earning no rewards), use a credit card and then immediately pay off the $100 bill a few days later.

      Also for someone just starting out, who has used points systems very little like you mentioned, check out my most recent post on shopping portals. Simply by going through a third party website (they get a referral bonus if its proved they helped produce business), you’ll earn extra points.

      For example, if you want to buy a new tv at best buy, instead of even going to bestbuy.com, first go through a shopping portal, and then through that head to bestbuy.com. EVReward.com is the main shopping portal search engine I use.

      It’s never too late to start, and even if you’ve rarely used point systems, it’s never too late to pick up some deals.