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20 replies
Cheap flights in Summer 08 to Germany
mmillerk
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I’m travelling with 5 teens next summer (either June or August – depending on school schedules.)  We’re staying 15 days.  We’re either flying into Berlin and out of Zurich…or the reverse.  Any suggestions for finding 1-way airfare cheaply?  I’d consider Frankfurt or Munich too.  Our itinerary is flexible.

Don
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From where?
Also, one-way from where to where?

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Yea- I guess that would be helpful information…
We can leave either from DTW or ORD.
It looks like mid June departure…we need to be back by July 2.
Or mid August…we need to be back by Aug 23.

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Ok, but what did you mean by 1-way?

mmillerk
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1-way meaning…from the US (ORD or DTW) into Berlin (or Zurich)
and then we’ll travel on the ground so that we need 1-way back to the US from Zurich (or Berlin)
I don’t want to have to make a circle – just to accommodate a round-trip ticket…(in Frankfurt – out Frankfurt) unless the price of the 1-ways makes it prohibitively expensive.

Don
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Okay, I thought that might be the case, so I’d recommend an “open-jaw” ticket which does exactly as you want—arrive to one city, but fly back from a different city. It’s usually cheaper and more convenient to book this vs. booking 2 one-way tickets, but we can check it both ways just to be sure.

If you want to get a jump-start, try using the links in our new user thread (top of cheap flights forum) and key in on Mobissimo and Kayak with their “multiple destination” or “mult-city” searches.

Also try the consolidators listed in the new user thread.

mmillerk
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Thanks for the suggstions.  I’ve been looking at some of those sites for a while now.  It’s just not a cheap time of year to go!
What do you think of Yapta?  Should I book something and let yapta watch it?  Or is it too early to buy right now?

Don
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Did you notice in our new user thread that the under-26s should qualify for “youth” fares which might be cheaper and more flexible? www.statravel.com and www.travelcuts.com

Also, if you can depart before June 15, you might have better chance of slightly cheaper fares, because some airlines don’t normally start “peak” season until after mid-June.

Travel on midweek days is usually a little bit cheaper, too.

——- added info …

I see $669 with Air India nonstop from Chicago to Frankfurt, but you must depart by June 12. This is a really good fare for Chicago to anywhere Europe during summer. Of course it doesn’t give you open-jaw options (ie to ZRH, return from BER) but you’d have to connect between Berlin and Chicago somewhere, anyway, because there aren’t any nonstop flights between CHI and BER (yet).

Youth rail passes are cheap(er), and youth tickets purchased at the train station are usually also discounted at least 25%—sometimes more—so adding a train hop from FRA airport to Munich might be money well spent; same goes from Berlin to Frankfurt airport. Most people feel like crap their arrival day, anyway, and a train trip to Munich from FRA airport might be a good way to start; similar on return—you won’t do/see much anyway on your return travel day, because flights to US usually leave late morning, and stuff doesn’t open until 9 or 10 (and you have to be at airport 2-3 hours early), so your return travel day can be devoted to just return travel—train Berlin to Frankfurt airport—which has it’s own train station.

I still think you should shop the other sources, too, but I’m just saying that the Air India fare at $669 total might be well worth it in this case, with less hassle then you might think at first. In fact, the adult fare direct from AirIndia.com is showing $648 total (I found it with ITA and Farecompare, which links through to the source for booking). In the age of $130+ fuel surcharges, $100+ airport security fees and taxes, this is a superb fare for summer transatlantic travel.

According to Farecompare, cheapest CHI-BER roundtrip for June is $1145; to ZRH $891; to FRA $708; and to MUC $1145. Building a trip with one-ways, which I then checked with Farecompare, looks like it would be much more expensive.

mmillerk
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OK Don –
I’ve looked in all the places you’ve suggested – I’m on all sorts of mailing lists and I’m getting lots of information ….much of it is useful!  But I have a few frustrations…can you help?
1.  By the time I get the email for the cheap fare…the fare has gone up!  Do I have to stay up all night next to my computer to get the fares in real time?
2.  I need to book 6 flights…1 adult and 5 students.  The student sites don’t let me book more than 2 at a time.  AND (this one really kills me…) I’ve found a really cheap RT ticket ORD to FRABUT ONLY FOR ONE!  As soon as I enter “6”  the fare vaporizes…what gives?
3.  We’re confirmed for July 3 – July 21…in our minds, anyways.  That’s a thursday to a monday.  In your opinion, would fares be cheaper if we flew different days…like thursday to a thursday…or somethin like that?
4.  What do you know about travel insurance?
5.  I’m thinkin open jaw is just too pricey…I don’t see anything under $1200.  Am I missing anything?  is there a different place to look?
Thanks for anything you can tell me.

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Quite likely there is only one cheap ticket for that route. The airline puts N number of seats in each particular fare class, and if N-1 of those seats in that class have sold, then that’s how it goes, unless the airline decides to add more to that fare class.

It’s possible Tuesday to Tuesday or Thursday to Tuesday or some other combination might be cheaper, but there’s no way to tell without testing extensively.

Open-jaw can be more pricy depending on the cities you choose. Some city pairs work well together and some don’t – but I don’t know which would work best in your case. United/Lufthansa seems to be having pretty good non-summer fares, so you could look at United/Lufthansa cities, but I haven’t seen any great summer fares.

With five teenagers not your own (presumably), you definitely need to have a plan for who or what is going to pay if one needs emergency medical evacuation (which can easily cost $50K or so) back home. So you need travel insurance that will cover that contingency, at the very least. Also consider the cost for emergency or non-emergency medical care in the various countries. As for trip cancellation and interruption insurance, etc. – discuss with the kids’ parents and maybe a travel agent and do some research and see what you think.

With six people who definitely have to travel at a specific time, I think the fare purchase decision is different than for a solo traveler who has the option to leisurely wait around until a great fare just happens along.

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I thought you said June or August dates—not July. Did I misunderstand? Are you not interested in the Air India strategy via Frankfurt?

You can book tickets 1 by 1, or 2 at a time, or 5 at a time… try it with 5 to see if the price is same, and if not, then try 4, then 3. The rest will have to be booked separately; seats can be requested together once you’re all on the same flight. What happens is that the entire plane is never on sale for the same price; fares are divided into “buckets” often 9 seats at a time, and if 7 are already sold at that bucket, for example, then only 2 would be left (for example). The rest would have to buy at the next-cheapest fare. Best availability direct from the airline and not from 3rd party (like STA or Orbitz).

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Ok-thanks.  I think I’m gonna try those student sites – but I’ll actually call them, rather than depend on the website.
And, we’ll go with travel insurance – no brainer.  I just wondered what options were out there – who’s got a good reputation.
I’ll keep ya posted!

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Is there any penalty involved if I don’t use one of the legs of my ticket?
I’ve found a fare (reasonably reasonable) That is roundtrip ORDZRH.  by way of FRA.
Can I skip the 3rd leg (ZRH to FRA) and board directly in FRA for the return to ORD?  Do I have to pay extra? 
Thanks for any info you might have.

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No. Anytime you no-show any portion of a ticketed flight itinerary, the rest of your itinerary is automatically cancelled by the airline. Are you going in June or August?

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Whew! good thing I didn’t do it! Thanks for the info…we’re going in early July..18 days.  I’m strugglin!  My next option is to call one of the studentfare sites you mentioned and have them help me.  got any other ideas?

Don
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I might. Have you tried everything else that’s already been suggested? The new user info and tips? The advice from this thread? What’s the cheapest you found, and with whom? What’d you find with the student sites via online search of their fares?

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Just some more comments to elaborate on what Don has said above.

No-shows (hidden cities, etc.)

Airlines are well aware that it’s often cheaper to buy more flights then fewer flights, reason being that some markets are more competitive then others. I bet passengers tried this trick sufficiently many times before so that EVERY airline I know specifically includes the no-show line in every fare rule. Here is personal experience.

Once (when I was young and inexperienced) I’ve booked a r/t ticket with intention to skip last leg on the outbound trip. I’ve managed to weasel out of the situation, but only because weather delays made me miss that flight anyway, and all later flights that day were already fully booked. But I have promised myself to never try it again.

Not so long ago I found myself in a similar situation even though I haven’t really tried to fool the airline. My first connecting flight was delayed by several hours and since I knew that I’d miss the last connecting flight of the day I walked up to the counter and asked to be put on the first flight out next day. (My rationale was that it’s better for me to sleep in my own bed and for the airline not have to pay for my hotel in Dallas.) The agent rebooked me, but with a new ticket number. As the result the system put a red flag on my return flights, and on my way back I had to talk to an agent before I was even able to check in.

So, no matter how tempting this cold be, don’t do it.

Buckets, classes, etc.

Don has mentioned different booking classes before, but just to help you make sense of it.

Suppose, for example, that when you price a trip for one person the total comes to (very good) $600, but when you price the same trip for six of you the fare jumps to (twice as expensive)  $1200 per person. Well, it could be that only 5 seats are available at the lowest fare, but it does not mean you can’t take advantage of that. You can book 5 seats at the cheapest fare of $600 and one more at $1200, making it (still good) $700 per person altogether.

Before doing this, however, you should make sure that:
1. members of your group agree to pay the same for the tickets, regardless of whose name is on more expensive tickets, and whose is on the cheapest ones.
2. since all but you are teenagers (as you say) make sure that if you book any of them separate from yourself, you won’t end up paying anything extra for “unaccompanied minors.”

Prices of open-jaw tickets.

Lately airlines don’t sell open-jaw tickets at a premium compared to round-trip tickets, as they often did 5-10 years ago. Which means that if, say United simultaneously puts both Zürich and Amsterdam on sale for $600 r/t you’d pay about as much for an open-jaw. However if one week American puts Zürich on sale and next week Northwest puts Amsterdam on sale, neither would help you with your open-jaw ticket.

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Hi Don –
Thanks for all the advice…I booked 6 flights open jaw ord-ber-fra-ord for the dates we wanted…it was more than I wanted to pay, but I’m trying to read the writing on the price-of-oil wall…and don’t see it goin down anytime soon.  So we paid about $1230 each.
Now I need to rent a van to drive us all around…from berlin – returning to fra…maybe I should look in a different forum Smile

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Yikes. I see it for $960 usingadvice from the forum. Oh well, happy travels.

Try our transport forum for car hire advice. Keep in mind that if you’re not planning to be too far off the beaten path, that youth rail pass might be cheaper, and the weekend group tickets on local trains can be very cheap (like €5 per day per person).

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It’s probably too late for this also, but many airline tickets to Germany can be booked in combination with a cheap onwards train ticket to anywhere in Germany. I can’t recall the name of that program, but it can be very useful. It might be on the Deutsche Bahn site. 

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yes-I saw those too…but it was important to the parents to avoid certain airlines and certain cities….so this was most acceptable to all.
I’m just glad it’s over and I can start planning the fun stuff.
I’m looking into fewo’s in Berlin and Bavaria…anyone have a recommendation for a good one that sleeps 6?