It is time for another round of “Which would you fly?” where I take a look at a few options available for an upcoming trip and try to pick the best flight for me. Of course, “best” is nearly impossible to define. And what is best for me might not really work for you. But it is what I’m dealing with. Here are the parameters for this particular trip:
- Travel is from Hamburg, Germany to DFW.
- Travel must be on 17 April 2015; I have zero flexibility on that date.
- I will quite likely be out partying on the night of the 16th such that early morning flights are less desirable.
- I need to get to DFW in the late afternoon if at all possible rather than arriving after dinner.
- I want the best combination of seat comfort, short travel time and total travel price.
- This is likely to be an award ticket based on one-way fares being ridiculous.
So I started looking at award options. United Airlines and American Airlines are the two I’m mostly considering given that they allow one-way awards at “normal” prices. FlyingBlue is an option as well, thanks to being an AmEx Membership Rewards transfer partner. And I know I’m going to have at least one connection en route; I’d like to keep it at just one if at all possible, both for the sake of total travel time and likelihood of getting where I need to be. So, what are the contenders today?
United has a nonstop flight from Hamburg to Newark on a 757-200. It leaves Hamburg at the relatively reasonable time of 9am and gets me to Dallas at 4:21pm. I can get Economy Plus seats on both segments and the layover in Newark isn’t so bad. United prices at 30,000 for a one-way TATL award these days and this particular trip comes with taxes of $95.
Some like to hate on the 752 for TATL travel but I don’t mind it at all. Especially if it saves me total travel time. And I’ve done it so often (including this particular route) that I’m mostly used to it by now.
American Airlines has the awesomeness which is off-peak awards to and from Europe. And the season on those lasts until May 15th for 2015 which means I can get the discounted award. Only 20,000 miles is a good thing. Alas, the available flight from Hamburg to London lands at City airport which means I’ve got to transfer to Heathrow on my own. I’ve done it before and even have an Oyster Card with some credit so I could make the trip work this time as well. And flying on a Dornier 328 is not something I get to do every day.
There are two flight options arriving an hour apart:
The AA option is showing as a 777 right now rather than the 77W which, as an economy class passenger, I think is a good thing. I’m very much not a fan of American’s 77W in the main cabin. But I’m not so sure that schedule is going to hold. The company has been trying to get the new planes to LHR more than not because of the upgraded premium cabins. Also, the British Airways flight gets me in to Dallas a bit earlier which is a good thing. Sure, I’d have to be at the airport rather earlier for this itinerary, but the 7:50am departure time isn’t completely unreasonable, just slightly.
So, why not take one of these two options? There’s a catch. The taxes & fees for transiting London are MUCH higher. To the tune of $100 more if I take the AA connection and $300 more ($400ish total) if I take the BA connection which is really the one I’d prefer to be on. And I’m pretty sure it is smarter to pay the 10,000 extra points versus the $300 extra dollars. Even more so when I get an extra hour of sleep.
The United Airlines website won’t show the Lufthansa non-stop flight from Frankfurt to Dallas as part of a connecting itinerary for some reason. it won’t even price as a multi-city online. But I know I can force the routing to work via the call center. It roughly matches the price of the United award (~$30 more in taxes/fees) but saves 90 minutes in travel time.
It also means an 11 hour TATL westbound flight on a Lufthansa A430-300 in economy with roughly zero chance of extra legroom seating. That’s hurting a bit on the comfort factor, though it does win for total travel time and reasonable arrival time in Dallas. Also, the FRA-DFW route is a new one for me. Then again, so is LHR-DFW.
I almost hesitate to mention this because of the flight timing, but I’ve got a stash of AmEx points and moving them to FlyingBlue is pretty easy for award redemptions. And they price at 25k one-way which is cheaper than the United awards, though taxes are a bit higher.
The added connection in Atlanta plus the higher total cost and not arriving into Dallas until well after dinner mostly has this one nixed from consideration, though the 10:50am start in Hamburg is nice from a partying the night before perspective.
So, which is the “best” choice here? I have my views, naturally, but I’m curious which one y’all think is best. Make a solid argument for one of the options and convince me. I’m truly curious which way you’d fly.
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.