Getting To Amsterdam Comfortably

airline ticket hacks
As if choosing a river cruise wasn’t difficult enough, travelers also have to figure out how to get themselves to Europe, and those who are anything like me, want to get there comfortably. I’ve written lots about how to save on business-class air, and many of those strategies work. For my upcoming barge trip out of Paris and Dream Cruise out of Amsterdam, I find myself challenged on lowering the cost of business class air. For a Rhine cruise in 2021, I this post to learn how I did it. to get to Amsterdam. I know that’s hard to believe, but the proof is is in the pudding. Check out this post to learn how I did it.
For my Burgundy barge trips last spring, I was faced with a $5,000 roundtrip business class ticket. In Saving A Fortune On Business Class Air & Other Tips For New Adventures, I outlined how I eventually paid the equivalent of just over $1,500 by using points.

The hacks to saving money on business class air is not straightforward. Sometimes you simply need to look for a different routing. For a trip out of Venice in 2019, I routed through Copenhagen for big savings, plus the bonus of visiting another city on the way to the Adriatic. For other trips, I’ve used loyalty points, but for many the trick is how to obtain those points. Signing up for lucrative credit card offers is one way. Purchasing points when they are on sale is another way. 

My quest for low-cost business class air nearly always begins on Google flights. Some advise using “Private Window” in Apple’s Safari browser, “Incognito” in Google Chrome or use a browser like Duck, Duck Go, a search engine that does not track your searches or browsing history, and blocks trackers and ads from companies. The speculation is that air consolidators and search engines “see” that you’re looking for flights on a particular date and on subsequent searches will raise the fare. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s plausible, and so I opt for the privacy methods and “hiding” my searches.

For my barge trip, I need to be in Paris on or around May 12 and fly home end of May. Google Flights shows me fares all in excess of $5,000 roundtrip for business class. I’ve reserved a seat on Delta using points, which can be redeposited with no fee. But I’m not happy about parting with 442,000 points when last year I used 167,000 on equivalent flights for my Burgundy barge trips. I’ll continue my quest and report back.

For my Dream Cruise, I need to be in Amsterdam on September 30 and out of Zurich on October 17. I am finding fares on American beginning at $3,821 per person in business class or $2,486 in premium economy. As I have noted before, I am 6’5″. My legs beg for business class. If I had to choose I would fly premium economy over and business class coming back. That’s because the return flight from Europe to the East Coast typically takes about 10 hours, while the flight to Europe, aided by the prevailing jet stream, often takes eight hours or less.

Some of the folks on my Dream Cruise are savvy travelers. One couple is flying Iceland Air. There’s no business class on Iceland Air, and when that couple arrives in Amsterdam, we’ll get their verdict as to whether Saga Class is anything close to business class on other carriers.

Another couple was thrilled that through American Express Travel (using benefits from their Platinum card) to find business class for two on British Airways for $7,100. That gets them from Austin to Amsterdam and from Zurich back to Austin. 

One other couple booked Newark-Frankfurt, with a short hopper to Amsterdam, and a return from Zurich-Newark – all for $6,148 per person. They booked on Lufthansa’s website to fly its Star Alliance partner United Airlines. Booking the same flight on United’s website would have cost more. Go figure. 

This is all to say that there is no one direct approach to getting cheap business class air. Often, getting what you feel is good value, requires a series of strategies—and a great deal of patience.

We’d love to hear your strategies. Please let us know in the comments section below or email us via our contact form.

Navigating Airline Fees: Fly Smart and Save

Recently, we wrote about a significant reduction in most airline fares – with flights to Budapest from our town of Asheville, North Carolina now costing less than half of what they were at the beginning of the year. While these fares are enticing,  there can often be sticker shock once all fees and taxes are added to the ticket. From baggage fees and seat-selection fees to in-flight services and high-cost airport restaurants and kiosks, flying can really rack up extra costs. Here are some tips on how to avoid paying more for your next flight. 

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