If you’re going to Munich, Germany, you should consider a stop in Mozart’s hometown of Salzburg, Austria. The travel time between the two European cities by rail is only two hours so it is easy to see both in one trip. You could also rent a car if you want to try the legendary Autobahn, which, contrary to popular belief does have speed limits.
But there are no limits on how to get there on award tickets. Even in the heat of the peak season, you should not have a problem getting to the capital of Germany. On some carriers you may have to change planes or even fly into another city and then go by rail or car to Munich. Here’s the skinny.
If you are looking for bargains and can travel off season, begin your search for an award ticket with American or US Airways miles. These airlines have great rates for booking. A normal roundtrip Saver award to Europe is 60,000 miles, but American and US Airways have better deals.
- American Airlines off-peak rates to Europe: 40,000 AAdvantage miles from October 15 to May 15.
- US Airways off-peak rates to Europe: 35,000 Dividend miles from January 15 to February 28.
American allows you to use this discount on their own flights as well as the partners. US Airways does not extend their discount to any other airlines.
If you want to in book an AAdvantage or Dividend Miles award flight, but cannot find availability on these two carriers, look to their oneworld partner, Air Berlin.
Air Berlin flies to 23 German cities out of New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Fort Myers, but it does not fly directly to Munich (neither does American), so you will have a layover. They usually have excellent award ticket availability and do not add fuel surcharges. One downside, though, is they pack a lot of people in coach. If you have flown low-costs carrier Spirit Airlines, you get the idea.
US Airways flies to Munich non-stop from Philadelphia.
Avoid American partner British Airways when you are booking a flight across the ocean. They add hundreds of dollars of fuel surcharges to an award ticket.
In Star Alliance the German skies are dominated by Lufthansa and United. Availability ranges from decent to very good, even during the high season, but there are no off-peak discounts.
On the plus side, they do have direct flights to Munich from New York/Newark, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Houston. Lufthansa flies to Munich from New York, Charlotte, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The Saver rate is 60,000 miles.
There is no Germany-based carrier in SkyTeam, so you should use Delta or a combination of Delta and another European partner. Delta has direct flights to Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich (from Atlanta), and Stuttgart.
Finding Saver Award availability with Delta is always an adventure, especially during the summer, so don’t get upset if you cant find anything for the dates you want. The Saver rate is the same 60,000 miles, and there are no off-peak discounts, either.
If you cant find the flight to the city you want, its not a big deal.
Germany has a state-of-the-art railway system called ICE. Their trains develop speeds up to 200 miles per hour. The trains are very comfortable, and getting from one place to another is a breeze.