5 Ways to redeem airline miles for Oktoberfest in Munich

People frequently ask me about airline mileage programs and since I'm not an expert on that topic I usually refer them to my friend John DiScala, who is better known in the travel biz as Johnny Jet. He runs a popular site that is loaded with tips and tricks for getting the most out of mileage programs and flights in general. The following is a guest article from John that many should find useful.

Since 1810, Oktoberfest has been an annual tradition in Munich for both locals and world travelers alike. If you enjoy good beer, camaraderie, and new cultural experiences, a fall trip to Munich is a must. Whether you stay for one afternoon or all 16 days, you can redeem airline miles to attend one of the world's largest Volksfest!

Since Munich is one of the more expensive airports to fly into (especially during Oktoberfest), redeeming airline miles for award flights can give you a good return on investment.

Oktoberfest Munich Dates

Most people think Oktoberfest is held entirely during the month of October but the festival actually begins in September and ends on the first Sunday in October. This year's festivities begin September 22 and end on October 7, 2018.

In 2019, Oktoberfest is scheduled to run from September 21 to October 6.

Ways to Redeem Airline Miles for Oktoberfest

There are many ways to get to Munich in time for Oktoberfest. But, you don't want to burn through all of your airline miles in the process. To get the best award seat availability, you should try to book your seat as soon as possible. If you haven’t already saved up miles for this year, plan ahead for next fall by utilizing one of the best credit cards for travel miles until then.

Note that even if you finalize your flight plans at the last minute, you can still book an award flight. In addition to looking at the total number of points required, you also need to factor any fuel surcharges, fees and taxes into the ticket cost. Flying Aer Lingus or a legacy U.S. carrier is an easy way to sidestep the fuel surcharge fees to save your travel budget.

Fly on Aer Lingus for 19,500 Avios

With Aer Lingus, you will have to book two separate flights, but it can be one of the cheapest options to get to Munich. Thankfully, the entire Oktoberfest dates are in the Aer Lingus off-peak season so you get the reduced rate for both flights.

Your first step is crossing the pond from either a Zone 5 (13,000 Avios) or Zone 6 (16,250 Avios) airport to Dublin. Once you arrive in Dublin, you will pay 6,500 Avios to land in Munich. This cheapest flight combination costs 19,500 miles in economy class and 62,750 for business class each way.

If possible, try to fly from one of these Zone 5 airports to save a few points:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Hartford
  • Newark
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • Toronto
  • Washington

The Zone 6 airports are Miami, Orlando, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. You can expect to pay 22,750 Avios for each direction in economy class. You're still paying about 8,000 miles less than any other airline. Plus, unlike other international carriers, Aer Lingus doesn't charge a fuel surcharge on long-haul flights.

Now that Aer Lingus is a Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards partner, it's easier than ever to book award flights.

United Airlines Award Flights Start at 30,000 Miles

United Airlines Saver Award flights can be one of the best options to fly to Germany because you pay a fixed rate price and you don't pay fuel surcharge fees. However, there are only so many Saver seats available. The seats in business and first class disappear quickly.

A one-way economy flight starts at 30,000 miles plus $5.60 in taxes and fees. Business class flights cost 60,000 miles each way.

If a Saver Award flight isn't available, you'll have to pay up to 70,000 miles per flight for economy class and 155,000 miles for an Everyday Award flight. United Everyday Awards have a floating cost so these award seats can be cheaper on some days than others. Although the Everyday Awards are still better than paying cash, always look for Saver Award seats first.

Regardless of which seat class you book, you may have to pay a close-in award booking fee within 21 days of departure. United Club Card members can avoid this fee, or book your award flight at least three weeks in advance.

Fly American Airlines for 30,000 Miles

Flying American Airlines to Oktoberfest is still going to fall in the peak season range. An economy flight costs 30,000 miles each way, similar to United Airlines. If you live near an American hub or the United Saver flights are already booked, this is a similar alternative.

A business class flight costs 57,500 miles each way. If available, first-class flights cost 85,000 miles each way.

Book an Around the World Reward Ticket with Aeroplan

When you have the time to take a world tour, you should consider the Aeroplan Around the World Reward. You can have a maximum of 5 stopovers and 1 open jaw per ticket and only pay the following:

  • Economy: 200,000 miles
  • Premium Economy: 250,000 miles
  • Business Class: 300,000 miles
  • First Class: 400,000 miles

You can also fly on an Aeroplan partner (like Air Canada) to Munich too. Munich falls into Aeroplan's Europe 1 category, which means a single round-trip economy ticket costs 120,000 miles. This is one of the more expensive award flight options.

Fly Into Frankfurt and Take the Train

If you can't find any cheap award flights to Munich, another popular alternative airport is Frankfurt (FRA). Frankfurt is a three-hour train ride to Munich. Although it might take longer to travel by train, you can enjoy the countryside as you enter Bavaria.

You might also be able to book a short haul flight into Munich to save the train ride too. Since you're already flying from a European city, you don't have to worry about fuel surcharges.

Two Best Programs to Quickly Accumulate Airline Miles

Most of these frequent flyer programs also happen to be credit card rewards transfer partners. If your rewards credit card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards, you can transfer your miles on a 1:1 basis.

Point transfers can be significantly easier than trying to book partner flights. You have multiple redemption options in case your go-to airline is booked for your travel dates.

Chase is currently transfer partners with Aer Lingus and United. These are probably two of the best award flight options because of the low point requirements. American Express offers 1:1 transfers for Aeroplan. You also transfer your points to British Airways to book an Aer Lingus partner flight, but you will have to call the customer service rep to complete the reservation.

Don't forget to check your credit cards with mileage rewards for exclusive member events. You might be able to book special Oktoberfest experiences while you're visiting.

Summary

You can fly directly to Munich for Oktoberfest at a reasonable rate. To get the best deal, you will probably have to redeem your airline miles for a two-legged flight by first flying into another European airport like Dublin or Frankfurt. Regardless of how you get to Munich, there are options so that you don't have to pay cash for your flight.




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