When taxes on a free ticket are just TOO expensive; what to do?

When taxes on a free ticket are just TOO expensive… what to do?

Well,  it’s very frustrating and even disheartening I would say, when you finally accumulate the miles you want on an airline you like, to fly to a destination you hope to visit, only to find out that the taxes and fees on your free ticket, are almost as expensive as a paid ticket would have been anyway.

For example, AA, American Airlines is a horrible company to use to fly to Europe on miles, because they insist on routing you through London Heathrow, and then you must pay in the vicinity of $500 for taxes and fees, and that price is just SO not worth it!

One alternative is to use the miles on a partner airline, or, to simply fly to a different destination. I like to use my 60,000 AA miles to go to southern South America- for starters, Buenos Aires, Argentina or Santiago, Chile.  Then the taxes barely cost $60, and that’s round-trip, not a rip-off!

Unfortunately, there’s a similar situation with Lufthansa.  I hoped to use those 60,000 miles for a nice Croatian visit, but no, no matter which routing I tried, the cost of taxes and fees, again, runs from $497 to about $538 per person! PLEASE…give us a break.

One solution is to fly on their partner Turkish Airways (I LOVE their flights.)  Then the taxes and fees are closer to $200, but, the flight times are longer, and I think I would rather just visit Turkey and not have to connect anywhere else in Europe.  They have terrible connecting flight times for almost all of their European destinations.  And I’ve gone to Turkey a lot, and even recently, too, so I will wait a couple of years before I return to that enchanting land.

Figuring I hadn’t been to Spain in a while and my travel partner yearns to check out Scotland, it seems like that’s a nice combination for our next European brief sojourn (probably 5 days in each country).  And we can connect between Edinburgh and Seville easily enough, and cheaply enough.  Ryanair will take us direct non-stop (on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the summer months) .

flamenco many

But first we need our transatlantic passage.  Air Canada seems like a good prospect, they are a Lufthansa partner, too, and their connecting flight times from Boston-Toronto-Edinburgh are pretty good.

Excited to have learned this, I had looked forward to today, Saturday, my day off, to prepare the framework of this trip BUT, I saw again, as often is the case, that you cannot book partner airlines flights online, you must call and do this with a person at a toll-free number.

Lufthansa’s Miles and More department, however, is only open on Monday through Friday, 800a.m. – 10:00p.m., so, no fun trip-planning today. 😦

It was also not fun being on hold a long time to get a person at Lufthansa’s regular number 1-800-645-3880 to find this out, and that you have to contact 1-800-581-6400, which is their Miles and More number, during the week.

Well, fingers crossed now, that I can get through to them on Monday night, and maybe with even more luck, they will have 2 seats available on all 4 flights that I need, to book us the itinerary that we want.

Stay tuned for I will keep you posted.

Guten abend…

…Guten tag, today is Friday, although frankly, I don’t see what’s so guten about it.  I’m now thinking that Lufthansa could compete with LATAM for the LEAST USER-FRIENDLY WEBSITE and WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE for booking flights with miles, and I’m starting to wonder if they have simply outsourced the entire Miles-and-More program to another lesser company, because they just don’t give a hoot (hoot obviously being a euphemism here).

Where to begin with today’s complaints?  Well, when I called the correct number on Tuesday morning, it was hard to find flights around the dates I wanted, on Air Canada, but there were some similar ones available on United using Lufthansa miles, BUT, once again, they cannot be booked on the website, only through the special phone number, and only Mon-Fri: 8 am-10 pm, what a pain.  So, great news that there were flights with 2 seats available at 60,000 miles each, BUT, once again,  a total RIP-OFF once you add in the tax and fees, for a grand total of $535 PER PERSON. So, not an alternative after all.

Now I am really starting to HATE LUFTHANSA (or at least their website) as much as I HATE LATAM (‘s website, too).  And I hate to say hate, but there’s no other word that conveys enough passion and feeling about what a lousy job they are doing in how they treat their customers.

To be continued…oh, here we are again, weeks later here is my followup.  This was a very frustrating process, but all’s well that ends well, and although we did have to change our intended travel plans to preserve our sanity- or what little is left of it, we love the idea of what we have ended up with. Here’s why.

Using Lufthansa miles, I found that the flights to or through Europe, even on partners like Swiss, or Air Canada, still charge $530 and more for taxes, fees and surcharges, but Turkish Air offers a much better deal.

So, we decided to go back to Turkey, and see places other than Istanbul, that have also been on our list for a while. Although I found plenty of available dates online for going into and out from Izmir and/or Antalya, the incoming flights only were available on Turkish, with Lufthansa miles, but the outgoing were only available on Lufthansa.

I also learned that you can not book a Multi City ticket on Lufthansa’s website, you must call them (no additional charge) and when I called, 4 times, because the first 3 people were a bit stubborn and/or not so bright and told me that none of my possible return dates were available in economy class, despite the fact that the website showed that they were, luckily for me, the 4th person had her act together and gave me a great piece of advice: Book two One Way tickets: it’s essentially the same as booking a Multi City, but you do it in 2 steps. And it worked!  We will fly Boston to Istanbul to Izmir on Turkish Air (and get to visit Ephesus, finally!), with taxes and fees of only $85.80 per person, but we have to take Lufthansa back, from Antalya (and even see Pamukkale and Hieropolis, Aspendos and Side!) to Munich to Boston, and those taxes and fees are $232 per person!

Still, the total is much better than over $500, AND it includes checked luggage, and that’s worth at least 100 bucks now round-trip anyway, and we can connect to cities other than Istanbul with our miles. Don’t get me wrong, Istanbul is one of my favorite cities in the world, but, no time during this trip.

We got the dates and itinerary we wanted, so I’m happy as a clam. And, I learned about Sun Express- a co-venture by Lufthansa and Turkish Air and we will fly them from Izmir to Antalya because it will save us lots of time over alternative means of transport.  And the price was only $38 per person, and this included a meal, an upgrade to seats with extra legroom, checked luggage and priority boarding. Go figure!

Sometimes, it just pays to be flexible…

Oh, and the hotels, you wonder?  Yes, well, another great couple of deals await us.  We are holding a reservation for 5 nights (for the points price of 4 ) for free at the Izmir Hilton, and we are also holding a reservation for 4 nights (combining 2 anniversary free nights with 2 free because of points nights) at the Crown Plaza Antalya.

If only world peace were as easily attainable….

t.c.

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