One thing you may know already, is that I love stopovers. I think it’s the future of the game and many of the lesser known airline programs have really generous stopover rules. I’ll share more about that soon but Lufthansa is a case and point. They allow two stopovers and two open-jaws.
This is way more generous than most of our domestic airlines and yet they have some sweet spots in their award chart. North America to Europe roundtrip for 50,000 miles is particularly a good deal. Two stopovers for 50,000 miles is a steal. An absolute steal. And as always, a stopover can be as long as you want. This essentially gives 3 Europe destinations.
This is purely speculation as they don’t publish their rules, but I have the feeling that they are stricter about the term “open-jaws” than others. They may not let you add them where you’d like to. But who knows…
The catch with Lufthansa is that they pass on fuel surcharges from the airlines. Despite common info, there are a number of airlines that don’t have fuel surcharges in the Star Alliance (LOT not being one of them, although their YQ is lower). All flights (except Air Canada) from North America to North/South America are without fuel surcharges. And all flights on US Airways and Air New Zealand are without fuel surcharges.
What this means?
Well, US Airways has a ton of routes to Europe, so there are a ton of options to completely avoid fuel surcharges and still see Europe for 50,000 miles. And now you can add two stopovers! Pretty sweet, right?
It’s sweet but not quite perfect. The problem is that stopovers can not be made in the region of Origin, which means they need to be made in Europe (or wherever you’re flying to). The problem being that US Airways has no intra-Europe flights and you can’t completely avoid fuel surcharges and maximize stopovers.
So the first international leg to your first stop could be on US Airways but the segment after would have to be a European Airline with high fuel surcharges. A Lufthansa flight from Germany to Turkey could be $100 in fuel.
The other problem is that you’re now paying for every airport tax for every airport you stop at. In Europe these airport taxes can be as much as $100.
So in someways, stopovers are adding a lot of costs. But things like airport taxes are unavoidable and the price of fuel is still cheaper than a straight up ticket. But if you’re still an absurd cheapo like me, you have a few options.
1) Fly to Central America/South America/Caribbean or the Pacific islands on Air New Zealand.
All of these options would be void of fuel surcharges. Just don’t use miles for expensive redemptions. Unless you only use your miles in one place, surely you’ll be able to find another use.
2) Some airlines are cheaper. Check!
Turkish or LOT might be $40 on the same route that Lufthansa is $100. Aegean seems to be super low, like less than $6 on the same route. Although, that kind of sums up the cheaper European options. Turkish (based in Istanbul, Turkey), LOT (based in Warsaw, Poland), and Aegean (based in Athens, Greece) seem to be the cheapest intra-Europe options. So routing through one of these places makes sense, check to see how much money it will save. (When looking on ITA Matrix, simply click through and look at the price for the “YQ” or “YR”).
3) Check airport taxes using ITA Matrix or something.
I’d really hate to tell someone not to go to London if that’s somewhere you’d want to go but know that no mater what program you use, you’re going to have to pay $100 in Airport taxes at LHR.
If you’re booking a ticket from the US to Rome with a stopover in Athens and Paris… well first of all you would have to make Rome a stopover before Athens and Paris after Athens. This would make Athens your furthest point, putting it in the middle to make it your destination and Paris would technically be a stopover as it’s on the way back.
If you want to route through Athens to save money, you have to make your destination Athens or an airport further away, like Istanbul. Unlike United, you can’t route though a city that isn’t on the way.
But the reality is that even these short hauls can be expensive flights and I’m sure any flight with two stopovers will be a “good deal”. I still recommend taking a US Airways flight to Europe, which means you’ll need to connect in Philadelphia (although there is a limit of two connections on most flights).
Any of the no fuel surcharge options are good uses in my opinion, especially if you’re adding two stopovers. Even domestic flights (which don’t all stopovers) are good choices. And 50,000 is a great price for a roundtrip to Europe. Try to stick to US Airways and if you make stopovers, stick to Aegean in Athens.