I’ve been planning to run the Berlin Marathon for almost three years. Postponed in 2020 and somewhat limited in 2021, finally it was on for 2022. More than just a flying for the race, it became a family trip, and my wife and daughter joined me. My parents met us there as well, so it was a big trip for all of us. Somewhat of a partial make up for past plans that never happened. I’ll talk about various parts of my trip in more detail later.
As I always prefer, and especially before and after a marathon, I wanted to travel as comfortably as possible, so we were lucky to find award space (for 3 of us) in both directions. We flew outbound on Turkish Airlines, with the long trans-Atlantic flight on their relatively new business class on the Boeing 787-9. For the return, we flew Qatar Airways Business Class. Flew out of our way in both directions, but the comfortable ride made up for the extra time, at least for me.
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Berlin, one of my favorite hotels, and with a work trip earlier this year, I’ve spent a lot of time in suites at this hotel this year. My parents joined us here as well, on a Guest of Honor booking. Great location in Berlin near Potsdamer Platz, and very convenient to the marathon course for me as a runner and my family as spectators.
Admittedly this this trip cost a lot of points, but very little cash, and I really have no regrets. I was happy to use my points for this.
How did I book this trip to Berlin?
I feel like I’ve been planning travel for this trip forever. Since I was originally planning on the September 2020 race, I’ve had various flights booked on and off for several years. For 2022 travels, originally I booked economy class on American as soon as it opened up just to have something. Countless flight changes, especially the BA flights from Heathrow. At some point in late 2021, I was looking for better options when I found the outbound flights on Turkish Airlines. Booked with United Miles, 77,000 miles plus $11.80 per person for Business class between Chicago and Berlin connecting in Istanbul. A little bit out of way, but I was glad to fly Turkish Airlines again.
The Grand Hyatt Berlin costs 15,000 points per night, and although it was full during our stay, mostly with marathoners, I was able to add a room for my parents a few months before the race using my points. Nightly rates approaching €1000, so I’m happy with that deal.
Flying home, I had more trouble finding good flights, but eventually I decided to splurge on a routing with Qatar Airways. Using American miles, booked as separate awards, since Europe to USA via Doha is not a valid award routing. This made it more expensive, and flight times aren’t ideal, but it was comfortable, and I was glad to have my wife and daughter experience the lovely Qatar onboard service. This trip cost 42,500 AA miles + $55 for Berlin to Doha, and 70,000 + $67 per person for Doha to Chicago. It was fun to experience the new Qatar business class seat on the Boeing 787-9. Great service, and the seat is good, but not great. That 787 cabin is just too narrow for many modern flat bed products. Many more details to come.
I’ve run a lot of marathons through the years, but it has been nearly a decade since my last one. I’m pleased that a made it through training and the race without injury. I’ve spent a lot of time in Berlin, but running is a great way to explore a city, and doing so on marathon day was a great experience. People definitely show up to watch the race, and it was nice to get lots of words of congratulations after the race from locals. I may have missed out on some more, as lots of people were wearing their finisher medals in the days after the race. Oh well.
I’ll have more detailed reviews of the parts of this trip, including the long flights on Turkish and Qatar. Also, the lovely stay at the Grand Hyatt Berlin which I upgraded to a great suite. It was a special trip, made even more so since I was able to share with my family.