My wife Shelly told me the other day that she wants to go on a Viking River Cruise in Europe. She had just watched a TV commercial for Viking River Cruises so she said Steve, let’s go. After some discussion and internet searching we decided on a cruise up the Rhine River starting in Amsterdam, Netherlands and ending at Basel, Switzerland.
Before booking the cruise, I went on the Alaska Airlines website to check out award flights. This article is about how that search went and what I discovered during my searching. We needed to search for an “open-jaw” itinerary for this booking. If you are not familiar with an “open-jaw” booking, here is a brief explanation:
If you fly from Point A to Point B and return back to Point A, that is a round-trip flight.
If you fly from Point A to Point B and return from Point C back to Point A, that is an “open-jaw” trip. Air transportation for cruises are usually “open-jaw”.
We were looking for premium cabin seats and found first class availability both ways on British Airways. I know what you’re thinking, British Airways first class is the best business class flying. To British Airways credit regarding business class, the new Club World suites are a major improvement over the eight-across, “ying-yang” seating from the previous decade. British Airways has improved their soft-product in first class so we decided to go British Airways first class. The fees for business class and first class were the same. The mileage redemption for both was nearly the same.
The problem with booking British Airways award tickets is that British Airways charges a carrier imposed fee (used to be called “fuel surcharge” until the price of fuel went down) on top of the required taxes and fees. I am writing this post because I stumbled on a way to reduce the dreaded carrier imposed fees. Let me take you through the booking process that I used and I will show you how changing the search method lowered the amount of carrier imposed charges by $330.00 per person.
I first started with a search on Alaska Airlines booking engine using the “multi-city” booking feature. This is the feature that you have to use to do an “open-jaw” search. We were going to fly from Portland, OR (PDX) to Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS) and fly back to Portland, OR from Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH). You must also choose the “use miles” option or the booking engine will not understand any airport outside of Alaska Airlines route system.
Here are the results from the first search:
The total cost of this booking in first class is 140,000 miles and $1,368.00 in taxes, fees and carrier imposed charges per person. Note that the total cost for the return flight is $718.00. I decided to try this again as two one-way flights. Here is what what I did and what I found:
The total cost of this booking in first class is 140,000 miles and $1,038.00 in taxes, fees and carrier imposed charges per person. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me so I tried booking all flights as one-ways and it worked. We were able to save a total of $660.00 for this “open-jaw” booking. It pays to take a second look by changing the search method. I don’t know if doing this will work every time but at least this time, it worked.