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How I Did It: A Long Weekend in Central Europe for Next to Nothing

Hi Travel Junkies,

I’m headed to Europe again, this time on a first-class flight to Prague and Vienna for the long weekend.

I’ll also be flying home in first class, as well as staying in some pretty amazing hotels while over here.

And I did it all for next to nothing, thanks to the wonderful world of points/miles.

Here’s how I did it.

Columbus to Prague – First Class for 62,500 American Airlines Miles and $196.00

Columbus to Prague

Typically, when I travel to Europe during the winter months I take advantage of American Airlines off-peak economy rate of 20,000 miles each way. But first class availability was just too good to pass up in this case.

(Note: American has made a few changes to their off-peak awards starting on March 22, 2016. Check out their new award chart for more details)

This price of this first class seat is also about to jump to 85,000 AA miles each way, making this a no-brainer for me.

And finally, we are also only going to be in Europe for ~4 days on this trip. So getting a good night’s sleep on the way there is crucial.

I originally booked business class flights for my wife and I but the timing and route was just plain awful. They were just 50,000 AA miles and ~$100 each.

The business class flights also would have been on one of American Airlines’ older 777 planes, which looks like this:

Old AA 777 Business Class

Whereas for an additional 12,500 miles (62,500 total) I could upgrade to this:

New AA 777 Business Class

Like I said, no-brainer.

Here are the receipts.

AA Point Redemption

Taxes and Fees

My wife and I earned the required AA miles thanks to sign up bonus/spending rewards from the American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum MasterCard, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard, and bonus miles from opening a Citigold checking account.

The fees on this itinerary are a little higher than normal ($196 each) because we will be flying one leg on British Airways, who is known to lump hefty fees on award bookings.

But for the opportunity to fly in American’s Flagship First Class I’m fine with it.

 

Augustine, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Prague – 12,000 Starpoints per Night

After doing a little bit of research on Prague hotels I decided to stay at the Augustine, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Prague.

Augustine Prague Hotel

The Augustine is a Starwood property, meaning I could cash in my favorite hotel currency (Starpoints) to book 2 free nights there.

Augustine Prague Hotel 2

Augustine Prague Hotel 3

I had more than enough Starpoints to book 2 nights at this beautiful property, so that’s exactly what I did.

Here is a copy of the receipt.

Starpoints Receipt

Starwood doesn’t charge taxes and fees on award bookings, meaning my 2 nights at the Augustine will be absolutely free (minus the inevitable glass of scotch or two in that beautiful, cave-like hotel bar).

 

Prague to Vienna by train for $25

Prague to Vienna Train

After a couple of days in Prague we will be taking a short train ride to Vienna before flying home.

I’m a little light on Czech Railways points these days (yes, that’s sarcasm) so I had to pay for this one out of pocket.

It was only 607 Czech Republic Koruna, which is ~$25.

Peague to Vienna Train Receipt

Typically I would use points from a card like the Capital One Venture to cover charges like this but I am fresh out of points thanks to a recent trip to Spain and Portugal.

 

Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna – 12,000 Starpoints per Night

I must be a sucker for the “Luxury Collection” because I decided to stay at Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna for my two nights in Austria.

This is one of the finest hotels in all of Vienna and yes, a Starwood property.

With the upcoming Marriott-Starwood merger I am burning through Starpoints like they’re going out of style. No one knows for sure what will happen when the two programs inevitably merge but I’m not going to take any chances.

Hotel Bristol Vienna

Hotel Bristol Vienna 2

Hotel Bristol Vienna 3

Like the Augustine in Prague, free nights at the Hotel Bristol can be booked with 12,000 Starpoints per night.

Here is a copy of my receipt.

Hotel Bristol Vienna Receipt

And also like the Augustine (and every other Starwood property), the Bristol does not charge any taxes and fees on award bookings.

Meaning my expenses will be limited to any hotel incidentals.

My wife and I earned our Starpoints thanks to the signup bonuses/spending rewards earned from the Starwood Preferred Guest and Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Cards, which are offered by American Express.

 

Vienna to Columbus – First Class for 62,500 American Airlines Miles and $102.05

Vienna to Columbus

And because I fully plan on being spoiled by a first-class flight to Europe, I decided to fly home in first-class as well.

Our flights route through Madrid and Dallas and cost just 62,500 American Miles and $102.05 each.

Meaning the total cost for 2 first class, round-trip flights to Europe was a cool 250,000 American Miles and $596.10.

Not bad for what would be easily $15,000+ of airfare. Here is the receipt:

Vienna to Columbus Flight Receipt Vienna to Columbus Taxes

And there you have it! A long weekend in Prague and Vienna for a fraction of the cash price.

Time for a pilsner (or 4). Talk to you next week.

 

Happy Travels,

Bryce

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