I recently learned that, due to a clerical oversight, I had an additional week of vacation from my “day job” which I would forfeit if I did not use by the end of the year. I decided to take the opportunity to book a trip to Frankfurt.
This time of year, which is
known as “the shoulder season”, flights are cheaper than the summer or even
when my wife and I were looking at traveling in September. Since we actually
enjoy cooler, damp weather, going to Frankfurt in December is just fine.
During the shoulder season, fares
represent a real value. When we were considering a September trip, round-trip
passage on Lufthansa from Seattle (SEA) to Frankfurt am Main (FRA) was about
$1,600 per economy ticket; the same flights in December – before the Christmas
season – are less than $1,200.
I decided to use some of my
accrued United Airlines MileagePlus miles and travel business class, which is
always what I prefer for longer trips. In addition to traveling on a carrier I
have not experienced before, which I always enjoy, being of German heritage
will make Lufthansa a special treat. Of course, I will report my experiences,
as I have for Spain’s IberiaAirlines, Japan’s ANA,
I was pleasantly surprised to
learn that I could book my round-trip for 100,000 miles plus about $130 in
fees: $108 for German airport security charges and transportation taxes and $22
for U.S. Customs and Immigration fees and a 9/11 security fee. Had I purchased
that ticket, it would have cost $6,200, meaning my miles had a value of
approximately $0.06 each; well above the generally accepted standard of $0.02
to $0.04 cents per mile.
In addition, hotel room nights
will be more reasonable than during high season. I’m currently considering the
hotel ranked #3 on TripAdvisor, the Hotel Hessischer Hof. While undergoing
construction on the façade, any construction noise will be limited to the daytime
hours, so I’m not concerned about that. In addition, the staff gets
consistently high marks from other reviewers, and as I’ve noted before,
excellent service can more than make up for shortcomings in the physical
property. Within certain limits, of course, though the limits are different for
Finally, a German neighbor of mine said I must take the S-Bahn (Schnellbahn, or high-speed
train) and visit München (Munich). It
will be a fairly short trip so we shall see what develops, but Deutschland
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