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Thread: Trip Report: Weekend trip from Dallas to Hamburg and Amsterdam

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    Default Trip Report: Weekend trip from Dallas to Hamburg and Amsterdam

    Hey everybody,

    My wife and I got back from our weekend trip to Europe last night, and I wanted to give an update of how things went!

    First of all, thanks again for the last minute help from Spongebue and Long Haul! Their help was crucial to decide which flights we could/couldn't get on.

    Secondly, This was our first ZED trip outside the US (and my wife's first trip to Europe), so a lot of this was a learning experience. Instead of posting pictures of what we did (since my face is in most of them), I figured this audience would be more interested in the planning and logistics of how everything worked out. So, I'll try to explain how we went about selecting flights and other transport for each destination, and hopefully we can help out anyone else in the same situation! I'm sure we could have done things better, so I'd be curious to hear any other ideas from more seasoned travelers that would have been more efficient. I'm here to share and learn

    This is going to be a long post, so I wrote the first part today and will finish up with the rest tomorrow. This post will have the why we did it and how we went about planning logistics. Tomorrow will have the details about what we actually did in each city. Bonus: I have a friend that works in the fatigue department, and he used their fatigue simulation software to input my flight schedule, sleep quantity and quality to scientifically determine how fatigued I was by the end of it. Spoiler alert-I should NOT have driven home last night!

    Why we did it:
    It all came together last minute because I realized I had a Hyatt award night expiring at the end of March, and we were looking for new places to see. While we were originally planning to stay in the US (we looked into MSY, AUS, ORD, SFO, and a couple others), the venn diagram of A) places we could find seat availability to, and places we could find award night availability at a Hyatt, did not overlap anywhere! After feeling discouraged and planning on just letting the award night expire or stay in Dallas and just get a night away downtown at the Hyatt Regency, I came home from work last Monday to an idea from my wife-let's go to Europe for the weekend! After experiencing a multitude of emotions (starting with "that's a crazy idea, no way," and progressing quickly to "I freaking love you, let's do it!"), I began searching out flight options.

    The planning phase:
    Our first thought was to take the non-stop AA flight from DFW-CDG and spend the whole weekend in Paris. This quickly fell apart though after asking a friend who recently got hired by American how the loads looked (so hopefully I won't be bugging you for load requests as often anymore, Mig ) and he said it was already oversold.

    Since Paris wouldn't work, we started looking for hotels where we could use our award night (it could only be used at Hyatt category 1-4 hotels, so this further limited our options). To my surprise, there is a Park Hyatt in Hamburg that is category 4! Staying in a Park Hyatt is on my travel bucket list (along with scoring an upgrade on a ZED ticket, dining in a Michelin starred restaurant, and a few others), and while this hotel is not exactly the Park Hyatt Maldives, it technically checks the box .

    So our plan was to figure out the best way to get to Hamburg. A friend of a friend works for Lufthansa, and said the Friday night flight from DFW to FRA was wide open and we could connect from there to HAM on Saturday. Perfect! Step 1 taken care of. I booked the award night for Saturday night, then booked the flights on ID90. I noticed it was slightly cheaper to book the flights together, so I did it that way. My only concern was that if we made the flight from DFW-FRA, but missed our connection from FRA-HAM, could I request reimbursement for the unused leg?

    Next on the list was to figure out what to do Sunday. We were trying to keep costs down, so I was hoping to use some Hyatt points I had saved up. We looked into what other cities we could easily get to from HAM on Sunday morning that also had a Hyatt. Amsterdam came to the top of the list, since it looked like there were a lot of options to get back from there to the US on Monday. There were plenty of flight options from HAM to AMS on Sunday morning, so we booked a night on points at the Hyatt Andaz Amsterdam for Sunday night. We then booked ID90 flights on the KLM nonstop from HAM-AMS at 6:10am. This would be an early morning, but we wanted to have a full day in Amsterdam. However, we found out later this would be an even earlier morning

    Last on the list was to figure out the best way to get from AMS back to DFW. We wanted to take the 5pm flight from AMS-ATL so we could have a whole day in Amsterdam, but thanks to Long Haul's feedback, that was not a good option. The next best option was AMS-IAD at 1pm on KLM, but since it was also close to full, we waited to book return flights back to the US until Sunday night. We ended up booking tickets on the United flight to IAH, because it looked like there were plenty of seats and their app has great visibility into standby loads. From there, we booked flights on AA back to DFW.

    Alright, planning was done! And with plenty of time to spare (okay, 24 hours). So without further ado, next up is how the trip worked out in reality. I have to say, it couldn't have gone much smoother! We really lucked out, and also had extremely accommodating gate agents at every stop.

    Okay I lied, one more precursor-we purchased chocolates for the flight crews before heading to DFW. Not because we were looking to score anything (business was completely full), but because we were genuinely thankful to be able to take this trip and wanted to show our appreciation to the Crew. However, the Crew was extremely busy as we were boarding so I didn't want to hold up the line at that point. I was thinking I would wait until seated and could stop the Purser, but they were busy right up until the point we pushed back. So, how would you guys have navigated this situation? Do you usually bring treats for the flight crew, and is there a more conspicuous way to hand them over?

    Thanks for reading! I'll bulletize my trip summary tomorrow so it's not as wordy as this post was. Hopefully you enjoy!


  • The following user likes this post from bear29:

    Migflanker (01-Apr-2015)

  • #2
    Super Moderator spongebue's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Glad it all worked out! So sorry I missed your PM, but I think you would have rather flown DFW-FRA-HAM better than DFW-IAH-FRA-HAM anyway
    Spongebue - NonRev Correspondent - U.S./Midwest Region

  • #3
    Administrator Migflanker's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    LA, the city of angels & freeways
    A hotel award certificate nearing expiration is second only to wide open flights for getting the travel juices flowing.

    And Bear you know, SAN and Vegas, I got your back.
    Keep'em Flying

    Migflanker - Senior NonRev Correspondent - Los Angeles

  • The following user likes this post from Migflanker:

    browneyes142a (17-May-2015)

  • #4
    Winner! mrs767er's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    I love your "inspiration then logistics" philosophy here. I, too, tend to look at a hotel stay like the certificate or a bargain cool place as inspiration for a trip, too. I think the nerve wracking part is choosing zed and ground transportation options. i found Amazon Tree House hotel on LuxuryLink once and the logistics were so crazy, but we did it via overnights in Panama, Brazil visa and I thought we were nuts but, not so! Looking forward to Chapter 2. Great story!
    Re chocolates: my opinion is if you can't offer appreciation treat right away, then try one time before crew breaks for rest. Simple note like, "you make it look effortless, but we know you all work hard--thanks" might make it sound less like a bribe! Often, the main crew keeps a treat gift open in the central galley for them to share.
    mrs767er - NonRev Correspondent - Specialty Travel

    Wherever you go, there you are

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