I had a few meetings scheduled in the United States (Chicago, Los Angeles, Santa Clara and the Bay Area) and in Canada (Vancouver) end of May and in early June. Since 2012 was a year, where I did not need to requalify for my Senator Status with Lufthansa, I wanted to use award miles, especially those in my British Midland Diamond Club account.
But I wanted also benefit from the merger of BA and BMI and get an Executive Club Silver Status the easy way and probably for a longer time, given the experience with recent mergers of airlines. My plan was to earn 16000 status miles on British Midland's Diamond Club on this trip, which should get me BA Executive Silver Status. Nothing was confirmed about how both programs were merged, so it was a bit of gambling as I began with the planing of the trip. The best earn ratio for the best fare price would be flying on US Airways in an Instant upgrade fare from Seattle to San Juan, primary for the purpose of earning miles and credit them to my BD account. This would get me over the threshold I needed for Silver Status.
But than the merger was announced and everything happened earlier than I had expected and also a lot faster. The last day to credit flights from Star Alliance Partner airlines to BMI'S Diamond Club was May 31, 2012 – except for flights on Lufthansa, which could not be credited to BMI anymore end of April. Unfortunately I could not leave Germany prior to May 28, I was a couple of days too late. Luckily I had nothing booked yet …
But this announcement gave me a bit more flexibility to book the award and this was necessary as the award availability was far from good.
I had to be in Chicago and Vancouver and so I searched for flights with a stopover in Chicago. Availability over the Atlantic in general were not the best, but the usual destinations like Detroit, Houston or Dallas / Fort Worth had better award availability than the direct flight into New York or Chicago. A Business Class award on Frankfurt – Dallas Fort Worth was available and also Dallas / Fort Worth to Chicago on the same day. So the flights to Chicago were no problem. Chicago to Vancouver was a bit more difficult and I needed some flexibility regarding the flight times and days. But in the end, it worked quite well. I booked an one way award with BMI with a stopover in Chicago on my way to Vancouver for 33750 Miles (+ taxes).
The flight back from Vancouver or the West Coast in general to Europe was quite difficult. Lufthansa had not really any award availability which fits into my schedule. If you do not live at one of Lufthansa’s big hubs Frankfurt or Munich, you have to transfer anyway. This means, it does not really matter if you transfer in Frankfurt or Munich but could also transfer in Zurich or Vienna. You will than still fly Star Alliance Partner Airlines Swiss and Austrian. But why not look at the hubs in Amsterdam, Paris or London? And so did I. But neither United nor Air Canada had any availability and also SAS and LOT were not available.
Usually I am flying Star Alliance Airlines, but this does not mean that one could not try different airlines and different airline alliances from time to time. But why not have a look at the competitors. And since I wanted to try British Airways anyway, I searched for award flights on the BA Exectuve Club homepage and to my very surprise, they had award seats on most days on their flight from Vancouver to London available. A connecting flight into Düsseldorf was also not a problem, though it meant more miles to use.
It was first a matter of award availability, but in the end it was also a comparison of different airlines from different airlines alliances. Transatlantic Business Class longhaul flights were on Lufthansa from Germany to the Dallas / Fort Worth and back from Vancouver to London on British Airways.
Flights within North America were on United in Business / First and Economy and on Air Canada in Economy Class some as part of the award, some booked and other using orphan miles in other accounts.