Trip Report: Spring Break In Europe– Introduction

BA 777-300erBA 777-300er

Airspace Lounge San Diego
British Airways Business Class San Diego to London
British Airways  Galleries Business Class Lounge London
American Airlines Admirals Club London
British Airways Business Class London to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Economy Class Vienna to Munich
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge Munich
Austrian Airlines F-100 Economy Class Munich to Vienna
Hotel Aldstadt Vienna
JET Lounge Vienna
British Airways Business Class Vienna to London
British Airways Concorde Room London
British Airways Galeries First Class Lounge London
British Airways First Class London to San Diego

Back in June, their was an enormous British Airways fare sale from the west coast to Europe. Tickets were selling at about 21oo dollars roundtrip in business class, which on its own was pretty great. But the deal got even better when it became clear that you could use British Airways’ AARP discount on the tickets.

BA has a partnership with AARP, whereby, if you are a member of AARP, you can get a 400 dollar discount on paid premium travel on British Airways. You don’t have to be old to be a member of ¬†AARP (I’m a member, at the ripe old age of 13), and this discount can be a great deal. So those 2100 dollar fares became 1700, which is even better, especially when you consider that fares from the West Coast to Europe run well over double that most of the time.

The fare was good to two European cities: Zurich and Vienna. Vienna was a great city we hadn’t been to yet, so we settled on booking a fare to VIE.

So we got on the fare. It was even possible to get on these ticket prices out of my home city of San Diego, which is served by a nonstop flight to London Heathrow on British Airways. We would then take the short hop in intra-Europe business class between London and Vienna. This would get us to from San Diego to Vienna with only one connection for super cheap.

It is an awesome deal, and we managed to build a pretty awesome trip out of it. Here’s how we did it:


Besides the big fare deal from SAN to VIE I mentioned above, the rest of the flights involved a little creativity. My great uncle lives outside Munich, and we’re hoping to go visit him before we all headed off to Vienna for a little under a week. Turns out fares between Vienna and Munich were pretty cheap: a little over a hundred dollars roundtrip on Austrian Airlines. The outbound flight is a little over an hour, is operated by an A320, and departs super early in the morning. The return flight leaves in the late afternoon and is operated by an F-100 (which I was shocked to know Austrian operated), so I’m super exicted for that one– the F-100 is a slice of aviation history, the aircraft between 20 0r 30 years old (production began in 1986 and ended in 1997), and quite hard to find, as none are in commercial service in the United States.

But the main part of the trip, SAN-VIE on BA, was significantly improved when British Airways announced that they would be changing the aircraft on the SAN-LHR segment from a 777-200 to a 777-300er. This would mean that our aircraft would now have first class (the 777-200 is in a two class configuration). I am a big fan of BA’s first class, and we had tons of Avios (BA miles), so we thought that it would make sense to upgrade one of the legs to first for the four of us. The upgrade price was 30,000 Avios for each person, which isn’t half bad, so we decided to jump on it. We started looking for availability, and, two days after we started looking, four seats became available between LHR and SAN in first class. We called up BA, and the friendly agent let us upgrade (although we found out later that technically we weren’t allowed to use miles to upgrade because we used the AARP discount on our tickets). I consider that a score– unauthorized upgrade? Cool!

It got just a little more fun when BA again changed the aircraft on SAN-LHR– to a 747! As an AvGeek, I was super excited by the idea of being on a 747 (on the upper deck perhaps, if we can get the seat selection right).

With the little VIE-MUC hop booked and the LHR-SAN flight upgraded (we chose this segment over SAN-LHR because it was a daytime flight, meaning we would get to enjoy the flight more), the airline part of our itinerary was complete. In the end, our flights looked like this:



Given that we are flying on a Oneworld airline out of SAN, we would have access to the Airspace Lounge in SAN Terminal 2. I have been their twice already, and reviewed it both times, and intend to review it again, because, well, I can.

At LHR, we get access to the British Airways Galleries business class lounge and the Concorde Room. On the outbound, we get access to the Galleries lounge because we are departing British Airways business class passengers (LHR-VIE), and we get access to the Concorde Room because we are departing British Airways first class passengers (LHR-SAN).

In Vienna, on the outbound we get access to the Austrian Airlines business class lounge, as we have Frequent Traveller status with Lufthansa, which gives us access to Austrian, Swiss, and Lufthansa business class lounges when flying Star Alliance airlines. On the return, we get access to the JET Lounge, which the contract lounge British Airways uses for its premium passengers at VIE.

In Munich, we’ll be using the Lufthansa business class lounge, which we also have access to due to our status with Lufthansa.


In total, we will have 2 nights in Munich, where we’ll be staying at my great uncle’s house, and five nights in Vienna, where we’ll be staying at the Hotel Altstadt Vienna. The Hotel Altstadt is a boutique hotel close to the Danube and is very well reviewed on TripAdvisor (4.5 stars) so I’m optimistic for the quality. We paid about $200 a night for the room, but that was because we had booked ourselves the only room large enough (a two bedroom apartment) to fit our family of four (because of very odd hotel max occupancy rules).


Well, I’ll be writing this trip report “live,” meaning you’ll be seeing installments each one or two days when I’m on the trip. I’m super excited for this trip, and you can read all about it here. Happy readings!


About the Author

I'm Alex, and I am an enthusiast in all things travel: miles and points, airplanes, airline products, and more. On this blog, you can read my take on recent travel/ commercial aviation news, trip reports, ramblings, rants, and opinions, and I'll even share some of my aviation photography from time to time. Hope you enjoy reading, and happy travels!