The Plan Doesn't Come Together04 May 2011
Over Easter vacation our son flew to the US for the first time alone to visit his grandparents. It was only for a week, we drove him to Amsterdam (5 hours each way) so he'd be able to fly non-stop and not sit in a strange airport by himself. Turned out he loved it, one week was way too short, and he'd fly by himself again anytime. His grandparents are willing to host him anytime (of course).
Since we have big plans for the summer, we won't be able to take a family vacation, so we're thinking that maybe he can fly back to the States for a couple weeks before school starts, and so that his grandparents (my parents) won't forget what their son (me) looks like, I could fly in for a few days to pick him up. So I started looking at Kayak for flight prices, and suffered a sudden attack of sticker shock. Four-figure sticker shock.
Between high fuel prices, high season, and new German departure taxes, flights from Hamburg to Minneapolis in July and August start at over 1000. Flights from any other German city are the same, and from Amsterdam is even more expensive. One exception was Icelandic, which has occasional flights from Hamburg this summer. They had a deal on some sites for 830, if you will willing to handle an 8 hour layover in Keflavik (which is I guess why the Icelandic site itself doesn't list it, and is not appropriate for an unaccompanied minor).
Trying to creative, I start looking at airports in neighboring countries, and see that flights from Copenhagen to Minneapolis start from the low 800s. Copenhagen is just 300km away, train there costs 30, a commuter flight about 100 round trip. Could that work?
The devil is in the details. The flights are in the morning or early afternoon. The cheap commuter flights are in the evening. The train takes 5 hours (there's a body of water in the way, so the train crosses the Fehmarn Belt by ferry), and with the airport connection would not make it in time for check-in. Taking an early commuter flight would eat up almost all the savings while making the trip more complicated (an extra stop with re-check-in).
We might just have to bite the bullet and pay the four figures.