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Travel from San Francisco, Washington DC, Cleveland, Houston, Denver, and New York to Zurich, Switzerland; or Frankfurt, Germany for $414+ in American Airlines economy. Most of the availability for these deals is between September 2016 and April 2017. These are the best deals Secret Flying found:

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  1. When are the cheap fares and how do I find them?
  2. Why Zurich or Frankfurt?
  3. Mileage Earning
  4. Baggage Allowance
  5. Best Credit Card to Buy the Ticket

$414 Roundtrip from San Francisco to Zurich

I saw tons of cheap roundtrip flights at the $414 price between San Francisco and Zurich traveling September through early December, and January through early February. The Flight Deal reported similar patterns for all the rest of the routes originating in the American cities I listed above (all priced between $414 and $470), to Zurich and Frankfurt (with the exception of the Washington D.C. and Denver to Zurich routes, that have cheap fares starting in November as opposed to September).

How to Search

Search on ITA Matrix by calendar of lowest fares for acceptable trip lengths in September through April. Also make sure to click “Advanced routing codes”…
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…which will give you two more fields, one under each Departing from and Destination field. Fill in the following codes:

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  • Outbound routing code = aa+ /f bc=O
  • Inbound routing code = aa+ /f bc=O
    • that is a letter O at the end of both codes, not a zero

This method of searching should turn up results with the cheap fare.

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Hover over a date with $415 roundtrips (they’re actually for $414.06, but ITA Matrix rounds up).

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And select the number of nights you’d like the trip to be. You cannot book on ITA Matrix. Instead note the dates and search on

Why Zurich?

Zurich is Switzerland’s largest and wealthiest city, set amongst the backdrop of a lake, river, and the towering Alps. A pictures says a thousand words.


Why Frankfurt?

Oktoberfest starts September 17th in Munich, which is just a short, cheap train ride away.


You can always use low cost carriers like Ryanair or British Airways Avios to hop around Europe and see other places.

Mileage Earning

These deals are for travel starting in September, after the revenue-based award earning structure changes for AAdvantage in August. So if you choose to credit the miles for the $414.06 American Airlines flight between San Francisco and Zurich to AAdvantage, you won’t get 13,000 miles for the distance flown (routing is San Francisco to Zurich roundtrip with connections in New York City in both directions– you can check flight distance with Great Circle Mapper). You’ll get 1,500 miles instead, assuming you don’t have status. How did I figure that?

As of August 1, American Airlines will award miles for revenue tickets based on the ticket price less any government imposed taxes or fees. You can see the breakdown of the ticket cost on ITA Matrix, by just clicking on one of the flight results. Below is the breakdown of the roundtrip ticket between San Francisco and Zurich. The dollar amounts outlined in the red rectangle are the government-imposed taxes and fees.

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The sum of that box is $114.06.

$414.06 – $114.06 = $300

Depending on what status you have, multiply 300 by 5 (for AAdvantage member), 7 (for Gold), 8 (for Platinum), or 11 (for Executive Platinum) to see how many award miles you’ll earn.

But you don’t have to credit the miles to American Airlines, you can easily credit them to any partner–here’s how it works. I would seriously consider crediting the miles to a program that doesn’t use a revenue-based award earning structure like Alaska Airlines for this cheap fare (you would earn 13,000 Alaska miles for the San Francisco to Zurich roundtrip, since Alaska will credit you 100% of the distance flown in fare class O on American Airlines flights).

Baggage Allowance

You get a free personal item, free carry on, and one free checked bag up to 50 pounds included in the ticket price.

Best Way to Buy the Ticket

Your top choice should be the Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that will cover a large portion of this ticket. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy this fare with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement: a $164 roundtrip to Zurich or a $207 roundtrip to Frankfurt!

Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases.

See my review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many benefits like it annual $250 Air Travel Credit, 40,000 point sign up bonus, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

If you’re interested, check out the cheap fares to Zurich and Frankfurt now, as these prices won’t last!

Hat tip The Flight Deal and Secret Flying

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