When I first started planning my 2016 trip to Germany sponsored by Germany Tourism, I admit that I didn’t know a lot about Condor Airlines. I knew that they flew from Baltimore-Washington International Airport and that they were German and that’s about it. As an amateur airline geek though, I’m always eager to fly with airlines new to me, learning more about them in the process and it’s with that in mind that I was excited for my first flight experience with Condor. But since I didn’t know anything about them, I’m willing to bet that I’m not alone in that level of aviation ignorance so I thought I’d take a moment to introduce you all to the airline, explain who they are, what they provide and why they’re a great choice if you’re traveling to Europe. It’s rare to be able to introduce an airline that may be unknown to many people, so bear with me as I go back to basics for this post.
What is Condor Airlines?
I think we need to start with their history since many folks may not be familiar with this leisure airline. First of all, what is a leisure airline you ask? Well, it just as it sounds, it’s a tourism airline that exists to fly folks off to vacation destinations around the world. Although the airline originally started as an independent company, and then later acquired by Lufthansa, today it is actually part of the global travel company Thomas Cook. That means that Condor offers flights to destinations around the world, and for my fellow North Americans this means a fantastic alternative to not only reach Europe, but also connect to many other destinations around the planet.
A few interesting facts about Condor I learned in researching this post include:
- Condor is the 3rd largest German airline
- Partners with the Miles & More Frequent Flyer Program
- Condor was the first vacation airline in the world to own jumbo jets. They were named Fritz and Max.
- During its 60th anniversary year, Condor is donating 60 cents per booking to a school in Namibia
2016 is Condor’s 60th Anniversary
This year actually marks the 60th Anniversary of Condor Airlines, who began service back in 1956 with a pilgrimage flight to Israel. If you think about it, it’s a simple and somewhat unlikely start for what has become the top leisure airline in Germany, a country famous for its love of travel. Throughout the year, Condor is celebrating its anniversary in a variety of ways from specially painted livery to contests and photos and even that charitable effort I mentioned in the previous section. The airline is donating 60 cents per online booking to a charitable effort underway to expand a school in Namibia. That’s not the only way they’re giving back this year, Condor has also partnered with the German Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant 6 special wishes to seriously ill children and teenagers; one for each of its anniversary decades. I love seeing airlines that give back to their communities and this is just but one more example of why Condor has been so very consistently highly ranked as an airline.
Where do they fly?
While Condor be a new name to many Americans, it shouldn’t be. During the summer months, Condor links more than a dozen U.S. cities to Germany with connections onward to destinations around the world. In total, Condor currently serves 75 destinations with expansion plans already slated for 2017, including new American service to New Orleans and San Diego. It’s important to note though that for most of the American cities, Condor is a seasonal airline. That means it typically just flies in the summer vacation months and then only a few times a week. While it may not be an ideal choice for the business traveler making last minute decisions, these are in fact great schedules for those of us traveling to Europe on vacation. Living in the DC metro region, I love that there’s an easy way to get to Europe from BWI instead of having to trek to the always time-consuming Dulles International Airport. It means less time wasted at the airport and more time actually enjoying my trip.
While they are a leisure airline known for competitive ticket prices, that doesn’t mean they’re a budget-only airline, far from it. In fact, Condor was the first tourism airline to introduce a special Comfort Class in the 1990s. Since then, they’ve greatly expanded their premium cabin offerings to include Premium Economy and the recently revamped Business Class cabin, which I had the great pleasure of experiencing on my flight to Frankfurt.
I’ll devote a post to the Business Class experience, but overall it was a a great flight and the Condor premium options are definitively competitive in the world of luxury aviation.
Nice to have options
What ultimately helps flyers the most in booking flights is competition and having plenty of options. The more options present in a market, the better the fares will be. That’s basic Econ 101 stuff. That’s why I’m happy to see the expansion of Condor Airlines in the North American market, because it gives us options. I tend to travel to Germany at least a couple of times a year, and am very well familiar with the traditional ways to get there. And you know what? They’re fine, they really are and overall I’ve enjoyed my flying experiences. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like having a choice when I travel, the power to select an airline that might be a little closer to home, have schedules and services I like and an airline that’s just different. For me, getting to a destination is just as important as what I see and do once I get there. I love flying, I love aviation and I love trying out new planes and airlines. I was like a little kid as I boarded that Boeing 767 leaving BWI, excited for the chance to see what makes Condor tick. I liked what I experienced, a lot, which is but one reason why I wanted to introduce them to everyone. To share what makes them unique, their service enjoyable and ultimately, what makes them yet another great choice when you’re planning your next vacation to Germany, Europe or somewhere even more exotic.