Interesting timing, I just blogged about my favorite ways of getting to Europe using less than 30,000 points one-way. I am happy to report that Alaska Airlines and Condor have just teamed up giving us another option!
You can now fly from the US to many European cities for as little as 25,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles one-way. Condor Airlines, also called Condor Flugdienst, is based in Frankfurt, Germany with over 75 destinations worldwide. Even though it doesn’t completely fit the mold, Condor is considered a budget-airline.
Seating & Entertainment
The reason Condor gets the “budget airline” branding is mainly due to their policy on seat reservations. You can pay $39 to reserve a regular seat and $119 to reserve an XL seat. That is the cost for each direction and that is only for your main leg from the US to Germany.
I’ve flown a number of budget carriers without reserving seats, each time I was given a seat assignment with my party. (which is assigned at the check-in desk). If you aren’t concerned where you sit, I’d avoiding paying for a reservation and just check-in early.
The standard seats have a pitch of 30 inches, that is similar to a domestic United Airlines flight. It’s not terrible but certainly not great. If you need extra space, I’d recommend paying the $119 for an XL seat.
Condor operates the Boeing 767-300ER wide-body jet on their Trans-Atlantic routes. The 767 is outfitted with a 9″ personal touchscreen monitor at each seat plus a USB outlet to keep things juiced-up. Economy passengers are limited to a “small selection” of movies and TV shows, plus access to their onboard music library. Premium access to their full library of movies and television shows can be had for $11. Premium and Business passengers get free unlimited access to all digital content.
FYI: Condor and British Airways both share a 5/10 rating on SkyTrax (American Airlines scores a 3/10)
Baggage & Meals
In addition to the seat reservation charges (which are optional), Condor also has a somewhat limited carry-on allowance. Though Condor has a better ‘overall’ allowance than the other budget airlines, it is still slightly restrictive when matched up against the legacy carriers.
For carry-on’s, you are permitted to bring a small personal item, like a purse, and a carry-on bag no larger than 21.6″ x 15.7″ x 7.8″. The restrictive part is that your carry-on bag can weigh no more than 13 lbs. Allowance increases to 18 lbs if you reserve a premium economy seat, 2 x bags with a total weight of 26 lbs if flying business. (just put the heavy stuff in your personal item, backpack or purse, since that isn’t weighed)
For flights to/from the US in economy, you may check one free bag up to 50 lbs with a girth not exceeding 62.2″. Premium economy passengers are given an additional 20 lb allowance on their single checked bag. Business class increases the baggage allowance to two bags, each weighing up to 70 lbs. Norwegian and Wow Air do not include a free checked bag, they charge around $60-$80 EACH way.
Meals are also included at every seat, something that other budget carriers cannot say. According to Condor, “In economy class we serve a free hot meal, and either a cold light meal or cold breakfast prior to landing”.
US Gateway Cities
Here are the US cities with non-stop flights to Frankfurt on Condor (all Condor flights from the US to Europe connect in Frankfurt)
• San Diego
• Las Vegas
• New Orleans
Canada and Mexico:
It would be too extensive to list them all, but a few things to note: Condor does not fly to many of your big tourist hotspots like London, Paris, or Amsterdam. Instead, they reach many leisure destinations, 13 cities/islands just in Greece! The full list of Condor destinations can be found here.
Being a leisure airline, flight frequencies can vary based on destination. For example, the featured image of Zakynthos Island, can only be reached with one flight a week (Sundays). I recommend using Google Flights to find your flight schedules, then continue to Alaska Air to book.
Best use of points
There are three award pricing tiers when redeeming Alaska miles for an economy flight with Condor. (depending on available award space/demand)
• “Low economy” Tier 1 – 25,000 Alaska miles one-way
• “Medium economy” Tier 2 – 30,000 Alaska miles one-way
• “High economy” Tier 3 – 35,000 Alaska miles one-way
• Premium economy – 45,000 Alaska miles one-way
• Business class – 55,000 Alaska miles one-way
Check out this flight from Sacramento to Santorini (Thira), Greece for 25k points one-way + $67 in fees!
To book, visit alaskaair.com, click “Use miles” then click “All search options”. That will take you to the page where you can book as a one-way or multi-city. (example multi-city: SMF to FRA, then FRA > JTR)
Since Alaska Airlines allows one free stopover per direction (on the way there and back), you can stop as long as you’d like in Frankfurt before continuing to Santorini, Greece. This is a great perk! You can also choose to stopover in the states rather than Frankfurt, such as staying three days in Seattle before heading to Frankfurt (or your final destination).
For your reference, I searched all flights from the West Coast to Santorini in July. I could not find a single round-trip UNDER $1,200 on legacy carriers. Using 25k miles + $67 one-way plus getting to spend time in Frankfurt (or wherever you want nearby, just take the Deutsche Bahn), then continuing to Santorini is a smoking deal! Don’t forget Condor flies to many other islands such as; Kos, Rhodes, Mykonos, Palma, Malta, Ibiza, and the Canary Islands!
How to get Alaska Airline points?
You can credit your flight miles from a number of airlines such as American. Just add your Alaska Mileage Plan number when booking a paid American flight.
If you prefer to use your existing points, SPG is your best friend! Your SPG points can be transferred to Alaska at a 1:1 ratio with a bonus. For every 20,000 points transferred from SPG to Alaska, SPG will add a 5,000 point bonus. (send it in 20k chunks to maximize bonus)
You can also transfer your Amex MR points to SPG at a 3:1 ratio. That is not a good value at 60,000 MR points for a one-way to Europe in economy class.
In short, you can fly from any city Alaska serves to Frankfurt, spend as much time as you’d like, then continue to Santorini (for example) for as few as 20,000 SPG points + $67 (one-way). Did I mention there is summer availability?