Munich A new study shows that there are considerable differences in quality when it comes to the airlines operating in Germany. Nine airlines were included in the study. The average cost of flights remains stable.
Everyone is talking about climate protection. But Michael Haberland knows that words don’t necessarily match deeds when it comes to things like air travel. "2019 will be a record year for air travel in Germany," says the president of the Automobile Club Mobil in Germany. And since air travel continues to be the trend, the automobile club tests the most important airlines operating in Germany every two years. Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings and Condor win the race in 2019. It means the test winners have ousted Lufthansa from first place, which it held in 2017. Low-cost airline Easyjet was the most mediocre. On average, however, the ratings (using a system based on German school grades where “1” is the best) do not differ that much, says club vice president Ralf Baumeister. The test winner scored 2.0 and the loser 2.6. Yet there are noticeable differences in some of the 14 criteria tested.
There are clear price differences between the nine airlines. Flights to Mallorca were used as a basis as it is the most popular foreign flight route for German holiday-makers. Bookings were made for weekends in August, i.e. at very high prices. The cheapest flight (from Munich) was offered by Lauda Motion at under 174 euros, the most expensive at 519 euros by the Spanish low-cost airline Vueling.
Compared to the previous study two years ago, which also compared routes from Germany to the Balearic Islands, the average prices remain the same. According to the testers, Air Berlin's bankruptcy did not lead to an increase in prices among the remaining airlines. All bookings were made online, directly via the airline's homepage, which is almost always the cheapest way. "But the cheapest flight is not always the best choice," emphasizes Baumeister. This is because special costs are often incurred which, with average air fares to Majorca of around 300 euros, can have a noticeable impact on your budget.
Lufthansa increases baggage costs considerably
For example, excess baggage at check-in costs between ten and 15 euros per kilogram with almost all airlines. Lufthansa, on the other hand, charges a flat rate of 50 euros. The German top dog is clearly the most expensive with 80 euros for special and sports luggage. This is an increase of 60 percent compared to 2017, Baumeister emphasizes. At 30 euros, Ryanair charges the lowest fee for taking your surfboard or bicycle with you. Hand luggage sometimes has no weight restrictions (Easyjet, Ryanair and Laudamotion). The most stingy is Tuifly, where hand luggage can weigh a maximum of six kilograms.
For families with several children, ticket costs for the small ones is also a distinguishing factor. Sometimes infants under the age of two fly for free (Vueling), sometimes they cost a flat rate of 31 euros (Easyjet), sometimes a tenth of the airfare (Lufthansa, Condor and Norwegian). If a child is over two years old, the full adult fare is often charged. Only Lufthansa and Norwegian offer a 25 percent discount for children aged between two and eleven.
The conditions are also quite different when it comes to changes in bookings and cancellations. A cancellation is sometimes not even possible as with Vueling or Ryanair, other times up to a 50 euros handling fee (Condor) might be charged or it could even be free (Eurowings). Sometimes, however, there are several fare variants for a single airline. For example, a cancellation is sometimes not possible at all with Lufthansa, or for free, or 70 euros are charged. It is similar with rebooking.
Confusing variety of rates
In general, the variety of rates has reached sometimes confusing proportions, says Mobil in Germany. Booking processes vary greatly on the various airline websites. The testers rate Condor at the top when it comes to having the clearest, most user-friendly site with the least annoying advertising.
When it comes to in-flight catering, only Lufthansa offers a free snack and drink. With the other eight airlines, this extra costs between 6.50 and 9.30 euros, with Vueling being the most expensive. The testers found hardly any differences in the seat spacing. Here the distance between one's own seat and the backrest of the person in front is typically 74 to 76 centimeters.
A tester also flew to Mallorca with all nine airlines to evaluate the personal flight experience. Eurowings scored best and Laudamotion worst. Environmental criteria such as age and fuel consumption of the aircraft fleet were not included in the rating. Mobil in Germany says this is because of the fact that airlines sometimes operate routes via partner airlines and do not use aircraft from their own fleets.
Orig. text: Thomas Magenheim-Hörmann