Condor Airlines just might help Phoenix become a real city. Here’s what I mean: Whenever Phoenix and Philadelphia play leapfrog in the city size rankings (which invariably makes our local journalists generate reams of predictable content), I always bring up Sky Harbor International Airport and its lack of intercontinental flights.
My view: I don’t care how many people live here – Phoenix won’t be a "real city" as long as its residents must go to Los Angeles or New York or Houston to fly to locations far abroad.
And finally, at long last, Sky Harbor has made a step in the right direction: In June, Sky Harbor announced that new service to Frankfurt, Germany, would begin in 2018 with twice-a-week flights on Condor Airlines. Condor will use a Boeing 767-300 for the flights, which are scheduled to fly May-September.
Condor Airlines Reconnects Arizona to Germany
If you’ve lived here long enough, you might remember that Lufthansa used to connect Phoenix and Frankfurt. But that’s been gone for a long while, with only British Airways connecting Arizona to another continent. That, my friends, is not the stuff of a true "big city."
So the Condor flights are definitely a nice addition, even if it belongs in the "It’s About Time" file. And it’s only twice-weekly service. But it’s an airline rated 3 stars by Skytrax (that’s a star better than most domestic airlines, right?). Condor also has partnerships with Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines, if that matters to the air miles hogs out there.
Hoping for More Condor Airlines Flights from Phoenix
I’d also like to see that window open up a bit more: To me, October is THE time to be in Germany. You want to talk about an amazing autumn? Then you need to see a place like Schwabisch Hall or Rosengarten in October. And that whole Oktoberfest thing, right? Still, I’ll take any service at all at this point. And I really want to motivate Arizonans to just get on this plane already.
Look, Arizona -- traveling abroad is a good thing. You need to get out there and see a bit of the world, and Frankfurt is a terrific gateway to the rest of Europe. From there, you’re close to some really nice parts of Germany and also a fast train ride away from France, Belgium – just about anywhere in Europe!
So book some flights on Condor. Show the airlines that we’re not a bunch of insular homebodies who won’t go anywhere. Help Phoenix become a real city. And then maybe Sky Harbor can score daily service instead of twice weekly. From there, who knows? Maybe Asia?
Marc Jorgensen and a group of four friends from the Phoenix area will soon fly around the world in 48 hours, all on standby.
Yes, some people might call this hell. But Marc and his crew are calling it the 2011 World Race. And to any airplane geek, it’s a plan sure to provoke some envy. Marc and his buddies (all self-described "airline analyst nerds") will fly different directions, departing on Feb. 25. They’re also adding scavenger hunt elements such as snapping a photo of the cutest flight attendant and the greatest, biggest, bushiest beard – which may or may not be on a flight attendant.
Marc, who works for US Airways, gave me the scoop on his grand plans below. If you are intrigued as I am, the group has a 2011 World Race Facebook page and a Twitter account. Like, â€˜em, follow â€˜em, cheer â€˜em on! In the meantime, enjoy Marc’s answers!
1. What do you do for US Airways?
I am an analyst in Revenue Management. I work with yield management which is primarily adjusting the fare levels to maximize revenue on each flight.
2. There are lots of people who don’t like air travel. How do you explain this trip to people who just don’t understand the appeal?
We will be using some airlines with fantastic inflight entertainment. Flying is a luxury for many people in the world (especially the past couple of years) and getting to circle the globe in just 48 hours is something very few people have ever done. It’s a unique opportunity and meeting new people on a plane and seeing new places can be so fascinating.
3. What’s the longest flight you’ve done to date?
The longest flight is LAX to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific (which has the best inflight TV and movie options for coach of any airline, in my opinion). It was about 15 hours, the staff were so nice and the movie selection so large it didn’t feel half that long …
4. What are the logistics? Are you flying standby? How planned is each stage?
All flights must be flown as standby. Each team will research out the possible routes, looking at connection times and backups (fly into ORD instead of JFK from FRA etc.)
Also, rock-paper-scissor will determine which direction each team has to go, day of departure … which should add an element of chance and excitement.
5. What are your top methods of staying sane on this misadventure?
The scavenger hunt ideas like finding the person with biggest beard should make it fun along the way. Also having good entertainment and food options on the flight (Korean airlines, Lufthansa) along with adrenaline should carry us through 48 hours.
6. Are you flying any unfamiliar airlines? (I know I’d love to fly Aeroflot!)
It’s a possibility. However the fastest way to circle the globe in this manner involves hitting the key hubs where the big carriers fly (British Airways, Lufthansa, Korean Airlines, All Nippon Airlines) since it fastest to stay far in the northern hemisphere. Â However, it is possible we could use El Etihad or Qatar Airlines if circumstances make it the better option.
Aeroloft does have a Moscow to JFK flight that could work …
7. What’s your biggest challenge or fear about being able to pull this off?
Getting stranded in an airport for several days due to weather lockdown.
8. I understand you’re doing this with/against some other people, each flying different directions. What’s the prize for being the first one back?
Initially, we were going to have the losing team pickup the tab for the standby passes (about $300). However, we feel it’s better to have the losing team pick up the tab for dinner for the winning team, and focus more on small prizes for each scavenging hunt item found (ie, picture with the cutest flight attendant).
9. What’s your route/plan look like so far?
Right now. it looks like PHX-LAX, LAX-ICN, ICN-FRA, FRA-JFK, JFK-PHX. (Wandering Justin’s note – for those not so versed in airport codes, that’s Phoenix, Los Angeles, Incheon, Frankfurt, John F. Kennedy).
The reverse route is PHX-LHR, LHR-ICN, ICN-LAX, LAX-PHX. (WJ here again – that would by Phoenix, London Heathrow, Inche – aw, heck, you know the others by now).
10. Are you a bit of an airplane geek? What’s your favorite plane to fly in?
I am a bit one, and the other flyers are as well. I like the Airbus A321 and the A330. Â Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to fly the 800-passengers jumbos yet, but I hear they are fantastic to fly in.
11. What else are you doing to prepare?
Exercising, looking at schedules. Make sure I have a currency exchange and language apps on my iPhone.
12. What surprises have you found so far in your planning? Anything about visas, vaccinations or unstable governments?!
That is another issue, because some places require visas. And to maximize time, we need to get through each airport fast, which means getting through each security checkpoint quickly. As you can imagine, if they start asking questions about where we came from and how long we will be there … things could get a bit delayed.
13. What’s your favorite destination? (not related so much to the upcoming mayhem … just a way to gauge what sort of travel character you are).
I really like Asia. As an American, Korea or China are very interesting experiences because the language and culture is so different, and the food is so good! I really like Seoul and Nanjing. I also really enjoy Brazil to relax. To have fun, I wish I was able to spend more time in Berlin and Copenhagen.