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photo of Condor airliner

 (We’re gonna hear from the bloggers about this…)

Hooray!!! We bought the plane tickets to Barcelona yesterday. They are one way! That is SO exciting!

This was the climax of months of researching the right time to buy international tickets (three months before departure) the right day of the week (Saturday) and just general window shopping to discover what’s a good price and what’s a bad one.

Okay, this is weird: the one-way fare from Portland, Oregon to Barcelona, Spain ranges from $720 to nearly $4535. Why, one wonders, is one coach seat worth more than six times another? The number of stops, trip duration… none of it provides any clues. Also, one gets different prices on different days, and certainly on different search sites. (I like Vayama, OneTravel, and CheapoAir.) Here are the extremes of just one search:

  • Most Expensive: Multiple airlines, $4535, 2 stops, 16 hours and 42 minutes.
  • Fastest trip: KLM, $3401, 1 stop in Amsterdam, 13 hours and 35 minutes.
  • Slowest trip: Aer Lingus, $1658, 2 stops in Chicago and Dublin, 29 hours and 25 minutes
  • Cheapest trip: Alaska/Condor/Lufthansa, $720, two stops in Seattle and Frankfurt, 18 hours and 35 minutes
  • Almost as cheap trip: Lufthansa, $885, 1 stop in Newark, 18 hours and 25 minutes

So I pondered the cheapest trip. The bulk of the trip, from Seattle to Frankfurt, is aboard Condor Flugdienst, a German charter airline that has a mere 25% approval rating on Trip Advisor. The reviews, which tend to be mostly written by crabby people anyway, tell of small seats, bad food, delays, and the usual airline whining. It was all stuff that could happen on any airline, and, I mean, the plane gets there, right? Maybe it’s cheap because Condor does not spend zillions on advertising.

I looked longingly at the Lufthansa (79% approval rating) one-stop via Newark, for a mere $165 more. Still, $165 per person can buy tons of tapas in Spain. Then I looked longingly at Tom to see if he wanted to spend the extra money on Lufthansa. “Heck, no! Live dangerously!” he crowed.

Okay. Condor it is. Wish us luck.