Budget Carriers Air Berlin, TUIfly, and Germanwings
Germany’s best low-cost airlines Air Berlin, TUIfly, and Germanwings have cheap airfares, good service and safety records on flights to many European destinations.
Low-cost airlines are increasingly popular in Germany. The best-known German budget airlines include airberlin, TUIfly, and Germanwings. German low-cost airlines have good reputations for customer service and excellent safety records. The huge list of additional and separate charges that made British and Irish low-cost airlines unpopular with travelers are still mostly absent from German airlines. In contrast to Ryanair and other European low-cost airlines, German budget airlines generally use convenient regular and main airports.
Air Berlin (AB) – Germany & Europe’s Favorite Low-Cost Airline
airberlin (formerly spelled less hip Air Berlin) has an excellent reputation for good service with customer satisfaction ratings often the highest for low-cost airlines in Europe. Airberlin values service with free drinks and food, in-flight entertainment, and liberal luggage and cancellation policies. Boarding does not require a run for seats at individual seats are assigned at check-in or specific seats can be reserved in advance (for a fee).
Air Berlin’s main base is Berlin-Tegel (TXL) airport, the more convenient of Berlin’s two airports. Airberlin has further major hubs at Düsseldorf (DUS), Köln-Bonn (CGN), München (MUC), Nürnberg (NRN), and Palma de Mallorca (PLM). Airberlin flies all over Europe but also has many domestic flights in Germany.
Air Berlin has a fleet of around 100 Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 aircraft.
Airberlin is often less cheap than other low-cost airlines but its service compares well with full-service airlines including Lufthansa.
German Low-Cost Airline TUIfly (X3 & HF)
TUIfly is the low-cost airline of TUI, Europe’s largest tourism company. TUIfly was formed in 2007 from Hapag-Loyd Express (X3) and Hapag-Loyd Flug (HF). The code X3 is mostly used but on some TUIfly flights are still listed as HF.
Low-cost airline TUIfly flies mostly to holiday destinations in the Mediterranean region but also has flights from Germany to major European capitals. TUIfly has a fleet of around 50 Boeing 737 aircraft flying to over 70 destinations.
Customer satisfaction with TUIfly has been high and TUIfly has hinted at the possibility of moving up-market rather than down market in terms of services.
Germanwings (4U) – Lufthansa’s Low-Cost Airline in Germany
Low-cost airline Germanwings is controlled by Lufthansa. It is generally the cheapest airline in Germany with low fares also translating into lower service and extras when comparing to airberlin and TUIfly.
Germanwings comes closer to the no-frills operating model of Irish and British low-cost airlines. Thrills are non-existent, no free drinks, or seat assignments, and charges for luggage. Germanwings generally rates the lowest of German airlines in customer satisfaction surveys but still much better than European competitors Easyjet and Ryanair.
Germanwings main bases are Köln-Bonn Airport (CGN) (60 non-stop destinations) and Stuttgart (STR) (40 non-stop destinations). Germanwings uses Airbus A319 planes.
Flights are available to many German airports but most intercontinental airports still arrive at Frankfurt International Airport (FRA), which is the main hub of German full-service airline Lufthansa. Munich Airport has the largest number of European destinations while Cologne-Bonn (Köln) (CGN) has the largest number of low-cost flights.