Airline Crap Shoot 200730 Jan 2007
We've flown between Hamburg and Minneapolis (either starting from there or starting from here) pretty much every year for the past 25 years. We'll be doing it again this summer. And we know the choices better than any travel agent or web site. There are no direct flights, there haven't been since the '80s. If you want one stop, you either have to fly direct Hamburg to North America (currently Continental or Emirates) or Minneapolis to Europe (Northwest or Northwest). My wife collects hundreds of thousands of Lufthansa miles, but usually they don't help us much (this year the closest they could get us was Newark).
You also would like to avoid an extra stop in the US if you can, since US Immigration is a risk factor. If you can't avoid it, you should allow at least 3 hours between flights. We've missed connections and had luggage delayed by cutting the connections too close. That would have limited our options to Northwest. They were OK last year, but the flights with the old DC-10s were somewhat cramped.
This year, though, we remembered that Icelandair also flies to Minneapolis. The regular travel sites wouldn't show us Icelandair flights, since there's no good way to get from Hamburg to Reykjavik. But flying from Frankfurt was 4 hours shorter than any other flight we checked (just 1 hour layover at Keflavik), the cost was several hundred Euros less than the other flights, and we have all those Lufthansa miles to get to Frankfurt.
We flew Icelandair once to Florida, and we were quite impressed. We promised ourselves to fly with them again if it were practical. Keflavik is a small airport, so transfers are easy. And they fly 757s, with rows only 6 across. We're guaranteed to sit together, with a window seat for Christopher, and noone will get stuck in the middle aisle.
So Iceland here we come (for one hour). We've got 2 stops and have to fly through the Monster Maze in Frankfurt, but the shorter total time, the smaller planes, and the quick transfer in Reykjavik should make for a good flight.