by Andreas Rohde
PHOTOS: ANDREAS ROHDE
After market acceptance in Germany nose-dived when the airline was renamed Thomas Cook Airlines, the Condor name was quickly revived, although the TC logo has been retained on the tails of aircraft.
Route: Anchorage, Alaska (IATA: ANC/ICAO: PANC) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA/EDDF)
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300ER
Together with the introduction of 767-300 equipment in 1991, Condor—then a wholly owned charter subsidiary of Lufthansa—pioneered business class service on tourist charter flights. Originally offering only increased seating comfort and higher quality in-flight service, Condor’s ‘Comfort Class’ has evolved into a full business-oriented product.
With its seasonal (northern summer), thrice-weekly service from Anchorage to Frankfurt, Condor offers the only nonstop link between Alaska and Europe—even though some westbound flights may stop at Fairbanks—thus cutting several hours off the travel time via the contiguous USA. A weekly service is also operated directly from Fairbanks to Frankfurt, stopping at Whitehorse, YT, on the westbound stage.
Formalities at ANC were handled by Delta Air Lines and took only a few minutes to complete.
The security check, however, was a pain. After discovering airline-IDs in our baggage, the TSA screener immediately earmarked us for a ‘SPECIAL’ check, including an additional body search, plus the complete unpacking of all carry-on bags.
Food and shopping attractions in the international concourse were underwhelming, but adequate for the limited number of international departures. The so-called duty free shop is, however, far too expensive, charging up to three times the retail prices of downtown stores for some items.
Boarding started from the rear of the aircraft, with Comfort Class passengers invited last, as all other passengers first had to pass through the forward cabin to reach their seats. Comfort Class seats 24 in a six-abreast layout (2+2+2). Condor has recently upgraded its forward cabin seats, and these have a pitch of 49in (1.25m). The seats proved comfortable throughout the nine-hour flight and the fact that all seat functions have to be operated manually was no detraction. A wardrobe service was offered upon entering the cabin, together with a welcome drink.
Even though no longer a Lufthansa subsidiary, Condor remains closely linked and the cabin style reflects this relationship.
After departure two flight-attendants offered English- and German-language newspapers and magazines, distributed earphones and menu cards, and quickly followed up with a round of drinks, served with some excellent cashews. The aperitif selection was comprehensive, and—of course--there was a good German beer (Radeberger Premium Pils).
Condor was always used warm colors for its interiors.
Hot towels were offered before dinner. The meal service started with sesame crusted Ahi tuna on mango salsa and Wasabi sauce, shrimp on French cocktail sauce, and stuffed artichoke bottom with marinated Shiitake mushrooms. The salad featured Feta cheese and walnuts, and a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Then followed a choice of three main courses. Roasted fillet of beef Southwestern style with fried onion rings on Southwestern tomato sauce, green beans, yellow baby squash, and sweet potatoes; or variation of grilled seafood with shrimp, scallop, and Red Snapper on cilantro butter, with scallions, carrots, and vegetable rice; or loin of lamb in mustard crust on sweet potato puree with sun dried tomatoes and balsamic sauce. An assortment of cheeses offered from the service trolley, an apple tartlet with strawberry vanilla sauce, coffee, teas (black, fennel, and fruit), and a fine selection of digestives rounded off a delicious meal.
The wine ‘cellar’ featured a well-balanced 2001 Barbera d’Asti DOC Superiore from the Piemonte region of Italy; Krug’scher Hof Weissburgunder Trocken Spätlese (2003) from Rheinhessen—sealed with a glass cork; an elegant Champagne Jacquart; a fine Schloss Vollrads Riesling; a fruity Hans Wirsching Silvaner; a long-lasting Dourthe No 1 from Bordeaux; and a velvety 2003 Argentinean Cabernet Sauvignon.
For entertainment, two feature movies, plus several features, were shown on the monitors, although the northern coast of Greenland, passing by our windows, was a lot more spectacular. In addition, Comfort Class passengers were offered portable DVD players with a selection of six different movies from the onboard film library. The DVD players were a bit clumsy, as they required the tray table to be folded out over a passenger’s legs and the screens were rather small. Power outlets for personal laptops were available at the seats.
Drinks were available throughout the duration of the flight, and even when most were sleeping on this night flight, were offered several times.
Over northern Greenland.
Ninety minutes before landing more hot towels were distributed, followed by a substantial breakfast: fresh fruit, Emmenthal cheese, ham, salami, hot rolls, and croissants, butter and jam, plus a choice of either English muffin with scrambled eggs, chives, béchamel sauce, green asparagus tips, and hash brown potatoes, or Apfelküchle with vanilla sauce and French toast with morello cherries.
The two flight attendants working in Comfort Class, including the purser, were very courteous and helpful and did their best to make this flight as comfortable as possible.
Following an on-time arrival at Frankfurt, our flight was allocated an outside position, thus necessitating a ten-minute bus trip to the terminal. Entry formalities and customs were painless, and when we reached baggage claim, our bags were already turning circles.
Condor charges very reasonable fares for Comfort Class, starting at around 1,000 € ($1,300) return. Upgrades are also available on board, with payments made directly to the flight attendants.
While not comparable to some business class offerings, especially those with lie-flat seats, the flight was a pleasant experience with high-quality service. Bearing in mind the modest fare, Condor’s Comfort Class offers very good value. Highly recommended!
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