Story by Prof. Barry Goldsmith
Photos courtesy Condor Airlines
TWO DAYS OF CONDOR
This is my story of my TWO DAYS OF CONDOR i.e. Condor Airlines -- not to be confused with the well known 1975 movie Three Days of the Condor.
Coming and going from Europe in 2021, as well as in 2022, during the height of the Pandemic, actually makes this review the “FOUR Days of Condor”. But seriously, I'm looking forward to my next flight on the "All New Condor" starting in the spring of 2023.
Before Condor and I take off in the future, let's go back to the past - and another well known movie title from 1985, “Back to the Future” – on my first travel-changing Condor flight of late 2021. The round trip to Paris from New York was a last-minute decision in which I did not qualify for lower fares bought in advance. As most travelers and travel agents know – last-minute airfares can be exorbitant. However, there are ways to travel at very reasonable fares, even at the last minute, which I discovered on my first Condor Airlines flight.
Much to my surprise and delight, the quoted Condor fare was much less than any of the online discount airline sites I researched. Okay, I forgot to mention that my flight to Paris was via Frankfurt which turned out to be a lucky break. I got to do pre-Christmas shopping at two of Europe’s largest airports – Frankfurt and Charles de Gaulle – and benefit from the world’s best Duty-Free Shops.
Back to Condor Airlines and their in-flight service. I was lucky to experience all classes offered by Condor: Business, Premium Economy and Economy. Not all budget airlines have three categories of service to choose from. And each category of service, to this experienced traveler, was at least as good as the national carriers – if not better.
Since I’ve been a travel journalist for many years, I’ve flown Business Class on all the major airlines, so I’ve got high standards – 40,000 feet high.
If you fly Business Class on Condor, the minute you step on board, you’re greeted with an amenities kit which is not like those found in other business classes I have experienced. All the usual goodies came packed — not in the ubiquitous pouch — but in a biodegradable, reusable and beautiful mug that I proudly use every day. As a long time collector of Starbucks mugs from around the world – the Condor cup was a welcome and original addition to my collection. Not since my Concorde briefcase days was there such a memorable business class airline gift. And good news for collectors -- Condor changes its business class amenities kits every year -- which I can toast to with my 2021 Condor mug! So your in-flight ear plugs come in new surroundings every year.
Everything about business class was just about perfect. At first glance the seats looked too thin and elegant to offer much comfort. But in this case, looks were deceiving – they fully reclined into comfortable flat beds and due to the adjustable entertainment screen provided a relaxing way to see a movie or TV show. This was the first time I recall that business class entertainment offered entire TV series. Since I missed “The Americans” the first time – I was lucky to catch it in-flight.
As for the cuisine — notice I used the word, “cuisine” and not “food” — since I found it to be on par with cuisine found in upscale restaurants - with one notable exception, the servings were generous which is something you don’t necessarily find in the best restaurants’ dishes. Additionally, Condor offered three meal options in business class – including vegetarian – pleasing this picky vegan.
And as a bread lover I was delighted that during my 2022 Condor flight I had more bread options than most first-class services offer, including pretzel rolls and croissants, which constantly made the rounds. Yes, my October 2022 Condor flights did something that I didn't think was possible -- improve on my 2021 first- time Condor experience.
And just as I thought the Condor story couldn't get any better, 2023 began with good news by introducing the totally new Condor Airlines with its revolutionary intercontinental fleet comprised of the Airbus 330, the most fuel efficient, ecologically friendly and fastest (non-supersonic) aircraft to Europe and beyond. Aircraft noise has been reduced by a whopping 60% -- so if Condor's 2023 amenity kits don't contain ear plugs -- you'll know why!
And if that's not flying in a totally new package -- you've got to see what it comes wrapped in. This is where Condor Airlines really shows off its stripes -- literally. A new design of white and five different-colored stripes envelop the exterior of every Condor plane from the new A330 down.
Also in 2023, Condor added many more gateway cities from the U.S. to Frankfurt and then on to the rest of Europe and the world, from Los Angeles, Boston, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Fairbanks, and Anchorage. And Condor covers most of the rest of the U.S. with its partner Jet Blue.
My closest U.S. Gateway, JFK, just got better when Condor recently opened its large and luxurious new Terminal -- with a magnificent new lounge offering delectable cuisine.
When it comes to great fares and “bill of fares” (food) I see “Many Days of Condor” in my future and, hopefully, in yours, too.
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