Cabin: Business Class
Route: Frankfurt to Cape Town
Since 2014 German holiday carrier Condor has offered an enhanced long haul premium product which it has actually called Business Class. This means the airline automatically puts itself up against network carriers. On the route from Frankfurt to Cape Town, which Condor serves up to three times weekly in winter, flights in Business Class are as cheap as 1,162 Euro per leg, while Lufthansa charges about 2,800 Euros on the same route. This is important as background, to do a fair comparison. Taking a Lufthansa feeder flight into Frankfurt like me even on the same booking, you can’t check in online for Condor, but still use the Lufthansa Business lounge in Frankfurt.
Seat and AmenitiesDeployed on the flight to Cape Town is a 23-year-old Boeing 767-300ER D-ABUL, boarding is through a separate lane. The aircraft is fitted out with 30 seats in Business Class (Condor also operates a version with 18 seats), five rows in a 2-2-2 configuration, I am seated in 2G. Both front row seat pairs 1AC and 1HK clearly offer the advantage of more leg room, but on this twelve-hour flight 1HK is blocked and curtained off as crew rest. Seat pitch there is 59’’ (152.9cm), otherwise 58’’ (148.8cm), while Lufthansa offers 64’’. A distinct minus of Condor’s offering is the 10° angle in the bed position (Lufthansa offers full flat) and the shortness of the bed of only about 180cm (Lufthansa: 198cm). Condor offers a 15’’ screen at every seat plus power outlet and USB port. In bed position it is difficult for a man being 1.88 meters to find sleep. The bed surface is hard, especially at the foot end, which bends down nastily at the end, and that consequently prevents sound sleep, at least for me.
Customer service on boardWhat distinguishes Condor in general are its cabin crews, I have a feeling of often encountering much more enthusiastic staff here than at network carriers. That shows again on this flight with abundant smiles, something frequent fliers don’t get to experience too often. But then, service pace is annoyingly slow, with the menu card given out and drinks served only an hour after take-off, which took place at 10pm local, and the meal is served only about 2 hours after rotation, much too late on a night flight.
CateringPassengers are served a tray with two starters (sliced breast of guinea-fowl with radish salad and pesto as well as halibut and salmon filet on fennel-apple salad) plus leaf salad and cream cheese dip, also the cheese is already served. The fish tastes good, but if one would eat it all you would be more than stuffed, especially at this hour. There are three main courses to choose from (beef roulade with SpÃ¤tzle pasta; salmon fillet and scampi with shiitake mushrooms, soy beans and barley risotto; ricotta ravioli and grilled mushrooms). I had opted for the fish, which tastes OK, but I just try it and then turn in my tray and let go of the desert (cherry cake) as It's just too late at night. I hardly touch breakfast (cold cuts and cheese, scrambled eggs with veal bratwurst, Bircher muesli), having only a bit of the yummy muesli. As breakfast has been cleared already (if it is planned this way or not is unclear) a flight attendant offers warm cinnamon buns from a basket, delightful.
Inflight entertainmentThe IFE offering is not huge, 30 films and many more audio CDs among other things, but the content itself is of good quality. Condor forces its passengers to fumble annoyingly with headphones, which are coming with 2-pin plugs, but to fit them into the 1-pin sockets the 2-pin plug needs to be removed, but nobody explains this unnecessary hassle.
Extra informationThe Condor Business Class ticket is not flexible or refundable unless you book the “Flex Option” for an additional 150 Euros. There is a baggage allowance of 30 kilos (Lufthansa 2x32 kilos) plus 12 kilos in up to two cabin bags, and there is a flat rate for Miles & More FFP miles of just 2,500 for any Condor Business Class flight. Condor generally offers value for money with its premium product. For business travellers, the product is not entirely suitable, but can in some cases be an attractive fare alternative to network carriers. At the same time, Condor absolutely doesn’t match their Business Class standards of comfort in lie-flat seats on long haul.
Cabin: Premium Class
Route: Arrecife to Hamburg
Premium offers on European holiday flights are rare. German holiday carrier Condor has offered its Premium Class on medium haul flights since 2010. The fare is shockingly low for a flight of almost five hours from the Canary Islands to Germany: 152 Euros! This was a low-season return flight shortly before Christmas. At the end of the Easter holidays, an online check yields the crazy price of 709 Euros, one way. In general, Premium Class goes for about 100 to 200 Euros extra per leg, compared to the cheapest offer. For that you are getting a separate check-in counter, also in Lanzarote, where online check-in doesn’t work. At the counter there are many people queuing up that are not flying Premium. A friendly TUI tour guide, who is overseeing the process, requests other passengers, without me asking for it, to step aside so I as a Premium customer can get to the counter. My suitcase is not reaching the 25 kilos it would have been allowed to weigh, and I am also not using up my limit in cabin bags, raised to ten kilos. There is no fast lane in Arrecife, which I would have been able to use with my boarding pass stating “PREMIUM”, but no wonder, as almost no other airline has any premium product from here.