Last year’s canceled flights, shortages of pilots, flight delays, deficiency of ground crews and airport personnel, endlessly slow-moving security queues and images of luggage piled sky-high, gave us plenty of reasons to reconsider our upcoming flight to Europe. It would be our first major trip following the more than two-year lockdown.
But as we were researching airlines, including many we have flown in the past, we came upon Condor, a German leisure line based in Frankfurt and the only major airline on the planet that did not cancel a single flight during 2022. Operating a fleet of more than 50 aircraft, Condor also maintains its own maintenance facility, an additional bonus, for sure.
We booked Condor for our flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt and added their Rail&Fly package from Frankfurt to Dusseldorf. We would be flying aboard a Boeing 767-300 premium economy on our way there and business class on the return flight. Premium economy seating meant two seats on either side of the aircraft and three seats in the middle. Passengers on either side of us said they had flown Condor numerous times. The plane was clean, the restrooms were well-maintained, and the benefit of premium economy was adequate leg room and an intriguing menu.
The efficient flight attendants served dinner at 33,000 feet. The Los Angeles chefs had prepared fresh, lightly marinated king prawns with smoked salmon and a dab of horseradish as well as chicken breast strips with a sprinkle of teriyaki sauce and Asian vegetables on a bed of rice. Before catching some shut-eye with a blanket, facemask and ear plugs, we had a selection of 71 movies and 110 television shows to browse. Breakfast was a fresh fruit salad, a warm cheese sandwich and fruit yogurt.
The Frankfurt airport, third largest in Europe, was bustling with activity as various languages collided in the background. We soon found the station and boarded a fast-moving train to Dusseldorf.
Our preflight research had revealed that Condor began flying as a division of Lufthansa, orchestrated by former Lufthansa employees. In December 1955 they launched Condor’s first flights with a fleet of three British-made Vickers Viking two-engine propeller aircraft. Condor’s first long-haul flights were in 1966, and in 1990-92, Condor was the first airline to introduce a separate, more comfortable class into its aircrafts. Condor was voted Germany’s most popular holiday line for the fourth time in 2019, and in 2021 they ordered 16 new Airbus A330-900neo long-haul aircraft.
Business class is an indulgence, and at the Frankfurt airport Condor enhances the pleasure, sharing a roomy and comfortable business lounge with Lufthansa. The lounge offered drinks, appetizers and a selection of three steaming soups, and nearby was a small “Chef’s Delight” table where local Chef Tamara Seebachter, who had prepared a tasty pumpkin dish with slices of fresh smoked trout, invited passengers to lift a fork.
On our return journey flight attendants served orange juice and champagne before takeoff, while at each seat were a blanket, pillow and refreshment kit. A large menu listed dinner selections starting with a pastrami tartlet with chimichurri and a fresh baby green salad with tads of tomatoes drizzled with an appetizing balsamic orange dressing. Our main-course choices were an organic vegetarian plate with spinach leaves, red lentil dal and a chicken breast fillet dabbed in lemon butter with garden-fresh vegetables on a bed of a nicely prepared pea orzo risotto.
The wine selection included French Champagne, German riesling, New Zealand sauvignon blanc and an Italian sangiovese. A nice touch at the conclusion of dinner was a sip of port wine with a platter of grapes and cheese. Also available are special menus for children as well as vegan, lactose-free and gluten-free meals.
The flight attendant supervisor in business class on our flight was Carina Schunk, who has worked for Condor for 24 years. She said many of the employees have been with Condor for more than 10 years.
“It’s the Condor spirit, and it’s alive and well,” she said, smiling.
With lights dimmed, creature comfort comes full circle with seats that allow passengers to stretch their legs. Before landing back in Los Angeles a snack included a mix of seasonal greens, cucumber and tomatoes with a light raspberry dressing and a slice of grilled sausage in a savory tomato curry sauce followed by a raspberry tart with elderberry and pistachios.
When You Go
From its Frankfurt base, Condor has connecting service to more than 100 destinations throughout Europe along with a network of airline and rail partners. Four North American gateways provide access: Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and Toronto. From other cities in the United States and Canada, Condor has partnerships with Alaska Airlines, JetBlue and WestJet. Condor’s economy class is value-oriented, and business-class passengers can check sports gear and skis at no extra charge: www.condor.com.