Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel and/or flight review.
Last October, I enjoyed one of my best holidays ever in the Seychelles, the legendary island archipelago of exceptional tropical beauty in the Indian Ocean. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Condor B767-300ER Business Class from Frankfurt (Germany) to Mahe (Seychelles)
- Review: Six Senses Zil Pasyon
- Review: Maia Luxury Resort
- Review: North Island (the world’s most exclusive resort)
- Review: Qantas A380 First Class from Dubai to London
Today (December 7, 2016): Trip report: Condor B767-300ER Business Class from Frankfurt (Germany) to Mahe (Seychelles).
On October 22nd 2016, I flew Business Class in a Boeing 767-300ER of Condor Flugdienst (branded as Condor) from Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) in Germany to Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) in the Seychelles. Condor is Germany’s third largest airline based on fleet size and passengers flown. It is a subsidiary of the British Thomas Cook Group, but still partners with its former parent Lufthansa through the use of the Lufthansa Group’s Miles & More program (the flight earned me 3000 miles) and its business lounges at Frankfurt Airport. Since Condor has a reputation for offering European holiday makers inexpensive vacation packages to long-haul destinations, I did not expect a lot. But boy, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall experience, especially the food, which was among the best and most tasteful I ever had in a plane.
Because of construction works at the runway in the Seychelles, the overnight flight left Frankfurt one hour late (7 pm instead of 6 pm) to make sure that we only landed after sunrise. One thing that surprised me is that Condor keeps it widebody planes the whole day on the ground in the Seychelles, since the flights arrive at Mahe early morning and only return to Frankfurt around midnight (that’s a turn around time of more than 17 hours). Although that’s very convenient for travelers (it means another extra day in paradise), it does not seem the right thing to do from a revenue perspective as airplanes do not make money sitting on the ground. If anyone knows why Condor is operating this schedule, please leave a comment as it intrigues me.
- Trip: FRA-SEZ
- Airline: Condor
- Aircraft type: Boeing 767-300ER
- Aircraft registration number: D-ABUL
- Flight Number: DE2302
- Date: October 22nd 2016
- On time departure: n0 (7 pm)
- On time arrival: no (6.30 am)
- Miles: 4691
- Flight time: 9.30 hours
- Seat: 4K
- Class: Business Class
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Price of my ticket
- Facts & Figures of the Boeing 767-300ER
- Lufthansa Business Lounge at FRA
- (Chaotic) boarding process
- Business Class Cabin
- Business Class Seat (& what seat to choose)
- Other inflight experiences
- My verdict
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1. PRICE OF MY TICKET
I paid 950 euros for a one-way ticket from Brussels to the Seychelles via Frankfurt (the return flight was with Emirates and Qantas, on which I will report later). Condor is one of the few airlines that allows you to book online one-way journeys for half the price of a return ticket. The flight from Frankfurt to Seychelles was in Business Class, although the Brussels-Frankfurt leg (operated by Lufthansa) was in Economy. Condor still partners with its former mother company Lufthansa to transfers passengers to its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, but when you book an intercontinental Business Class ticket with Condor from a connecting point in Europe, you will always end up in Lufthansa’s Economy Class for the intra-European leg.
950 euros for a one way ticket in Business from Europe to the Seychelles is still not a bad deal since the destination is very expensive, with only few airlines serving the paradise islands (e.g. Emirates, Etihad Airways, Air Seychelles, Air Austral, SriLankan, Ethiopian Airlines, and Kenya Airways). I do believe though that prices for tickets to the Seychelles may drop in the future, since new airlines are launching flights to the islands. Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines have recently started flights from Doha and Istanbul respectively, and Austrian Airlines will offer weekly direct flights from Vienna from autumn next year. In addition, Air Seychelles, the nation’s national carrier, is launching a new route to Düsseldorf.
2. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT THE B767
Here is some general information about the B767 (source: Wikipedia):
- The 767 is a mid-size, dual aisle, twin-engine jet manufactured by Boeing, the American aerospace company.
- The 767 is produced in three fuselage lengths. The original 767-200 entered service in 1982, followed by the 767-300 in 1986 and the 767-400ER, an extended-range (ER) variant, in 2000. The extended-range 767-200ER and 767-300ER models entered service in 1984 and 1988, respectively, while a production freighter version, the 767-300F, debuted in 1995.
- The 767 has seating capacity for 181 to 375 people, and a design range of 3,850 to 6,385 nautical miles (7,130 to 11,825 km), depending onthe variant.
- Engines featured on the 767 include the General Electric CF6 (used by Condor), Pratt & Whitney JT9D and PW4000, and Rolls-Royce RB211 turbofans.
- The 767 is the first twinjet wide-body type to reach 1,000 aircraft delivered. As of September 2016, Boeing had received 1,189 orders for the 767 from 74 customers; with 1,093 planes being delivered so far.
- In 1985, the 767 became the first twin-engined airliner to receive regulatory approval for extended overseas flights. The aircraft was then used to expand non-stop service on medium- to long-haul intercontinental routes. In the 1990s, the 767 became the most frequently used airliner for transatlantic flights between North America and Europe.
- Delta Air Lines (USA) is currently the largest 767 operator, with 95 aircraft in its fleet.
- The 767’s competitors have included the Airbus A300, A310, and A330, while its successor, the 787 Dreamliner, entered service in October 2011. Despite this, the 767 still remains in production.
3. LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT FRANKFURT
Condor does not have its own lounge at Frankfurt International Airport but its Business Class passengers have access to the business lounges of its former parent Lufthansa. Lufthansa has more than 10 lounges at its hub, and this review only covers its lounge near gate B24 in Terminal 1 (non-Schengen area), which is close to the Condor boarding gates.
The lounge is located up a spiral staircase, one floor above the terminal’s main concourse. Boarding passes are checked by a security point below the staircase. The lounge itself is quite large and has the size of a donut: the food stations are placed at the centre of the donut while the seating areas make up the outside of the donut. Although the lounge itself has large floor-to-ceiling windows, it does not have a view to speak of, since there is a large corridor between the windows and the tarmac. The decor, with its soft and relaxing colours, has a corporate, contemporary look, featuring a combination of designer seats and more comfortable loungers. The lounge has been built with the business traveler in mind, since large portions of the space feature tables with power outlets and small work cubicles.
I visited the lounge in the early evening, and the food offerings were quite decent. The buffet offered plenty of cold and hot items, such as salads, sandwiches, broccoli cream soup and beef stew to name a few. In addition, some Lufthansa staffers walked through the lounge with trolleys and handed out small bites (e.g. Wiener schnitzels) to guests, a highly appreciated feature. Wine offerings were limited, although there was not shortage of other alcoholic drinks, including German beers.
4. (CHAOTIC) BOARDING PROCESS
The boarding process was slightly chaotic. Before boarding, my name was called over the intercom by one of the gate agents, who asked if I was willing to swap my prebooked window seat for an aisle seat to accommodate a couple that wanted to sit together. I was asked this favour because I was traveling alone (my travel companion flew with Emirates flight). Although I would definitely switch seats in the case of a family with young children, an older couple, or when people want to sit together because of a medical reason, I decided to keep my seat. I always prefer a window seat over an aisle seat, since being able to look outside makes me feel much more relaxed and in harmony with my surroundings (yes, I am a nervous flyer). However, once on board, the couple that did not sit together seemed to take over the management of the Business Class cabin, almost harassing the few single travelers in the cabin and blocking the aisles in an attempt to find two adjoining seats, hereby delaying the boarding process. Even when I refused to give up my seat, they kept staring at me (not in a nice way) and put pressure on the cabin crew to make me change my mind (which I didn’t). Sitting together on a plane is not something that should be taken for granted these days, and that’s why I alway recommend to prebook your seats in advance (to avoid disappointment at the airport).
5. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
Condor’s Boeing B767s come in two versions. The most common version has a total of 214 seats – 30 in Business Class, 35 in Premium Economy, and 180 in Economy. These aircraft are mostly deployed on routes where demand for Business Class seats is high as those serving the Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles. The less common B767 variant features a higher density 259 seat configuration, with 18 seats in Business Class, 35 in Premium Economy, and 206 in Economy.
No matter what version you fly in, the Business Class seats in Condor’s B767s are always located in one single cabin in the front of the plane. Although they don’t have the youngest fleet in the industry, Condor completed a fleet-wide refurbishment of its Business Class cabins a couple of years ago and it shows: the B767 Business Class features a bright, airy and modern white look, nicely contrasting with the marine blue of the seats. During the retrofit, the cabins were equipped with LED mood lighting, which is quite impressive (and on pair with what you experience on modern planes such as the B787 and A350): it create nice effects in a wide range of colors (including a soft pink for overnight flight) to enhance the passenger experience.
The seats, placed in 2-2-2 seat configuration, are contemporary capsules that all face forward. All seats offer aisle access, except for the window seats where you will have to crawl over the legs of your neighbour if you want to reach the aisle.
Click here for a seat map of the most common version of Condor’s B767.
6. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (& WHAT SEAT TO CHOOSE)
Although comfortable, the Business Class seats on Condor’s B767 represent a dated product. While many airlines now offer flatbeds, Condor opts for angled lie-flat seats with a 170 degree incline. This is probably due to the fact that Condor mainly caters to holiday destinations and therefore somewhat lacks steep competitions from other airlines, hence allowing them to maintain a somewhat inferior Business Class seat product.
Manufactured by Zodiac Seat France and nicknamed ‘Majesty’, the seat has a 152 cm (60 inch) pitch and is 48 cm (19 inch) wide. The seat layout is quite simple, with the seat and entertainment system controls located in one arm rest, while the moderately sized tray table is located in the other arm rest and needs to be pulled out for any use (after which you are kind of blocked in your seat). In front of the seat is the entertainment screen (more on that below), with some storage space on top of it and a large compartment below for your feet (or legs when you transform the seat into a bed). If you wish to use your own electronic devices rather than the seat built-in complete system, you will be glad to know that the seat has USB ports and electrical outlets.
With a press of the button, the seat reclines to an angle of 170 degrees, hereby creating a bed of 180 cm (70 inch) long, whereby your legs disappear in the box below the entertainment screen. Although I am 182 cm (6 ft) tall, I found the seat to be comfortable enough and was even able to snag a few hours of sleep along the way (something that does not happen often to me on a flight).
What are the best Business Class seats on Condor’s B767? Use this seat map for more information.
- All seats in the cabin, except for the first and last row, are quiet good, especially for couples. Make sure to prebook your seat online (which can be done free of charge) to avoid disappointment at the airport, since Condor flights are often fully packed.
What are the worst Business Class seats on Condor’s B767? Use this seat map for more information.
- The 2-2-2 Business Class layout does not make the cabin very attractive for solo travelers, since you will always end up sitting next to a stranger. There is a small screen though between seats that can be raised for added privacy.
- Window seats don’t offer direct aisle access.
- Passengers seated in the first row may be bothered by the noise of the galley and passengers going to or returning from the lavatories.
- I also suggest to avoid the last row of Business Class, which is close to Premium Economy bassinet seats.
- Window seats in the last row are missing a window.
Upon boarding, your find a comfortable blanket and pillow on your seat to enhance your sleeping comfort. Before takeoff, the crew also hands out amenity kits, which come in the form of an etui, a small ornamental case featuring a map of the globe. The content was rather disappointing and not different from the essentials that you get in Economy Class on many airlines: an eyeshade, earplugs, socks, toothbrush, and toothpaste.
Upon boarding, I was offered the choice between a glass of Champagne, water, or orange juice. I choose the latter since drinking alcohol on a plane gives me headaches. Shortly after take-off, I received a refreshing hot towel to wipe my hands and face. I was also served a soft drink (with ice and lemon) and a small bag containing an assortment of cold nuts.
Soon thereafter, dinner was offered, all served on a single tray. Food was terrific and among the best I ever enjoyed on a flight, including First Class. The quality, quantity, presentation, and service were all top-notch. The menu read as follows:
- Starter: mixed platter with
- creamy cheese and herb dip
- chicken breast with herb crust, bulgur & mango salad, and curried crème fraiche
- avocado parsley mousse , quinoa salad, scampi skewer, and smoked salmon filet
- seasonal leafy green salad with thousand island dressing
- Main course: Red snapper with mustard sauce, grilled vegetables, and potato mash with chives
- Dessert: Passionfruit champagne tartlet on peach ragout
90 minutes prior to landing, breakfast was served. It featured:
- Freshly sliced fruits
- Beef salami, turkey ham, Emmentaler, and rocket cream cheese
- Frittata with cheese and parsley
- Bircher muesli
- Bread roll – croissant – chocolate Danish pastry
- Butter – jam – Nutella – honey
9. INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
Each Business Class seats has its own 15-inch monitor, which is located in the back of the seat in front of each passenger. The in-flight entertainment system, utilizing Zodiac’s Rave system, can be controled by touching the screen or by a tethered remote. The program itself is not the most extensive one around, but still offers around 30 movies, 50 TV series and documentaries, and a good selection of music. As mentioned above, each seat is also equipped with a power outlet if you want to use your laptop or tablet above the clouds.
10. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
# CREW: The crew was welcoming, attentive and efficient.
# PILOT REST AREA: On Condor’s 767s pilots have a special resting place located in the standard business class section. There are thick curtains that separate this space from the main cabin
# BAR: The Condor B767 does not have a walk-up bar in Business Class.
# LAVATORY: There are two lavatories for Business Class passengers, both of them located behind the cockpit. Some fresh flowers (red roses) added a nice touch.
# WIFI: Unfortunately, WiFi is currently not offered by Condor at the moment.
# FLIGHT PATH: The flight path took us over warn-tor Somalia and its capital Mogadishu, which kind of felt uneasy. Watching the sunrise above the Indian Ocean from 40,000 ft was a phenomenal spectacle.
11. MY VERDICT
- Lounge (Lufthansa): 7/10
- Seat : 7/10
- Food: 9/10
- Inflight entertainment : 7/10
- Service: 8/10
- Cabin: 9/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8/10
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Good morning, I like to take Condor Airlines for my different travels to go to Brazil. I prefer to be in Business Class. CDG-FRA-FOR. We have other airliners for these destination as Meridiana, TAP or AA (with LATAM :MIA-FOR). The best quality /price is Condor.