In the Condor Airbus A330-200 from Palma de Mallorca to Frankfurt.
"And so it's 07:03 a.m., good morning Mallorca," comes the sound from the loudspeakers of the bright red A-Class I've rented as I throw my rucksack into the trunk. "We are expecting a wonderful day with top temperatures of up to 21 degrees and 11 hours of sunshine on the most beautiful island in the world," reports the island's German-language radio station.
The small village in the east of the island is still shrouded in a mixture of morning dew and fog, the air is already lovely. Like so many Germans, I have been to “the Germans’ favorite island” for more than 20 years, and leaving is always difficult.
Few places in Europe offer such a wide range of cultures in such a small space as Mallorca. The excellent, sometimes several times a day accessibility from the DACH region with a short flight time of only 1,5 to a maximum of 2,5 hours flight (depending on the departure point) do the rest. There are regions in Germany that are poorly connected to public transport. If the numerous industry experts and forecasts are to be believed, the Balearic Islands and thus also Mallorca will celebrate a major tourist comeback in 2022.
The published flight schedules and bookable flights speak 2022 even 10% and more in capacity than in the "pre-corona" year 2019. No Spanish region is expecting higher growth rates this year, and the Easter holidays that have just ended were already a first foretaste. Up to 800 take-offs and landings per day during the Easter holidays and numerous wide-bodied jets at Palma's Son Sant Joan Airport reminded me of apparently long-gone days when I arrived a few days earlier. One of these wide-bodied aircraft, which repeatedly showed up at the Mallorcan airport over the Easter days, was a 13-year-old Airbus A330-200 with the serial number 975, which had been in service with Condor for a few weeks.
The Airbus A2009, which was commissioned at Etihad Airways in early 6 as "A330-EYR", was brand new at the time. The fact that an Airbus A10-2 appears in the booking systems of the German holiday airline is nothing new. In the past, Condor has already relied on this pattern several times, directly or indirectly. In addition to a handful of A2021-330s from the then "British sister company" Thomas Cook-UK, which were in use from time to time, an A200 with Condor lettering and German crews even flew in the airline's network at times. Most passengers on their flights to Baltimore/USA, Cancun or the Dominican Republic, for example, should not have noticed any difference to the "real Condor" right away. In fact, it was an aircraft from the British airline "Air Tanker", which mainly operates for the British Royal Air Force and also has three "All-Economy" A330-200 in its fleet portfolio. In addition to Condor (in the past), the British holiday airline “Jet330” also relies on these wide-bodies from time to time, including this summer on holiday flights to/from Manchester. But when on May 330, 200, i.e. in just under 2 weeks, an Airbus A15-2022 takes off for Seattle from Frankfurt for the first time as DE3, Condor will start a new chapter of its own.
Both the current short-haul flights and the long-haul program starting in May with the destinations Toronto, Punta Cana and Seattle are all serving the airline as training and preparation for the new A330-900neo expected in autumn.
The first factory-new jet also left the paint shop a few days ago and received the eye-catching new striped design. This aircraft and the current training on the A330 Operations herald the end of the Boeing 767 at Condor, which some have described as "long overdue". But what can passengers expect in the coming weeks and months on the former Arabian Airbuses, which are said to have been in service with the Neu-Isenburg company for almost 2 years. Time to take a closer look at this before the plane is sent on intercontinental routes.
Condor uses its own "fixed" check-in area at Palma Airport, which includes separate economy and business class counters. I was really surprised that this area contained the new corporate design behind the counters, on monitors or barrier tapes almost overnight; that was really quick for an outstation. The ticket counter opposite also shone in the new striped design and rounded off the picture. It was noticeable that there was a laminated information sheet in A4 size at the check-in counters, which emphasized the advantages of the new Business Class, especially in the A330, in order to persuade potential customers to upgrade spontaneously. Apparently they are trying to take short-term additional income from the A330 ops in Palma, which is not the worst idea.
Check-in was very quick and efficient, both online and at the counter. Actually, I had already received my boarding pass online. However, since this contained the addition "ADOC", I assumed that I would have to "present" additional documents at the airport and since I wanted to check in a suitcase anyway, this time the "double" check-in process.
Unlike on Condor's regular Boeing 767 operation, no premium economy class bookings are offered on long-haul flights operated with the A330. Since the cabin and thus also the seating will not be changed during the current 2-year assignment at Condor and Etihad Airways had not offered a premium economy class on the A330, Condor will also offer a 2-class model consisting of economy and Business Class, on these flights.
Very simply summarized: The cabin is almost untouched and 1:1 the previous Etihad product. The cabin looked very clean and also technically flawless. All seats have received a plain black headrest cover with the Condor logo. Apart from the newly attached "FlyStream" QR code sticker and the Condor Safety Card as the only "item" in the seat pocket, nothing has been changed. The economy cabin is generally installed in a 2-4-2 configuration, with the exception of a few rows at the end of the cabin.
All seats have an extra "cup holder", coat hock, tray table and an in-seat monitor with USB port and power outlet, a remote control for entertainment and a really good seat pitch. All in all, thanks to the complete takeover of the Etihad product, a perfectly smooth affair. Throughout the A330, the previous Etihad Airways logos have been replaced with images of Condor destinations. In fact, as soon as you enter the A330, you get a holiday feeling. In the D-AIYC, for example, pictures from Gran Canaria, Corfu or Seattle are appropriate.
As in Economy Class, Condor basically leaves the Business Class seats untouched. The total of 19 seats, which may be known to some guests as "Air Berlin Business Class", offer direct access to the aisle from every seat and sufficient storage space. The bucket seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. Even if the seat is of course a bit old, the product corresponds to the current global standard. With the push of a button, the seat can be converted into a completely flat bed with a reasonable lying surface in less than a minute. There is also the option of moving the seat to a relaxed position as you wish, and manually moving the backrest and seat forwards or backwards.
This means that even an 11-hour flight can be "survived" without any problems. A USB port is located right next to the headphone jack below the right armrest. The large monitor of the entertainment should work from the beginning of the long-distance operation. this has currently been completely deactivated, just like power outlets.
As an alternative, an entertainment option was initiated on the user's own end device with Condor FlyStream. The wall and spotlight worked flawlessly on the test flight, as did the seat's massage function(s). All in all, the business class cabin is in very good condition overall.
As already mentioned, Condor will offer 330 classes on all flights operated on the Airbus 2. The tariff selection is also kept quite simple and understandable.
The Economy Light only includes a small piece of hand luggage the size of a backpack 40x30x10cm, which means that most trolley cases should be ruled out due to their dimensions. The inclusive services include a meal and soft drinks and also a limited selection of in-seat entertainment. Online check-in is mandatory, as this is also subject to a surcharge of €25 if it is only carried out at the airport.
All of the above services are already included in the Economy Class fare, as is airport check-in, as well as large hand luggage and checked-in luggage. Only a rebooking is subject to a surcharge, if desired the evening before check-in with 5 € as well as alcoholic drinks on board.
In addition to the full-flat seat, the Business Class tariff already includes 16 kilos of hand luggage and 2 pieces of checked luggage with a maximum of 32 kilos each. In addition, there is an extensive menu and premium beverage selection on board. As a guest in "C-Class" you also receive a small "welcome gift", which was a "travel organizer" on my flight.
On the long-haul flights, a “refresh” or “sleep kit” is also handed out, which the guest can put together himself from various components, both of which, in my opinion, are very nice marketing ideas Access to the lounge is possible and included almost everywhere.
service on board
On the European Business Class routes, Condor offers the possibility to choose a pre-order meal free of charge from more than 10 different options. I opted for a "Viennese style" schnitzel with roast potatoes - offered by Condor as "Schnitzel Austrian Delight". This dish, which is free in Business Class if ordered in advance, can also be ordered in Economy Class, but then for €10,99, and tasted excellent for an airplane meal - a real tip - despite the plastic cutlery.
Drinks were offered several times in Business Class, as well as coffee or tea after the meal, with which a small chocolate was then served. All in all, a warm and very friendly and attentive service, the crew was clearly interested in the new aircraft and product. On the other hand, the two flight attendants in the front area in particular were real hosts through and through - all in all a really great flight, but a bit too short.
Wifi / entertainment
Even though the Etihad Airways A330 fleet was fully equipped with WiFi, this is now deactivated when used at Condor. Condor has decided to rely on a "hub" concept and to offer entertainment streaming on the aircraft. Access to the "Condor FlyStream" is explained in detail via a QR code, which is attached to all seats.
This system offers a selection of films, TV shows and audio content on your own device. In addition, an AirShow Map is available via the "Your Flight" function. In-seat entertainment is not available on current European flights – monitors and power outlets were switched off in Business Class.
Surprisingly, the power outlets and monitors were switched on in Economy Class, but they only displayed the logo of the predecessor Etihad Airways for the entire flight. An assessment of the entertainment options is therefore not possible.
And finally ...
Condor is preparing itself and the crews professionally within the given means and possibilities for the transition to the A330neo operation. From the guests' point of view, the former Etihad A330 is a good product that is of course slightly outdated. In the business class area, thanks to the full flat bed, a comfortable journey is possible on the routes offered.
With the in-seat entertainment, USB and power outlets at every seat, which will also be available from May, and Etihad's well-known good seat pitch, the journey in Economy Class should also be pleasant. There are still a few weeks left to tackle the smaller "blemishes". For example, the Etihad Airways logo that can be seen continuously on all economy class monitors or the automatic Arabic announcements on board the "YC" as soon as the seat belt signs have been switched on.
The entire product of the European business class is also absolutely competitive, only the plastic cutlery is unnecessary nowadays, there are certainly other options. I have been able to complete X-flights with Condor over the years, each and every one of them with extremely warm hosts, who in the past have always had to greet me in the aging Boeing fleet.
Step by step, Condor is now beginning a new chapter, away from the American aircraft manufacturer and towards the Airbus A330neo. And I'm looking forward to this chapter just as much as I'm looking forward to my next Condor flight, as soon as the first Neo is in the air.