It's Monday, February 13, 2023 when in Terminal 7 of New York's JFK Airport - bar tables, Condor roll-ups and different-colored balloons adorn the check-in area and the gate area of Gate 4. With a bright blue sky and an outside temperature of 11 degrees, Condor's gold and white striped Airbus A14-45neo landed for the first time at 330:900 p.m. local time.
While a mixture of SmartLynx and Wamos Air A330 had primarily been used on the Frankfurt – New York JFK route in the last few weeks, a Condor “own” A12.02 landed the day before (February 330) with the D-AIYA, albeit an A330-200 , which was formerly in the service of Etihad Airways and which we at Aviation.Direct had already tested in Business Class on a flight from Palma de Mallorca in April.
Professionally prepared, nothing had obviously been left to chance at Condor on this day. In the renovated Terminal 7, where the codeshare flights of Condor's partner Alaska Airlines take off and land from JFK, and where the "Alaska Airlines Lounge" is located, the check-in counters were already equipped with the new corporate design and "Welcome A330neo" items .
After the smooth check-in, there was a brief setback. Even though the use of the "Fast Lane" was indicated on the boarding pass and on the homepage, the security access control employee just smiled "sorry, we don't have a fast lane", and so we went into the regular queue, who welcomed me with an estimated waiting time of "less than 35 minutes".
After this hurdle had also been cleared, the gold and white striped tail of the brand new aircraft appeared for the first time. After American press / media and travel agency representatives had the opportunity to board the A330neo, boarding for the return flight from "Manhattan to Mainhattan" started slightly late at 16:05 p.m.
To get straight to the point – Chapeau dear Condor! When I entered your "D-ANRH" for the first time at 16:10 pm New York local time, I was immediately "shock in love" (New German is said to call it that nowadays). The interior, which comes in dark blue with sand-colored accents in Economy and Premium Economy and in dark blue and mahogany in Business Class, looks stylish and tasteful.
It is now 16:46 p.m. (22:46 p.m. German time) when Condor Captain Paul Reit welcomes the 200 or so passengers on board the Kelsterbach-based company, which is only 4 weeks “young” to the fleet. Together with 27 other guests, I had decided on a seat in Premium Economy Class, which offers space for a maximum of 64 guests. However, a total of around 100 seats should remain unoccupied on today's flight.
The flight time on this almost 6200 km long "red-eye flight" to Rhein-Main Airport in Frankfurt was calculated at 6 hours and 45, which made up for a delay of 35 minutes. However, when we reach German soil at 6:12 this morning in the form of runway 07R in Frankfurt, there is still a good half hour delay on the slip.
The premium economy class consists of the first 8 rows after the 2-door (64 seats) in a 2-4-2 configuration and the adjustable headrests are decorated in the gold and white striped pattern, while the normal economy seats are only plain and with a small Condor logo have been provided.
Since there is no spatial demarcation from Economy Class, the crew kept monitoring throughout the flight to see if anyone had moved. In addition to the well-equipped recline function of the seat, it also has an adjustable footrest and power connections under the seat. The distance to the front seat is generous, so that I was able to eat, work and later sleep for a good 1,5 hours in a very relaxed manner throughout the flight .
The service on board was relatively sumptuous on this short long-haul flight from the US East Coast back to Frankfurt. Immediately after the start, a welcome drink (sparkling wine or orange juice), a pack of crackers, amenity kits and welcome gifts were distributed. This was followed by menu cards printed in postcard or birthday card size for the flight.
The tray, which was served together with a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, coffee and tea, did not contain any food on porcelain, but it did have real metal cutlery. There was a choice of two menus for the main course, and breakfast was served 1,5 hours before landing in Frankfurt.
There were a total of 3 drinks during the flight and a bottle of water right at the beginning. Due to the short flight time, the light in the cabin was dimmed for about 3 hours for night rest, directly after the onboard sale and offered the opportunity to close your eyes for at least a few hours on this Red Eye Flight.
Wifi / entertainment
Condor offers the new Wifi "FlyConnect" service on the A330neo in cooperation with Telekom. In 3 packages, you can choose between a pure data plan for Messenger use for €7 for the entire flight, 2-hour access for €12 and premium access for 4 hours for €20, which also enables VPN use and audio streaming.
The 13-inch, flat in-seat monitor offers a selection of more than 80 feature films, 97 series; 28 blockbusters, digital press and destination information. In the initial phase, this comprehensive premium offer will be available to all passengers, including those in "normal" Economy Class.
While headphones can be purchased for €3,50 in Economy Class, they are free in Premium Economy Class. You can also connect your own Bluetooth headphones to the monitor, which worked without any problems on the test flight with the AirPods used.
And finally ...
Currently, 4 airlines alone operate the Frankfurt – JFK route. With the A330neo that has now been delivered and used on this route, Condor has the necessary material to not have to hide behind the competition in any way. Thanks to the existing one-way tariff policy, which also enables a relatively cheap one Way Ticket and entry-level prices from around €250 in Premium Economy Class on the Frankfurt – New York route, Condor is absolutely attractively positioned here.
With 32 kilos of baggage allowance, a premium menu and a selection of drinks, your own check-in counter and extensive entertainment, the flight in the really stylishly furnished A330neo can be experienced in a completely relaxed manner. In my opinion, the extra monetary costs were absolutely justified. If priority boarding and fast lane are implemented consistently and in coordination with the airports, the Premium Economy in the A330neo is worth every penny. The next opportunity for the first flight "testing" for last-minute travelers is the day after tomorrow. Then the first flight with the A330neo to and from Seattle will be celebrated.