In this review:
- a pretzel
- a business class passenger raising his naked feet
- free lounge hopping at Kuala Lumpur
It was the end of another trip in Europe, and I was content and tired. It was time to head back to the only place I could take 12 naps in a row and not feel bad about myself: Shanghai. I picked probably the weirdest way to do so: a Condor business class flight to Kuala Lumpur. They also weirdly sell connecting tickets with Malaysia Airlines, so I would continue to Shanghai. So here you go, a strange way to get from Europe to Shanghai, in probably the cheapest business class flight you can get. It is about 900USD for a flight in early January peak period one way, so I would say it is a great deal, considering that I would get a big chunk of Alaska Airlines miles on top of it. Now let’s see if this leisure airline’s business class can measure up against the giants.
I walked to the premium area exclusive for airlines’ business and first class passengers. There was barely anyone, and the agent measured me up and down:”Are you business class? Economy is not here.” I nodded and pushed my passport onto the table. Within half a minute, I was walking to the security with my boarding pass and lounge invitation.
Immigration line was ridiculous for non-Schengen passports, and there was no priority lane, which made me quite disgruntled. After a solid 10 minutes of wait, I was through to the air side. It was another long walk down the terminal for my departure gate, but gladly I could pick which Luftansa lounge I could use. Thankfully Condor is partially owned by the German giant so I could enter their lounges with my business class boarding pass.
The lounge is one floor above the concourse, and was guarded by one single agent. Lots of families traveled through here, as well as even more HON circle elites, so another line waited for me. Luckily, this one only lasted for a few minutes, before the agent waved me into the empty lounge.
The place was pretty average. Airy and big, nice furnishing, average food offering, no good views or privacy. I grabbed myself an individual pod that was very small and cramped, and proceeded to the breakfast spread.
The spread is quite impressive, if not for the lack of good hot foods that one would not see at a Denny’s in Wichita at 4 a.m. As a sucker for something healthy and warm for breakfast, though, I have to give the huge selection of cereals a hard pass. However, most people seemed to be quite content, though, so who am I to complain? I grabbed some carb-infused food and went back to the cubicle for a bit of work. This lounge is more than sufficient for my early departure on a leisure airline such as Condor, but compared to some big giants such as Qatar or Cathay Pacific, it seems to be a bit underwhelming for international long haul business class passengers on Luftansa.
Overall I think the lounge is okay, but the lack of other amenities such as good rest facilities or business offerings made this more like a contract lounge with exceptional dining rather than a full-on complete lounge with acceptable food options. After all it all comes to perspective of the person who was getting in, and I bet if I was just a lowly elite member flying the early morning flight to London in economy, I would be super appreciative of just the food. I continued to my gate as boarding was announced right on time.
My flight was already all set to go, so I did not hesitate to board early through the first set of doors.
The Seat & Amenities
Everyone boarded through the front, so I got a lot of eyes staring back. Most of the passengers in economy seemed to be Germans heading towards Asia for vacation, but in business class, a significant portion was Chinese like me heading home. It matters not, however, because of the large in-flight entertainment screen, which does not have Chinese as a setting since Malaysia is the only destination in far east that Condor serves. It is nice and responsive, and contains a few dozen TV shows, movies and music. In economy cabin, you would have to pay to get all these shows and movies, but in business class, it is all featured free of charge. Cannot compared to the awesome array of offerings displayed on other airlines, this is still a nice perk for all cabins.
The leg room is excellent, as one could stretch practically into the horizons for it being an angle-flat seat. Yes, the seat is said to be 170° angled, but I personally feel it to be a bit more than that. It hinders sleeping only a tiny bit, so I did not find it too horrible, yet it can never beat a reverse herringbone that is for sure. Another downside is the lack of storage space, and that means another round of musical chair with all the amenities given. In the above picture, you can find the headphone given which was pretty crappy, as well as a very basic soft-shell amenity pouch, with just eye shade, ear plugs, socks and tooth brush/paste. However, I doubt any high profile CEO’s are gonna fly these business class flights to the vacation spots for negotiations, so I say it is perfectly acceptable.
The entire cabin is laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration for 6 rows. The thirty business seats were stuffed to the brim, and sent those poor flight attendants running around like crazy. The pillow was reasonably plush and the blanket perfectly okay, but sadly there was no turn down service. It was exactly what one would expect to get: a business class experience inferior to a lot of the others, with the price lower than almost all of the others.
While the friendly flight attendants passed down the aisle with pre-departure beverage, I checked out all the other nooks and crannies of the seat. It is truly a bare bone shell seat, and what you saw above was all the glory, no hidden storage cubby, or extra pockets of goodies. Magazine rack, water bottle rack, shelf above the screen, and that is basically it.
What happened while we were waiting for the last few passengers was a bit uncivilized. The guy in the middle section of the row in front of me took a glance of the area, took off his shoes, and then his socks, and then raised his feet so high above the surface of earth that it could be visible from a geosynchronous satellite, shown above. Just as I thought the Germans are the most law-abiding people on the planet, I was slapped in the face by a pair of smelly feet.
We taxied out of the ramp right on schedule, and continued to waft past a Singapore Airlines A380, a few Luftansa planes and an Iran Air A330. We took off to the strong winds and started cruising, thus beginning our 12.5 hour cruise towards the capital of Malaysia.
Service and Food
As the crew started preparing our main meal, a round of packaged nuts were handed out. I watched one of the movies as the appetizers took a bit longer than 1 hour to serve all in one large tray.
The servings of these appetizers, as well as their variety, blew me away. I was absolutely delighted to see so many kinds of differently flavored items displayed in front of me before the main course, as even Cathay Pacific would be stingy at this part. Compared to Hainan or Alitalia, this is outstanding indeed, as I can only think of Japan Airlines which can top this, that is if you disregard the buffet-style devouring I did while on board Qatar Airways. What delighted me even more, however, was the pretzel, which reminded me all those good days in Germany with my friends Alina, Cathrin, and many more. A quintessential German bread for a proudly German airline, there is nothing else that I want. The hummus was on point, especially along with the sprinkled pomegranate. Eggplant and shrimp were dynamic in texture, which made them perfect to dip into the middle eastern sauce.
I especially loved the airplane shaped salt and pepper shaker, which is a Thomas Cook group signature. I did not hesitate to steal it from the tray and hid it in my backpack. Like the rubber ducks from Luftansa and the little ceramic houses from KLM, this plane has to be in a quintessential globetrotter’s collection.
The main course I chose was the vegetarian pasta option, some kind of rolly-polly pasta with ricotta cheese and spinach inside (I ain’t no pasta expert…), since I was sitting on the 4th row and my preferred prawn option had run out. The tomatoes topped on the noodles were bursting with juice, and the cheese was stringy just as I liked it, so I had no complaint about it whatsoever. In fact, I was glad that I got this lighter meal instead!
By the time I washed down the last chunk of ricotta with the large glass of white wine, my tummy was already bursting at the seams. However, the food just, kept, coming. The cheese course was simple yet elegant, with the small fruity tart perfectly complementing the salty cheeses. The dessert cake was pretty chunky as well, so I barely touched it as I would otherwise began vomiting. The meal service took a lengthy 100 minutes to finish, but I do not blame the flight attendants, since they had a full cabin to work with, and they were definitely sweating while running up and down the rows.
Oh almost forgot the thing that supported me through this entire meal! The wine list reads as the following:
Let’s talk about Condor’s service. It is…very German, that is probably the best way to talk about it. The flight attendants were sharply dressed; their hair perfectly braided, and their smile mechanically affixed. They were as speedy as humanly possible given the crowded cabin, walking with wind without exuding a sense of urgency. Composed questions always followed by a refill of drinks, asking me if I wanted to get something else. However, all those precise and corporate-memo-perfect acts made them a bit distant to me. I would not dare in my dream to ask them one single question that would not be on a list hidden somewhere in their training class package, as I was afraid to waste their time. This is the German service style: they do everything one might expect perfectly, but that is about it, and there is nothing to fault, but I just feel a bit estranged, that’s all.
I snoozed almost 6 hours after lunch, and took a look of the bathroom: nothing special, and just a regular size economy one with a tiny bit of extra decor. They are relatively well maintained, though. I hopped back to my seat to wait for breakfast, which was served 2 hours before landing.
The breakfast was very good, even though it was not exactly the healthiest in the world. The tomato sauce with potato chips was very good, and the fruit salad was refreshing. We landed a tiny bit behind schedule, but the flight was perfectly fine for what I paid. I hopped right off the jet bridge with a re-energized mood, and headed straight to the transit desk. It was a bit crowded but I got everything I needed within 2 minutes thanks to a separate agent handling Malaysia Airlines’ own flights. However, before jumping to afterthoughts, I have some bonus features for you!
Bonus: KUL Lounges
Thanks to my OneWorld Sapphire status with American Airlines, I was able to chill in the premium OneWorld lounges even though I was on an economy ticket that would not even earn miles on any airline. First I went to the Malaysia Airline Golden Lounge that I paid a visit 3 years ago during ThaiMar. I was waved right in after 30 seconds of data input by the receptionist. Sadly this time I was no longer an Emerald member so the First Class section was out of reach.
The lounge was airy and beautiful, yet a bit bland and boring. High ceilings, sure, but a lack of unique features and a bunch of lame sofas with the exact same layout, boo… The breakfast offering was shockingly great, and needless to say I headed straight for the noodle bar that was serving up bowls after bowls of piping hot, steamy laksa. Hell yeah this is what I always wanted ever since last time passing by!
I sat by the large windows facing tarmac, and started inhaling all the great warm Asian foods to satisfy my Asian stomach. Needless to say it was an awesome perk to be able to dine whatever I want in a quiet corner of the airport for absolutely free! However, I had little time left, as I would have to check out another lounge at the airport.
I paid a quick visit of the Cathay Pacific Lounge just like every time I was here before. It was as usual: a bit small, thus a bit cramped. The food offering was not even as impressive as their newspaper options, so overall the lounge is significantly worse than the Malaysia flagship lounge, but it is perfectly understandable, as Kuala Lumpur has continued to diminish in importance in Cathay Pacific’s roadmap.
I had no idea why so many cakes were on display in the lounge for breakfast, but I guess many people love sweet cold chunks for their first meal of the day. I teleported down the escalators and boarded last formy flight to Shanghai. I still yet had to pay Malaysia a visit properly, but sadly it was not today.
Bonus: Flight to Shanghai
The boarding was quick and efficient, so was the taxi. As a result, we were in the air in no time. 4 hours of flight on this dated A330 was perfectly forgettable, as I slept most of the way through the mediocre entertainment offerings. Food options are pretty good for a medium-hall economy flight even though it was very unhealthy, and everything was as eventless as ever. We landed on time but thanks to the chaotic Pudong Airport taxiing system we disembarked nearly 30 minutes behind schedule. Finally, the trip was over, and I could nap until 4pm without fearing missing a flight or my mother whopping my ass to the next star cluster!
Condor is a great airline, I reckon. It serves a needed position in Europe as a better long haul leisure airline than most others, along with its sister company Thomas Cook, of course. Germany is in desperate need of aviation competition, and I do not want stratified competition such as the one between Luftansa and EasyJet. Condor is like a beaver in the world of European aviation jungle: easy to overlook, small and unassuming, but working damn hard every day to please its customers while charging a very consumer-friendly price tag, even though they are not exactly in direct competition with anyone. I say Condor is a nice breeze of fresh air to the dilapidated European skies, and just for that, I would support Condor whenever I can.
- decent lounge
- nice food
- GREAT VALUE
- German service
- dated seats and plane
- limited route network
- slow paced lunch
- German service
Condor 767 Business Class Grading
- Ground Service: 150
- Hard Product: 105
- Soft Product: 150
- Food: 165
- Value: 185
- Bonus: 5 for nice salt and pepper shaker, collected!
- Total: 760 【GOOD】