Review: Condor A321 Business Class (DUS-ATH)
After a few nights in Düsseldorf, we flew the Condors A321 business class to Athens. I was looking forward to this, since I’ve been curious to check out Condor’s short-haul business class experience. I had previously reviewed the Condors 767 business class, on the fascinating route between Frankfurt and Whitehorse.
Condor is reinventing itself at the moment – the airline is accepting the A330-900neos with a new business class, Condor has a cool new color, and the airline is increasingly competing head-to-head with Lufthansa on several routes.
So, how was the Condors A321 business class? Let’s take a look…
How I ordered our Condor business class tickets
Condor had the only direct flight between Düsseldorf and Athens on our date. Although airfare is generally quite high this summer, we got a good deal. Specifically, we booked the following flight:
06/19 DE1018 Düsseldorf to Athens with departure 06:20 with arrival 10:15
For this flight, economy tickets started at just $ 136.99 per person, while business class cost $ 226.99 per person. We found business class to be well worth it, especially since we had quite a bit of checked luggage, which came with our business class ticket.
At the time we booked, we were also the only ones with seats assigned in business class, so I was curious if we wanted the cabin to ourselves.
By the way, remember that Condor is an Alaska Mileage Plan partner, which means you can earn and redeem Mileage Plan miles for travel on Condor.
Chaos at Düsseldorf Airport
I have previously written about the reality of flights this summer, and it is especially bad at European airports. The night before our flight, I watched the scheduled flights from Düsseldorf on the morning of our departure. There were 31 flights from the airport between 05:50 and 06:30. So we decided to show up at the airport just before noon. 04.00, to leave well in advance. Below are some scenes from what the airport looked like at the time.
The queues were so long that people mostly did not even know what they were up to. I was mostly surprised by the lack of proper queue management. People really only had to make their own lines, since there was no one there to guide people about where to stand in line.
Condor business class check-in and boarding
I was glad we paid the premium for business class when I saw the queues at Condor’s check-in counter.
While the business class queue was still very long, with a single agent working, it moved quickly. We “only” had to wait for approx. 30 minutes, which was a much shorter waiting time than what other passengers had to deal with.
I was also happy to see how Condor’s new branding is already “live” at airports – I’m a fan!
The priority security line took about 20 minutes, since it would have been much longer if we had not prioritized security access. Once on the flight side, we briefly visited the Hugo Junkers Lounge, accessible via Priority Pass.
Our plane boarded from gate B78, which was only a short walk from the security checkpoint. Our boarding passes indicated that boarding would start at. 05.35, even though it actually started at. 05.45, and business class was invited to board first.
Our plane departed from an external stand, so it took about 10 minutes before the first bus was filled up. At 05.55 we were driven to the plane, and we got there around kl. 06.00.
OMG WE GOT A CONDOR FLIGHT IN THE NEW LIVERY! Condor recently introduced a new life (the stripes come in different colors), and for me it is the coolest and boldest color ever. I liked it even more personally than in the pictures.
For what it’s worth, we flew the Condor Airbus A321 with registration code D-AIAC, an approximately eight-year-old aircraft.
Condor A321 business class cabin and seats
Condor’s Airbus A321 is in a very tight configuration, with 220 seats. In general, business class in Europe consists of economy class seats with a blocked center. Usually there is a curtain between the cabins, but in this case it was not. Instead, it was simply a headrest on the center seat that said “Business” and “Your Space” (meaning the seat remains empty).
We took a seat in row two, and experienced the legroom as awful. Like, I’m not very tall, and even when I sat as far back in the seat as possible, my knees touched the front seat. Otherwise, this was a fairly standard financial seat.
Oddly enough, we noticed how the first row of seats had facilities in the middle seats and also had the headrest which indicated that it was business class, while the second row did not.
I asked the flight attendant about this. She was extremely apologetic and friendly – “ah, so you are business class passengers, welcome to your cozy, private cabin, and make yourself comfortable wherever you want.”
We were very happy about that, because the bulkhead had excellent legroom for comparison. If you are flying Condor’s short distance business class, be sure to reserve the first row, otherwise legroom is awful.
While the plane was otherwise almost full, the whole first two rows were just for us, so we each took one of the window seats on the first row.
I appreciated that the overhead consoles not only had reading lights, but also individual air nozzles, which is especially useful on a European airline given how hot the cabins are often kept.
The cabin was otherwise pretty no-frills. Condors A321s have no power ports or Wi-Fi, so make sure you bring your own entertainment to keep you busy and the electronics properly charged before proceeding.
Condor business class facilities
Waiting for the seats in the front row were quite comfortable pillows. It is nice that these are offered proactively, given that most airlines only offer these on request in intra-European business class.
There was also a bag with a disinfectant napkin and tour operator. It is an unusual offer to offer on board, although it is a cool concept. I guess this is probably sponsored by the company that sells these?
Condor departure from Düsseldorf
The boarding process was a bit chaotic, as the flight attendant had to ask almost all other passengers to put on a mask. Germany requires masks on planes, but not at airports. Although there were several announcements about the need for masks during boarding, so many passengers went on board without them on.
At 06.20 the boarding was complete, and then the captain announced our flight time of 2h35min, and informed us that we had to wait another 10 minutes before we pushed back, since we only had a departure time at. 06.40.
We actually pushed back at 06:30, when a manual safety demonstration was carried out. We had a 10 minute taxi to runway 5R, where we were to depart from.
Hey, sexy Condor fly!
Careful near the runway, bird!
We had a steady climb out, but strangely enough it took over 20 minutes before the seatbelt sign was turned off.
Condor business class inflight service
Condor business class passengers receive a free hot meal, plus unlimited free drinks. So about 30 minutes after takeoff, a brettinner was brought out, also with Condor’s new brand.
We were first offered drinks – I ordered a cup of coffee and a bottle of water. There are no glasses in Condor’s regional business class, but you would rather receive cups as in economics.
About 15 minutes later our breakfast was brought out. This consisted of an English breakfast and a couple of muffins.
Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, potatoes, turkey sausage and turkey bacon. It was accompanied by a dessert with two different muffins. As for the flight breakfasts, I thought this was a surprising thing, and it tasted better than I expected when I first got it served.
The purser first and foremost only looked after us the whole flight, since we were the only ones in business class. We were offered several water and coffee refills. Towards the end of the flight we were also offered a small box of Lily O’Brien’s chocolate, when she joked that she could not let us out of the plane without serving us at least a few more calories.
The flight attendant was really lovely, kind and funny, and just seemed a little less serious than at Lufthansa (in a good way). For what it’s worth, below is part of the Condor buy on board menu. As mentioned above, drinks are free in business class, although I do not think you can order extra food for free.
Condor A321 business class toilet
There was a toilet in front of the A321 cabin. A disadvantage of Condor’s business class layout is that this is not really reserved for business class passengers, since there is no curtain between economy and business.
This was not a problem at all, since Ford and I were both sitting in window seats. However, if you are sitting in a aisle seat, you may not be happy when a line is formed right near you.
Condor arrival in Athens
About 30 minutes before landing, the captain announced that we would soon begin the descent. Just a few minutes later, the seatbelt sign was turned on and the cabin prepared for landing. As usual, the view approaching Athens was fantastic – I let the pictures speak for themselves.
We landed at Athens airport at 10:30. From there we had a five minute taxi to our external stand, from where we were bussed to the terminal.
The remote stand meant we got a new look at our gorgeous A321!
Once in the arrivals hall, our bags arrived in less than five minutes, which was a pleasant surprise.
The bottom line
Condor offers an affordable business class on short trips, with priority airport services, a decent meal, unlimited drinks and a friendly crew. I feel like we paid a reasonable premium for what we got, especially given that we were the only ones in business class. Condor legroom on short-haul flights is very limited, so if you are flying in business class, I would recommend booking your bulkhead.
It is exciting to see Condor become increasingly competitive with Lufthansa, both in terms of route network and product. I look forward to flying Condor’s new A330-900neo when they go into use.
If you flew Condor’s regional business class, how was your experience?