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zolagola
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Arizona Avgeek Trip – Condor inaugural Frankfurt-Phoenix

Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:38 pm

It´s been a while since I posted my last trip report here, but as I set out on a special Avgeek trip last month I wanted to share some images and stories from this tour.

This is the first part of (likely) three posts covering this trip:
  • Frankfurt Airport tour and Condor inaugural flight FRA-PHX (this post)
  • Visit of Lufthansa Aviation Training Goodyear, AZ and tour of Phoenix Sky Harbour Airport (coming soon)
  • AMARG and Pinal boneyards (including flyovers) and visit of Pima Air & Space Museum Tucson, AZ (coming soon)

On the occasion of a new route opening of Condor Airlines from Frankfurt to Phoenix (a route which Lufthansa had briefly served between 2001 and 2004), we first gathered at Frankfurt airport for a behind the scenes tour of the airport.

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After going through the security checks, we boarded a Follow Me van and were driven right into the action: Austrian A320 (OE-LBL) touching down on RWY 25L

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We spent quite some time between the runways, watching planes land on 25L or depart from 25C, and then drove over to the terminal area via taxi way Mike (bucket ist item ‘drive in a Follow Me ticked)

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We had already seen a special guest, JA789A, ANA’s Dreamliner in special Star Wars BB-8 livery, was parked at the B gates, so took the opportunity for a closer look

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Next stop was at the C gates where we had the opportunity to visit the Apron Control Tower East

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Situated between Terminals 1 and 2, it provides an overview of the Terminal 2 apron and controls ground movements in this area (a second control tower, located at the A gates of Terminal 1, controls the movements from Terminal 1 westward)

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From the 4 desks, staff can control cameras all around the airport in order to track aircraft and ground vehicle movements when giving taxiing instructions

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Transponders also help identify aircraft and ground vehicles in the control zone

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Tarom B737 preparing for the flight back to OTP

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Korea B747-8i taxiing into its designated gate position at Terminal 2

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After the interesting visit during which we were able to ask many questions, we had some further time on the apron.

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Belly shot of D-AISO, a Lufthansa A321

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Last stop of the tour was a widebody, this Asiana A380-800 (HL7640) was in final preparations for the flight back to ICN

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Engine #1 of the OZ A380, with Tarom being pushed back in the background

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Our tour came to an end after almost 3 hours and I had thoroughly enjoyed every minute. FRA is my home base but I had never been able to see the airport from that angle, a great experience.

The next morning, we met at the Condor check-in to get our boarding passes for the inaugural flight to Phoenix. Condor has dedicated check in desks for Business Class and Premium Class (how they named their Premium Economy product and which I was booked in) but due to additional checks required for US bound flights, we were instructed to check in at the regular Economy check-in counter. Waiting time was ok though and the agent also added my Alaska Mileage Plan FFP number so I could collect the 125% miles for the Premium Class flight

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After passing through security (Premium Class does give you access to the fast lane), the first stop was the new airside outdoor terrace Frankfurt airport had opened only recently. It offers a nice view of the tarmac and for those fancying a smoke, you may do so there (which I found surprising)

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Whilst usually I try to avoid arriving at the gate too early, this flight was different. As you´d expect for an inaugural flight, there was some decoration put up to commemorate the flight. And a nicely designed cake – the first (but not last) of the day

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Condor and Frankfurt airport representatives as well as US Consul General Jim Herman were present and held speeches, did the ribbon cutting and cake distribution - unfortunately I missed most of that excitement due to an extra-pad-down in the gate area (I had received the infamous SSSS on my boarding pass). If you want to get some impressions, head to the Facebook page of the Consul General: https://www.facebook.com/usconsulate.fr ... 1873582097

Condor’s long haul fleet consists of 16 B767-300ER. Today D-ABUS, one of the younger 767 in the fleet (delivered to Asiana in 2001 and later flying for Skymark and JetairFly) operated the first flight to PHX (we had hoped for D-ABUM, named ‘Achim’ and carrying a 1970s special livery but it wasn´t to be).

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Boarding started 30mins before scheduled departure time with Business and Premium Class passengers entitled to priority boarding

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Just before entering the plane, we received a chocolate gift from Condor and Frankfurt airport

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Condor Airlines flight DE2026 from Frankfurt (FRA) to Phoenix (PHX)
May 2018
STD / AOBT: 11:40 L / 11:43 L
STA / AIBT: 14:45 L / 14:40 L
DUR: 11:57
Equipment: B767-300ER
Reg: D-ABUS
Personal flight #524
Seat 7K (Premium Class)

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D-ABUS is one of the 9 767 with the small Business Class cabin (3 rows of 2-2-2 = 18 seats), so the 35 seats Premium Class start in row 5 (there’s no row 4). Premium Class as well as regular Economy Class come with a 2-3-2 layout

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Waiting at our seats were an amenity kit (socks, eye mask, ear plugs, tooth brush – all cleverly packed in a drinking bottle which can also be used after the flight) as well as pillow & blanket (the Business Class amenity kit came in the form of a glasses case, so well done Condor for offering a packaging that is useful even after the flight)

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All Premium Class seats had moveable head rests – I´m over 6ft so this was a welcome feature for a 12h flight

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Since the 767 does not have a crew rest, 4 seats in Premium Class have been blocked to allow the cabin crew some rest on long flights (5 HK, 6HK). For the flight deck crew, two seats in Business Class had been blocked. The 4 seats would be closed off with a curtain once in the air and in order to not disturb the resting crew, the seats behind (7 HK) had been put back further. 7K happened to be my seat (and I had not known about this upfront despite doing some research) and that meant to things: firstly, instead of in-seat video, the screens had been placed near the ceiling which made it somewhat harder to watch movies

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Secondly (and more relevant to me due to my height and the flight length), the seat pitch was extraordinary. I didn´t measure it, but would assume it must have been close to 40in

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The IFE system was controllable by either remote control or touchscreen and did contain an appropriate number of movies, TV shows, music and games (all free of charge). Each screen had a USB plug which allowed for charging your onw devices during the flight

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After already adding New Orleans and Pittsburgh in 2017, Phoenix is the latest addition to the Condor route network which now covers 16 destinations in the US and Canada

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Boarding was completed swiftly and we pushed back on time. From the B gates it was only a short taxi to RWY 25C

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Departing from RWY 25C with a view of RWY 25R which is only used for landings

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When we had reached cruising altitude on FL 360, the skies over Europe were overcast

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Time to look at the menu for the upcoming service

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The full menu was served on a single tray and I was pleasantly surprised - appetiser, main and dessert were very tasty

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Drinks in Premium Class are included free of charge, so after lunch it was time for a G&T

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View of the cabin. Premium Class is separated from the Economy cabin by dividers at the cabin ceiling

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View of the rear Economy cabin. The flight had a pretty good load, 217 of 256 seats were occupied

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Why bother with IFE on a TV screen when the window provides this? The clouds opened up right as we were passing Greenland, offering fantastic views of the island

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Aptly, the crew came around offering FroYo

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2h before landing the 2nd service startet. There had been a little catering mishap and instead of a new meal, the same meal as for the 1st service had been loaded in Frankfurt. The crew offered the Economy menu (sausages) to those Premium Class passengers who didn´t want the same menu as before

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Weather was kind to us so when reaching Arizona, we had great views of Grand Canyon and the Colorado river

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Review of today’s route

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After less than 12 hours of flight, we touched down at PHX ahead of schedule. Due to the water shortage, there was no water canon salute for us (spoiler: the following day, our tour group did get what the plane didn´t get – more in part 2)

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Here´s how the landing looked like from the ground

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Saying good-bye to the sunnyheart

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The flight deck crew had put out a German and a US flag after landing

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Immigration was easy and quick as all booths were manned and so I arrived at the baggage belt where my bag was already waiting for me (Condor Business and Premium Class passengers both get priority baggage).

It was then quite a way to the arrivals area but everywhere there was staff guiding you, really putting the marketing claim ‘America’s friendliest airport’ into practise. What followed after exiting into the arrivals hall I had not expected – apart from media waiting, music playing and heaps of people we were handed all sorts of welcome gifts, including sun glasses from the Mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton.

To get an idea of the welcome celebrations (which featured a brass band), take a look at this short YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esznRNVBEBY

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Mr Stanton then also held a speech which – allow me that statement – as a European was a lot more encouraging to hear in terms of partnership between Germany/Europe and the US than what is coming out of DC at the moment

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The cake makers in Phoenix didn´t want to lose out against their Frankfurt counterparts so offered a nicely decorated cake as well

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Cake cutting involved a number of local politicians and business people

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The Condor crews of the arriving and departing flight also gathered for a photo

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We thoroughly enjoyed the flight and the fantastic reception at Phoenix airport. This was a great start to the tour, the coming days we spent in Arizona didn´t disappoint. I´ll need some more time to write up the next reports of this trip but will post an update here when available.

In the meantime, feel free to leave any comments below or check out some of my other trip reports:


2017
In Ethiopian C to paradise: OSL-ARN-ADD-SEZ
First Class East Coast Easter with LH and BA 747
Lufthansa A350 Inaugural Flight MUC-HAM-MUC

2016
European Regionals (incl. CS100)
Round the world (Part 3): Arabic A380 Apogee (Etihad Apartment)
Round the world (Part 2): Skipping a day
Round the world (Part 1): a First Class start
Air Berlin across the pond – AB Y+ & C on DUS-MIA-DUS
A South American Teaser – LAN C 787 on FRA-MAD
Testing The Swiss Triple Seven In C FRA-ZRH-GVA

2015
Tudo Bom! - To Brazil In BA First & Club World
Lost In India – BOM-DEL-DOH-DME In AI+QR C
Meeting The Singapore Girls – ZRH-SIN-BOM In SQ C
At Putin’s Show Room - Maks Airshow 2015
New, Newer, Qatar Airways – A350, A380 & B788 In C
Siam Birds - Nokair & Bangkok Airways

2014
Quick Trip Across The Pond To NYC (SN & UA In C)
The Kim-Dom Calling-avgeek Heaven North Korea (P3)
The Kim-Dom Calling-avgeek Heaven North Korea (P2)
The Kim-Dom Calling-avgeek Heaven North Korea (P1)
Beijing And Back In C: LH A346 Vs. CA B773
A visit To Kingman & Mojave Boneyards With LX & LH
Northwest In Style - FRA-SEA-FRA In LH F (old)
Living The Dream(liner) – LAN FRA-MAD-FRA In Y

2013
Sleep Like An Egyptian:BRU-CAI-BKK-CAI-FRA In MS C
Endangered Species - A Weekend Trip To Russia (P2)
Endangered Species - A Weekend Trip To Russia (P1)

2008
The True Berlin Airport - Last Trip To THF
 
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atcsundevil
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Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Condor inaugural Frankfurt-Phoenix

Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:32 am

Great trip report! I lived in Phoenix for a decade up until a year and a half ago, so I was glad to see this flight starting. I spent a lot of time going back and forth to Germany, and always wished for a direct flight...I had been so used to having one when I lived on the east coast. Arizona is very popular with German tourists (and Germany with American tourists alike), so it's great to see the two places linked once again. Thanks for sharing!
 
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seemyseems
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Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Condor inaugural Frankfurt-Phoenix

Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:27 am

Excellent trip report and some very good photos! I would like to try and get onto an inaugural flight one day.
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eastafspot
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Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Condor inaugural Frankfurt-Phoenix

Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:15 pm

Wow amazing TR
Great to have an insight of Condor product. Lovely salt & pepper shakers, they would have probably disappeared mysteriously in my backpack... 8-)
Thanks for sharing
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
 
airzona11
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Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Condor inaugural Frankfurt-Phoenix

Wed Jun 06, 2018 10:38 pm

Great TR! So exciting to see this service at PHX. The service on Condor looks amazing, not sure I can swing it this summer, but excited to hear will have a chance to try it out next year.
 
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EA CO AS
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Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Condor inaugural Frankfurt-Phoenix

Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:06 pm

Great report, but what water shortage?
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
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zolagola
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Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Condor inaugural Frankfurt-Phoenix

Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:51 pm

Thank you for your comments!

atcsundevil wrote:
I lived in Phoenix for a decade up until a year and a half ago, so I was glad to see this flight starting. I spent a lot of time going back and forth to Germany, and always wished for a direct flight...I had been so used to having one when I lived on the east coast. Arizona is very popular with German tourists (and Germany with American tourists alike), so it's great to see the two places linked once again.

Agree, and I hope the service continues. As Condor offers one-way fares, it´s also easy to plan open-jaws, e.g. combining flights in PHX and out of LAS.

eastafspot wrote:
Great to have an insight of Condor product. Lovely salt & pepper shakers, they would have probably disappeared mysteriously in my backpack... 8-)

I can tell you so much as that there were few who thought the same - including myself :lol:
(Virgin America also had these in First, not sure if Alaska keeps them though).

airzona11 wrote:
Great TR! So exciting to see this service at PHX. The service on Condor looks amazing, not sure I can swing it this summer, but excited to hear will have a chance to try it out next year.

Fingers crossed the service is continued in 2019!

EA CO AS wrote:
Great report, but what water shortage?

That´s what we were told. And flying over Lake Mead a few days later, the water levels didn´t look healthy there.

BTW, part 2 is now online: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1396855
 
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TS-IOR
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Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Condor inaugural Frankfurt-Phoenix

Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:23 pm

Been a long time i didn't enjoy a TR like this one. Pleasant. Period. PHX and area area fun for avgeeks, but it's started getting really hot to enjoy any planespotting or sightseeing at the PHX garage roof for example. Condor is the last and hopefully everlasting charter airline from the ones i grew up with in the eighties. The shift towards a leisure or upper middle-class airline was healthy for and their rely on the mighty 767 is part of its success. Probably the only thing I didn't like in all the story is... the newly opened terrace being smoking.. can't believe it in 2018.. total fail.
 
Cush
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Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Condor inaugural Frankfurt-Phoenix

Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:41 am

TS-IOR wrote:
Probably the only thing I didn't like in all the story is... the newly opened terrace being smoking.. can't believe it in 2018.. total fail.


Why is that a total fail? Just because you are a non-smoker? Shouldn't people who chose to smoke have a place where they can enjoy without bothering other people? It makes total sense to allow smoking on an OUTDOOR area to me. Just like in Riga, Latvia airport. There is a small outdoor observation deck that is for smoking as well.

I can't believe in 2018 people like you need to GROW UP.
Fly me to the moon let me play among the stars.
 
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TS-IOR
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Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Condor inaugural Frankfurt-Phoenix

Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:34 pm

The fail is mixing a smoking area with a sightseeing area.. Otherwise whoever choose to smoke is absolutely free to do it and this doesn't affect respect to his person in any way.
 
767747
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Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Condor inaugural Frankfurt-Phoenix

Sun Jun 24, 2018 11:39 pm

Great report and photos. Looks like a good trip with Condor! I actually just saw the seasonal Condor 767-300 approaching MSP near where we live - and so good timing to read this report and see what their PY looks like.

Thank you for sharing!
I love to fly!

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