Air France Concorde
Concorde awaits my arrival in New York for my trip on Air France flight 1 to Paris on Sunday, May 25, 2003. To say that the 160,000 Delta Air Lines SkyMiles which I used to be a passenger on this aircraft was a great use of those miles would be an incredible understatement. Photograph ©2003 by Brian Cohen.

Concorde Trip Report: 20 Year Anniversary

A short raw video of traveling greater than twice the speed of sound is included in this article.

I suddenly realized recently that 2023 was 20 years since I was a passenger aboard Air France Concorde. This trip report commemorates that 20 year anniversary almost seven months too late. I do have other photographs — as well as items which I received from that trip; but I did not want to wait until after this year concluded to first publish this trip report here at The Gate With Brian Cohen.

Concorde Trip Report: 20 Year Anniversary

Sometime back in March 2003 — I am not exactly sure when — I decided that I wanted to fly on Concorde. Call it intuition; but something told me that Concorde was not going to be active in commercial aviation much longer. While it was not exactly a lifelong dream of mine, flying Concorde quickly became a high travel priority for me.

Planning this trip became different for me for two reasons:

  1. I usually plan the itinerary of a trip based on one or more of the following criteria:
    • The desire to visit a destination;
    • Convenience — such as a non-stop flight or lodging that is close to where I want to be;
    • Low cost — such as a special sale with a rare low airfare; or
    • Maximizing the usage of my points and miles — such as being able to redeem as few miles and points as possible for the trip.
  2. Also, this is the first trip where I decided to actively solicit the support and assistance of fellow FlyerTalk members, as I usually take pride in researching and designing exceptional trips all by myself.

After investigating that I can indeed use my miles to fly Concorde, I not only decided to solely plan my entire trip around the availability of flying on Concorde, but also that I wanted to go on a trip where I can go to a destination where people from the United States do not typically travel. Due to its rich history — yet not be overwhelmed by having too much to do with not enough time — I decided upon Malta. Because there was no easy way to reach Malta from Paris later that night after arriving on Concorde, I would have to depart the next morning. I also decided that since I was so close to Italy, I would visit southern Italy — more specifically, Sicily, the Amalfi Coast, and Rome — before returning home to the greater Atlanta metropolitan area.

After negotiating my flexibility for dates to fly as a passenger aboard Concorde, I was able to book Concorde outbound on Sunday, May 25, 2003. My return trip was scheduled for Thursday, June 5, 2003. My original schedule was as follows:

  • 24 May DL 1992 ATL – JFK
  • 25 May AF 1 JFK – CDG
  • 26 May AZ 303 CDG – MXP
  • 26 May AZ 884 MXP – MLA
  • 5 June AF 2305 FCO – CDG
  • 5 June AF 2 CDG – JFK
  • 5 June DL JFK – ATL

The seats on all flights other than Concorde were either in the first class cabin or the business class cabin.

To get from Malta to Italy, I decided to take to the sea for overnight transportation. I was quite uncomfortable with the fact that the company that owned the vessel would not take any payment other than cash or a wire transfer, which normally would have been a major clue for me to avoid them and seek alternate transportation, but I wired the money over against my better judgment. Once again, trust your intuition. Without going into any details at this time, the journey aboard that vessel was miserable.

It was not easy booking lodging for my trip. Virtually every hotel property was sold out; but due to my Hilton Honors Diamond elite status, I was able to get most of the lodging that I wanted. I was also able to get rooms at a couple of Marriott hotel properties and a Westin hotel property. Again, I did not plan, book or confirm anything until I was definitely confirmed on Concorde.

A Plethora of Bad News

Shortly after booking the tickets for my trip using my miles and confirming some — but not all — of the lodging for my trip, the first piece of bad news came: Air France would not fly Concorde after Saturday, May 31, 2003. I knew that the blinking red light on my answering machine two weeks before my trip contained the confirmation of this news: my Concorde flight for Thursday, June 5, 2003 was definitely cancelled and I needed to call back and book an alternative flight. This news was momentarily devastating. All of the hard work, money, time, miles and points that I invested into this trip initially seemed like a waste of time. However, the alternative was to take a Boeing 777 airplane from Rome non-stop back to Atlanta. At that time, I had never been in a Boeing 777 airplane before; and I would get to leave Rome later and be home earlier since I would not have to connect in Paris and New York. Plus, I would be seated in the business class cabin, and I will have already flown Concorde once. Cool! If I had to choose an alternative for flying Concorde — and I did — this would be it. I was excited again.

That excitement would not last long. Not only did I find out that Air France was going on strike on the day of my Concorde flight, but also that the air traffic controllers in France were to go on strike the very next day, which would affect my flights from Paris to Malta.

My return flight on Concorde was already cancelled. If my flight to Paris on Concorde is affected by the strike, I would not have another chance to fly on Concorde because Air France will not fly Concorde after Saturday, May 31, 2003 — nor would I be able to re-book on another Concorde flight due to limited time and confirmations of other portions of my travel plan…

…not to mention the fact that Concorde award seats were virtually gone.

Usually before a trip, I have everything all set and confirmed. However, it was only days before departure and I still had unanswered questions to my travel itinerary, such as:

  • Will I be able to leave Paris the next day, assuming I were able to fly as a passenger aboard Concorde?
  • Will I even get to fly as a passenger aboard Concorde at all?
  • Do I need an international driver’s permit and buy additional insurance to drive a car in Malta?
  • How will I leave Malta, as it is not easy to leave Malta due to the fact that many schedules resemble weekly rather than daily departures?
  • How am I going to get from Salerno to Sorrento, as I virtually exhausted all the options available to me?

Day 1: Getting to New York From Atlanta

After taking the train from ticketing at the international airport which serves the greater Atlanta metropolitan area, I went inside what was then known as the BusinessElite International Lounge of Delta Air Lines in Terminal E. I walked up to the desk and presented my ticket. One woman behind the desk questioned the fact that I was going to New York and not traveling internationally. I explained to her that this segment of my itinerary was actually part of my international itinerary. A puzzled look conquered her face as she looked at my ticket in sheer bewilderment. She then solicited the assistance of a co-worker seated next to her. After a brief discussion, I was then asked what was Air France flight 1, as there was no designation of either business class or first class. I replied ever-so-innocently, “That is the Concorde.” Her co-worker’s eyebrows immediately popped up and, while smiling and nodding, replied in an obviously joking manner, “I guess the Concorde qualifies!” The first woman had no clue as to what Concorde was and was still befuddled as I retrieved my ticket and proceeded to a window seat. That scenario, along with both women’s expressions, was in itself worth the 160,000 miles that were redeemed to fly Concorde!

The lounge was nice, spacious, clean and comfortable; but provided little in sustenance. There were some pretzels, creme-filled waffle cookies and a few other “munchies” — along with some juice, water, and soft drinks. Alcoholic beverages were likely offered as well; but I do not drink them, so I do not know. I did see someone behind the counter setting up for what appears to be a serving for hot hors d’oeuvres; but I never did sample them — nor even ever found out what they were since I had a flight to catch at 3:30 in the afternoon.

I made the journey to gate E34, which is almost as far to the end as one can go in the airport in Atlanta; and I arrived just in time to board the airplane. I was seated aboard a Boeing 767 airplane with BusinessElite configuration; so I got to play electronic games on the built-in console. I was served a turkey and cheddar cheese sandwich on a roll with a pickle, some lettuce and tomato, and a bland cucumber and tomato salad with what appeared to be dill seasoning. It was served on that oversized paper-towel-on-steroids — instead of the white linen — which Delta Air Lines used in their domestic premium class cabins. Overall, it was a very pleasant flight which arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport on time. The weather was nearly perfect in Atlanta; but the weather was cloudy, cold and dreary in New York.

After departing from what was once a lousy excuse-for-a-terminal 3 at the airport and finding the obscure shuttle stop around the corner from the terminal exit, I waited a long time for the shuttle to the Courtyard by Marriott hotel property at the airport before finally figuring out how to contact the shuttle to come in the first place. I thought the airport shuttle regularly operated around the airport, which some other hotel shuttles were doing. I was assured that the shuttle would be there in a few minutes and that I was waiting at the correct location. Nothing was obvious at this terminal — and I am a seasoned traveler. In fact, I grew up and lived in the neighborhood of Canarsie in Brooklyn at one time, which is only 15 minutes away. I have used this airport many times — no sympathy necessary, please — yet I somewhat felt I was in a foreign third-world country, breathing obnoxious exhaust from speeding cars and buses. No shuttle appeared after my first call, so I called again. The shuttle finally appeared after my second call, more than an hour after I first arrived at that shuttle stop. The flight landed at approximately 5:40 in the afternoon; but I did not step into my hotel room until 7:00 in the evening.

The Courtyard by Marriott NYC/JFK Airport hotel property — which is now known as the Courtyard New York JFK Airport — is located in Jamaica, New York, which is not in the best of neighborhoods. However, it was convenient, clean, and quiet. I was in a room on one of the upper floors with a view facing west of the hotel properties next door, the Belt Parkway, the Van Wyck Expressway, and Kennedy Airport. I attempted to call a Kosher delicatessen in the Mill Basin section of Brooklyn to deliver food to my hotel room, but they wanted more than $25.00 just to deliver it — exclusive of the cost of food itself. I declined. Needless to say — despite its limited menu — the restaurant downstairs was good but nothing spectacular. Aside from dinner, the hotel room was absolutely free because I had a certificate to stay one weekend night at any Marriott up to a category 4 hotel. This hotel property graciously accepted my certificate, with no questions asked. If you need to stay near John F. Kennedy International Airport for the night, I would recommend staying here.

The bed was comfortable — although I did not get much sleep that night. I still had no idea whether I was going to be flying Concorde the next day. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I called my answering machine at home. No messages. I have no idea as to the status of the Air France strike the next day or of the air traffic controllers strike in France the day after. I set the alarm clock early the next morning so that I may catch the Courtyard by Marriott shuttle at 5:30 in the morning to arrive at the ticketing counter of Air France at 6:00 in the morning sharp. Only then will I find out whether or not I will actually fly as a passenger aboard Concorde…

Day 2: The Next Day

I wake up in the dark about a half-hour before the alarm clock, which was set to go off at 4:45 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time. I did not get much sleep because I am excited that I would get to go aboard Concorde — or will I? My return flight had already been cancelled, and my outbound Concorde flight was in jeopardy.

I called my answering machine again. No messages were on the machine. Maybe everything would work out after all. I had to think positive.

I groomed myself and skipped breakfast because of the anticipation of being in the Concorde lounge. I was downstairs at 5:15 in the morning and waited for the 5:30 shuttle to the airport. Everybody boarded, and the shuttle was crowded. There was only one seat left. The shuttle driver waited outside to assist two more people. The time was now 5:35. Darkness eventually gave way to a cloudy, dreary grey morning. What was he going to do, use a shoehorn to pry them into one seat? They sure are taking their time! What is the problem? 5:40. “Come on, please!” I thought to myself, “Drive this stupid thing to the Air France terminal, just in case there are problems with Concorde! If I were the one for whom you were waiting, you would have left me behind already!” I can tell that the other passengers on the shuttle bus were also starting to get anxious. The shuttle driver, finely dressed in a black suit and tie, finally decided the two potential passengers will not be ready, sat in the driver’s seat, and we proceeded to the airport.

The excitement and nervousness both were building. In what seemed to be an eternity, the shuttle bus finally approached the Air France terminal at approximately 6:00 in the morning.

I grabbed my bags and got off the shuttle bus. The driver closed the door and drove off. I looked around. Nobody was outside the terminal. Inside of the building appeared to be dark. I reached for the door.

The door was locked.

My heart sank when it was desolate outside the Air France terminal and the door was locked. The shuttle bus had already departed. Now what?

I peered inside again for any clues as to what the strike situation was with Air France. Upon looking a second time, I saw a motion. Someone inside was attempting to get my attention. A gentleman was waving his hand to me and gestured towards my left side. I looked to the left and saw another door several metres down. I approached it. It was unlocked! I went in to investigate the situation.

What I saw was several people standing around haphazardly with their baggage as a couple more people were sitting. I looked to the Air France counter. Nobody was there. I looked up at the screens, which displayed the Air France and Concorde logos — but no other information.

I cannot explain the contradiction of emotions that rushed inside of me and were fiercely battling as I attempted to figure out this situation.

I sat down for a few minutes and looked around. I saw no signs of anyone picketing, but then I thought, why would anyone from Air France picket here? Did they walk out? They could not have walked out, I thought, or else the door would not be open. I suppose the other door was locked for security reasons?!?

Then — out of the corner of my eye, around the corner but behind the ticket counter — I saw a glimpse of two people: one male and one female. Yes, their shirts had the Air France logo on them!

Several minutes later, the screens displayed Air France 001 to Paris at 08:00 and the people behind the counter placed a small vase of fresh flowers in front of each station — a very nice touch, I thought. That was the moment when I realized that I would definitely fly as a passenger aboard Concorde to Paris, as an unrelenting tidal wave of sheer excitement overtook me. I uncharacteristically felt like a little kid, as I was so excited. Forget about having an air of sophistication. As I jumped up and down for joy in my mind … uh … forget about what now?!?

I went up to the Air France ticket counter and presented my ticket and itinerary as I greeted the female counter agent in French. My window seat was midway aboard Concorde. I asked for a seat closer to the front. I was advised to request my seat change in the Concorde lounge. Concorde lounge. I had been to other airport lounges — but for some reason, that sounded so good and so sweet.

Anyway, I checked my baggage and received my boarding pass — my Concorde boarding pass!

Experiencing the Concorde Lounge at the Airport

Before continuing with this article, this raw but edited short video gives a glimpse into my experience as a passenger who was seated aboard Concorde. Please keep in mind that this video was recorded on tape greater than three years prior to launching The Gate with its first article back on Friday, August 18, 2006; so the quality is not nearly optimal as I would have preferred.

After the long walk through what was seemingly a cavernous area, I arrived at the security checkpoint. It was here where I was advised of the new policy to remove my shoes. I inquired why, to which I was told that this is a new policy. Especially because I was on an international flight, I thought this new policy was for John F. Kennedy International Airport only. Little did I know. The excitement of Concorde and its lounge overrode my disdain for this new policy, so I reluctantly removed my shoes for them to be x-rayed. For the record, I was not informed of the alternate policy of keeping my shoes on my feet and being wanded. The agents of the Transportation Security Administration were nice enough, though.

As I approached the Concorde lounge, I looked to the left of the large waiting area filled with empty seats. There it was: Concorde, ship number F-BVFB. I photographed it. I videotaped it. I stared at it. I admired it. Its pointy nose looked sharp enough to pierce just about anything, as it truly protruded like a needle. I thought to myself that this flight will probably be the closest I ever get to being on a rocket ship due to its speed; and to being in outer space due to its cruising altitude of 60,000 feet. Who cared that outside the weather at the airport was cold, grey, and dreary? The sun was shining, as far as I was concerned — or, at least it would be mere moments after we take off!

I proceeded into the lounge through the two sets of glass doors. The first set consisted of frosted glass doors that had to be manually opened. The second set comprised of clear doors that automatically opened. Between the two sets of doors were items on display for sale, such as cigarettes and liquor — neither of which I was interested as I neither drink nor smoke. I was greeted by a man in a suit behind a wooden desk with two computers and the menu for that day, opened to display what was to be served that day aboard Concorde. After a polite exchange, he noted my attendance; and I then proceeded into the heart of the lounge. There were many areas constructed of wood where one could store their belongings; and at least three portable metal rolling coat racks where outer garments were hung. There was a huge picture hanging above the set of automatic glass doors, which one would not immediately notice unless exiting.

Breakfast is my least favorite meal of the day, but I was surely impressed: hot baked goods including French croissants and authentic New York bagels, pastries, assorted juices that were fresh or canned, milk, soft drinks, water, fruit, assorted cheeses, champagne, breakfast meats, assorted cold cereals, assorted hot beverages, and assorted condiments — all which were readily available in this long open cupboard area made of wood. Mostly anything constructed of wood in this lounge was of a lighter-colored wood. China and assorted glasses — including stemmed champagne glasses — were also readily available. As a native New Yorker living in the Atlanta area, I missed the indescribably distinct flavor and feel of a fresh, authentic New York bagel; and I felt like I was in heaven as my teeth sank with each bite into this aromatically gastronomic creation covered with poppy seeds. Equally, I miss the same qualities of a real French croissant since I was in Paris years ago. The gratification of having both was immensely satisfying. I also had some fresh pink grapefruit juice, a strawberry, and other assorted items. Can I live here? Please???

There was a plethora of leather-upholstered chairs and couches. Some were tan; and some were black. There were semi-private stations where one could go on the Internet — if one knew French, which I do. There were large prints of photographs of famous people who have flown Air France — not necessarily Concorde — over the years. There were quiet areas where one could read; and areas where one could watch television. If one preferred, the same was offered on the upper level, accessible by escalator — which ascended only — or via a staircase with glass steps near a two-story open area. The entire lounge definitely appeared to be of a European design. The lounge — including the bathrooms — was clean, spacious and comfortable. The dramatic outer wall of the lounge on two sides, which angled into the lounge from the ceiling to the floor, comprised entirely of windows which displayed the outside view of an airport service road with concrete barriers on both sides, many containers of cargo and some airport buildings. Especially on this cloudy day, the view left a lot to be desired, but hey! This is the Concorde lounge! Who cared about the view outside???

Other than a few isolated items which had a few “stragglers” sitting on their respective plates that appeared to be crying out for someone to please take them and consume them, the food and beverages were delicious and plentiful. The Concorde lounge was easily by far hands-down the best airport lounge in which I have ever been.

By the way, my request in the Concorde lounge for a closer seat to the front was denied because there were no more window seats available towards the front; but there were some available in the back. This was understandable — after all, the aircraft was going to be more crowded that usual due to this being the last week ever that Air France Concorde would be in regular operation. Ever-so-slightly disappointed, I graciously declined. Believe me, I got over my “disappointment” very quickly!

It was time to board onto the legendary aircraft known as Concorde.

Boarding Concorde

Boarding seemed to be more civilized than when boarding on other aircraft on other airlines. Despite the number of people, boarding went absolutely smoothly.

After walking down the jet bridge, I approached the open entrance of Concorde registration number F-BVFB at 7:29 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time. The top of the entrance was the same height as my nose, so I had to bend over to step on board — and I am of about average height for an adult male. I — along with the other passengers — was greeted with a round of Bonjours and Hellos by the members of the flight crew on board as I slowly made my way down the narrow aisle. Unless I stood up absolutely straight, I was able to walk down the aisle as my hair barely touched the ceiling. I saw rows of dark grey leather seats — two on each side — contrasted with a white fitted linen covering the top third of the seat. I was sure that these linen “seat condoms” are removed and cleaned each day.

I sat in my window seat and immediately noticed how small were the windows, which was not a problem. I also noticed that I virtually had no wing obstructing my view due to its tapered design, which meant to me that moving up forward was no longer necessary for me. I also noticed that — for an aircraft that was more than 30 years old — Concorde seemed to be so well-maintained inside that it almost looked like it was brand new! The tray tables were stowed in the seat in front; but somewhere down to the level between the knees and the feet. When opened part-way, half the table was still folded the long way but came up to around knee-level, leaving a narrow table area — but sufficient enough room for a drink to be placed in the round recessed area and a small snack. Continue opening the table and it opened all the way at normal height. It seemed slightly larger than a typical table in a premium cabin on a subsonic airplane, but I could be wrong. Folding it back down took a moment to figure out, but it was easy to do once one knew how this weird table operated. Even the overhead baggage compartment opened in a rather unique way, but first one had to figure out where the handle to open it was located. Concorde is comprised of nice, sleek design — inside and out.

Departure and Take Off

We departed from the gate at approximately 7:52 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time, or at least eight minutes early. The announcements were all spoked in French first before being repeated in English. Concorde taxied for several minutes. Without stopping, we then took off. Immediately one could feel the powerful thrust of the aircraft as it began its lunge down the runway. We were quickly gaining speed. The inertia cause the publications to fall out of my seat pocket; and a can speedily rolled down the aisle from the front of the aircraft to the rear. In 41 seconds, the front of Concorde was already lifting off the ground. White smoke plumed quickly past the bottom of my window; but that would be the only smoke one could see on Concorde, as the entire aircraft — to my surprise — was a non-smoking aircraft at all times.

Being on the left side of the airplane and seeing the Rockaways, I knew we were flying over Canarsie on the right side. I wished that I could have seen it. I certainly heard the Concorde take off from down below virtually every morning for many years and — believe me — one always knew when Concorde was taking off.

Note: Concorde lovers, please try to reserve your anger against me for this; but when I was younger, I was active in petitioning for signatures to protest Concorde from being able to use the airport due to the noise we had heard about that Concorde produces. Hey, I was younger back then; and I never even thought about flying Concorde one day!

I must admit, watching Concorde gain altitude from where I lived in Brooklyn at that time was amazing. Now here I was actually aboard Concorde as it was taking off!

Anyway, being on the right side of the aircraft probably would not have mattered much, as the dreary cloud ceiling was rather low — which is what probably caused that white smoke effect I described earlier —and I probably would not have seen Canarsie anyway, as the Rockaway peninsula disappeared and was totally obscured within 26 seconds. At that moment, the little blue screen at the front of our section of the Concorde read “M .41”, or that we were traveling at Mach .41.

Mach 1: Reaching the Speed of Sound

At 8:19 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time, we were flying at Mach 1, otherwise known as the speed of sound at approximately 761.5 miles per hour. The captain announced this important milestone when it happened during the flight. After that, he then explained that he was going to fire off the after-burners — or something to that effect — so that we can go faster…

…and with the thrusting motion, we knew when he did it! Talk about exhilaration!!!

The captain also announced that we would be flying at an altitude of 60,000 feet, and that we were expected to land in Paris at approximately 5:25 in the afternoon — meaning that the flight would last only three hours and 20 minutes! At that moment, I thought about how ironic it is that the perceived future of commercial aviation will soon become history; and that traveling from New York to Paris in 3 hours and 20 minutes — or even in 90 minutes as per the 1982 song I.G.Y. by Donald Fagen — will no longer be possible for the foreseeable future…

…at least, to my knowledge.

Mach 2: Twice the Speed of Sound

a blue rectangular sign with white text
Photograph ©2003 by Brian Cohen.

Eventually, the little blue screen kept teasingly vacillating between M 1.98 and M 1.99. At 8:41 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time, we finally were traveling at Mach 2.00 — or twice the speed of sound, which is roughly the equivalent of 1,523 miles per hour.

Notwithstanding my understanding of how air and temperature interacts affects sound and that the air inside the aircraft is being carried along with us, I still wondered to myself that if I were outside the aircraft and I said something, would I never hear it because I am traveling at twice its speed?

I looked outside. The sky above was a rich, deep blue — the richest, deepest blue I have ever seen in the sky. I also eventually was able to see the curvature of the earth — especially sitting on the left side of the aircraft heading eastbound. It was cloudy below most of the way. Also, no turbulence was experienced because of flying at such a high altitude. The window was indeed warm to the touch due to Concorde causing friction by its speed with the air outside — but it was not nearly as hot as being by one of the exit doors when I eventually got up to wait to use the lavatory.

The lavatory was well appointed with bottles of refreshing mists and other accoutrements; but the experience was not that much different from the lavatories in first class and business class on many international subsonic aircraft.

Repeatedly, again and again, I thought to myself how I cannot believe I am actually on Concorde.

The Menu Aboard Concorde

a man looking at a picture of airplanes
Photograph ©2003 by Brian Cohen.

The Brunch à la Carte Menu in-flight aboard Concorde consisted of the following items:

Wines selected by Phillipe Faure-Brac, 1992 world champion wine steward
Le Bistro du sommelier — Paris

    • [*] (Data missing and will be completed)
    • [*]
    • [*]
    • [*]
    • [*]

Baked Goods and Condiments
French bakery selection, along with walnut bread and cranberry bread; as well as preserves, honey and yogurt.

Hot Drinks
Coffee, decaffeinated coffee, choice of teas, herbal teas and hot chocolate.

Pour Patienter
Fresh fruit served in a melon timbale

Choice of Hot or Cold Dishes

    • [*] (Data missing and will be completed)
    • [*]
    • [*]
    • [*]

Sélection of French Regional Cheeses

Petits Fours
Vanilla macaroon, chocolate praline, raspberry and blueberry tartlet

At the end of your supersonic flight, our cabin crew will be pleased to serve you caviar with a glass of “Cuvée spéciale” Champagne to welcome you to Paris.

The fresh fruit served in a melon timbale was strawberry, assorted melons, pineapple, raspberry, and a few other fresh fruits chopped up and served with a strip of cantaloupe melon surrounding it, forming a bowl-like enclosure on the plate. A blackberry nestled on a sprig of spearmint served as the centerpiece for this pretty, colorful, tasty dish.

One can smell the delicate aroma of hot bread wafting throughout the cabin as they were serving it; and one could have as much bread as one wanted, just for the asking. I am a bread lover; and this appealed to me!

By the time members of the flight crew reached the row in which I was seated during meal service, the supply of Maine lobster had been depleted just prior to them taking my order; and it was no longer a choice. That was almost always my luck whenever I was in a premium class cabin aboard an airplane during a flight with a meal to be served. Not only did they inform me that they were out of that selection — which I was assured in a professional, apologetic manner, virtually never happened on Concorde — but they ran out of it just before they reached my seat. Even Concorde is not immune to my bad luck when it comes to the  selection of a meal during a flight.

Although I was disappointed — well, not everything can be perfect — I was able to choose both the truffles and the foie gras instead. Perhaps I may not be a connoisseur of gourmet food; and maybe I just do not know what good food is — but I was not impressed with either dish. I do not particularly care for mushrooms or liver but, hey — I at least tried them! I would have never ordered either dish in a restaurant; so I suppose this is a good consolation, I thought to myself as I watched the person across the aisle enjoy the meal I was going to eat. Oh, well — everything else to eat on board was interesting and delicious — especially the Petits Fours. By the way — despite its taste — the foie gras was so smooth and creamy to the point where it simply melted in the mouth. Except for the remainder of the foie gras itself, I did eat mostly everything.

The food and beverage service was performed by several flight attendants per cabin. The normally ugly beverage and food serving carts were covered in linens and had fresh flowers adorning them. This proves that no attention to detail was spared.

The Remainder of the Flight Aboard Concorde

Throughout the flight travel speed of Concorde fluctuated between Mach 2.01 and Mach 2.03, which is greater than twice the speed of sound.

In fact, because the flight was so full — which is probably due to the fact that many people wanted to be on Concorde while they still had a chance — visits to the cockpit had to be done in coordinated shifts. An adolescent teenage girl even cut the line in front of me to shove her way into the cockpit first! I did have a couple of pictures taken with me and the pilots; but I was told that I had no time to shoot any videos.

When I returned to my seat, I found what looked like a miniature pink shopping bag which was constructed of textured — similar to the skin of an amphibian — cover stock paper for the bag and a grey silk ribbon for the handle. The name Fauchon was printed on it. Underneath it in smaller type, Paris was printed in gold leaf. This was placed at every passenger’s seat aboard Concorde. On the bottom of the bag was a white sticker which read:

Mini sac rose
2 Chocolats Concorde
A consommer avant 01/2004

Towards the end of the flight, the caviar and champagne was served. I took a sip of champagne; but of course did not like it, since I do not like drinking alcoholic beverages of any kind. The caviar, however, was a small 30-gram jar of Caviar House® Oscietre Iranian Caviar, which was the most delicious caviar I have ever had! Those greenish-brown sturgeon eggs had such a mild, not overly-salty flavor — it was delicious spread on my bread points — that I definitely did not need the half of a lemon that was served with the caviar, which was with its own little white fitted net screen to prevent the seeds from getting onto the food when the lemon was squeezed. I then received my Concorde certificate — as this was my first time on Concorde — complete with the signatures of the cockpit crew and the entire flight crew. The pen which they used to sign the certificate was adorned the logo of Concorde and was also given to me as a souvenir.

As the flight attendant handed me my certificate, I asked him about the end of regularly-scheduled service on Concorde. He told me that flight attendants were being rotated to experience Concorde during its final days of operation and that there was generally a sad feeling combined with pride and dignity associated with Concorde and its future place in history. He also told me that the aircraft which we were on would be flown on a round-trip on Monday, June 2, 2003 for dignitaries, VIPs, and politicians; and then one more flight on Thursday, June 12, 2003 from Paris to Washington, where it would be on permanent display in a museum. I later found that he was slightly misinformed on his information.

Concorde landed at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris at 5:20 in the afternoon. As Concorde taxied, it slowed down. I did not have a chance to take photographs or videos of the crowd of people on the other side of the fence close by as they paid their respects in a tribute to Concorde, with banners, ribbons, and signs written in French with statements such as “We Love You Concorde”, “The Pride of France”, “Concorde Forever”, “Goodbye, Concorde”, and other various messages. I would be lying to you if I told you that I did not have a lump in my throat and feelings of slight sorrow, as I had at that time participated in what was to become a chapter permanently closed and memorialized in aviation history. I felt how they felt first-hand.

Once I left the airplane, I took final photographs of Concorde at the airport in Paris — only to have a Jet Chef catering truck block my view. Get that truck out of the way!, I thought to myself. What is the rush, anyway? It is not like Concorde has to be catered and turned around in 45 minutes — or even for the rest of the day! Oh, well… C’est la vie!

Concorde is one experience in which I am glad to have partaken. I could not believe that I had just crossed an entire ocean so quickly. I felt refreshed upon arrival instead of weary — I usually never suffer from jet-lag — especially after a long overnight flight. I know I will never enjoy a similar experience again in my lifetime. The experience was well worth the miles I used for it — no matter how the rest of the trip turned out — and that was only the second day of my trip!

Final Boarding Call

I redeemed 160,000 Delta Air Lines SkyMiles for the opportunity to fly as a passenger aboard Concorde. That was already an incredible bargain, in my opinion…

…but because Air France was no longer operating Concorde for my return flight, Delta Air Lines compensated me by refunding 40,000 of those SkyMiles to my membership account. I cannot imagine anyone not wanting to redeem 120,000 SkyMiles for the opportunity to fly as a passenger aboard Concorde.

Instead of flying from Rome to Paris; then Paris to New York via Concorde; and then New York to Atlanta, I “slummed” it by flying directly from Rome to Atlanta in a seat in the business class cabin aboard a Boeing 777 airplane operated by Delta Air Lines.

Additional photographs will eventually be added to this article.

Concorde awaits my arrival in New York for my trip on Air France flight 1 to Paris on Sunday, May 25, 2003. To say that the 160,000 Delta Air Lines SkyMiles which I used to be a passenger on this aircraft was a great use of those miles would be an incredible understatement. Video and all photographs ©2003 by Brian Cohen.

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  1. I flew the BA Concorde twice, using AA miles. On the first trip, the flight was almost full and seat next to me was occupied, so not a comfortable experience. Second flight was about half full, with adjacent seat empty. Very comfortable experience and luxurious service.

  2. I flew the Concord many times. I bought a first class around the world ticket starting in Hong Kong that I “think” cost $5000.00 – it allowed me to fly the Concord London N.Y. — After a few trips I would “downgrade” to a BA first class flight because they were more comfortable and had a more frequent schedule

    I said to myself, WOW this kid from the Bronx has come a long way-LOL

    I still have the concord pen they gave with the leather Concord portfolio, many on the flights were “regulars” and to show that they were regulars they would leave behind the gifts (TRUE SNOBS)


  3. This review is timeless and would be interesting reading if re-posted every few years. I wonder how seating compared with the CRJ? I have pretended that the CRJ is a Concorde (sad).

    The most I can claim is that I have been aboard a 747SP, 747-200SUD, 737-200QC, F28-2000, and A340-500.

  4. I could never have afforded to pay to fly on Concorde yet I was able to fly on it four times.

    The first time was using BA points which I had amassed after a promotion with Diners Club which allowed transferring points to BA with a 100% bonus. I flew round trip between New York and London in the late 1990s. I thought that was going to be the last time, especially when they stopped flights after the tragic accident.

    Then in 2001 after getting married and arranging to live in Israel for a year with my wife to study at a Yeshiva, I realized I had amassed enough points to do it again. It may have been with AA which by then had a partnership with BA. We flew to London on Concorde and in first class from London to Tel Aviv. Coming back was a little challenging because we now had a 3 month old. We had to pay 1/10 of the cost of a full ticket to carry her as a lap child. Fortunately she was very well behaved. The lady in front of us spent a lot of the flight complaining about noisy children and saying how pleased she was that there weren’t any on the flight. When she saw ours at the end, she was stunned.

    The part I remember about the flights was the way that, after flying to the end of Long Island, they did the boost to go to full speed. It was as if the plane was taking off again. What a stunning experience! Another thing I remember was how, on all 4 flights, they were full. I wondered how there were enough people to be able to afford to do this, unless, like us, they were flying for free. I did meet on the flight, unexpectedly, a former colleague of mine who was flying on business so I know he at least paid for his ticket.

    I have cousins that were avid frequent flier point collectors with BA and I kept on telling them to book a flight on Concorde before it was too late. Sadly they missed the boat (or plane).

    Thanks for reminding me of this great plane!

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