The fascination with the Concorde began the day it was born.
When it started its regular service in 1973, London and Paris were suddenly three hours apart from New York. There was no better way to cross the pond in such a stylish and timely manner. These transatlantic flights symbolized luxury at its finest, and a set new standards that soon fascinated celebrities, politicians, and businessmen who could afford it - and who couldn’t waste time.
Let’s look at a few elements that made the Concorde the most sumptuous travel experience.
As one of the most iconic and recognizable aircraft configurations in the world, with its hang-glider shaped body and dropped nose - this supersonic aircraft became the symbol of the future that twentieth century engineers and designers dared to dream of. Air France and British Airways, were the only two companies that operated the Concorde and only 14 aircraft were ever built. Each of these companies had distinct services and interiors, battling for the most luxurious experience.
For the lucky ones who could shell out about $6,500 for a one-way ticket, the experience began on land. If taking-off from New York, passengers were greeted in an exclusive waiting room designed by Conran and Partners, decorated with the best furniture of the 20th century, such as Charles and Ray Eames couple's chairs and lamps from the Bauhaus.
After a short wait, where champagne and hors d'oeuvre were served, passengers boarded the plane where the crew greeted them in Edwin Hardy Amies uniforms, which was an official dressmaker for Queen Elizabeth II.
The first Concorde cabins of just 106 seats, all first-class, were crafted by designers such as Christian Lacroix or Andrée Putman to maintain their high status over the years. However, travelers were disappointed with their traditional interior design intended for peace of mind as they expected a more futuristic look.
Air France bet from the beginning on Raymond Loewy, considered to be the father of modern industrial design. He designed the interior of the cabin with its seats in various colors, the lights, the trays, the dishes, and the famous Christofle cutlery that Andy Warhol famously stole every time he traveled to Europe. "They are a piece of art", Warhol claimed.
Traveling in the Concorde was like entering the most exclusive club in the world. Each plane carried 21 bottles of champagne, 17 of white wine, 17 of red, 4 of port, and the best delicacies on menus that included Angus beef, caviar, lobster, truffles, foie gras, carefully prepared by renowned chefs such as Paul Bocuse.
Being on Time
With a maximum speed of 1,354 mph - over twice the speed of sound, this prodigy of engineering allowed feats unthinkable today. The best known took place in 1985 when singer Phil Collins performed the same day at two concerts, held in London and Philadelphia.
Fast-forward 16 years later. The Concorde’s high maintenance costs, take-off noise, pollution, and a tragic accident, has shifted public opinion and ended its history. Today, the Concorde is remembered as a legendary aircraft that still fascinates many aviation enthusiasts. Once upon a time, thanks for the Concorde, travel was about the journey - not the destination.