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Thursday, 8 November, 2001, 00:14 GMT
Concorde: True champagne class
Crew offer champagne to passengers on Concorde
Concorde has its own wine cellar
Nyta Mann

It cost an awful lot to launch and if it were invented today it would probably fail the environmental regulations needed to get into the air.

But Concorde, back in business for a firm desperately in need of high-rolling travellers' cash, is the luxury way to fly from start to finish.

First, the fare is a cool 6,800 to New York.

Time really has to be money - of which you must have a lot - for this to be a means of travel you can justify to the bank manager.

Crew member hands champagne to passenger
Drinks appear to be a key theme

Then there are those unavoidable bouts of hanging about which all air passengers must endure at check-in queues, terminals, and baggage carousels.

But Concorde class means that these waits are truncated and only take place in the best, most painless style - in a Terence Conran-designed lounge, champagne in hand.

Drink, in fact, appears to be a key theme.

Free-flowing champagne greets you as soon as you take your seat.

Passengers have barely got the glass to their lips before the cabin crew are offering more drinks for "after take-off".

And this must be one of the few planes to boast its own "wine cellar".

It is in fact one of the hazards of travelling "ab fab" class.

Pashminas on sale

If you are not careful you will reach your destination drunk on arrival or even become intoxicated enough to start buying things from the in-flight sales catalogue.

Most of us come off a flight with cheap booze and fags.

On Concorde the discerning "splurger" can pick up crocodile skin belts (230), pashmina shawls (395) or gold jewellery (850) with their change from the ticket fare.

But the real thrill of course is the supersonic speed - 1,483 miles per hour, 2,112 feet per second, Mach 2.

The captain announced over the loudspeaker: "In three minutes we will start our full supersonic extension - you might feel a small nudge in your seats".

When the "nudge" came we barely noticed it, but like all things super-expensive, just knowing it was there was the real thrill.


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