US Airways Envoy (cradle seats): Paris - Philadelphia

We still had two Chairman upgrade vouchers, so we decided to spend fall in Tennessee. As we wished to try the new Envoy Suites, we took the flight to the US from Paris, therefore a separate flight from Germany to France was needed.

Frankfurt - Paris

Our connecting flight has landed in time, we immediately proceeded to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge. Unfortunately it was totally crowded. Really difficult to find a seat! The floor was dirty (area in front of the coffee machine sticky) and two waiters are simply not enough to clean up (although they did their best!). As the Business Lounge next door is being renovated, no restrooms are accessible. You have to leave the lounge and use the ones at gate A25. Plenty of newspapers are available, too; however, not a single magazine. If you wish to read one, you have to go to the front desk. Your membership card will be taken “hostage” while you read. Strange.
For dinner you could have sausages, potato soup, bread, meatballs and a small selection of salads.


Our flight to Paris CDG on Lufthansa (Boeing 737) was uneventful. We got the exit row and therefore had three seats for the two of us and plenty of space. A sandwich was offered as snack. Baggage in Paris was delivered quickly.

We took the CDGVAL shuttle train to station Roissypole as we had booked a night at the Hilton CDG Airport. It's really hard to find as there is just one tiny sign at the end of the hall! We got a comfortable Executive Plus room which offered plenty of space. It just took ages for the hot water to reach the shower and there was also no heating in the bathroom.

Airline: US Airways
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Class: Business
Route: Paris - Philadelphia
Date: October 2010

In the morning we took the hotel shuttle and CDGVAL to Terminal 1. Really ugly! A long row was waiting for passport check in the EU passports line. “All passports” was empty. And only US citizens were allowed to use it.

Still we passed it surprisingly quickly and went to the Star Alliance Lounge. It's nice and offers a good variety of food and drinks.

Then we went to our gate (Singapore Airlines A380 next door!) to board the flight. Boarding was somehow chaotic, lines couldn't really be seen. On board then BIG disappointment: old Envoy Class! Reservation hotline had confirmed Envoy Suites, and even the seat map checked the previous day had shown it. Loooong faces! The walls of the cabin have already been refurbished and row 1 has been removed. Therefore we had plenty of space, around 1.80 m. The seats (cradle seats) were quite comfortable as relaxing chairs. You can also have a good sleep in them if you are not used to sleeping on the side.

However, the seats looked old. Painting going off etc. The cabin wasn't really clean either. Plastics, table cloth and earplugs between seat and window, a newspaper stuffed into the table storage space, crumbs in the seat pockets. We got our amenity kits containing socks, ear plugs, eye shades, L'Occitane lip balm and hand cream, toothbrush and toothpaste. A big white pillow was on the seat, the blanket in a plastic bag. Unfortunately it was one of those synthetic blankets which make your hair fly.

Before departure we were offered champagne or orange juice. Our coats were taken care of and the flight attendants already asked for our choice for lunch, including drinks. 10 mins after take off we got our video players. Those Archos players are put into a holder which is in your armrest. Movie selection was ok, however, there was no good movie description available and sometimes the holders didn't stay in place.

Beverages and nuts (served in small porcelain bowls) were brought to our seats, served on white table cloth. 50 mins after take off it was time for the appetizers: salad and sea food. We had chosen chicken and the vegetarian option as entrée, it was really delicous! As dessert we chose ice cream with chocolate and strawberry sauce, whipped cream and nuts were offered as well. Every passenger got a 0.5-liter-bottle of water and a snack bar was available to everyone in the galley. 

 The menu (strangely in English and DUTCH, no French)

Warm mixed nuts with your preferred cocktail or beverage

Grilled shrimp and scallops with a cream cheese stuffed cherry pepper and artichoke

Mixed baby greens with julienned red peppers, asparagus and roasted pumpkin seeds
Choice of sun-dried tomato or balsamic vinaigrette dressing
Selection of warm breads

Our Signature Selection
Boursin crusted beef filet with balsamic sauce, sauteed spinach and mashed potatoes

Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast
Served with white cream veloute sauce, fresh asparagus, baby carrots and polenta

Paneer Do Pyaza
Paneer simmered with onions and tomatoes, saffron basmati rice and red bean curry

Made to order ice cream sundaes
a selection of fine cheeses

A selection of fresh fruit and refreshments are available in the galley between mail services.

Thai-style noodles topped with a seasoned beef skewer served with a mixed green salad (noodles may be served without beef skewer upon request)
Orange mustard vinaigrette dressing

We then slept some hours. Until loud talking and laughter from the galley woke us up. About two hours before landing we got a small snack (cold Thai noodles with beef and salad).

Apart from the old seats this was a pleasant flight, the crew very friendly, good food and we landed in time. However, it took us 45 mins through immigration followed by another 40 mins at second security check for connecting flights. Therefore we missed our connecting flight to Tennessee and had to wait 4.5 hours for the next one in the US Airways Club. Re-booking was done without any problem. However, a transfer connection via Charlotte was not accepted although it would have arrived in Tennessee two hours earlier than the nonstop flight.

Now waiting for the flight back to Europe, hopefully with Envoy Suites!


Iberia Business Class: Amsterdam - Madrid - New York

Airline: Iberia
Aircraft: Airbus A340
Class: Business
Route: Amsterdam - Madrid - New York JFK
Date: October 2010 

We decided to fly from Amsterdam instead of Dusseldorf because this flight was approximately 700 EUR cheaper than the flight from Dusseldorf. We stayed the night before at the Hilton Amsterdam, which has a nice offer. Pay 160 EUR for one night and park up to 15 nights for free. Combined with the convenient airport shuttle this is really a nice deal.

Checked in at 6:55 for our 8:00 a.m. flight. Unfortunately there was a group of coach passengers lead to the Business check in, so even without a queue checking in for Business Class took longer than waiting in Coach line. You cannot check in online unless you are a member of Iberia's frequent traveler program, because Iberia still wants to see the credit card you used for booking. Looks a bit old fashioned to me.
We passed security, went to gate B 15 and boarding started directly. Not sure if they have a lounge in Amsterdam. We got no information about a lounge when we checked in.

The flight to Madrid was quite uneventful. No real Business Class product. I decided to take some sleep as I had been forced to get up at 5:30 that morning.
Because of a very long taxi time in Amsterdam it took the full 2h45 to Madrid and we arrived exactly in time.

Madrid T 4 / T 4 S is nice, it is stylish and it is ... a nightmare. You walk for miles if you have to connect. We landed at the farthest outside position of the terminal, had to cross almost whole T 4 to get down to the people mover and ... later on the sattelite again to the farthest away position.

However, if you arrive at 4 S, there is a wonderful Iberia lounge waiting for you. It is really hugh, but at the first moment it was too crowded. We had more than 2 hours to spend in the lounge, so I was really happy that it got empty soon and I could take some more pictures without disturbing anybody. The choice of food
and drinks is excellent. Seating is very comfortable and they have a smoking room with TV in there.

Every good time ends and we had to move to our gate U 67. Pre-boarding worked excellently and we headed to our seats 6 A and 6 C. Big smile, it was the new configuration.

Champagne, water or orange juice were offered as pre-flight drinks.
With a little delay we pushed back and after a short taxi we took off to New York. Both cabins were fully booked.

Shortly after departure the flight attendants offered a first drink and a choice of nuts or olives. Remarkable. Never seen this before. Not even on my last Iberia flight. I took some nuts. Maybe next time I'll go for olives. They looked very good.

At the same time the IFE started. Unfortunately Iberia still has only a limited amount of movies and they have different films for in- and outbound flights. In this case the most interesting movies were at the inbound site; something that doesn't make any sense to me, because on flights to Europe I prefer to sleep. However, I watched a movie whose duration was like the one of lunch service.

Together with drinks we were asked about our choice for lunch. There was beef, fish and pasta on the menu. I decided for beef and my daughter took pasta. The beef looked good, was a little too well-done, but not too badly. But no doubt, pasta would have been the better choice.

After lunch I put the seat in horizontal position and fell asleep even before they served bottled water. The flightdeck announced a very quiet flight with only some minor turbulences within the first two hours, so the fasten seatbelt sign was on for about 70 % of the flight and actually it was really bumpy. I woke up two or three times during the flight, but the excellent seats helped to go back to sleep directly.

Approximately 1 hour before landing at JFk I woke up and the crew served some dinner. No choice was possible, but it was excellent. We passed Boston, flew along the East Coast and descended slowly into JFK. When we were on final approach I saw the AF A 380 landing parallel to us. Thank God we arrived at the BA terminal and didn't have the French crowd in front of us.
After sensational 35 minutes we passed immigration, customs and were on the way to the rental car center.

Résumé: Iberia did a really great step forward by improving their Business Class by removing some seats and offering 180 cm (70") seat pitch and a 180° horizontal lie-flat seat.
Service, food and IFE is not outstanding, but somewhere between acceptable and good. The only negative thing is the long flight in an European "Business" Class to Madrid. I hope some day some of the other airlines will learn the lesson and install seats at least similar to US domestic "First" Class seats in the front cabin again. Alitalia, KLM and BA had those seats before and I definitely want to see them again. It could help airlines like Iberia who need long feeder flights to get even more connecting passengers into their premium cabin.


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