After the big disappointment on inbound flight with old Envoy Class (although sufficient for a day flight) we hoped to get Envoy Suites on the night flight back to Europe. But first we had to get from the American countryside to Philadelphia...
It worked quite well despite of changing planes in Charlotte and New York La Guardia. The Dash-8, Airbus A319 and Embraer 145 were in good shape. Between Charlotte and New York we got an upgrade to First Class again. The seats are really wide, but seat pitch is only a bit better than in Economy due to the thick upholstery. Beverages are made to order and small snacks (biscotti, shortbread, chips, nuts, etc.) are offered during the flight.
Airline: US Airways
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Route: Philadelphia - Paris
Date: November 2010
Having arrived in Philadelphia we had a quick look at the assigned gate for Paris to check out the aircraft. A330-200: good! Registration 285: better! Checking with FlyerTalk that only numbers 281 (the one of inbound flight) and 283 haven't been refurbished yet: priceless!
A big smile came up and we decided to spend one hour in US Airways' Envoy Lounge at Philadelphia before boarding. You need to take the elevator to the lounge. And it's big, really big! With nice view over runway and A-gates, by the way.
Well, I was prepared for the USual lounge snacks (chips, nuts, cookie) I had only seen until then (however, I hadn't been to the Envoy Lounge before). Eyes got bigger when I saw what was offered here:
- huge platters with fresh fruit (pineapple, melons, strawberries, grapes...)
- tomatoes / mozzarella
- huge platters with fresh vegetables (cherry tomatoes, sliced tomatoes, cucumber, sweet peppers ...)
- different sauces and dressings
- small cakes
- bowls of apples
- various breads and crackers (also European bread!)
It really tasted very good! We drank juice and tea, but there was also wine etc. available.
Five minutes before official boarding time we were informed about boarding being about to start (loudspeaker).
At the gate a crowd was in front of the door. No priority line for Envoy. They were boarding zone 1 at that time, but we only found that out by asking. Some passengers' hand luggage was manually checked again.
On board we were greeted and shown the way to our seats. Sorry, suites! First impression was WOW. It looks really spacious. The combination of wood and grey and blue seats is really nice and they are soooo comfortable. There are four seats in the row (1-2-1) and so every seat has direct access to the aisle. They are turned away from the aisle (to the window and to each other in the middle section). The front part of each suite holds the video monitor and provides lots of space for (computer) bag and shoes under the footrest. There is also a hook for your coat and a small space in which the amenity kit fits perfectly. There is also a bottle holder in the seat, so the bottle won't be in your way when you sleep, but it is always at hand. (A 0,5-liter bottle was given to every passenger.)
Moreover you have the traditional light above, but there is also a dimmable LED reading lamp next to the remote control for the video screen. Additionally, there are outlets for earphones, USB and power and the seat control. The seat itself is very comfortable to sit in and it goes totally lie flat, so there is no angle.
We were offered a pre-departure drink (served again in plastic glasses) and orders for other drinks were taken. After take-off warm nuts and beverages (from now in in glass and porcelain) were served. The movie system was started as well. You have a wide choice of movies in many languages and with subtitles, if wished. If you want to pause in between, you can decide if you want to set a marker or not. The headphones really blocked noice excellently and were comfortable to wear.
Then time for dinner. Here the menu:
Warm mixed nuts with your preferred cocktail or beverage
Classic shrimp cocktail with tomato mozzarella skewer
Mixed greens with hearts of palm, artichokes and grape tomatoes
Choice of peppercorn ranch or balsamic vinaigrette dressing
Selection of warmed breads
Our Signature Selection
Filet of beef with demi-glace served with red skin mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus
Herb Marinated Chicken Breast
Served with portobello mushroom demi-sauce, rice pilaf and sautéed spinach with shallots
Served with tomato ragout and Mediterranean couscous
A light quick meal complete with an appetizer and dessert, to give you more time to work, relax or sleep
Ahi Tuna Nicoise Salad
Ahi tuna served on a bed of mixed greens with baby potatoes, kalamata olives and haricot vert
Dijon vinaigrette dressing
(May be served without ahi tuna upon request)
Assorted petit fours
A selection of fine cheeses
MID FLIGHT SNACK
A selection of refreshments are available in the galley between meal services
Prior to arrival, a choice of the following will be offered:
Scrambled eggs with cream cheese, tomato provencale and seasoned potato wedges
Fuit yogurt with crunchy granola
Both selections are accompanied by seasonal fresh fruit and wamed breads.
It was served quickly and was of good quality. An express meal was available, so you had more time to sleep. However, the flight was much too short anyway. The captain had announced it would only last 6:05 hrs, so we would land one hour too early in Paris. The flight attendant asked if we wanted to have breakfast, she would wake us up then one hour before landing.
After dinner, we put table cloth and table wear away (the dividers between the sets can be used as little tables) and went to sleep. The seat is great and offers plenty of space as the armrest can be pushed into the seat so that there is additional space provided. Unfortunately, the blankets were not upgraded. It's still that nasty plastic thing that makes you feel like set on electricity. But once settled we fell asleep in a second. A really good sleep (unfortunately too short!). This time it was great to have a warm cabin (at some point really almost too warm) in contrast to the outbound flight when the cabin was - American style - almost a fridge.
Breakfast was served about 1:15 before landing. From then on the cabin was cooled down again within minutes, unfortunately. The food was delicious, a really big fruit plattern. Granola came in a little plastic box and yogurt was also served in plastic (like in supermarket), but you could mix as desired in porcelain. Tea and coffee came in a big porcelain cup. Unfortunately there were only sweet warm breads (croissants and muffins) served, no toast or normal bread.
Afterwards freshing up, brushing teeth etc. The lavatory was still super clean and well maintained. We noticed that row 1 is a little different to the other seats in the Envoy cabin: the video monitor is fixed and doesn't need to be swiveled. It also looks a little bit roomier, but actually it isn't. There is also no coat hook in row one. But as your coat is anyway stowed by the flight attendants, it doesn't matter.
We indeed landed one hour too early. Luggage was delivered quickly. Ehm, half of the luggage. One bag: missing. And we were not alone with that problem. Five other passengers of our flight also missed a bag as well. It was 6:15 in the morning and the lady at the baggage tracing desk told us she could not access the system. The service is open from 9 till 18, and then her colleague could access the system. She couldn't as the colleague had the access rights. Strange. We had to fill in the obligary form, were provided with a bunch of contact details and were told that details and tracing details would be e-mailed to us. Then we would be called where the bag should be delivered to. Annoying. Well, but can't be helped. (We were not offered an amenity kit with tooth brush etc. or buy clothes. US Airways lost a bag of mine in New York in 2006 and the amenity kit was given out immediately without having to ask for it, and the bag was delivered to the hotel within 10 hours.)
So we just waited for our connection flights home. As it was on Austrian, we could use the Air France Lounge in Teminal 2. Really nice one.
One day later the bag was found (still in New York as we suspected) and sent directly to Frankfurt (where we will pick it up anyway tomorrow).
US Airways has really taken a great leap forward into upper class seating. The seat is really top, and number three after Air New Zealand (offers guest seat, huge table) and Turkish Airlines / Air Canada (open foot area might be more comfortable for really tall people). But the blanket really has to be changed. It doesn't fit the elegant style of the cabin and it's pure plastics, so not comfortable for ladies with long hair (it jus will fly!). The food was quite good and the service was very friendly and efficient. Improvements have to be done at boarding (priority line to speeden the process) and baggage tracing counter in Paris as well.