As I’ve made the transition from primarily a United flyer to an American flyer, I’ve had some (to me) new experiences. One more notable new experience was my first flight in reverse herringbone business class. I had a business trip to Lisbon, and I flew US Airways via Philadelphia and Madrid.
US Airways A330-300 Business Class Cabin
Double connecting isn’t ideal, but I was glad to try this new product. Better yet, I was able to confirm my upgrades at the time of booking using my (now defunct) US Airways Chairman’s Preferred upgrades. I always prefer longer (and if possible, later) eastbound trans-Atlantic flights, but the ability to confirm Business Class early made it worthwhile. Please also see Rocky’s review of his experience in US Airways Business Class.
My first flight was from O’Hare, so I had some time for the American Airlines Flagship Lounge before departure. Nice perk of my new OneWorld Emerald status. From there I flew to Philadelphia, and visited the British Airways lounge there. Many new experiences on this trip, and I enjoyed the nice change of pace from my typical routine.
On the outbound flight, I sat at the bulkhead in row 1, and I think there was slightly more foot space than other seats since there was not a seat in front. I was also usually first to be served in most cases. Finally, the TV screen was mounted on the opposite side of the seat, which was unlike the other seats in the cabin where it was mounted mostly sideways in the seat in front. Best of all, I got a great view of the cabin decor up close:
US Airways logo and faux-woodgrain walls
The seat itself was nice, a great flat bed seat for single travelers. It is not all that private, but it faces away from the aisle. The US Airways version of this seat is an early generation, not as tricked out as on say Cathay Pacific or the American Airlines 77W seats, but the concept of reverse herringbone seating is the same, and I enjoyed it a lot.
Once I sat down, began to explore the workings of the seat. Hard product wise, it was fine. The seat was in good repair, and it was good for sitting, lounging and sleeping. One disappointment was how dirty the area around my seat was. I guess the cleaning crew didn’t vacuum before my flight boarded? Another annoyance was our delayed departure due to a baggage loading problem. It actually caused me to misconnect in Madrid, but I just used the extra time to shower and relax a bit before my onward flight.
Messy floor around my seat
On the eastbound overnight trip, I mostly wanted to sleep due to the short flight, but still didn’t pass up the main meal. I did however skip the pre-landing meal opting to sleep in. Here is the menu and a photo tour of the main meal service:
Menu for Philadelphia to Madrid flight
The meal started with mixed (but not warm) nuts and a cocktail.
The first course of Thai spiced chicken with watermelon and pineapple was excellent
The salad was small, but fresh and tasty. There were also a few options from a bread basket.
For my main course, I opted for the beef filet. I have mixed feelings about getting beef on planes. I’ve had some amazing steak on Cathay Pacific, and pretty much every other steak served on board was mediocre. I don’t eat beef that often, so rather than eating a reheated cheap cut on a plane, I try to savor the opportunity to enjoy good quality meat in a nicer restaurant. There are always exceptions and I guess the mac and cheese side sold me on this option. While it was cooked well done as I expected, it was surprisingly tender.
US Airways main course: Peppered Beef Filet
I had a glass of the Shiraz that paired well with the steak, but a refill was offered later, it seems I was given the wrong wine. It tasted okay, so I didn’t bother to replace it.
Finally, dessert came around, and I knew I wanted to get ready to sleep, so I just opted something a bit lighter, in this case the cheese plate. After that, I put my seat in bed mode and crashed for several hours until we were on approach to Madrid. The seat was very comfortable, and even at 6’3″, I fit fine. The wider foot space at my seat did help due to the bulkhead location. In all it was a good flight. A short night, and service was fine, despite a few very minor service issues.
Once in Madrid, due to the baggage loading delay I mentioned before, I misconnected to my Iberia flight to Lisbon. I made it to the gate in time, but they told me my checked bag wouldn’t make it, so I just got rebooked on the next flight a few hours later. In addition to a shower and some relaxing in the Iberia lounge, since I had a unexpected time in Spain, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for some jamón. Even in the airport, it was tasty as expected.
Jamón Iberico sandwich from a shop in Madrid Barajas airport.
I had a busy week working in Lisbon, but fortunately I had a little time to explore the city during some downtime. I’ll review my time in the city in another post.
For the return trip, I retraced the same route but in the reverse direction. I had an uneventful flight on Iberia to Madrid, a little lounge time, then back on the US Airways A330-300 for the ride back across the Atlantic. It was the same seat, although I didn’t select a bulkhead seat for this segment. Once I met the flight attendant, I could immediately tell this trip would be a little different. She was very friendly, outgoing and seemed to nail the little things than can really make service memorable. She used my name regularly, and seemed to anticipate what I might need or want throughout the flight.
My seat, 4H for the return to Philadelphia
Here is the menu for this flight. It was a lunch service, but structurally it was similar to the outbound flight, with main course options consisting of Beef, Chicken, Salmon and a vegetarian choice.
Menu for return flight from Madrid to Philadelphia
The first courses were served at once on a tray, the caprese was good and the green salad was very fresh.
First course served at once on a tray
The main course came later, and I opted for the salmon
Roasted Salmon main course on US Airways
This time for dessert I went with ice cream. The flight attendant insisted I have some port with my dessert. I trusted her judgment and having just spent a week in Portugal, this might be my last taste from there for a while, so I went with it.
Marketing people likely hate this photo. Can you spot why?
After the meal I did a little work, relaxed, and even napped for a little while. Soon it was time for the pre-arrival meal, and I decided on the roasted pepper flat bread. It tasted like pizza to me, and it hit the spot.
Flat bread on US Airways pre-arrival snack
I’m not really a frequent coffee drinker, but I knew the US Airways widebodies had espresso machines, so I decided to order a cappuccino. Coming back to the US, I wanted to get started on re-acclimating with the time zone changes, so I figured that a little caffeine burst would help.
US Airways Cappuccino
In all, I was impressed with these flights. The seat is good for sitting, relaxing and sleeping, and I had probably the best business class flight attendant in memory on a US carrier. Service was casual, but really on the ball. Much better than I expected from a Philadelphia based US Airways crew. Kudos for that.
I prefer longer flights if I can help it to allow for better sleep when flying Trans-Atlantic, but these legacy US Airways A330s are comfortable, especially if an upgrade can be secured in advance. For a relatively short flight like this, I think the lie-flat seat is critical, and in this case it hits all the marks. Service is also important, and for these flights it was better than expected, especially on the return flight. I’ve heard good things about this configuration, I’m pleased to have been able to experience it. This reverse herringbone configuration seat is excellent for Trans-Atlantic flights.
How about you? What do you think of the US Airways A330s especially in business class?