Last Friday, I flew US Airways from Salt Lake City to Minneapolis, via Phoenix. At online check-in, I was selecting my seats and noticed that I could select a seat in First class on both segments (SLC-PHX, PHX-MSP) for free.
Did this mean I was upgraded?
As many of you are aware, I boarded my final United Airlines flight on December 30, 2013 after three years of attaining elite status with Star Alliance. My frustration with United hit a breaking point on New Years day, after a string of horrible customer experiences in 2013, when it was revealed that United cancelled hundreds of flights out of O’Hare by blaming weather, when in reality, it was due to another system migration meltdown that somebody attempted to sweep under the rug.
I did do an elite status match to OneWorld and American in early 2014, and after meeting the qualification requirements to attain 10,000 points in 90 days, I am now OneWorld Sapphire.
Now, I will say that I am so far feeling content with being an elite on American/US Airways. The experiences haven’t blown my expectations, but I’m at least satisfied with the how reliable both carriers are. Even though I traded in benefits being a MileagePlus elite such as Complimentary Premier Upgrades, Same Day Confirmed change, generous award booking availability, all I really cared about was flying an airline that departed and arrived on-time (or at least within 6 hours before ultimate cancellation), and employed a staff of individuals who knew what they were doing and didn’t pretend like it had its sh*t together when in reality, the sh*t was hitting the fan.
For those wondering why I wouldn’t match to Delta as a flier based in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, the reason is that I had previously done a Delta status match in 2012 and failed to meet the qualification criteria. Apparently, status matches are a one-and-done deal, so I am unable to re-attempt any status challenges with Delta aside from actually accruing the elite miles from flying them organically.
So, anyways, going back to my experiences with American and US Airways, things haven’t been horrendous. I do appreciate the availability of Wi-Fi on all flights, and I also like having access to Main Cabin ExtrAA when I fly on American. US Airways seats are more cramped, but the A321s, particularly those based out of PHX or on pre-merger America West birds, are extremely clean and comfortable.
Now, as I mentioned previously, up until last week, I had no idea that I would be eligible for complimentary premier upgrades on US Airways. I am fully aware of how it works at American with the 500-mile upgrade sticker process, but I was shocked to discover how it goes with US as I was checking in.
Anywho, the flights departed and arrived on time, despite the snafus that caused systemwide delays due to the ATC drama in Chicago. What I was most looking forward to was the meal service on this sector. There has been a lot of discussion about the changes to the new American Airlines’ meal policies #TeachMeHowToDougie.
This would be my first domestic hot meal service on a US carrier since I flew on Sun Country in December 2013, so it had been a LONG time coming:
View of Downtown Phoenix after take-off
Main meal (three course) – Cheese and Spinach Manicotti
Service was actually quite good. On the SLC-PHX leg, customers were offered pre-departure beverages and selections from the snack basket, which had a pretty robust varity of offerings.
On the Phoenix to Minneapolis sector, we were offered pre-departure beverages, and then once in the air, a first round with lukewarm mixed nuts. I was fearful that I would not have my first choice of meal options as I was seated in 4F, which is basically the last customer served in the Premium cabin on the Airbus A321. As it turned out, I was in luck, and I chose the cheese and spinach manicotti over the steak with broccoli and cheesy potatoes.
Side note: I did ask the US FA, “which one is better,” to which she chuckled and said, “well, I mean, it IS airplane food.” I thought that was funny, and said in jest.
Ultimately, I went with the safer option and chose pasta, given that I had a pretty horrible steak on United domestic first last year flying from Vancouver to Washington, D.C.
The pasta was accompanied by a side salad with strawberries and feta, although the nasty “Naturally Fresh” dressing added a cheap flavor to it. I did appreciate the side serving of pretzel bread (not pictured) but served fresh and offered among a selection of other breads. The pasta itself, while likely not much different than a microwave meal, still tasted nice and is better than nothing on a long-haul flight.
Finally, we were served a fresh-baked white chocolate macadamia and cranberry cookie, served warm and with after-dinner drinks.
There has been a lot of commotion recently over the New American meal policy, but I suppose that it will impact people that have been elite AA fliers for years rather than myself, who come from the United side of the equation.