Since the AA/US merger, I had avoided US-Scareways like the plague (I’ve been flying them a lot recently though). Yet, with having an unexpected week off of work I decided instead of sitting around my house, I would jet off to a part of the world that I had never been to, as long as I could cash my miles in for a business class ticket. My original plan was to see the northern Croatia coast or Albania. After several hours of searching flights on the three alliances: Star Alliance, OneWorld and SkyTeam, my plans came up short. With only 7 days for a vacation, long lay overs were out and I couldn’t find a way to maximize my time where I wanted to be. In fact, I was going to be lucky to even get 3 nights in either location due to poor connections and award seat space—it was June after all. So my award search continued and then to my surprise I found award space to Rome via Philly on US Airways. I have been to Italy 3 other times, but never to Rome! This was perfect! I could finally explore Rome and Florence and get there and back for free! Furthermore, I was able to secure award space from Florence back to the states via Berlin on AirBerlin! Only having flown AirBerlin Economy class product throughout Europe, I was excited to be able to review their new business class offering on the Berlin-Miami route, making this trip a perfect trip! Two new places (Rome and Florence) and two new airlines (US and AirBerlin)! I booked my ticket, packed my bags and was off a few days later!
My first flight was a 630 departure from San Diego to Philly. I boarded my flight towards the end of the boarding process, maximizing my time in the new Airspace/AA lounge, and boarded towards the end of group 4. After I took my seat after all other passengers had boarded, the FA came from the galley and offered each passenger either water or coffee. This wasn’t the typical pre-departure beverage service I was used to at AA, but it was better than none. Shortly thereafter, we pushed back from the gate and we were on our way to Philly.
After we took off, the inflight service on US Airways was brutal! I started to understand why US Airways had such a bad rep and by no means did this flight not uphold the stereotypes. As we climbed toward our cruising altitude and the general service announcements were made informing passengers of their marketplace dining options and complimentary beverage service in the main cabin, the FA in First didn’t budge from her seat. Magazine in hand, she continued to read instead of prepping the galley. As time passed, the FA in the forward cabin continued to sit there, postponing service while she read her latest issue of people magazine. I looked back toward the main cabin and saw the FAs already in the aisles with their beverage carts, while the FA for the smaller first cabin carried on reading her fascinating magazine. Finally 45 minutes into flight, she came through the cabin and took drink orders. I was shocked as I couldn’t remember the last time it took so long to get a drink on a flight—and to think this was in the first class cabin. The 5 hour flight was a long one, but this didn’t excuse the delay in service.
If the drink service wasn’t already slow enough, after the FA provided initial drink service she sat back down and started reading again. I would have expected meal service to follow, but nope, that magazine was more important today than customer service; therefore passengers went hungry as she filled her mind with the latest celebrity gossip. Another 45 minutes passed and I was now hungry and my drink had been empty for some time, recognizing that this was horrific service I got up, asked for a refill on my way to the bathroom and nonchalantly asked her if she would be providing either meal service this morning or at the very least offering the snack basket since as we were now 1.5 hours into flight. She smiled and said she would be taking meal orders shortly.
After I returned from the bathroom she got up, refilled my drink and then took breakfast orders. I ordered the cheese blintz but after she took the rest of the cabins orders she returned to me and asked if I would mind an omelet instead as she had miscounted. I agreed, but was quite shocked that she asked me to change my order as I was the first person to order on the plane. If anything, she should have asked the people in the rear cabin, not me. Oh well, it was just a lousy meal anyway.
Meal service was preformed shortly after, but by now we were about 2.5 hours into the flight. Each tray was lined with a stripped blue and gray cloth and our meal trays placed directly on our tray tables, no linen cover like most airlines. She preformed a drink service at meal time, but to my surprise, never offered refills during the meal and did not offer to refill drinks when she cleaned up the cabin after the meal service. She just picked up the trays and glasses without even offering another drink. In fact, when I wanted another drink, about 30 minutes after she cleaned up my tray I had to get up and ask for it, as she had disappeared behind the curtain in the galley. She smiled and told me of course, and then said, I was just about to do a drink service. HA- what a liar, she refilled my drink and then stayed hidden for a good 20 more minutes before scanning the cabin and offering passengers new drinks/refills.
The service on this flight was appalling! Sure it had glassware instead of plastic cups, but the level of service was below anything I had ever experienced. For a 5 hour flight there were only 3 drink services in first class and a meal that was served halfway through the flight. The FA never even offered the snack basket nor placed it out on the service area in the galley to allow those who were still hungry to graze when they got up to stretch or use the bathroom. Oh and let me not forget, there wasn’t even hot towel service before the meal! As we landed in Philly I thought to myself, wow, welcome to the new USless AAirways! The #NewAmerican which is ran by US Airways CEOs that ran a bottom of the barrel airline whom instead of investing in customer experience, cut service in every way possible–as displayed today. The A320 I flew had no IFE, no power ports (not even DC power ports like AA old planes have) but did offer overpriced GoGo WIFI. Sure WIFI is great, but without power, what good is it in a long flight?
I disembarked in Philly feeling worst about the US/AA merger than ever before. The service was lousy, the planes dated and clearly not designed with the customers in mind. At this point I was dreading my 10 hour flight to Rome. I had heard good things in the past from people about US Envoy class, but if it was going to be anything like their domestic first product then, forget it; it wouldn’t be worth mentioning. I had received bottom of the barrel service from SAN-PHL, so at the very least, it couldn’t get much worst….or could it?