USAir: Paris to Philadelphia, Business Class

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I cashed in some American Airlines miles as I needed a one-way from Paris to PHL recently. After a nice overnight stay at the Hyatt Regency Charles De Gaulle, I used one of the Hyatt Little Green Cars to take me to the US check-in area.

Check-In

Like many european stations for US carriers there is enhanced security even before you get to the check-in desk. I had this on my American Airlines flight to JFK from Paris earlier in the year and it was a vile experience. Ready as I was for a similar problem this time, I was pleasantly surprised that the security agent was civil and to the point. The big issue, as always, is that I am a single man on a one way ticket. Faced with the need to produce my return ticket all too often, I now print everything off and so could offer it to the agent.

About a 10 second chat with her supervisor produced the magic sticker and I was off to the check-in desk.

For some reason, the agents in France always ask what your final destination is, although they can clearly see it when my reservation is pulled up. With no bags to check I was off to security in about 2 minutes.

Security

US gives its premium passengers cards for the No1 lane which is effectively Fast Track. I usually use the passport reading machines for which you have to pre-register, but they were all off this morning. I was able to nip through passport control after about 10 minutes as despite there being a No1 there was only one French Immigration inspector on duty. Security also has a No1 lane (where they collect your card), but was moving fairly fast.

Lounge

In the terminal where US leaves there is both an American Airlines Admirals Club and a Cathay Pacific Lounge. You can read about them here. The Cathay lounge is much nicer.

Gate

CDG is a funny airport, well at least this part of it is. The gates are basically at the corridor where you walk to get to other gates, making queueing annoying for everyone.

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Boarding

Boarding started early. US has two flights out of CDG, one to Charlotte and the other to PHL. Unfortunately my PHL flight didn’t get the gate that morning and we had to be bussed to the plane. The Charlotte flight however, got all the at-gate security inspections and I was fairly quickly on the bus and off to the plane.

Strangely they parked the bus some distance from the plane, rather than at the bottom of the steps and so it was a decent walk to get on the stairs to the door.

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Seat

At some point I had selected 1A which is a single window seat at the front of this aircraft. I had never been able to change it for some reason and after the climb from the ground I was fairly quickly at my seat.

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There is no overhead bin at the window seats in row 1, so you have to stick your carry on above the middle seats.

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The foot well goes a long way on the cupboard in front. If you thrash your seats whilst you sleep I would not recommend this as you would get bruises!

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One great thing is that US give you a 1 litre bottle of water right in your chair’s arm.

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Taxi and Take-off

Fairly soon we were ready to leave, and although booked to go earlier, we followed the Charlotte flight to the runway. Lots of plane eye-candy on the way.

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Service

The crew were pretty friendly and did a pre-lunch round of drinks with warmed nuts.

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They distributed amenity kits and AA branded Bose Headsets for the entertainment.

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Amenity Kit contents:

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US doesn’t offer the AA option of pre-booking your entree, but they did not seem to have United’s problem of running out of choices as they only took one option per passenger.

Food

Appertiser:

Sliced grilled chicken with balsamic glaze and a goats cheese fritter – absolutely superb!
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Salad
Spinach salad with strawberries and walnuts – lime yoghurt or balsamic vinegar dressing.

Main Meal

Beef Tenderloin:

Marinated Chicken Breast
Sesame Crusted Cod
Seven Cheese Agnolotti

Dessert
Cannoli
Cheese Plate
Ben & Jerrys Vanilla Ice Cream with toppings

Seat Adjustment

I was able to get comfortable for a couple of hours sleep after lunch.

Pre Arrival Meal
I had heard things about the second meal – Turkey Burger Sliders or Large Salad and so picked the Sliders. They were a little disappointing in truth – a bit dry:

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Arrival
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We arrived on time (more about the delayed connection later), but ended up at a gate some distance from US Immigration. In addition we were at the opposite end of the immigration hall from the Global Entry machines. So after a 15 minute walk, and I was though in to the queue for TSA to make my connection. For whatever reason I did not get PreCheck and indeed am not sure it actually was available at the connecting point from international arrivals.

Hence a 15 minute wait at TSA was my lot.

Summary
I am not a frequent traveller with US, but was pleasantly surprised by this flight which I though was a good solid comfortable seat with some decent (airline) food served. The bussing is a PITA, but this can happen anywhere.

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Comments

  1. I got precheck on my connection in PHL back in February on an award ticket US Air flight from MUC. They even allowed my non-spouse/non-partner travel companion to come through precheck which I did not think was allowed.

  2. For as bad as US can be domestically and in economy, the TATL Envoy product is quite pleasant. They definitely don’t get credit for being the early adopter of the reverse herringbone biz class seat that a lot of travelers covet.

  3. I am booked on this flight early next year. Did you access the Cathay Lounge due to your ticket status on this flight or do you have some other status to get you in there? Just wondering. Oh and thanks for the nice review.

  4. I ended up on the CDG-PHL flight home to Philly when LH was on sympathy strike with AF last November (changed the Star award tix). I was also pleasantly surprised by the flight – the seats were good along the window and the food was good (the dessert I had was fantastic!). For all the grief of PHL and US domestic, the Envoy product is pretty nice ride long haul.

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