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US Airways Envoy Suites to London (this post)
For our much anticipated trip to London and Dublin we were flying US Airways from Houston to Charlotte and then from Charlotte on to London Gatwick. Because we had booked an off-peak Envoy suites award to Europe for 55,000 points (no longer available at that low level), we were also in domestic first class from Houston to Charlotte. That flight left out of Terminal A that I hardly ever visit since I fly United primarily out of terminals C and E. Terminal A at IAH is a little bit like the land that time forgot, but the flight left on time and that was all that mattered.
We boarded and took our seats in the second row of first class. There was a pillow and a blanket waiting for us in the seats, but no pre-flight beverage was offered. No worries as we had loaded ourselves up with goodies from “Chili’s to Go” since it was lunchtime and we knew there was no meal service on this flight, even in first.
The seats were fine – nothing exciting, but better than coach. You can see my husband, who is a pretty big guy, really doesn’t have much extra room, but again it was better than coach. It was not something I would personally spend extra miles or dollars for though.
The flight was uneventful other than my new love for Nature’s Bakery whole wheat raspberry fig bars that were offered as snacks in first class. I went back for seconds to save for later as they were really good!
We had several hours to kill in the Charlotte airport, so we first went to the US Airways Club lounge that you get access to when flying in the Envoy Suites. I was thankful to have somewhere quiet to work for a few hours before heading to London, but this club literally smelled like a combo of burned soup and an old house. It wasn’t a good smell. You got a bit used to it after a while, but yuck. I think it was probably partly caused by the actual soup that they serve in the club. I’m used to the United Clubs where there are just things like carrots, pretzels, and other little snacks, so having soup available felt a bit random to me, but people were eating it.
Here are a few of the other snacks that were available in the US Airways Club.
I didn’t partake in any snacks here so I can’t vouch for taste, but I can say that the WiFi worked just fine and there were enough seats and outlets, so no real complaints from me…other than the old house smell. 😉 After a while we headed off to go to our gate and spent a little time in the nice white rocking chairs that are all over the Charlotte airport. Perfect if you happen to have a a young kid with you!
Our flight to London was a bit delayed as they brought on some of the sniffing dogs to check the plane. They would not announce why it was delayed or how long it would be delayed for, so we were all just left to stand around and guess what the issue was until we saw the dogs. Once they showed up it was just about 15-20 minutes and boarding got underway. My initial impression of the Envoy Class suite seat was that it reminded me a bunch of the United BusinessFirst seats I had sat in to London last year.
I found the blanket to be a little flimsy, but otherwise the seat was comfortable enough for both sitting and sleeping. The flight attendants were extremely nice. One came across as a Southern aunt who is fun to go visit and always has something witty to say. They all were very chatty and personable. When they saw me taking pictures of the seat they asked if I wanted to be in one – sure, why not?!
Of course the seat had all sorts of plugs, gadgets, and a remote.
Unlike when I fly United, the IFE wasn’t activated until we were around 10,000 feet. I’m used to starting up a movie almost immediately, so that was a slight difference on this flight. The movie and TV show selection was good – I love being able to try out some new shows while flying. There were some “kid friendly” selections as well.
When we placed our orders for dinner, we asked for the “Express” meal service so that all of our food would be delivered at once. Flights from the East Coast to Western Europe are not very long when you are hoping to maximize your lie-flat bed and get some sleep. We wanted to keep dinner as short as possible so that we could get as much sleep as we could. When you land in Europe it is already morning there, even though it is still the middle of the night on the East Coast. Every minute of sleep counts!
A drink and mixed nuts came out before the Express Meal.
None of the food selections were jumping out at me, so I asked the flight attendant if one was better than the others. She suggested the beef tenderloin, so I went with that.
The salmon appetizer with toast was probably my favorite part of the meal. If I could just get a second serving of that I would probably have been all set!
For dessert I had grapes, cheese, and crackers. I loved getting the food all at once. I would say it saves at least 30 minutes in the dinner process. Plus, we hit some decent chop and the flight attendants had to return to their seats for quite a while as we were beginning to cross the Atlantic. Those who had selected Express service had their whole meal to eat during the bumps, while everyone else had a pretty late start on dinner due to the flight attendants having to return to their seats for quite a while.
After dinner (and thankfully after the pretty bumpy part of the ride), it was time to get a few hours of sleep. This is far and away the most important reason why I want to fly in premium cabins for long flights. I don’t care all that much about the food, drinks, or service. I appreciate those things, don’t get me wrong, but what I care about is getting some sleep. I wish all carriers would embrace the model of some extra bedding for the lie-flat seats, but I can still sleep okay with just a pillow and thin blanket. I did change into my Lufthansa First Class pajama bottoms before going to “bed” as sleeping in jeans just isn’t my favorite. In case you are wondering, no one really looks at you funny for going to the lav and changing clothes.
I would guess I got to sleep for a solid four hours or so. Not ideal, but way better than nothing! I think that if we could have flown for just two or three more hours it would have been perfect. 😉 But, before long we had caught the sun and it was time for breakfast. I wasn’t really hungry yet, but can rarely turn down fruit…and a chocolate chip pastry.
I enjoyed the flight and the Envoy Suites. To me the experience was very similar to flying in United’s lie-flat BusinessFirst seats, which I have also enjoyed (and unexpectedly enjoyed again on the return portion of this trip).
When we landed all I wanted to do was go back to sleep for a little while, but little did we know at the time that it would be many hours before we would even reach our hotel room….