European Trip Review: US Airways Envoy Suites to London

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European trip to London and Dublin: Planning

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.

20130226-112424.jpgThe 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.

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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.

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Here are a few of the other snacks that were available in the US Airways Club.

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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.

20130226-112532.jpgI 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.

20130226-112557.jpgUnlike 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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

20130226-112838.jpgThe beef tenderloin was totally edible, but just not my favorite.  I don’t really eat a ton of red meat though, so perhaps I am not the best judge.  Next time I’ll just stick with the fish.  😉

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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.

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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. 

20130226-112916.jpgIt’s dark, and I’m ready for sleep!

20130226-112926.jpgI 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.

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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….

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Comments

  1. Looks like you were in the US Airways Club on the B Concourse. I think you would’ve liked the one between the C and D Concourse more. Newer and just refreshed – and a ton of room. I’m partial to it.

  2. I am surprised that you thought the lounge at Charlotte had an ‘old houses’ smell. From your picture, it looked as though you were in the B Concourse Lounge…if so, that Lounge has just been completely renovated with the past year (maybe 18 months). Because of its small size, yes, you can smell the soup pretty much throughout the area in which the soup tureen is located. Those soups that they serve in the lounge vary from day to day and are really very tasty and can make for a hearty meal when paired with the crackers and cheese. The C Concourse Lounge, on the other hand, is quite large and airy with windows facing the concourse lining one entire side. The soup station is located at the back of the Lounge far removed from the entrance. It actually has two food station areas, with wonderful Flavia coffee machines at both and also has a much larger bar area. The C Lounge does tend to get a bit more crowded and noisy at times with whole families traveling international flights from D Concourse, in addition to the usual business and leisure travelers, but it also has a vey large Quiet Room in which business travelers can work. I prefer the C Lounge over the B, usually only ducking in there for a cappuccino or espresso when my flights leave from B Concourse.
    I think you would have found the C Lounge much more to your liking.

  3. what difference from United! On US the FAs actually take your picture rather than having FFers thrown off the plane!

  4. My husband and I just returned from a trip to Cancun. Our return flight was routed through Charlotte. The US Airways plane from Cancun to Charlotte was an A330 which is highly unusual for a short flight like that. But it was a treat because first class had the lie flat configuration of 1-2-1. We got before flight drinks too. As for Charlotte, the C lounge was as Susan says. It is a lot better than B. The only thing to note is that they charge for drinks while the wine is free.

  5. @stephan
    One person got thrown off a flight because he said terrorist, nothing to do with taking pictures, as proven by there being another person who argued with the same flight attendant, but got to stay.

  6. Hi, I actually have been wanting to email you to start a discussion but do not see how to reach you. Since my question has to do with premium cabins, I’ll post here hoping you can reply. I am planning on flying to Korea next year with DH and DDs (13, 9). We hope to fly UA Global First from West Coast to Seoul. The seats look like we would be soooo far away from our daughters and maybe wouldn’t be aboe to even see them. We don’t have a lot of peace about going to sleep and snoozing away knowing someone could approach our girls or touch them unbeknownst to us. My wuestion is: Does this ever cross your mind when traveling with Little C and flying premium seats/suites? Anyone else want to weigh in on this? We want kay down seating but are fearful of seating that wouldn’t allow us to keep a close eyr on our girls. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Great report — and I had the exact same thought as Stephan about the attitude of the crew toward photography.

    I have read good things about Envoy, but have never tried it myself. (Maybe I never will with the recent elimination of the off-peak award and looming merger.)

    I will also take a stab at Carrie’s question… I have flown to and from ICN a few times (I’m actually on a ferry not far from the Incheon Bridge as I write this.) I would encourage you to book something other than UA’s F to Asia if you have any other options. UA Global First isnt’t amazing. See what Darren Booth had to say here: http://boardingarea.com/frequentlyflying/2013/01/28/the-reality-check-that-is-united-airlines-global-first-class/

    I would probably try to go with Asiana since you apparently have some Star Alliance miles, and although the seats are angled lie flat (with the exception of one 777 configuration) the seat configurations should allow you to sit next to your daughters (other than that same 777 configuration.)

    I would rather save some miles, have better service on an Asian carrier, and have a greater likelihood of sitting closer with my family than flying UA’s Global First.

    Here is a link to Mr. Booth’s review of business class on an Asiana 747 from ICN-LAX: http://boardingarea.com/frequentlyflying/2011/12/19/asiana-airlines-trip-report-oz-202-seoul-incheon-to-los-angeles/

    Also, you can take a look at Asiana’s seat maps here: http://boardingarea.com/frequentlyflying/2011/12/19/asiana-airlines-trip-report-oz-202-seoul-incheon-to-los-angeles/

    Hope this helps!

  8. Thanks for the post it mirrors my recent trip to Rome in Envoy except we had the lay at an angle seats 🙁
    Funny how the FAs offered to take your photo.

  9. @Hua Wow!! Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to reply and for providing those links. Your kindness really made my day! I greatly appreciate all of the information. Thank you so much again. 🙂

  10. -I’ll be sure to try the other US Airways Club next time. The soup may be great – I didn’t try it, but it sure does have a strong smell!
    -Carrie, I would look for an airline that has a 2 seat option on the outer row. This airplane does not have that. I would put C in the seat next to the window and I would sit/sleep next to her. That way you would have to go over me to get to her…or she would have to go over me to get out.
    -Hua, thanks for the links!
    -To everyone regarding the photos…I thought that was funny, too. Just a different attitude toward it in general. 😉

  11. Hi! I’m flying to Rome from CLT on the A330-300 in the Envoy class. It’s our first Envoy experience so wanting to get some seat selection guidance. I see the herringbone configuration is 1-2-1. I’m traveling with one other person and not sure whether it’s better to do the 2 seats in the middle or do the single seats back-to-back at the windows. Can you let me know your thoughts after taking this trip? I have currently booked the Row 1 of Envoy in the 2 middle seats. But reading this review has me wondering if another row or single seats might be better. Appreciate any guidance from people who’ve traveled to Europe in A330-300 Envoy!

    Thanks, Laurie

  12. Thank you for the very thorough review. I was just now able to book the Charlotte-Paris Envoy using United miles and have never flown US Air. This puts me at ease.

    • Bridget, congrats on redeeming your miles for a solid product! I hope you have a great time in Paris!

  13. Thank you for the great review. We will be flying Envoy on the A330-300 from Philly to Rome. Hope our experience is just as good as yours!

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