Hello and welcome to the next installment in this series of Flight-Reports. These flights were taken back in February–it was a quick trip to Ireland to see a good friend over the long Presidents Day holiday weekend. This report will cover the 4th leg of this trip on board a Legacy US Airways Internationally configured B757-200. After having just experienced new products on a retrofitted AA B777-200ER and a new BA A320, the outdated product on this former US Airways 757 was even more noticeable. Time for a retro passenger experience!
We dropped off the rental car around 2 and a half hours before departure. By the time we got to the check in counter, it was about 2 hours prior to departure–the grumpy check-in agent acted like we were running late and was rushing us, even though we had no bags to check. For someone who was in such a rush to get us on our way, she took her sweet time checking us in and asked some unusual security questions such as "where do you work" and "who is the CEO of your company?" Wow…really? After playing 20 questions, the agent asked to see my carry-on and promptly told me it was too big and must be checked. Ugh…my carry-on is well within the allowed proportions and was not even close to overstuffed. Not to mention that I'm in Business Class! But I didn't feel like arguing with her since I just wanted to be on my way at this point, so I let out a sigh, swapped my laptop to another bag, and handed it over. I asked if we needed invitations to the lounge, to which she curtly replied that we don't have time to go to the lounge. Again…ugh. I know we still had to go through U.S. CBP pre-clearance, but saying there's no time to go to the lounge 2 hours before departure is really pushing it!
Naturally, I decided to ignore her warnings and headed straight to the lounge right after going through security. Upon entering the lounge, I handed over my boarding pass to the lounge agent. Upon seeing my boarding passes, she rolled her eyes and barked "I've already called your flight. you need to go to US customs!" At this point it was still over an hour and a half before departure; I just couldn't believe I was denied entry into the lounge that early. For goodness sake, I'm a big boy and I'll head to the gate when I'm ready! Yeesh. Despite my annoyance I complied, thinking maybe something had changed since the last time I was at DUB and maybe not getting through pre-clearance takes longer.
Nope! I was through in like 20 minutes. All US CBP agents were friendly, professional, and efficient. So now here I am standing around at the crowded gate over an hour before departure when I could have been relaxing in the lounge for at least 15-20 minutes.
Here is our Pre-Merger US Airways 757-200 viewed from the gate. N203UW is a 16 year old aircraft originally delivered to ATA in 2000. US Airways bought the aircraft in 2006.
To my surprise boarding began almost an hour before departure. Bad weather was expected in Philly, and agents announced that we would try to leave early. Maybe this is why the check-in agent was rushing me. Or maybe she was just naturally anxious and cranky :-P
These PMUS International 757s have a weird configuration. I was hoping that maybe our plane would be swapped out for a PMAA International 752, which at least has angled lie-flat seats. But it was obvious from the seatmap that this was going to be a PMUS 752 as there were only 3 rows of Business class instead of 4 on the PMAA birds.
And here is the PMUS 757 Business class cabin, formerly known as "Envoy" class.
No, this is not a retro-report from the late 90's–this is indeed the year 2016! ^^ As mentioned above, US Airways received this aircraft in 2006–so basically the product was already outdated for about a decade when it was installed!
I make fun, but I love flying on 757s and trying different products. Yes, this cabin is desperately in need of a refresh, but there's a certain charm to flying in such an old seat. For one thing, they are very comfortable for day flights. The seats are wide and cushy. Newer business class seats tend to be more firm and thinner.
A pillow and blanket were pre-placed on my bulkhead seat.
Legroom was decent, though a bit tight for international Business class IMO.
The US Airways logo on the bulkhead is covered by a new American Airlines logo. The bulkhead design is still obviously US Airways.
The old-school seat electronic controls.
The local dominant home carrier–Aer Lingus A320 parked next door.
Boarding was completed over 20 minutes early. Passenger and cargo door were closed.
As we pushed back the safety video, a mix of new the AA and the old US video, played on the overhead screens.
The other Irish carrier: Low-cost giant Ryanair.
Lining up for takeoff on Runway 28
It was a gorgeous day for flying with clear blue sky.
The green Irish countryside
Lakes in the flat interior
Soon we were flying over the beautiful West Coast and the Connemara area where we had spent most of out time in Ireland.
Beautiful snow-capped mountains on the coast.
Last view of land before we head out over the open ocean.
These old US Airways 757s are not equipped with in-seat In-flight entertainment. In Business class, Samsung Galaxy tablets are distributed along with Bose noise cancelling headsets.
The content of the tablet is essentially the same as the IFE on other aircraft with built in PTVs. The main difference is that there is no moving map. The only airline that I'm aware of that has tablets with an airshow is the French all-Business class airline, La Compagnie. Some recent FRs of mine on La Compagnie: EWR-CDG, CDG-EWR
The lunch service started with an apéritif served with warm nuts. I had some more champagne. At this time menus were handed out, but after orders were taken, the purser took the menus back. which I found odd. As a result, I don't have any pictures of the menu.
Appetizer: Rosemary chicken and a salad
There were four choices of mains as usual. I went for the Thai Chili Beef, which I found creative and delicious. The beef was overcooked, but that is almost always the case on airplanes.
Ice cream sundae for dessert.
All in all a very good meal, and once again I give credit to AA for creativity with the Thai Chili Beef.
After lunch I got up to stretch my legs and took a walk back to Economy where is it also the 90's :-)
Having recently come back from my whirlwind tour of Australia and New Zealand via Asia, I'd pretty much seen every recent movie on the iFE so I went for an older movie. South Africa being one of my favorite countries, I decided on Invictus.
There's even a fun part for AvGeeks
After the movie I took a short 2 hour nap and started another movie after waking up.
The pre-arrival meal was served halfway through the movie. The lack on built-in IFE makes it difficult to watch a movie as you eat. I had to delicately balance the tablet on the armrest.
The purser went to each passenger announcing the choice of snacks. One of the choices was a "Croak Mooshoo"—a what? "It's like a French grilled-cheese sandwich" –Oh a Croque Monsieur! Yum! Once again very creative catering from AA
Unfortunately, it was burnt beyond recognition. Oh well…it was a nice thought :-)
Soon enough we were descending to PHL. The bad weather that they had told us about on departure was bearing down on Philly. The snow was really coming down.
Despite the weather, there was no holding and we landed about 45 minutes early.
We parked next to an A321 at Terminal A
Last view of the cabin on deplaning.
It was nice coming off an international flight and not having to deal with immigration and customs! Love pre-cleared airports!
We couldn't find our flight to DCA on the FIDS, so we headed straight to the Admirals Club to see if it was cancelled.
Lego Liberty Bell by the escalator leading to the Admirals Club in Terminal A.
The Admirals club was almost completely empty.
Not looking good out there!
Sure enough our flight was cancelled. AA had rebooked us for the next morning as the next DCA flight was cancelled as well and all others were oversold. The agent tried to work on some creative reroute options, notably an interesting PHL-ORF-DCA, but it sounded too risky to connect somewhere and take the chance of getting stuck again. In the end we elected just to get a rental car and drive the 2 hours home to DC. It seemed a little crazy to spend the night in Philly when we were so close to home. I was glad I had chosen to route through PHL on the return in case of bad weather–it paid off! The only problem with cancelling the last leg of my trip was that they couldn't find my bag, so I had to file a lost bag claim in PHL. They delivered my bag directly to my house in DC once it was found, but it took 2 days to get there. Luckily I was home so I didn't mind. The only part that bothered me was that when I called to check on the status of my bag the next evening, the agents told me they didn't know if my bag was in PHL or had been sent to DCA–basically, they didn't know where it was. As I was on the phone, I looked on the AA mobile app and saw that my bag had been scanned on a flight from PHL to DCA that morning and gave them the flight number. So essentially I found my bag myself…sigh.
Thanks for reading!
A few pictures from the beautiful Connemara area on the West coast of Ireland
Dublin - DUB
Philadelphia - PHL
Well, what can I say? It was a fun flight back in time to 1996 :-)
It was a generally pleasant flight with a friendly crew. The fact that it was a day flight helped with the pleasantness factor. I would not want to do a redeye in this cabin. AA really needs to get on the ball and update their International 757s. It's been almost two years since AA announce full-flat beds for both the LUS and LAA 757s, but as of August 2016, none have been retrofitted. There are rumours that the first 757 may currently be in Tulsa getting the new cabins. I hope it's true, because it's about time!
The catering was good, except for the burnt pre-arrival Croque Monsieur. The IFE was fine--I don't usually mind tablets, but if you're going to substitute integrated PTVs for tablets, you really need to have a place to put them besides the tray table.
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