Review of American Airlines flight Philadelphia Paris in Premium Eco

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA754
Class Premium Eco
Seat 6H
Aircraft Airbus A330-200
Flight time 07:25
Take-off 17 Aug 18, 21:15
Arrival at 18 Aug 18, 10:40
AA   #75 out of 123 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 347 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 1587
Published on 11th September 2018

Introduction



Hello and welcome to a new short series of Flight-Reports,

It was time for my annual pilgrimage home to the motherland, but this year the choice of airline and routing was a bit more difficult than past years. OpenSkies would have been my first choice, unfortunately, this lovely boutique airline was due to cease operations at the beginning of September 2018 so I would have only been able to take OpenSkies on my outbound flight. I'd flown OpenSkies several times in the past and I was saddened to learn that one of my favourite carriers would cease to exist. As a French expat and oneworld flyer in the U.S., I liked OpenSkies for its perfect mix of what I like about British Airways but with French flair and elegance. *sigh* Au revoir OpenSkies ! ?

Living in Washington, DC, there are no non-stop oneworld options to France and I generally prefer to avoid connecting at Northeast U.S. airports in the summer unless I have time to build in a long layover to minimize risk of missing connections. With AA's Philadelphia hub being about 2 hours up I-95, I looked at non-stop flights out of PHL and found a good deal in Premium Economy. I'd been wanting to try AA's new Premium Economy and often find this class of service, positioned between Business and Economy, to be the perfect for short transatlantic flights.

Routing:

Philadelphia PHL ✈ Paris Roissy CDG | American Airlines, A330-200, Premium Economy
Paris Roissy CDG ✈ Philadelphia PHL | American Airlines, A330-200, Premium Economy

Check-in & Lounge



The drive up from D.C. took about 2.5 hours with quite a bit of beach traffic causing back-ups on the interstate despite being well outside of rush hour. Still, 2.5 hours isn't too bad considering that driving to PHL eliminated the possibility of misconnecting on a DCA-PHL-CDG itinerary.

After parking the car in the long-term parking lot, we took the shuttle to international Terminal A. Check-in was quick as there was no queue in the Priority lane.

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I'd requested a wheelchair to get to the lounge and gate as I'd been released from the hospital a week earlier after spending 10 days due to ruptured appendicitis. There was no TSA Pre-check on the Terminal A - East side, but getting through the "regular" security lane was quick with the wheelchair service. I'll remember to check in on the Terminal A - West side for TSA Pre-check next time.

As the British Airways lounge was on the way to the gate, I asked the wheelchair attendant to take us there instead of the Admirals Club. I figured the BA Galleries lounge would be a bit nicer than the Admirals Club. The AA lounge experience in PHL will be upgraded in 2019 with the opening of a new Flagship Lounge in the A Terminal.

Note that my access to lounges comes through my AA frequent flyer status; Premium Economy tickets, without oneworld status, do not qualify for lounge access.

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The PHL BA Galleries lounge is a bit smaller than the BA lounge back home in DC, probably since there are less BA flights at PHL, but it was pleasant and relatively quiet.

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The food options were the usual finger sandwiches and crudités. There was a dining room with hot dishes for Club World and First passengers.

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There is a decent selection at the self-serve bar

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A few finger sandwiches for a pre-flight snack

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Champagne was not available at the self-serve bar but, like in many other Galleries lounges, could be requested from an attendant.

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The BA Galleries lounge also serves Qatar Airways passengers. The lounge emptied out rather quickly after boarding for the Qatar flight was announced.

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As I couldn't walk too well due to my recent surgery, I decided to leave the lounge extra early to try to make it out to the gate in time for boarding. I didn't really feel like bothering with calling for a wheelchair again and figured I could walk with enough time, but as I walked past the reception desk, the lovely agent insisted she call for assistance as the gate was quite far. An electric vehicle showed up within minutes to take us to the gate, which did turn out to be pretty far at the very end of the A-West concourse.

Boarding



We arrived at the boarding gate about 10 minutes before boarding was due to begin but there was no aircraft parked at the end of the jetbridge. Oddly, the flight was still showing on time. It was only about 10 minutes after boarding was supposed to begin that agents announced that our aircraft was delayed coming from the hangar. Boards were still showing on-time; however, it was clear that the flight would not be on time.

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The aircraft finally pulled up to the gate a few minutes before scheduled departure time…and the boards were still showing "on time"…riiiight.

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Boarding finally began at 9:20 PM, 5 minutes past scheduled departure time. I was able to pre-board and was one of the first people on board.

Cabin crew were still preparing the cabin, placing menus on the seats.

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I had selected seats in the first row of Premium Economy as they have leg-rests and it is easier to get out of the window seat as there is no seat in front that can recline.

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The Premium Economy cabin on the A330-200 is small and intimate with only 21 seats configured in a 2-3-2 layout over 3 rows.

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American's new long-haul Premium Economy seats are the same seat model as those introduced in Domestic First class on retrofitted pre-merger US A319s and some retrofitted older pre-merger AA 737-800s (without IFE).

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The second and third rows of Premium Economy have large IFE screens in the back of the seat in front whereas the first row has the IFE stored in the armrest.

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Pre-placed on the seats were a packaged pillow, blanket, amenity kit and noise-cancelling headphones. The bedding from Casper is of good quality.

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Side view of the first row showing the leg space

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Good legroom in the bulkhead row

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Let's have a look at the contents of the package found on the seat.

A small amenity kit from Cole Haan containing an eye-mask, socks, toothbrush set, earplugs, a AA branded pen, and a $100 discount coupon for Casper mattresses.

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Decent noise-cancelling headphones for Premium Economy, though obviously not as nice as the Bose headsets available in Business or First.

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On the side of the center armrest we find the In-flight Entertainment remote and seat controls with 3 buttons for recline, leg-rest, and foot rest.

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Printed menus were also pre-placed on the seats.

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The menu cards are in English and French

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Another nice feature of AA's Premium Economy is that, like in Business and First class, meals can be pre-ordered on AA.com.

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The Flight



We finally pushed back at 10:20 PM, over an hour late.

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Luckily at this late hour, the Transatlantic departure rush was winding down and the taxi time was short.

The safety video played during taxi

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We took off at at 10:28 PM

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With a flight time of 7 hours and 12 minutes, we'll be landing close to noon so it doesn't look like we'll make up any of the delay.

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As mentioned earlier the first row of Premium Economy is equipped with full leg-rests, while other rows have pull-down foot-rests.

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The IFE is available in several languages and has good content including movies, TV shows, and an extensive selection of music, which is convenient for relaxing before sleep on red-eyes.

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Notice the outside Air temperature displayed 14502 degrees Fahrenheit…apparently we'll be flying to Paris via the surface of the Sun ^^

The dinner service began about a half hour into the flight as we were just north of New York City.

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Appetiser:

Petite Kale Salad
orange, pomegranate, feta


Main:

Grilled beef short rib
chimichurri sauce, twice-baked potato


Dessert:

Cheesecake

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Overall the meal was tasty and visually well-presented. The dinner was more on the premium end of the catering spectrum for Premium Economy, resembling an upgraded version of domestic First class catering.

What felt a little less premium, however, were the plastic cups used for the drinks…a curious choice that contrasts sharply with the main dinner tray.

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By the end of dinner we were over the Canadian Maritime Provinces and heading towards the open ocean.

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A little nightcap before trying to catch some sleep.

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Still more than 5 1/2 hours left in the flight–plenty of time for a few hours of sleep.

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I put on A Wrinkle in Time and went to sleep. I don't remember much about it as I fell asleep about halfway through, except that it was visually stunning and that Oprah Winfrey was a gigantic spirit from a parallel universe ^^

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I slept a good 3-4 hours and woke up as we were overflying Ireland. Breakfast was served shortly after.

Breakfast consisted of a fruit plate, yogurt, and a tiny warm cinnamon roll–I think it shrank in the dryer :-P

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Again the meal was served on china with metal cutlery, like Business class, but again the drinks were served in plastic cups, like Economy. It is worth noting that, while many carriers serve the same breakfast in Premium Economy as Economy on TATL flights (e.g. BA and AF), AA makes an effort to offer an upgraded second meal.

It was a beautiful morning over the North of France.

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Maybe it's an expat thing, but I always get a bit emotional when I see home from the air after a long time away.

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Swinging back around to the west to line up for landing.

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Arrival



We landed on the North Runways, which meant we'd have a long taxi to Terminal 2.

On the bright side, that means there'll be lots of good planespotting on the way :-)

Singapore Airlines A380 at Terminal 1

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EVA Air B777-300ER

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Two Aegean A320s parked at Terminal 1

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A beautiful Air Tahiti Nui A340-300. Looking forward to seeing their new Dreamliners in real life.

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A Thai Airways A380 in the distance parked at one of the T1 satellites

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The A380-party continues with one of several Emirates A380s serving CDG daily.

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China Eastern B777-300ER - can't say I'm a fan of this bland livery.

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Air France A319

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Air France A320 with winglets…I mean sharklets ^^

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Terminal 2E with AF and SkyTeam partner birds–just one of the many concourses making up the massive Air France hub

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Taxiing past Terminal 2C on the way to 2A with a Jet Airways A330 and Rossiya A320 parked at the gate.

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That's a sexy livery

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Ummmm….why are we turning away from Terminal 2A?

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Ah…we're parking at a hardstand. I don't usually have a problem with that, but we're already over an hour delayed and deplaning from a hardstand will only add to the delay.

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One thing I do like about deplaning on the tarmac are the good aircraft views :-)
#AvGeek

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The good thing about being in the first row of Premium Economy is that we were right by the door to deplane quickly. The air-stairs were large, which was good since I wasn't walking too well after surgery.

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The bus filled up quickly and it was a short trip to Terminal 2A international arrivals.

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There was a silver lining to being delayed over an hour, we had missed the big Transatlantic arrivals rush so immigration was completely empty. We were through in less that a minute.

Of course that meant we had to wait for our bags, which were estimated to be dropped at 12:20, but in the end they were already being loaded by 12:15.

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The worst part was the wait at the Hertz car rental counter. Due to a security issue in one of the other terminals all passengers were re-directly to the Terminal 2A/C counter. It took an excruciating 2 1/2 hours to pick up the rental car.

Between the flight delay and the delay at Hertz car rental, we had wasted much of the day…Happy Birthday to me! Yes, it was my Birthday. But at least we were reasonably well-rested and the flight had been enjoyable.

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Verdict

American Airlines

8.3/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment9.0
Meal/catering8.0

British Airways Galleries Club

7.3/10
Comfort7.0
Meal/catering7.0
Entertainment7.5
Services7.5

Philadelphia - PHL

7.3/10
Efficiency6.5
Access7.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness7.5

Paris - CDG

8.3/10
Efficiency8.5
Access8.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

I'd been looking forward to trying American's new Premium Economy and I was not disappointed. The cabin was sleek and modern and the seats were comfortable and spacious. Being in the front row made for an even better experience with more space and leg-rests. The crew were friendly and attentive though it seemed they were not yet used to Premium Economy service protocols as the meal and drink services seemed awkward and unorganised at times. The IFE was brand new and modern with nice resolution and colour--the content was also quite good and available in several languages. The catering, served on china with metal cutlery, generally felt premium and resembled domestic First class meals; however, the use of plastic cups instead of real glasses seemed odd and out of place.

I've flown long-haul Premium Economy on several other carriers, including Air France, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic, and American Airlines Premium Economy offered one of the more premium experiences.

Aside from the one hour delay, it was a very pleasant flight. Overall I was definitely impressed by American's new Premium Economy.

Informations on the route Philadelphia (PHL) Paris (CDG)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 3 reviews of 1 airlines on the route Philadelphia (PHL) → Paris (CDG).


Useful

The airline with the best average grade is with /10.

The average flight time is 7.0 hours and 21.0 minutes.

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14 Comments

  • Comment 464633 by
    a1imbot 9 Comments

    Nice report! I just grabbed an economy ticket from PHL-LAX on the same A332 - in row 6! They're still selling PE seats as MCE. Super excited to try out the seat myself. Thanks for the lil taste of whats to come :)

    • Comment 464668 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4408 Comments

      Hi A1imbot, thanks for your comments! Good that you got on that A332 PHL-LAX...much better than doing that flight in a PMUS A321! Yes, Premium Economy seats are sold as Main Cabin Extra on domestic sectors so you have the seat but standard MCE service. Will be nice to have the extra space on that 6 hour flight! Premium Economy is still only being sold on long-haul and US-Hawaii. I guess there's no point in selling PE domestically on just a few random widebody flights. The seat and service would be too much like domestic F if they did, which would make the products confusing to the public.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 464723 by
    KL651 TEAM 4142 Comments

    Thanks for this FR gurrl
    Driving up to PHL at least guaranteed you enough time to visit the lounge versus connecting there which as you say can be risky.
    The BA lounge is clearly better then any AAdmiral's Club, thoug I'm not fond of the decor.
    AA Y+ seems to be good value for money with that seat that clearly looks wider and more premium than the regular Y seat, something not as evident on AF or AC IMO.
    Too bad the nice meals were spoiled by all these plastic glasses.

    • Comment 464847 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4408 Comments

      I definitely won't hesitate to drive up to PHL for long-haul flights in the future--avoiding the stress of missing a connection was worth it. Yes, the BA lounge is better than any Admirals Club, but once the Flagship Lounge opens in PHL, it should become the best lounge. Looking forward to that!

  • Comment 464848 by
    757Fan 454 Comments

    Great report, Kevin. It looks like you had a good flight with AA. Thank you for sharing - food looks quite good, and nice to see the seating is a bit different as well too. I wasn't aware AA had rolled PY out on their European routes at all yet. Good to know!

    Looking forward to the return flight.

    • Comment 465076 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4408 Comments

      Hi Matthew, thanks for your thoughtful comments as always!

      "I wasn't aware AA had rolled PY out on their European routes at all yet. Good to know!"
      - Yep, AA has been rolling out Premium Economy amazingly fast! It was only introduced last year and they've already retrofitted something like 90% of the aircraft that will get PE. Retrofits are due to be completed this fall. Meanwhile DL isn't moving very fast with introducing PE and UA is just starting.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 464882 by
    Leadership TEAM SILVER 3966 Comments

    Thanks Kévin, I do not read much FR in English but this one caught my attention.
    US carriers were the last to add a true Premium Economy to their aircraft but it seems like they have done it better than established carriers. Nice seat, good amenities and meals with real plates.

    Thanks for sharing ;)

    • Comment 465077 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4408 Comments

      Bonjour dear Leader :-)

      I was surprised to discover that this is the first report of AA Premium Economy on either the English or French sites!

      "US carriers were the last to add a true Premium Economy to their aircraft but it seems like they have done it better than established carriers."
      - For once, the U.S. carriers have been able to outdo the competition IMO. I would imagine they've had years of watching other carriers introduce PE and were able to learn from others' successes and failures to offer a Intl Premium Economy solid product from the start.

      "Nice seat, good amenities and meals with real plates."
      - Indeed...just the plastic cups are weird. But I have a feeling this may change in the future. One can see the LUS influence with the plastic cups, lol.

      Thank you for your comments!

  • Comment 465175 by
    ashleyyau 200 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this flight report with us Kevin!

    Glad to know you can reserve the bulkhead seat. I think all the US3 have the same PEY seat model. Yet I am a bit disappointed for AA’s middle rows PEY seats which do not have leg-rests, even they have the same seat model with CX A350 PEY. On the other side, AA has better PEY catering than CX and I am impressed with the online pre-ordering. Does it have hot dishes for the breakfast?

    “it seemed they were not yet used to Premium Economy service protocols” -> or they don’t want to be changed? Lol

    Superb plane spotting at CDG^^ Looking forward to your return trip!

    • Comment 465222 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4408 Comments

      Hey Ashley, thanks for your comments!

      "Glad to know you can reserve the bulkhead seat."
      - Yes, though I'm not sure if they're reserved for oneworld Elites or not

      "I think all the US3 have the same PEY seat model."
      - Yes, though I think DL's are not as wide with thinner armrests from the pics I've seen and the fact that they can fit a 2-4-2 configuration on the A350

      "Yet I am a bit disappointed for AA’s middle rows PEY seats which do not have leg-rests,"
      - True, that is a shame

      "Does it have hot dishes for the breakfast?"
      - Nope, just the one option

      "or they don’t want to be changed? Lol"
      - I think you're right! haha

      Thanks for your thoughtful questions and comments!

  • Comment 465237 by
    rbix SILVER 54 Comments

    Wonderful report as always, KévinDC!! It seems like you did enjoy this flight onboard American Airlines. I definitely think that the new premium economy seats look refreshed and eye-catching.

    "The crew were friendly and attentive though it seemed they were not yet used to Premium Economy service protocols as the meal and drink services seemed awkward and unorganised at times."
    - Correct me if I'm wrong, but is premium economy on American Airlines a new concept, or has it been there for some time?

    I'm glad to hear that you were impressed on this flight, and the seats are definitely decent for a 7 hour flight like this. I even loved your plane photography at CDG, which looks amazing! Thanks again for sharing! Happy travels!

    • Comment 465448 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4408 Comments

      Hi Rbix, thanks so much for your comments!

      "Correct me if I'm wrong, but is premium economy on American Airlines a new concept, or has it been there for some time?"
      - It is a new concept for AA (and DL, UA as well). AA was the first U.S. carrier to roll out Premium Economy in mid-2017, so it's been around for just about a year. However, until recently, Premium Economy seats had only been installed on pre-merger AA aircraft. Now that the cabin has been fitted on pre-merger US Airways A330-200s, US crews are not doing Premium Economy service.

      While there are quite a few "Premium Economy" Flight-Reports on U.S. airlines, except for this report, the others are all reports in the Extra Legroom sections of Economy (i.e. Economy+, Main Cabin Extra, Comfort+), that most categorized as "Premium Economy" prior to the rollout of true long-haul premium economy as a separate cabin last year.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  • Comment 466410 by
    AbyssinTeam 87 Comments

    Thanks kevin for this report.

    AA econmy premium looks great and I'm impressed by the catering even with the plastic glass. But if pax complain I'm sure aa will change this in the future.
    Hope you are better now and that you can run.

    A bientot

    Eric

    • Comment 466484 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4408 Comments

      Bonjour AbyssinTeam, thank you for your comments!

      "I'm impressed by the catering even with the plastic glass."
      - Haha me too. It actually doesn't shock me that much because US Airways used to do plastic cups in domestic F for years...not that I like it, but I definitely see the PMUS influence at play here.

      "But if pax complain I'm sure aa will change this in the future."
      - Perhaps! maybe there's hope.

      I'm feeling much better now. Merci!

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