Hello and welcome to the fourth and last segment in this series of Flight-Reports,
Having just gotten back to DC from my annual birthday trip home to France (reports here and here ), I needed to cross the pond again as I had to be in Madrid for the week of 17 September. I had originally put together an itinerary that included one leg on the new Iberia A350, unfortunately it didn't work out in the end, which was disappointing as an AvGeek. Alas, the reports in this series won't be anything new, as I've reported all aircraft but one in the past. Still, it's always worth doing Flight-Reports, even on one's "shuttle"–in my case, that would be IAD-LHR on the British Airways B747-400.
This short report will cover the quick one hour hop from Charlotte to Washington-Dulles on a recently refurbished pre-merger US Airways A319.
Washington Dulles IAD ✈ London Heathrow LHR | British Airways, B747-400, Business class
London Heathrow LHR ✈ Madrid Barajas MAD| Iberia, A321-200, Business class
Madrid Barajas MAD ✈ Charlotte Douglas CLT | American Airlines, A330-200, Business class
Charlotte Douglas CLT ✈ Washington Dulles IAD| American Airlines, A319-100, Domestic First
Though my flight to DC was due to depart from Concourse B, I learned from the AA app that the smaller Admirals Club in Concourse B was closed for renovations, so I headed to the main Admirals Club located at the entrance to Concourse C.
The lounge is large with nice tarmac views and a cool dome, but it was very crowded.
One new-ish feature in AA Admirals clubs are fresh-made guacamole stations
Whenever I pass through the Charlotte Concourse C Admirals Club, I try to get a seat in the main section under the dome, mostly because there are good tarmac views…
But also because other parts of the lounge feel claustrophobic when it's crowded.
As there is no Flagship Lounge in CLT (Upgraded AA lounges restricted to Intl First/Business passengers and oneworld Elites on Intl itineraries), I was given two "Premium Drink" vouchers upon checking in at the desk. Intl First/Business passengers receive these vouchers in Admirals Clubs as only some beers and wine are complimentary–all other drinks considered "premium" are for purchase at the bar.
I decided to make the most of my vouchers and went for a glass of champagne, an Ayala Brut Majeur, which would normally be charge $15 per glass.
Though not a high-end champagne at about $40 a bottle, it's a nice change to have a real champagne in the Admirals Club, where previously only Prosecco, Cava, or California Sparkling were available.
I had just enough time to enjoy two glasses before I had to leave to head to the gate.
There are nice views from the Admirals Club, though being that CLT is an AA fortress hub with AA flight making up more than 90% of traffic, I can't say the scenery is very varied, at least livery-wise.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn from an AA app notification that my flight's gate had moved to Concourse C, which was a much shorter walk than the original gate.
Here is my ride for today, a pre-merger US Airways A319
The recently reconfigured PMUS A319 fleet has a smaller F cabin, which has gone from 3 rows of 12 seats to only 2 rows of 8 seats.
I had selected seat 1A, which I prefer when travelling alone as it's easier to get out from the window seat.
The new domestic First class seats being installed on the PMUS narrowbody Airbus fleet and PMAA 737s as part of the "Oasis" densification project are the Rockwell-Collins MiQ model, the same seat model as long-haul Premium Economy.
My seat 1A
The legroom in the first row on these refurbished A319s is pretty tight compared to other PMUS A320s and A321s in the old configuration, which are already tighter that bulkhead rows on PMAA aircraft.
There wasn't enough room to stretch my legs out straight.
There is storage underneath the center armrest as well as a power outlet.
Being on a PMUS aircraft with a PMUS crew, there was no doubt that a PDB would be served, unlike flying PMAA metal where's it's always a tossup.
I had a gin & tonic
Another shot showing how right the space is in the first row.
We pushed back on time. The FAs did a manual safety briefing as usual on PMUS aircraft since there is no IFE.
Taxiing past the international concourse. I think one of those A330s was my ride from Madrid.
I was surprised when Lufthansa decided to keep flying to CLT after the AA/US merger and US Airways' switch to oneworld from Star Alliance. It seems it was the right decision as they're still operating to CLT 5 years later. It's always good to have competition.
Taxi was relatively short despite the busy evening departure bank.
Takeoff with a view of downtown Charlotte.
Shortly after takeoff, the lead FA working First class began the inflight service.
I had a Woodword Reserve Bourbon on the rocks.
Then the snack basket was passed through the cabin. As the flight time is under an hour, there is obviously no meal service.
The FA was very friendly and efficient–he managed to do a second round of drinks on such a short flight.
Pretty sunset colours out the window as we began out descent.
Our route took us just north of Dulles airport before doing a 360 and heading back south for landing.
We crossed the Potomac River twice in the process.
Never-ending construction on the Metro Silver line.
We landed at 6:55 PM and got to the gate right about on time.
We parked at gate B73, just down from another AA A319, but this one from the PMAA side (with AVOD).
Thanks for reading and see you for a future series of report!
After a disappointing Transatlantic flight, this short hop home to DC was a pleasant surprise. The crew were very friendly and attentive. One thing I like about pre-merger US Airways crews is that you never have to wonder whether you'll get a pre-departure drink. You do, every time, and it's open bar. The new seats are nice--they are exactly the same seat model as the long-haul Premium Economy seat. However, the legroom in the first row is a bit tight and it's a shame that in the retrofit, AA took the First cabin down from 3 rows to only 2.