Flight: Philadelphia to London Heathrow
Airline: American Airlines
Flight Number: AA736
Plane: Airbus A330-300
Plane Reg: n/a
Cain: Business Class
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a particularly great experience at a Philly Airport. Before I’d even checked in staff at the American check-in desk were extremely rude.
I was due to fly from Philly to Boston, and then to London Heathrow.
The paperwork for my internal flight was clear that I was due to leave from Terminal F, because the flight was operated by American Eagle. Upon handing over the paperwork, I was rudely and abruptly told that I needed to go to Terminal A because it was an international flight – this was odd as I wasn’t going international at this point. This didn’t make much sense, but I went to Terminal A as instructed.
Unsurprisingly, when I got to Terminal A, I was informed that this Terminal was for international flights only and since I was connecting in Boston, I would need to go back to Terminal F, as it was American Eagle operating the flight.
Back at Terminal F, the same rude and abrupt lady (she was the only one working desk) told me to go back to Terminal A as she ‘couldn’t help’ me. I explained (politely) I’d just come from there, so I didn’t need to go there. The lady snatched the paperwork from me, aggressively typed into her computer – and then informed me the flight to Boston was leaving from Terminal B/C, of course with no apology! All back on the bus, literally!
This was shockingly bad Customer Service from American Airlines here, and it was about to get a whole lot worse.
Once I was through security, the situation quickly become one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever experienced in an Airport.
The original plan was that I was due a connection in Boston to get the LHR flight. However, the weather turned, and there were a number of expected thunderstorms both in Philly and Boston.
My planned flight to Boston was cancelled, so I re-booked to another, then that flight was cancelled. So, I re-booked, again.
Whilst re-booking I had told the representative at American Airlines that I was unlikely to be able to make the connection from Boston to London with the delays and cancelations – but she insisted that I had to miss every connection until I had missed the Boston to LHR flight. This made no sense to me!
In total, it took 4 re-book attempts (it was required that I wait for each flight to be cancelled before I was allowed to re-book), before it became apparent, I clearly wasn’t going to make my BOS -> LHR connection.
I should also add the in the course of this, each time I had to go to the customer services desk, there was easily a queue of 200+ people – so just queuing took 45 minutes to get to the front each time.
Eventually (fifth time lucky!), American conceded and put me on a direct flight from PHL to LHR.
I guess, some credit could be given for not demanding I went to a hotel, and they re-booked me another day or something. But the experience was a lot more frustrating than it needed to be!
There is an Admirals Club at Terminal B/C – however, I spent to much of my time either staring at the screens waiting for the next flight to cancel, or in the queue to re-book the flights, I didn’t make it to any Lounge.
This was one of American’s inherited A330’s from US Airways – now retired by American since the Covid-19 pandemic. It was around 45 minutes delayed due to the storms – but I wasn’t complaining.
The A330’s Business Class was in 1:2:1 format and had very nice comfortable seats!
I won’t bore you with the measurements (I don’t know/care about them myself), but I can say that comfortably it can seat a larger very tall person. There is plenty of leg room on the seats too!
These styles of seats have the kind of footrests which you can put your shoes under, which was great – but you need to run the chair forward to put your feet on them if you’re not a 7ft basketball player! But this is definitely a great seat if you’re a basketball player!
The seat laid mostly flat, and was very comfortable. I don’t remember much else, to be honest, I was too tired.
(note the far right image below, I’ve borrowed from airlinesfleet.com)
The Food and Drink
Once sat down on the plane, I was offered a glass of champagne. I’ve no idea what it was, but I needed it and it tasted OK – the third glass was probably better than the first! I was also asked what my choice of meal was for both Dinner and Breakfast before we took off.
Once cruising at 30,000ft, I was asked what I wanted to drink (I took a Bud Light) and brought some hot nuts. I don’t know why hot nuts taste nice on the plane but they do – and I get told off when I microwave them at home, so it was a nice novelty.
Below is a menu of what was available as food choices.
I ordered the Almond Crusted Chicken as a main. This was very nice! I took a glass of Michael-Schlumberger Chardonnay to have with it. Who knew – I thought he was a racing driver?!
Also on the menu was a salad with artichokes (whatever those are) and some chicken on top of watermelon (the menu sold it better than I ever could). Having eaten around the watermelon and offered the artichokes to the rest of the cabin crew (who politely declined) – it was desert time!
Any frequent American flyers will note the Sundae was missing from this menu! Instead, I had the Gourmet Cheese Plate and a glass of Port.
As for breakfast, I detail this below under service.
This was a frustrating and long day for me. I’d spent the time prior to the Airport outside in the Historic District of Philly and the temperature was about 105 degrees that day – so I didn’t even touch the entertainment.
The Cabin Crew
I’ll spare you the rant about American’s dress code!
The service was mostly very good on this flight. At all times during the flight, I was addressed as Mr Scrivener and unlike many other flights I’ve been on, they didn’t need to keep checking the paperwork to check what my name is!
The cabin crew were attentive, and frequently stopped by to refill my glass or offer me another drink.
There is one downside to this service. The lady looking after me had asked when she took my Breakfast order if I wanted waking up for Breakfast. My response was “yes please” – however this didn’t happen. Instead, I was woken up with 15 minutes to land – and rushed into packing my things away. Details details!
This soured things slightly to an otherwise enjoyable flight.
Landing at Heathrow
For a reason I still don’t understand to this day, despite the numerous flights from PHL to Boston being cancelled, my luggage still made it to Boston – but didn’t make it on the flight to Heathrow.
When it did make it to Heathrow, 3 days later, it went to some luggage delivery agency who spent the next 5 days messing me around to get my luggage back. Their phone number just rang out, they claimed it was out for delivery when it wasn’t, when the suitcase did arrive it was damaged, etc, etc. Of course American blamed it on BA, and BA dismissed it as not their fault and with another contractor, and it was not my problem to resolve.
This wasn’t up there in my experiences of BA or American, I’m afraid.
The good news is that American paid me £200 (as I had to buy a few things whilst the suitcase was awol) and then offered me a $300 voucher to compensate the experience. Actually, that’s a lie – they offered $150 and after some protracted negotiation, upped it to $300.
This certainly isn’t up there with my all time favorite trips. Many of the resolutions I had to the various problems were from me pushing to resolve – as opposed to forthcoming resolutions! Nevertheless there are some quite funny things about this flight, looking back!
48 out of 66 – or 72%.
The majority of the flight was great, but let down by the Check In issue, the re-booking issue, and the landing issue.