Review: US Airways Business Class A330 London Heathrow to Charlotte

Introduction
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US Airways Business Class A330 London Heathrow to Charlotte


I was quite looking forward to this flight for two reasons:

US Airways 733
London Heathrow (LHR) ā€“ Charlotte (CLT)
Saturday, October 11
Depart: 2:25PM
Arrive: 6:20PM
Duration: 8hr55min
Aircraft: Airbus A330
Seat: 2H (Business Class)

Upon boarding through door 2L I was pointed left into the business class cabin. US Airways has the most primitive form of reverse herringbone seats of any airline, and that’s actually a compliment. Reverse herringbone seats are my favorite type of business class hard product, and US Airways is the airline that first offered these seats.

So while the seats aren’t quite as snazzy as the “evolved” versions of the product available on American, Cathay Pacific, and EVA, etc., it’s still a fantastic product.

The A330-200 business class cabin consists of just 20 seats, spread across five rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. Not only does every seat have direct aisle access, but the cabin actually feels pretty intimate. Keep in mind that American has 16 first class seats on the 777-200, so really the cabin is more the size of a first class cabin than a business class cabin.

I had booked seat 2H, a window seat in the second row. It’s an all around really solid hard product, though I’d say the one area where the more modern reverse herringbone seats have improved is with privacy. There’s not much privacy around your head while seated — the more advanced versions of the seat have a “widget” which goes along the side of the seat for added privacy.

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US Airways business class seat A330

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US Airways business class seat A330

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US Airways business class seat A330

The great thing about reverse herringbone seats is how private they are. To some I guess that’s not a good thing, because even the center seats are private to the point that you can’t have a conversation with the person seated next to you without leaning forward.

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US Airways business class cabin A330

In terms of the seat’s features, to the right of the seat were the entertainment controller, reading light, headphone jack, and power outlet (both 110v and USB).

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US Airways business class seat controllers and outlets A330

Below that were the seat controls, which were fairly intuitive.

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US Airways business class seat controls A330

Also waiting at my seat were a pillow and blanket — not the best pillow and blanket out there, but better than the stripper stockings and bra stuffing they offer as blankets and pillows domestically (respectively).

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US Airways business class pillow & blanket

To the left of the seat is an armrest which can be lowered, though it has to be in the upright position for takeoff.

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US Airways business class seat A330

There’s also a bottle holder next to the armrest, which holds a big bottle of water. I appreciate that they offer such large bottles, because I consume liquids like a drain on planes (typically alcoholic on non-US airlines, and non-alcoholic on US airlines).

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US Airways business class bottled water

Also waiting at my seat was an American Airlines amenity kit. They’re perfectly fine for business class amenity kits and have all the basics.

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US Airways business class amenity kit

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US Airways business class amenity kit

Once settled in the flight attendant working my aisle, Mallorie, came by to offer me a drink and introduce herself. I could immediately tell it would be a great flight. Mallorie was just lovely — she was friendly, genuine, smiling, and had an eye for detail.

Anyway, I had a glass of water pre-departure, which was served with a lemon.

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US Airways business class pre-departure water

I was also offered Bose headphones. American has long been leading the industry when it comes to premium cabin headphones, as they’ve been offering Bose headphones in first and business class for years, while some of the world’s top airlines still use cheap headphones in their premium cabins. It’s nice to see that has been brought over to US Airways now.

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US Airways business class Bose headphones

After that Mallorie also offered me the menu for the flight.

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US Airways business class menu

Shortly before pushback the captain came on the PA to advise us of our flight time of 8hr25min, which he anticipated would put us into Charlotte on schedule.

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London Heathrow Terminal 3

There was a bit of congestion in the alley, first with a Virgin Atlantic 747 pulling out of the apron, and then with an American 777 pulling into the apron.

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American 777-300ER London Heathrow Terminal 3

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London Heathrow Terminal 3

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American 767-300 London Heathrow Terminal 3

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American 777 London Heathrow Terminal 3

We began our taxi to runway 27L, which took about 10 minutes. During that time the safety video played.

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British Airways 777 taking off London Heathrow

As we taxied I couldn’t help but smile at the Qatar Airways A380 which had just arrived at Heathrow. It’s the same plane I flew the day before, and it was only the second time it visited London.

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Qatar Airways A380 London Heathrow

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British Airways A320 London Heathrow

Once at runway 27L we were number three for takeoff, behind an Emirates A380 and an American 777.

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Emirates A380 London Heathrow

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American 777-300ER London Heathrow

As we taxied into position on the runway I had a pretty spectacular view of the American 777 in front of us rotating.

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Lining up runway 27L London Heathrow

I also had a nice view of the British Airways oneworld 747, which I’ve flown a couple of times before.

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British Airways 747 London Heathrow

Our takeoff roll was quick, and since I was seated on the right side of the aircraft I had a great view of Heathrow right after takeoff, especially of British Airways’ home, Terminal 5.

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Terminal 5 London Heathrow after takeoff

Add an Instagram filter or two, and it looks even cooler. šŸ˜‰

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Terminal 5 London Heathrow after takeoff

Our climb out was mostly smooth.

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View after takeoff from London Heathrow

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View after takeoff from London Heathrow

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View after takeoff from London Heathrow

I took the opportunity to check out the airshow.

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US Airways airshow A330

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US Airways airshow A330

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US Airways airshow A330

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US Airways airshow A330

And then I browsed the entertainment selection as well. It’s a fairly decent selection, and I eventually decided on Bad Words, which was kind of ridiculous and amusing at the same time.

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US Airways entertainment A330

About 25 minutes after takeoff the flight attendants began their service.

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US Airways A330 business class cabin

The menu read as follows:

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And the wine/drink list read as follows:

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Service began with meal orders being taken, and was quickly followed by hot towels.

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US Airways business class hot towel

After that I took out my tray table in preparation for the meal service. The trays are on the small side, though at least they slide in and out easily.

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US Airways business class tray A330

Service began with drinks. I ordered a Diet Coke with lime, which was served with warm mixed nuts.

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US Airways business class drinks and hot nuts

After that the appetizer and salad were served.

The appetizer consisted of chicken with tzatziki sauce, arugula cream cheese, and cream cheese stuffed baby peppers. Then there was a salad with sundried tomatoes and pine nuts. I was also offered bread from the breadbasket, and selected a pretzel roll (yum!).

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US Airways business class salad and appetizer

The appetizer was fine, though it’s hard to get excited over thinly sliced chicken as a premium cabin meal. But it was good for what it was.

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US Airways business class appetizer — chicken with tzatziki sauce

The salad and pretzel roll were excellent, though!

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US Airways business class salad with sundried tomatoes and pine nuts

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US Airways business class pretzel roll

For the main course I ordered the cod. It sounded amazing. I love cod and I love parmesan, but together it really didn’t work. Not only was the flavor weird, but the cod was chewier than Swedish Fish.

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US Airways business class main course parmesan crusted roasted cod

I was kind of surprised that US Airways doesn’t censor their in-flight movies. I got some full on ta-ta action in my movie (censoring mine). Go figure one of the other flight attendants was clearing my tray as that scene came on, and I think he DDamn near died. šŸ˜‰

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US Airways doesn’t censor movies?

After the main course the dessert cart was rolled around, which had ice cream, cheese, and cannolis on it.

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US Airways business class dessert cart

I had some ice cream with the strawberry toppings and nuts.

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US Airways business class ice cream sundae dessert

The entire meal service took about 90 minutes, which is the perfect length. And while the food wasn’t amazing, the service was, at least by US standards. Not only was Mallorie friendly and efficient, but she was also extremely proactive. For example, when she saw that my Diet Coke was running low on ice she brought another cup with just ice in it.

It had been a long week for me, so within just under seven hours to go to Charlotte I decided to try and get some rest. Reverse herringbone seats are great for sleeping, and I slept really well for over five hours, which is about the most sleep I’ve ever gotten on a transatlantic flight.

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US Airways A330 business class cabin

When I woke up we were already approaching New York, with just over 90 minutes to go.

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US Airways airshow

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US Airways airshow

Within minutes of waking up the pre-arrival meal service began. The menu read as follows:

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I had the salad. While the turkey skewer had seen better days, it was still quite good.

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US Airways business class pre-arrival snack

After the snack, less than an hour before landing, I asked Mallorie for a cappuccino. To be honest I felt a bit guilty asking for it, since I know the crew has a lot of work to do in the last hour of the flight. And I realize the fact that I felt sheepish asking for it is a function of being conditioned to US airlines. On Singapore Airlines I wouldn’t feel guilty asking for a cappuccino 20 minutes before landing.

Not only did Mallorie get me a cappuccino without rolling her eyes, but she said “of course!” So kudos to her, and I really do appreciate that US Airways offers espresso and cappuccino on their A330s (American only offers this in first class on the A321s and 777-300ERs).

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US Airways business class cappuccino

About 30 minutes out the captain came on the PA again with updated arrival information, anticipating we’d be arriving on schedule.

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View on descent into Charlotte

We hit some pretty strong turbulence on our initial descent, but it was smooth beyond that.

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View on final descent into Charlotte

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View on final descent into Charlotte

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View on final descent into Charlotte

Our touchdown in Charlotte was gentle, and we had a roughly five minute taxi to the gate.

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Touchdown in Charlotte

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Charlotte Airport terminal

We parked right next to a US Airways A321 and Lufthansa A340. Whenever I see a Lufthansa plane I say to myself “hmmm, I could hop right back on that plane and fly in the other direction.”

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Charlotte Airport traffic

There was a slight hold up on arrival. Apparently the customs facility was so full that we had to wait on the plane for 10 minutes after the door opened. That’s always a bit frustrating when you have Global Entry, since obviously there’s no queue for that.

It certainly wasn’t a big deal, especially since we had arrived a bit early.

US Airways business class bottom line

I tend to say that transatlantic business class is all about the seat. And US Airways does have a very good seat. They were the first to have the best seat out there and while there are slightly more pimped out versions of the product in the meantime, it’s still very good. Each seat has direct aisle access, lots of personal space, and a comfortable sleeping surface.

The food on the flight was edible, though not amazing. Then again, aside from Austrian and Turkish, I don’t remember the last time I’ve had a memorable meal in business class on a transatlantic flight.

But in terms of the service, this flight was the polar opposite from my last US Airways transatlantic flight. Mallorie was a star, and frankly sort of what I was hoping for from a flight attendant base that seems as wholesome as Chaw’lotte.

Thumbs up!

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Comments

  1. Woohoo! The LHR-CLT trip report is up! Great writing style as always Lucky, your posts are always a pleasure to read! Thank you!

  2. Glad you had a good flight on US. I also had a great experience in US Business on PHL-VCE. Obviously the seat was great and the meal was actually excellent, as was the service. Until AA upgrades its business class all around, I have no problem focusing on US flights to Europe!

  3. “Whenever I see a Lufthansa plane I say to myself ā€œhmmm, I could hop right back on that plane and fly in the other direction.ā€” – funny you mentioned that. I felt the same when I arrived in ORD on NH F last week and saw a Cathay plane nearby.

    By the way, thanks to your blog, I had the opportunity to fly Lufthansa F on both types of 747s last week and it was awesome! But I must say, I feel cheated – there was very strong tailwind on both flights! (Oh yeah, I got the elusive Rimowa kit on the FRA-HND flight!)

  4. Just out of curiosity, how many amenity kits do you have and what do you do with them later on. Garage sale? ebay? some charity donation? trash can? freebies for the neighborhood kids (may be not since you are hotel based)

  5. That Term 5 shot is one of the best pictures. BA could use it in an add.

    Great report.

    Also, I am not sure Virgin sensors either. I was watch Game of Thrones and there was no attempt to cover anything.

    Sam

  6. “Then again, aside from Austrian and Turkish, I donā€™t remember the last time Iā€™ve had a memorable meal in business class on a transatlantic flight.”

    I’m guessing this was written up before your recent FRA-JFK flight on SQ, right? Also…did those flights to and from Tokyo from Europe count as “transatlantic”?

  7. I’m frankly disappointed in this review. After 60 flights this year, I’ve grown quite fond of USAir’s surly yet sassy flight attendants.

    Question about the seat. My biggest complaint is that while they claim it’s lie flat, when flat there is no where for your shoulders to go. Is that a universal issue with non-Singapore biz class seats?

  8. Looks good, but seriously, too many unnecessary pics. Hot towel? Glass of Water? Though, thumbs up to the ta-ta pic šŸ˜‰

  9. “…….stripper stockings and bra stuffing…” Hadnt heard that comparison for blankets/pillows before. šŸ™‚

  10. When you get particularly good (or bad service) do you normally let the airline know, either through an online form or some other way? I’ve done it a few times and have always wondered if/how the employee was recognized.

  11. @ Shanghai9 — I always try to send an email or compliment them through social media. And based on my experience they did get the appropriate recognition in their file.

  12. @ John — Hmm, I’m a side sleeper, so can’t say I’ve had that issue. It is a bit tight around the shoulders if you sleep on your back, though.

  13. @ wwk5d — Hah, fair enough, though my point was that they operate transatlantic flights and have an excellent meal service. And yes, Singapore slipped my mind.

  14. @ caveman — I had hundreds and hundreds, and ended up giving most of them away at frequent flyer events. They were taking up too much room.

  15. Great write-up Lucky. One question though — why so few pictures? Only one close-up of the disposable water bottle you received? Likewise, only one picture of the water your pre-departure water with lemon?

  16. LON-CLT used to be one of my regular flights when I first started flying frequently, although it was from LGW at that time. As much as I see the improvement in seating that US offer in Business class, I really miss the thrill of securing row 1 on their A330s. I’ve flown a lot of airlines in Business and First since but have never even matched my US A330 Row 1 record of having 5 windows by my seat! iirc it was a massive 94inch flat bed.

  17. You Americans are totally prude and hypocrites — the land of the free expects censorship on AVOD (where the rating is displayed before you click play) for … breasts?

    Really?

  18. In my experience, most airlines do not censor movies shown on AVOD systems. The exception I know of is Emirates.

  19. Which seats in business do you recommend for party of 3 (me, wife and kid) on A330 or any reverse herringbone seats? My kid is 4, so we have to keep an eye. Thanks!

  20. @ windycity — It’s a tough configuration for families, to be honest. I might go with two window seats, and then the aisle across from the rear window seat.

  21. Lucky,

    My question is similar to @windycity. What seats would you recommend when traveling with a single companion (reverse herring bone)?

  22. @ Matt S. — I’d just do any two window seats, to be honest, ideally not in the first or last row. If you really want to talk then any two center seats should be fine, again, ideally not in the first or last row.

  23. I have no clue why but after see that tray table I now want to fly us trans bussiness just for the tray table

  24. Lucky – love your blog! Quick question – will be flying with my wife to Venice for our honeymoon in July. Do you recommend the center seats or a window and center? Wasn’t sure if your above rec applied to couples, too. Thanks so much!

  25. @ Matt — Congrats on your honeymoon! Since it’s your honeymoon, I’d recommend two center seats for sure.

  26. Great blog – very informative! Do you know if the partition in the center seat comes down so you can see the person sitting next to you? Thanks for your help!

  27. @ Joy — It doesn’t, so you do have to lean forward a bit to talk. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  28. Lucky, I’m looking at flying business on either United from MAD to EWR on their 757-200 Intl or US Airways from MAD to CLT on their A330-200. I’ll be traveling with my wife. Which do you recommend overall? Who typically has the better food, UA or US? Also, looked at flying Iberia from MAD to ORD, any chance you’ll fly them soon in their new biz class? PS, my final destination is IAH.

  29. @ JJ — I’d say United has better food while US Airways has a better hard product. I hope to fly Iberia soon, but haven’t yet. I might actually give Iberia a try, as they have a great hard product and the food is apparently quite good as well.

  30. Thank you Lucky for the photos and comments. We generally fly to Europe (VCE) with BA; this will be our first (non-domestic) US flight ( from PHI) to Venice. I have a question regarding “power”: my husband uses a “breathing machine” to sleep (BIPAP). Last year he had a terrible time (on BA) because the “power” was not constant and it kept on causing the BIPAP to shut down. Do you know if this is a problem on US? Should we talk to someone regarding this issue? Thanks! Daniela

  31. US Air Airbus, (Philadelphia-Paris CDG). The center pods were moderately comfortable but give us the older side by sides. I prefer to travel with my wife, not isolated by a lump of insurmountable plastic! Mediocre food and a seemingly indifferent cabin crew No Mallories here! We both slept; when breakfast was served, we were not and could not raise a cup of coffee: we were told that the plane was preparing to land ā€” it did an hour plus later! Our return was by BA GAT-Tampa. Uncomfortable pods on a triple 7 but exemplary service and decent food. Business class is not inexpensive and service should be better than that found on the US Air flight. Perhaps the cabin crew lacked the Ć©clat of Mallorie and this was an isolated incident for in 50 years of air travel, this experience is like a sore thumb.

  32. Thanks for the detail. My wife and I are flying this plane Philly to Dublin in the Spring. So for two people flying together, is one window seat and a center seat a good way to travel so we can have some contact or would you take two window seats? Lucky to use miles for this, we have never been up front on a big plane. We are looking forward. Thanks, Tom

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