US Airways Flight # 12 – PHL - MAD
This is probably the most anticipated flight of the entire trip I’m on right now. After the flight from SDF – PHL my traveling buddies and I were all excited about the flight to MAD. After the day being a tourist in PHL we were excited to relax in the Envoy lounge and partake in the adult beverages offered there.
After way too many cocktails we were called to board the flight to MAD. The aircraft, an A330-300, was more than I could have expected. The flight crew allowed us to come up into the cockpit to take a view of the controls and get our picture taken in the captain’s seat. This was before flight so the TSA can’t get mad about this, plus two of us work for an airline anyway at UPS.
The guy we had met on our trip to PHL was the IRO on this flight where there were 3 flight crew members, all of them captain rated. He showed us the flight plan, ACARS and even a hard map of our planned trip over the Atlantic. We were to cross into the Atlantic over New Jersey and not see land again until we crossed the Spanish coastline after sunrise.
The flight itself was very nice. After a very slight delay due to a maintenance problem in a lavatory there was a long taxi and then a smooth effortless take-off to the south and then a few turns before heading out over the Atlantic. By this time we were already feeling the effects of champagne and other pre-flight cocktails.
Our cabin staff could not have been better. Our cabin service purser was Marco, who was introduced to us by the captain and took better care of us than anybody I have ever flown with. He was funny, attentive and knowledgeable about our destinations as well.
Pre-dinner snack consisted of nuts and cocktails, which was good and then we had a salad of roasted vegetables, lettuce and some bleu cheese dressing. This was just OK, seems that the service has degraded quite a bit. This seems to be the case on all airlines as our friend who was traveling on Delta had the same comments about his service.
Dinner was of several choices including a fish, pork and beef dish. The fish dish is what I opted for and my seatmate ordered the beef. The fish was firm and tasty but it had dandelion greens which were bitter and nothing I would have ever served with the fish.
Dessert was the last I would eat before I crashed for the night. The dessert was a selection of fruits and cheeses and a really tasty tart. Ice cream sundaes would have been better but I am not complaining really.
We cruised at 37,000 feet according to the captain, though there is no air show on the US A333 so I never really knew where we were. I had to keep myself entertained in other ways, mainly with the excellent US Passport system.
I watched parts of several movies and made my own CD’s. The music choices were pretty good and the sound quality of the noise canceling head phones was excellent. Sleep didn’t come easy even with the almost flat seats. I think if I could have put my feet up further I could have slept. Morning light started filtering through the cabin before I knew it but we still had a couple of hours of flight left and we were still over the ocean.
About 1.5 hours before landing the cabin crew turned on the lights and woke everyone up for their breakfast which consisted of a croissant, fruit and juice or coffee to drink. I would have liked a hot breakfast with sausage, eggs, etc. but I guess with the cutbacks everybody has to give up something.
We crossed the coast of Spain at Santiago and soon started our descent into Barajas. The landing was smooth and there were already two DL 767’s on the ground along with a CO 777. An AA 767 landed right after we did. These were in addition to the various A340 variants of IB for the wide bodies there.
Going through Passport control, getting baggage and finding our next flight was about as close to torture as I have experienced in an airport. The long lines, lack of queuing, and the general slowness of the process caused some stress for the start of our vacation.
Overall, a great trip on US and a fabulous crew who should be commended for their kindness and attention to detail. We felt like royalty on this flight and truly enjoyed the superior aircraft that the A330 is.