US Airways A330-300’s. Are they really that bad?? Part I
This report contains:
4571 Brussels-Frankfurt Airbus A320-200 (Ticketed as US5699)
13022010 US 0705 Frankfurt-Charlotte Airbus A330-300
Note: This is my first A.net trip report. I do apologize in advance for the poor quality of my pictures, this was due to a bad camera. I have been a long time reader of A.net, I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed reading most of yours
In November I decided I needed to see some family in Anderson, SC
. in the Belgain “Krokus” vacation. And since prices usually are down at that time of year. I went for it, after a search it looked like UA
) and BA
) where the winners for about 550 Euros. United had a late departure out of Brussels but on the way back I had to leave at noon. British Airways had the late night flight back to London Heathrow, but arriving in the late afternoon in Atlanta would make me loose a day. Suddenly, I remembered US Airways had a direct flight from CDG
. But could not find it. However it’s routing via FRA
was cheaper then UA
. I wondered if I would find the same price on BRU
. I did found something strange, it’s best match gave a ridiculous high price of 5000 euros
on United’s codeshare thru IAD
. However looking further down there was the 412 euros Brussels-Frankfurt-Charlotte match. It looked like a win-win, giving an arrival in the afternoon in Charlotte (15h30) and leaving back at 20h10, allowing me a whole day before I left home. After booking I started searching and found the ‘horror’ stories about the A333 and the US crews I knew I was in for something. Two years ago I flew from AMS
with US and tought they were pretty fine. Lets see how they do now?
The night before departure I was quite busy packing my bags. As we all know, the winter season of 2009-2010 was very hard. And BRU
having been closed for several times. As the 3 days before departure LH
4571 was cancelled, so a bit worried. The next morning I woke up at 4 to leave at 515 to the station to take the train to the airport where I arrived around 7AM. A quick online check satisfied me as LH
4570 from Frankfurt to Brussels was operating this morning. Aswell as my connecting flight to Charlotte. The 330 arrives early in the morning from Philadelphia.
@ the Airport
Lufthansa check-in is spilt up in 6 counters, 2 for baggage drop off, 1 for First and business and 3 for regular coach. Actually the line was much shorter for the regular check in and within 5 minutes I was handed my boarding pass and off for a long stroll to the new A-councourse. Traffic in the A consisted of most European departures and being represented by every major European carrier. Ifcourse there was alot of SN
traffic too. I looked over to the B-concourse. The widebodies from Africa had arrived, aswell as the United flight from Washington. At around 800 al the Jet Airways flights started to arrive. At 810 a slight delay was announced due to the late arrival of the plane. At 815 two Lufthansa A320’s arrived. At gate A55 D-AIPY arrived in for the LH
4615 to Munich. At A57 our plane D-AIQW arrived from Frankfurt. By now at the B-concourse N68060 had arrived from Newark, really wished I was flying with them, especially with the adventures to go. At 845 boarding started and soon after that I was onboard.
Saturday 13 February 2010
/EBBR)- Frankfurt (FRA
Lufthansa 4571 (US Airways 5699, United Airlines 8820, Singapore Airlines 2037, Brussels Airlines 7001, Air Canada 9321, Aegan Airlines 1431)
Airbus A320-100 D-AIQW “Kleve” Economy 8A
08h40-09h00 (Gate A57; wheels up on runway 7R at 09h09)
09h40-09h49 (Gate V110; wheels down on runway 7L
Cruising Altitude: FL
Load factor: 95% in Y
Est Flying time: 0hours 35 minutes
120th registered flight.
1st flight in 2010
1st flight on Lufthansa
6th flight on the A320 family
1st flight on the A320
1st flight on D-AIQW
Once I boarded I was greeted by the friendly purser, after passing the business class cabin to Y. I was in the second row of economy class. I settled me down in the rather large seats with a nice seat pitch and a coat hanger at every seat. The middle seat remained open during the flight . Soon as everyone was on board we pushed back and the safety demo was showed. After leaving the terminal area we taxied to the right instead of the left. This ment we would not be leaving from the usual 25R but from 7R. wheels up was at 9h09
We took off straight and climbed to FL
220. there was no kind of IFE on the plane, but who needs that on a flight that is only a half an hour long. First service started in the J-cabin. After that we got a drink service. I opted for Orange juice.
Before I realized it we were descending in the Frankfurt area and we were 20 minutes out of FRA
. Descent was a smooth and straight one aswell. Exactly 9h45 we touched down on runway 7L
. We passed by a various mix of LH
aircraft. It is clearly that it is a Star Alliance hub as airlines such as United, Continental, Air Canada and Air India were presented quite well. In the distant I could see an A330 from US Airways that had arrives a few hours earlier from Philadelphia. This plane would be my ride to Charlotte later on. We docked straight across from a MH
777 and next to a company A320. When deboarding I was invited in the flight deck for a minute. I thanked the crew and boarded my bus.
At this point it was about 1000 and just had about 2 hours before my connection to Charlotte. Navigating in FRA
was quite easy once you get the concept of transferring. Everybody goes to the main hall before entering his appropriate concourse. I arrived in concourse A and US 705 was bound to leave from concourse C. After a few turns I passes thru passport control where I noticed 3 pilots. This would become my flightcrew. On my way to the gate our F/A’s passed me. It looked like there was no fixed uniform on US airways. Also most shirts were tucked out of their pants. Not that I really care, but just tought it was obvious. Once the crew neared me. I said hello. The answer back was a very short “Yes”. A little bit shocked from the reaction I asked if it was the right gate to Charlotte. The short reply I got back was a simple “It says so”. And walked off. What a nice beginning I tought. But, the best was yet to come.
Once I reached the gate I got asked the usual security questions before exchanging my Lufthansa boarding pass to a US Airways boarding pass. Then I joined the long security line just when boarding was announced at 1050. At 1115 final boarding call was made but was still in line. Once I passed I got selected for extra security. Finally at 1125 I was ready to board the plane
Saturday, 13 February 2010
/EDDF) – Charlotte (CLT
US Airways 705 (Lufthansa 1416)
Airbus A330-323X N274AY. Economy 21H
11h40-11h56 (Gate C6
; wheels up on runway 7R at 12h17)
15h40-14h54 (Gate D11; wheels down on runway 36R at 14h50)
Est flying time: 8hrs40mins.
Cruising Altitude: FL
Load factor: 100% in Y
121st registered flight.
2nd flight in 2010
5th flight on US Airways
2nd flight on the A330
2nd flight on the A330-300
1st flight on N274AY
Boarding happened thru the 2L door where I was greeted by the lead F/A. After turning into the cabin seat pitch looked pretty much ok, until reaching the back of the first section. Row 21 is the second-last row before the 3L/3R doors. It looked, and soon to be confirmed pretty cramped. My neighbour in 21G was already in his seat. After I got into my seat I noticed my knees were literally against the seat in front of me. While I was trying to stow my pillow and blanket (at that time it was on my lap) a F/A. From this point on called US1 comes over and yells: “I know it’s just a pillow and a blanket but it haves to go under the seat” and walks on. My neighbour (from now on called 21G) asks US1 a question. She gave a complete answer that ended with “or my short answer… YES” and ran off. This really made 21G and me look at each other. At this point I could see a QATAR A330 taxing out. I wonder if they are having a better experience. Our flight today we went from a 75% loadfactor to a 100% loadfactor due to the other US A333 (comes is from CLT
leaves to Philadelphia) was cancelled. By this time US1 comes back and starts yelling at the passengers in 21D and 21E to put the blankets under the seats. By this time another F/A (lets call her US2) comes to 21G. “Here is your bag check, you checked any bags here”. Where 21G answered No: US2 yells back “Well, I don’t know what this is then” After going back to the front US2 comes back and stops a few rows in front of us. She yells are you mister X? 21G answers yes. US2 Well, It’s yours because I don’t know what this is then (repeating this multiple times). Soon the captain came on to extend his welcome (actually the first welcome on board I’ve heard) and gave us the short flight time of 8hours and 40 minutes. Soon after that we pushed back, prepared to hear the nice new swoosh style music of the safety video. But no luck safety demo was done manual in a big southern accent. After we pushed back the various LH
traffic was still around. As well as a Privatair 737 from BOM
. Once we passed the A-concourse I could finally see the registration. It was N274AY that will be my bird to Charlotte. At 12h17 we lifted off from runway 7R.
US Airways has installed PTV’s with AVOD on their A330’s when they received them in 2000. At the time it was a major innovation compared to the old main-screen IFE and some loop video systems. However after 10 years this system isn’t the newest anymore. It took well before an hour to load and 1,5 hours in the flight it froze, with F/A’s telling us to not to touch the system until it was fixed. That aside I explore the options. The system had 21 movies, 10 CD
’s and quite a number of HBO’s. At the end of the selection you had a film with the arrival procedures for both Philadelphia and Charlotte. However, there was no moving map available. I was quite surprised by the selection. There where a few good options in. The options where better than on recent flight with Continental and Delta. You could change the language on the system, and to my surprise you could select ‘Nederlands’. Quite a nice touch to have your own language as an option. Since I don’t recall US bringing in any A330’s to BRU
. I watched My life in ruins.
Meal service consisted the following.
1hr after takeoff: Chicken or Pasta, I chose the pasta which was ok (tasted better than it looks)
Mid-flight: Hydration service Water or Orange juice more drinks you could get in the rear galley (no pic taken)
1hr prior to landing: a small sandwich
When I opened my meal tray I discovered there was some advertising done on the tray table from Verizon Wireless. As luck may happen US1 and US2 were serving my aisle, When I received my meal I thanked US2 who only gave me a nod back. Another F/A (US3) was serving beverages. Thanked her for the beverage, who at least could say “uhu” back. After the meal service was cleared the tight seat pitch (I’m 1m85) started to get to me. I stretched my legs and used the lavatory, I did not know that an aircraft lavatory could be so spacious compared to the seat pitch. When continuing my walk I was told not to enter the rear galley. As nobody was allowed there. As you can suppose on a 9-hour flight, everybody needs to stretch once, so you might can follow me. Everyone stretched in the aisles making it very crowded at times. Especially where the 8-abreast seating changed to the 7-abreast seating. I really did had compassion with those in row 34 and 35. To add up the lavatory in the rear broke down. So everybody went to the 3R
door because the other aisle was hard to reach. You could only get there thru the closed rear galley. I quickly bought some of those blueberry chocolates from the duty free and settled me into a movie. After this was done it was about 1730 in Frankfurt and 1130 in Charlotte. Still a good 3,5 hours to go, Time to stretch again in the overcrowded aisles. Walked around a bit and then played some more with the IFE. Shortly it was time for the last meal. This time I did get a you’re welcome from US2. I guess she was glad that her 3-day trip was about to end.
At this time it was already 1420 in Charlotte and we were starting our descent already. Made my usual final stretch and filled in my immigration forms. Before we knew it we were already down at 10000ft. I noticed that the no-smoking sign had been replaced by a ‘please turn off electronic devices’. It makes more sense because smoking is not allowed on any airlines for about a decade or more. Just before touchdown we had a wonderful view of the Charlotte skyline. We made a very nice landing on runway 36R and docked in to gate D11 at 1450. Just a few minutes later I noticed N276AY, another A333 taxi into gate D3
. This was flight US 733 coming in from London Gatwick. Unfortunally there was no time for the cockpit because all the pilots have left the plane.
Immigration and customs went very fast. I think I even have beaten my personal record. However we were the only flight in the CBP
area. The first London Gatwick passengers were yet to arrive at the desk and the flight from Munich was still up in the air. My bag was off first. And by 1515 I was cleared and being awaited by a good friend of mine. He checked US.com during the day but US would not give the estimated arrival time of US705. At 1500 in CLT
the plane showed to be on-time. You can guess the look on his face when he noticed me at 1515 coming out the CBP
. By 1520 I was in the car and by 1700 I was in Anderson.
See part II
Lufthansa 4571: (Total: 78%)
Departure: 70% (Nice and efficient)
Aircraft cleanliness : 80% (Nice well maintained A/C)
Seat Comfort: 80% (Nice enormous seats, loved the little coat racks)
Crew: 80% (Very friendly crew)
Catering: 70% (Enough for a 35minute flight)
Arrival: 90% (Very clear signage, and a very quick transfer into the airport even with the bus)
US Airways 0705: (Total 66%)
Departure: 60% (Quite a bit of a maze and gave a cramped feeling)
Aircraft cleanliness : 60% (Plane looked a little worn)
Seat Comfort: 40% (Cramped for a 9hour flight, still 40% for the headrests and Lumbar support)
Crew: 40% (Most surly crew I ever experienced on a TATL flight, however as more we got to the end how nicer they became)
Catering: 70% (Not good, not bad)
IFE: 90% (quite surprised by the choice)
Arrival: 100% (One of the quickest international arrivals into the US ever)
As a bonus I would like to give a list of regs I spotted in BRU
My Total travel time was about 18hours
Total facts on this trip
2 New registrations (D-AIQW and N274AY)
1 New aircraft type (A320)
1 New Airline (Lufthansa)
1 New Airport (FRA
Thank you for viewing Comments and feedback are appreciated
Next trip report:
US A330-300’s Are they really that bad Part II