When traveling on overseas flights, traveling in Business Class makes the journey much easier and more convenient. I recently traveled back and forth from Philly to Brussels, Belgium on US Airways. I was very glad to be hosted to experience it!
I find it fascinating to take a close look at how the different airlines structure their Business and First Class travel. Each brand concentrates on various aspects of the flight in a variety of ways.
Now, I was added to the Business Class section at the gate, so I wasn’t able to experience the extra bags/dedicated check-in for the class. But it’s there!
Outgoing to Brussels in the late afternoon, passengers were welcomed with a glass of sparkling water or orange juice. An amenities kit was passed out: a gray nubby linen case filled with soft blue and red socks, ear plugs, red satin eyeshade, pen, Scope mouthwash, tissues (yay!), toothbrush and toothpaste, Red Flower organic Italian blood orange toiletries made in NYC. The scent is a fresh, herbal, unisex fragrance. As I was typing this, I thought of a new item they could put in: microfiber cloths for glasses and camera lenses.
Passengers are offered their choice of a few magazines, a couple of which were in English. I chose The Economist.
There’s no getting around it: US Airlines’ Business Class seats are too snug for the class. There’s still the problem of commandeering the armrest with your row-mate, which shouldn’t be the case. Plus, they’re hard to sleep in. The seats are fabric backed, while many airlines have shifted to leather. They don’t lie flat. Fabric blankets were on the seats; some airlines have those, but others have gone to puffy little comforters. The 767’s no longer have built-in entertainment screens; the flight attendants hand out Samsung tablets and Bose noise-cancelling headphones for the duration of the flight. Aside from the fact that I didn’t feel like figuring out how to use a Samsung tablet during the trip, there wasn’t enough room for my meal, my things I needed and all of that on my lap. I declined to take the set.
The lavatory had generic type hand-pump soap; some airlines use the same soap as what’s in the amenity kits, as well as including a pump lotion.
Each seat has a power outlet, but don’t rely on it to charge crucial devices: the power was super-inconsistent throughout the flight.
Mealtime has fine dining aspects to it: warmed, salted mixed nuts are passed out in porcelain cups, along with your choice of beverage. Fancy Frette linens are laid out over the meal trays. The long-stemmed silverware adds additional style and elegance.
With dinner, I ordered the Edna Valley Vineyard Paragon Pinot Noir Central Coast (California), “Fresh black cherries, rose petals, cola and earth aromas with a rich finish of fresh and tart fruits, hints of spice, earthy notes and fine tannins for structure.” I could have also selected a Cab Sauvignon, but I felt like a medium red wine and this was very pleasing.
An appetizer was served: seared pesto beef skewer with grilled veggies and balsamic glaze. It had radicchio, green and yellow zucchini, served cold. It had an herby, umami flavor. Umami — the savory sense — is decreased at high altitudes and it’s more palate-pleasing to diners when it’s enhanced. I also like that the appetizer was beef, as American beef is really some of the tastiest in the whole world.
The salad course was next. Super seasonal! In fact, the week before, I made the very same salad at home with local ingredients. It was: fresh seasonal greens with blue cheese, strawberries and walnuts. There was a choice between poppy seed dressing or balsamic vinaigrette. I ordered vinaigrette, which came in a hand-shaken container. It went well with strawberries!
Bread service white rolls, wheat rolls, pretzel rolls (very American) and cheese Foccacia. I ordered the focaccia and it was excellent. Breads were served going to Europe with Irish Kerrygold premium quality butter. On the trays were included “natural rock salt”.
There were four choices for dinner going to Brussels; I chose Boursin crusted fillet of beef. This really was fine restaurant quality. perfectly seasoned, tender, medium-rare. It was a thick filet with mushroom sauce on the side, plus green peppers — even more umami! The beef was accompanied by mashed red skin potatoes and sauteed kale. Kale is stylish, crunchy and good for you. It adds a touch of bitterness for contrast. They should advertise this dish in their promo materials! British Airways brags about their beef dish, which is nasty. US Airways wins the beef dish category, hands down.
There was a choice of three desserts; I picked two! The outbound cheese plate of Fontina, Dill Havarti and Smoked Cheddar were accompanied by red grapes and Jacob’s Cream Crackers.
Four Seasons mousse cake was raspberry mousse, lemon mousse and a lemon soaked sponge cake. It was tangy, rich, natural and not overly sweet. The fresh fruit flavor comes out.
In the morning, a rich Quiche Lorraine was served with potatoes, asparagus and tomatoes with seasonal fruit salad. It bridged that gastronomic craving when you think it’s midnight snack time.
On the flight back, we were offered sparkling wine as an aperitif. The appetizer was hummus and pita with tabouleh, Dolma, black and green olives, garnished with lemon wedge. The tabouleh had lots of fresh parsley, bits of red pepper. The hummus leaned towards the sesame seed side of the recipe, with a chunky texture. This starter definitely had lots of umami.
The salad was fresh seasonal greens with feta cheese and roasted almonds, with a choice of tomato and tarragon dressing or balsamic. I chose the tomato dressing for a change of pace.
For the main course, there were four choices. Instead of the beef, I tried the Jalapeno Chicken. It was served with sesame potato wedges and sauteed green beans. This course, sad to say, was a fail. It was far too spicy — even considering the umami factor. The potatoes had way too much seasoning salt and the beans were overcooked. I couldn’t eat it and told the flight attendant. I do wish she had offered me something else, but knowing I wouldn’t starve, I remained silent.
I normally love cheese plates and discovering new cheeses — this flight offered White Cheddar, Fourme d’Ambert and Montero White. These particular plates looked thrown together with some browning green grapes. I didn’t order it. Sundaes seemed to be popular on the flight, so I got the Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream with hot fudge and whipped cream. I could have gotten chopped hazelnuts and/or strawberry topping, all fixed seat-side.
In the galley were a number of snacks like cookies and chips, fruit, nuts and wine that you can help yourself to.
Towards the end of the flight, I selected a charcuterie plate that reminded me of delightful European hotel breakfast buffets.