I took a Paris-Orlando flight on Monday, September 16, with a stopover in Charlotte, with the airline US Airways. I had heard many negative things about US Airways—about delays, loss of luggage, people refused access to the airplanes, etc…. A review even said that it was the “low-cost of North American airlines.” As a result, I was expecting the worst, but I was pleasantly surprised.
It was possible to very easily check in online 24 hours in advance (a bit of a pity for the return flight, when you are at your destination—it’s always a little more difficult to have access to the internet and to print when you’re abroad): it’s filled out and printed in three clicks. I was unable to choose my seats (it’s charged extra, apparently), but the ones I was placed in suited me fine, so, perfect. I was thus able to go directly to the boarding gate at Roissy. I went through the usual security check and headed to the plane.
The airplane was an Airbus A330. It seemed to me to be new, but not modern. The seats were rather comfortable (no back pain after nine hours flying), and each person was given a small pillow and a blanket. On the other hand, legroom was very small, making it impossible for me to stretch my legs—and I am not very tall.
As for entertainment, each person had a small individual screen (not very large, but big enough) with an honest selection of movies, TV shows, games, and music! There were new movies, such as Iron Man 3, Fast & Furious 6, or even Gatsby—not bad at all. The touchscreen was very stubborn, though. You had to press 10 times on the button to get it to work. With the complimentary headphones given to each passenger (in-ear, not bad), it was nice, because the airplane was very noisy.
Very quickly after take-off, a drink was served (juice, soda, white or red wine, water, coffee…), and then the meal, with a choice of pasta or chicken. I didn't have a choice, because when they got to my row, there wasn't any more chicken. So I had the lightly browned arrabiata pasta, with a chickpea salad as a starter, a soft loaf of bread, butter, and a chocolate brownie for dessert. Everything was kind of bad (except for the chickpeas, which were rather good), but, well, it’s airplane food, and in economy class. It did the job. After the meal, they offered us water, tea, or coffee again. Afterwards, the cabin crew asked us to close the windows and the lights were dimmed so that people could sleep.
A little before landing, they served us a Panini with a choice of turkey or cheese, and more drinks. I had the cheese. It’s wasn't very good, but it went down well.
The cabin crew was pleasant and smiling. There was a small button to call them on each screen. Many people unknowingly pressed this button and they came at every time with a smile to see if everything was fine (personally, after a couple of times I would have gone insane). However, they didn’t speak any French (a flight attendant made me repeat a question in English, because she didn’t understand French). They were very attentive: when a screen stopped working, they restarted it or changed the seat of the prejudiced passenger.
Landing was without a problem. It took a bit long to get off the plane…. We had a connection in Charlotte to catch a domestic flight to Orlando. The wait to get off the plane and the passage by customs (relatively long) made us have to run to catch the second plane. Luckily, we only had carry-ons, so we gained a lot of time. I’m not sure we would have been able to board, if we had to wait at the conveyor belt and check our bags for the second plane…. Attention to this!
The second flight was very good, on an A320 (or 21), similar to a Paris-Nice with EasyJet, but complimentary drinks and particularly nice and smiling flight attendants (even funny).
To conclude: for the cheapest price in the market, I had a relatively pleasant trip. Let’s say that for resourceful people who pay more attention to price than to quality, it was perfect.
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