This is the final instalment of our return journey from Orlando to Manchester via Philadelphia on American Airlines. This post specifically covers the journey from Philadelphia to Manchester on the A330. Also known as, the happiest flight I’ve ever flown on…
Airline: American Airlines
Date: Wednesday 3rd April 2019
Depart: 21:12 (est 21:00)
Arrive: 08:41 (est 09:00)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-243
Seat: 31B & 31C
All of the checking-in for this flight was done back in Orlando. You can read more about the check-in process in our review of the first leg of our flight here.
Boarding was down in the east side of terminal A at Philadelphia Airport. Based on my discussion with AA staff members, all international flights depart from this area. In this region, you’ll find a range of high-end restaurants, a number of airport lounges as well as snack bars. Boarding began one hour prior to departure and concluded with 35 minutes remaining.
The cabin is split into business seating and economy seating. We were allocated seats on row 31 (but later moved to row 24). The interior of the aircraft is fairly neutral and modern, the seating is comfortable and the armrests lift a full 90 degrees even on the aisle.
Sadly one thing that did let this cabin down was the old style seat back entertainment system. It was very clunky and difficult to use (it wasn’t just us who noticed this, we noticed other people in other rows of the aircraft struggling with the configuration and alignment of the screens)
We were one of the last to board the flight in group 8. As I mentioned in the cabin section, we were allocated seats on row 31 with the rest of our party, however, upon boarding, we noticed a distinct lack of passengers. We’ve been on some empty transatlantic flights with Virgin Atlantic and Norwegian Air in the past, but this was something else entirely. I’d estimate the aircraft stood at about 40% capacity and as a result, we were granted permission to move to the middle of row 24 prior to take off.
I mentioned in the introduction that this was the happiest flight we’d ever been on… that’s because we weren’t the only ones to move seats. The availability and lack of capacity on the aircraft allowed many people to move around the aircraft for additional space. The cabin crew were also delighted, I even heard them discussing how surprised they were at the capacity of the flight. No doubt this meant quicker service times, likely fewer passenger issues and more downtime for them which is always nice.
As a result of the additional space, Helen and I were able to sleep for the majority of the 6.5-hour flight. I struggle to buckle the belt when laying flat along the four seats, so I had to wake up intermittently throughout the flight to do so when we encountered turbulence. This was very light turbulence and nothing like we’d experienced on the previous domestic flight with AA.
Menu & Meals
Around 1.5 hours after takeoff, we were served with dinner. The choices were chicken or pasta. Helen was already asleep by this point, and I was dosing in and out so decided to just listen to the opinions of others rather than come out of my doze to try some for myself… According to other members of our party, we made the right choice.
I did, however, wake up for the breakfast meal that was served one hour prior to landing with a choice of tea, coffee, water or juice. Sadly, the breakfast wasn’t to my taste personally. I managed to stomach the flat top muffin simply because I’d not had the dinner prior.
As there was only a choice of tea, coffee, water or juice with breakfast I wandered down to the galley at the back of the aircraft for a can of diet coke. These are complementary but only served on the trolly at specific times. If you want one outside of these times then staff should be able to assist you if they are available onboard.
As you can see much like the domestic American Airlines flights, these cans are standard 330ml size. Much better than the 100ml cans that are served on other airlines.
Due to the capacity of the aircraft (or lack of), this journey was always going to be a delight. Helen managed to sleep for the majority of the time we were airborne and I managed to dose in and out. Something that’s always nice after a hectic family trip to see Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Orlando.
Had the passenger numbers been different then I’d have probably slept less and therefore commented more on the difficulty of using the old style seatback entertainment system and the mediocre (at best) food.