The Envoy Suite Experience on US Airways
When I checked in for my Madrid flight on US Airways, I was told that envoy suite seats were available for purchase. Intrigued at the thought of going premium class at a discount rate, I splurged. An envoy seat is usually several thousands of dollars. I was traveling on a Wednesday, during the off season to Europe and an envoy seat was available for less than half the price. I couldn't resist.
US Airways uses an Airbus 330 for an eight-hour flight to Madrid. The normal coach configuration is a row of two on each side with a row of four down the middle. In Envoy it's a row of one on each side and a row of two down the middle. We are talking about a lot of real estate here.
As soon as I got on and made a left turn for the Envoy section of the plane, I got some personal attention. I was greeted with something to drink with a choice of champagne, red or white wine, or sparkling water. Every seat in envoy had a small but comfortable pillow and a blanket that seemed to be made out of real cotton and not nylon like in coach. I sat down on the seat and was just dumbstruck by how much space I had to myself. And the seat was so plush and comfortable that my butt was singing hosanas. In front of me was an entertainment screen that was bigger than in the coach seats. In addition, I had shelf space and my own personal console that housed the remote for the screen, a socket to recharge my phone or computer, a lamp, and even another networking plug to recharge another electronic device. In addition, there were two shelves underneath the screen. Meanwhile the flight attendant came by with a liter bottle of water for my convenience. You had everything there to be productive if you so choose to work.
It just felt like I was in this comfortable cocoon.
In Flight Entertainment
But I was not there to work, I was going on vacation and was going to enjoy it as of right now. And the flight attendants in Envoy were there to make sure I had a good start to my trip. They offered me another glass of champagne (Yes, thank you!) and gave me a menu (a menu!), informing me that they will take my order in a little while. In coach, I waited until they made an announcement to find out what choice of entrees I had -- and then I had to hope that they didn't run out of my choice by the time they came to me. Then another flight attendant came by with my Envoy kit and headset. My kit came with a lip balm, a set of ear plugs, an eye mask, a Gilchrist & Soames travel size hand lotion, socks, and travel toothbrush with a little tube of toothpast -- all inside a see-through plastic travel bag that you can reuse to store your liquids for future trips instead of a quart-size plastic bag .
The headset was awesome. It filtered out most of the background noise but amplified the sound from the entertainment system. And the entertainment system offered at least four new releases. I got to see Pitch Perfect (unbelievably funny and appealing), Argo (Affleck did a great job, who knew he'd be a great director), and Here Comes the Boom with Kevin James doing a sophisticated comedic and heartwarming turn. If you didn't like anything in their movie library, they also offered selections from some very popular television and cable series. If that doesn't appeal they offered you a selection of music and games that you can enjoy onscreen.
Gourmet Dining at 35,000 Feet
Oh, but the food! Needless to say, it was gourmet. You had a choice from beef, chicken, fish or vegetarian pasta. You started out with the appetizer, which during my trip happened to be tuna tartare with salad and a roll. This was followed by the entree that you wanted, which in my case was steak. I was surprised at how well it was done. The steak came with mashed potatoes, green beans, and gravy on the side. For dessert, you had a choice of flourless chocolate cake, two scoops of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia, cheesecake or carrot cake. I opted to get the flourless chocolate cake ... and the ice cream. I said I was on vacation, and of course cocktails, wine, beer as well as other potent beverages were available and included for your enjoyment at any time. I however was surprised to learn that they can brew you a cappuccino or espresso as well; I never got that option in coach.
The Luxe Life While in the Air
Needless to say, I never got the chance to sleep. I was enjoying watching the movies and munching on snacks which were conveniently available on plates in the galley. Between the movies, the socks that my kit provided, snacks and a seat that fully reclines to become a bed, I felt like a kid at a slumber party for one. I never enjoyed a transatlantic flight so much.
About an hour and a half before we were schedule to arrive in Madrid, they took our breakfast orders. You either had a choice of omelets or a fruit plate. I was sad, I knew that the flight was coming to an end. We were going to land in Madrid soon and this luxury experience would soon be over, darn it.
And it was too soon. Once they took our plates, we had to hand in our headsets and preparations had to be made for landing. The chair was put back into the upright position, the entertainment screen was turned off and we were landing in Madrid. I thanked the flight attendants for making this trip so enjoyable and we got to chat a little bit about what I was going to do in Madrid, when they were scheduled for the return flight, and so on.
The envoy experience is worth savoring.
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