Flightreport 10JUN2012 Brussels Airlines SN502 JFK-BRU
Plane: Airbus A330-300, OO-SFM
Seat: 5A, business
Loadfactor: C: 100%, Y: 100 % (290 on board, incl. regular crew & deadheading crew (2 extra))
Cruise altitude: 38100 feet
Personnel of Swissport USA handled checkin in terminal 1, lane H. They adequately checked us in and provided me with an upgrade to business class*. Our bags were labeled and our boardingpasses were issued. The staff of Swissport USA is quite friendly and responded quickly to all my questions.
2) Embarking, take-off, IFE, service
The embarking of the flight went smooth even though the flight seems to be completely full. Business class passengers can board at their convenience. A friendly staff of Brussels Airlines did welcome me with a big smile at the door of the plane and guides me towards my seat. When you enter the plane itís like you enter a factory new plane, everything is just brand-new. If one wouldnít know he or she would think that this plane was actually delivered last week instead of 19 years ago when it was one of the first A330ís which rolled out of the factory. Brussels Airlines and Lufthansa Technics in Malta did an astonishing job by refurbishing these planes, it allowes Brussels Airlines to compete on this very competitive route across the Atlantic ocean. Actually, Brussels Airlines does offer the best product ex-BRU towards the USA (and ex-JFK to BRU). The seats, even in economy, are top of the line and are very comfortable. But thatís not all what Brussels Airlines makes the best, the best of the whole experience wetter it is in economy or in business class, is the staff. Brussels Airlinesí staff is among the best in the world and a passenger on board of a (longhaul) Brussels Airlines flight will notice it right away. This is just top service, nothing less, nothing more! Airlines can learn from Brussels Airlines. As a guest of them I felt like I was a king.
About an hour after departure the crew started with the dinner service which had following options in business class:
- Marinated shrimp over fennel salad
- Herbed sliced beef served on a bed of roast pumpkin
- Beef porcini stew offered with onion mash potatoes and caramelized julienne vegetables
- Seared Arctic char accompanied by lemon butter sauce, re bliss potatoes and baby turnip
- Vegetable cannelloni in basil Alfredo sauce
- Camembert, GruyŤre and Cranberry Wensleydale
- Lemon Cheese cake
- Coffee or tea
Fresh fruit is available at any time
A light breakfast will be served before landing at Brussels
- Croissants, a selection of warm bread rolls, a fresh fruit salad and yoghurt, accompanied by coffee, tea or fresh orange juice.
Champagne: Laurant-Perrier Brut
Special Selection: De Kluizen, Cuvťe 2009/2010 (white, Belgium)
Seasonal choice: Stassen Premium Belgian Pear Cider (Belgium)
- Les Vieux Murs, Loron et Fils 2009, Pouilly-Fuissť (French)
- Clay Station Viognier 2011 (USA)
- Chateau Rochemorin, Pessac-Lťognan (France)
- Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2008 (Toscane, Italy)
- Glenlivet 12yo Single Malt
- Johnnie Walker Black Label 12yo (blend)
- Four Roses Bourbon
- Smirnoff Vodka
- Bacardi, white rum
- Gordonís Dry Gin
- Martini Rosso
- Baileys Irish Cream
- Martell VSOP Medaillon Cognac
- Croft Port 10yo
- Mandarin Napoleon
- Calvados Pear Brandy
Monthly cocktail (Caipi One):
Every month Brussels Airlines offers you a special cocktail from Caipi One. The fresh ingredients such as limes, strawberries and passion-fruit are grown on Brazilian Caipi One fruit fiels. As soon as the fruit is ready to be picked it is processed instantly to prepare you the finest cocktail.
Non Alcoholic Beverages:
- Orange, Apple, Tomato, Cranberry Juice
- Mineral Water
- Sparklin water
- Coca-Cola Light
- Schweppes Tonic
- Coffee / Deca
- Assorted teas
- Hot Chocolate
I chose the herbed sliced beef and it was presented with a delicious fresh salad. The beef itself was tender and tasted very good. Together with the starter a warm bread roll was presented. Like previous flight this all was presented by the crew with a big smile.
For the main course I chose for the Seared Arctic char accompanied by lemon butter sauce, red bliss potatoes and baby turnip. I always have a bit of luck with fish and this time wasnít different. The fish tasted absolutely delicious, it was as they had catched it a couple of hours before the flight. The size of the portion was decent and the potatoes were seasoned right.
After the main course a cheese platter was offered and this had some Camembert, Gruyere and some Cranberry cheese together with some nuts and some nicely fresh grapes, a warm bread roll was also offered. I asked for the port with the cheese and it tasted good with it, Brussels Airlines definitely made a good choice.
A small lemon cheesecake was being offered as a dessert with some coffee. Needless to say but also this cheesecake was prime quality. It was amongst the best Iíve eaten during the past couple of days.
After the dinnerservice the crew commenced with the sale of duty free items, I bought a replica of the A330-300 to put on my desk, for only 15 EUR Itís a bargain.
Even thought the plane is completely full (actually the flight is overbooked with every single seat taken and 2 additional dead-heading SN crews flying on crewseats), itís remarkable that the service on board of the plane remains very consistent and the crew is even willing to make some time to have a talk about their experience with the NY flights. According to the crew the flights ex-JFK are consistently full while the flights out of BRU are rather low on loads (110 to 120 pax on average but the last days this seems to be increasing to approximately 220 on board). Fortunately for Brussels Airlines nearly all of them are paying customers with few upgrades or non-revs on board.
Now, letís talk about the seats for a minute.
The seats are like previous stated brand new and are similar in business class to these to be found in Swiss International Airlines fleet. The seats feature a 15Ē big touchscreen with about 40 movies, 32 TV series, dozens of music channels and games, enough to keep everyone, from small to big, from young to old, busy during the flight. The system works quite well though sometimes there seems to be a small delay. Nothing to serious and certainly nothing to worry about, probably some minor glitches that can be fixed in the future. The system works very smooth and is a big step up from the past and itís even one of the best systems available today since it doesnít need a big IFE box under the seats which also saves some precious weight on the plane. The content is locally stored on flash memory and is frequently updated with recent content. The system features also a nice flight tracker which gives information about the heading, the speed, the altitude, the wind, it even gives a virtual view around the plane.
Letís be honest, the best seats in business class are the single seats, youíll have the same seat as the rest but youíll have 2 tables beside you where you can put your stuff on. The minor disadvantage is the fact that you arenít directly besides the window (in the case of a windowseat and only when you like to take picture like I do) but on a night flight thereís nothing to see outside so thereís no reason to wine about this. Now, while typing this report Iíve been sitting for several hours into this new seat and I can be honest, they are quite good. As a big wide and tall guy Iím quite comfortable in my seat. Iím more then happy to spend 8 or plus hours into these seats, no doubt about it. The only issue I personally have with the seats is the fact that your legs will be in a sort of a cocoon when the seat is transformed to a bed. Like said, being a tall wide guy itís not always easy. Being tall means unfortunately that I wear shoes size 51 (US 17 I think?) and my feet just donít fit into the cocoon. But no worries, itís not Brussels Airlines fault that I live on big foot (like we say
). And even I can find a more then confortable spot in the seat. I asked a few people their opinion and all say the same thing: the new seats are awesome and one of the best offerings on the transatlantic route.
I also want to discuss the staff a bit. Like written in my previous report I noticed that the crew on board went beyond the call of duty as I like to call it. From the moment you board to the moment you disembark the plane, youíll notice that the crew is very very attentive and willing to do anything to let you, the guest, feel at home. Regular checks if something is needed, making time for some chitchat, helping you with issues (for example the seat to name something), and many many moreÖ At all time the crew is ready to help, always with a big smile and this big smile is an honest one, not one they put up but a true honest smile. Youíll see that Brussels Airlinesí staff is very proud to work on this flight and for the airline. Also important to mention is the fact that the crew is perfect in the 3 languages spoken on board of the plane, it doesnít matter if itís English, Dutch or French, theyíll answer you in your own language. The crew deserves most of the credit of the lovely experiences I had on the flights. After the inauguration lays a week behind us it is nice to see that the crew is still going for the best service. I hope that Brussels Airlines brings over my congratulations to the entire crew, they really deserve it.
Now regarding the flight itself, for the most part is was uneventful until we where somewhere halfway across the Atlantic. A that point we hit some turbulence which wasnít to pleasant but fortunately not to bad either (It felt like riding on the famous Flemish cobblestones).
To conclude this report I have to say that I can recommend Brussels Airlines for (long haul) travel in both economy and business class. The newly refurbished A330's are great to travel into (and that's me talking as a Boeing lover) with a top product in both classes. But the real charm is the staff on board of the planes, they are just top class who are as good and even better as the crews on board of the world top airlines. At these times I'm proud to be a Belgian, proud to have an airline that can make a difference in the always deteriorating quality of inflight service throughout airlines across the globe.
- AVOD IFE system can sometimes respond slow on the touchscreen input
- AVOD IFE: More recognizable music choices would be nice, to much rather unknown artists.
- As a "Belgian" airline some additional Belgian beers would be nice, certainly in business class, maybe add a premium beer?
- Amenity kit: A body lotion or something to moisturize the skin would be nice
To conclude I would like to recommend Brussel Airlines any time, any day for (long haul) travel to anyone who ask about it. Brussels Airlines had some ups and downs since their start after the bankruptcy of their predecessor Sabena but now they are (IMHO) on the right track. Their long haul product is top notch and can certainly compete with nearly every carrier across the globe. They'll still need to work on their short and mid haul product but at least their long haul product is what it needs to be. The lovely staff on board makes it even better and make you feel a guest rather then an ordinary client. I truly hope they can succeed on the JFK route and hope to see some expanison on TATL routes in the future.
* The commerical upgrade to business class was provided by Brussels Airlines in order to give me the chance to review their new business product. They noticed I've written a report about the new economy class and contacted me if I was interested in an upgrade. Originally I had booked the promo fare of 400 EUR which booked in the lowest economy class "K".
Lufthansa business lounge in Terminal 1 at JFK:
Gate 10, terminal 1 (at least the logo's are correct, apparently some old Sabena logo's could been seen in the previous days):
My seat: 5A
Silverware with Brussels Airlines logo:
15" AVOD IFE system: