Old Aug 17, 14, 9:55 am
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A business traveller's week on BA and oneworld

Thursday 21 August Ė Edinburgh to Philadelphia

US785 - Edinburgh to Philadelphia 21 Aug 2014.

Boeing 757-200 N-201UU
Not sure about crewing levels, other than that Business had 1 cabin crew member serving 10 passengers.
Scheduled departure 10:40
Actual departure 10:26 Ė pushback
Scheduled arrival: 13:25 (7 hour 45 minutes)
Actual arrival: 13:17 Ė doors open
Time needed to clear EDI fast track security: 3 minutes 27 seconds.
Time needed to clear Passports and Customs in PHL: 3 minutes (if that)

This morning was a bit of a rush, the key element of which was clearing EDI security at 10:10, for a 10:40 departure, except of course we push back at 10:26, and weíre airborne at 10:37. Which is a bit too close to ďjust in timeĒ even for my own tastes.

So a visit to the BA lounge in EDI was not on the cards, I only just got time to visit the WC before departure. This isnít such a long flight so I can normally avoid using the aircraft facilities altogether, one minor advantage of being teetotal. All of which explains the lack of content earlier today. I left home a bit later than I would have liked and there were 2 road accidents to negotiate around, including one on the Edinburgh Bypass. Annoying but I didnít allow myself to get stressed about it, I knew I would make it.

Preboarding formalities were necessarly fairly swift, the additional screening for USA flights had just packed up as I arrived so I dived around that one, and I was in the last half dozen passengers to board.

I had OLCI the previous day and got my boarding passes both printed and Appíd. I donít tend to focus too much on seating generally (there are exceptions such as on 747s obviously) and on this service there werenít many options, but the whole of row 1 was available to me so I went for 1F. I knew from previous experiences on US Airways that this was not going to be a flat bed seat, which wasnít a big issue given the relatively short flight with a morning departure, late lunch arrival.

Now this is one of three US Airways Scotland to Philadelphia flights on my schedule this summer, though this one was booked at fairly short notice. The first one, from Glasgow, was delayed beyond my connection, so I ended up going with BA from T5 anyway, and I have another one in a few weeks. Today Iím staying in Philadelphia, with meetings today in Philadelphia and tomorrow in Washington DC. Unlike IAD, PHL is well connected for transport around the DC / NYC areas, and the direct US Airways services are also time and cost effective for someone based in the north of England. Today I am travelling on a BA ticket, checked in via BA.com, though I don't think this service is a codeshare yet (they are being cascaded through the network). My next flight, same PNR, is a BA codeshare.

On the other hand thereís no point pretending this is up to the standards of comfort or service of BA, or even the more updated US First services. The seats are actually fairly similar to the pre-CW cradle seats , 2 + 2 seating in Business (US doesnít offer First on Trans Atlantic services), and on a 757 there are only 10 or 11 seats in the cabin. Itís probably somewhere between WTP and CW, and probably nearer WTP on the whole. The lack of a privacy screen was a real nuisance today since I was sat to someone who really wanted to chat about his family vacation in Scotland, whereas I was needing to get some work done on the laptop, without being too discourteous about it.

Lunch arrives within an hour,which Iím grateful since breakfast got totally enhanced on the CWS Estate. The options were:
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And some photos of the starter, cod and ice cream:

IFE was Samsung Galaxy Tabs (tablets) and Bose headphones, an arrangement familiar to AA First travellers. I give the hardware handout a miss. The Business cabin crew member tried to persuade me to lower the blinds but I was also able to persuade her that this wasnít going to happen. 6 passengers sleep, 3 use the tablets, and Iím on the laptop. 500ml bottles of purified water are handed out.

Itís a fairly cloudy routing all the way after leaving the Hebrides, so I donít get to see Greenland, which I visited a few weeks ago, which was somewhat disappointing. The clouds only cleared over a small part of Canada and New Hampshire, until we got down to Long Island.

I clear down 80 or so emails, and get 14 emails lined up for dispatch once I return to connectivity.

About an hour before landing we are offered:

  • Turkey burger sliders (served with a chopped Greek salad) OR
  • Entrťe salad (fresh mixed greens with a curried chicken stewer and served with a tomato Tarragon dressing)
  • Borderís Oat Crumble Cookies

And this is the turkey sliders option:

Arrival into Philadelphia and the trip to the hotel

We were 20 minutes in the hold off the coast of the USA waiting for a landing slot into PHL, the captain did inform us which isn't always the case on US/AA. We land in Terminal A West, which is right at the end of the runway, so from touch down to gates open is under 4 minutes. I was in 1F, and doors opened at 2L, so I have to go down the cabin - the cabin crew position themselves so that Business travellers can get out first.

I quickly out-stride the other passengers and get to Passport control, 200 metres away with various steps and escalators to navigate, in 4 minutes. The queues are all empty, the CBP officers are in huddles talking to each other.

I am Global Entry so I whizz off to the machine, it recognises my passports and my finger prints immediately. You then get the same questions as on the familiar blue forrm on a screen. There's a helpful "No to all" button for the Moral Turpitude questions and Customs declaration. This then prints out a wide slip, a bit like a bus ticket on scratchy paper, which includes a grey scale photo of me, and passport information. I wave it vaguely in the direction of a CBP officer, he nods me through without interupting his chat to his colleague and I stride round to the dedicated Global Entry line in Customs. They are also standing around chatting, an officer comes over takes the slip and looks briefly at my passport and says "Only one bag? Welcome home". Overwhelmingly, alien Global Entry holders have Green Cards, though I no longer have one.

Then I stride another 218 metres to the SEPTA train platform, which is handily placed on floor level just outside the terminal building, just a taxi roadway to cross. From doors open to SEPTA platform takes me a highly impressive 9 minutes, 42.7 seconds. Very stress free, very easy, puts me in a good frame of mind to both re-use PHL and indeed to recommend PHL on any social media sites that I may frequent. Along the way I take a photo of this as I enter landside:

At the SEPTA station I then have to wait 15 minutes or so for the next train, the service is every half hour, but then goes right to my hotel. I buy an US$8 cash ticket from a nice lad on the train, it's terribly old school:

I think we stopped this sort of thing in the UK sometime in the 1970s. Anyway it takes about 25 minutes to get to Market East, and my hotel is part of the station complex. I am there basically an hour after landing, after "adjusting" to the average walking speed of our cousins in the USA.....

This is a Hilton Garden Inn, which are a bit thin on the ground in the UK (though the old Jurys in Hatton Cross is going HGI) but are all over America. They are lower service than a full Hilton but have good business traveller facilities, including microwaves in rooms and a self service laundry. I actually travel with some of those compact wash tablets so I can deal with washing on the road. They take little space, I leave them in my clean clothes bag so they can impart their scent while I travel. HGIs have pantries where you can buy mini packs of detergent. From the pantry I can also collect 2 bottles of water, as part of my Diamond status with Hilton, as well as free breakfast vouchers

Ah, and this being America, I arrive at reception to see this:

"Oh you're our guest of the day, congratulations! GUEST OF THE DAY!". Her colleague working next to her picks up a little bell (this is Philadelphia, remember), rings it and rejoins "Guest of the day". What it amounts to is some more drinks vouchers and an 1000 extra Hilton points. Plus the manager escorting me to the room and giving me 2 cookies. Oh well, you just have to smile and go along with it.

Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; Aug 22, 14 at 6:06 am
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