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CO new BusinessFirst (EWR-LHR-EWR) w/ pics

CO new BusinessFirst (EWR-LHR-EWR) w/ pics

Old Nov 20, 10, 4:42 am
  #1  
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CO new BusinessFirst (EWR-LHR-EWR) w/ pics

Hello FlyerTalk! This is my first post so please be nice!

This past year, Continental started to introduce its new BusinessFirst product, the 180-degree lie-flat seat, on all flights to London-Heathrow to compete with other airlines like Delta and Virgin Atlantic, which already utilize flat beds on their flights. I had some extra points to use to upgrade myself to BizFirst to see what it was like. A few years ago, I flew Continental’s old BizFirst from ARL-EWR, which was not as great as it was very dated and lacked any elegance.

Continental Airlines CO110, August 10th, 2010
Newark-Liberty International Airport (EWR) to London Heathrow International Airport (LHR)
Gate- C98
Seat- 4F (BusinessFirst)
Departure (Scheduled/Actual): 8:00PM/7:55PM
Arrival (Scheduled/Actual): 8:20AM(+1 day)/7:40AM(+1 day)
Aircraft- B757-200

When I first arrived at Newark, I was confused, as they had just rearranged the ticketing counters. I was used to going to the international check-in, which was at the top level but now that is general/economy/non-elite check-in. The mid-level is now for elite access and BusinessFirst. However, the BusinessFirst counters are small and hidden towards the end of the terminal.

After checking in my bags, it was time to go to the President’s Club. Not to put down Continental but this was by far the worst experience I have ever had at the PC. It was overcrowded and noisy. I believe that the PC installed more showers, which caused the room to be more warm and damp. The food offerings were limited to cheese and crackers, cookies, and chips. I also went to the bar to get a drink but I noticed that some of the “premium” drinks had to be purchased. Also, the bartender was very rude as I was waiting by the bar while she was serving other customers that had just come up to the bar. After a few people, I had to step up and give her my order. However, my drink order came with attitude. Soon after, it was time to board.

Boarding was announced about ten minutes early, which I thought was strange. As I walked towards the door, a friendly FA welcomed me. When I approached to my seat, another FA said that I had to leave the aircraft, as the aircraft was not catered yet. I thought this a little bit rude in her manner but I complied. I waited on the jet bridge for five minutes before getting back on the plane.

My first impressions about the new seat are that it is much better than the old seat. I liked the many storage areas, iPod connection (however passengers had to purchase them as CO does not lend it out even if you are in BizFirst), larger touch screen TV, and of course, the flat bed. However there were some downsides to the seat. The “ottoman” area is too small and narrow. Furthermore, there is little privacy, especially if you are travelling alone. Also, CO uses regular headsets rather than noise-canceling ones, which was pretty disappointing considering other airlines use them.

Pre-departure drinks were taken a few movements before take-off, as were amenity kits and menus. Unlike other airlines, like Cathay, none of the FA’s introduced themselves nor did they remember any passengers name. It would be great if any airline in the US did that. Once in the air, flight attendants started drinks and meal service.

TO BEGIN
Warm roasted nuts with your preferred cocktail or beverage

HOT APPETIZER CART
A demitasse of creamy corn and poblano soup accompanied by coconut shrimp and a vegetable spring roll with mango chutney

SALAD AND WARM BREADS
Romaine and mesclun salad mix with hothouse tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and crispy terra sticks
Your choice of Champagne vinaigrette or blue cheese dressing
Freshly baked garlic bread and assorted rolls with butter

MAIN COURSES
The Chef’s Selection
Braised beef short rib with bordelaise mushroom sauce, spicy aji amarillo mashed potatoes, fine green beans, baby carrots and cherry tomato
Southwest Breast of Chicken

Tamale filled breast of chicken served with creamy corn sauce, roasted red and yellow tomatoes and grilled yucca sticks

Seafood medley
Grilled striped bass and lump crab meat with cream sauce, collard greens and grape tomato served over barley with vegetables

Pasta Bowl
Squash and asparagus filled tricolor ravioli served with creamy
pomodoro sauce, green and white asparagus, roasted red pepper
and grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

FRUIT AND CHEESE CART
Select American and imported cheeses, grapes, assorted
gourmet crackers and bread, served with Port wine

DESSERT CART
Edy’s Classic Grand vanilla ice cream with choice of toppings
or an assortment of petite pastries

PRE-ARRIVAL REFRESHMENT
A selection of juices
Fresh seasonal fruit and yogurt
Swiss cheese, pepper-coated salami and ham cold plate
Assorted breads including cinnamon and crusty rolls and warm croissants with butter and strawberry preserves

I ordered the fish, which took a while to come out. The fish was okay, but not great, as it was a little bit on the dry side. My friend chose the beef ribs and said it was not great as well. After dinner was complete, duty free sales started but seemed as if it was not pushed as the FA rushed down the aisle.
An hour and a half before arrival, breakfast was served. There was nothing special about it and seemed very basic. We landed 40 minutes ahead of schedule.

Continental Airlines CO111, August 21st, 2010
London Heathrow International Airport (LHR) to Newark-Liberty International Airport (EWR)
Gate- 2 (T4)
Seat- 8B (Economy)
Departure (Scheduled/Actual): 12:05PM/2:30PM
Arrival (Scheduled/Actual): 3:15PM/4:40PM
Aircraft- B757-200

I have been a frequent customer of Heathrow and always found myself content with the service. However, this time was unacceptable. The line at CO was very large. In fact, there was a section to line up to avoid crowding the passageway. It took about 30 minutes to get to the desks. Once at the desk, the agent informed my party that we had to pay an extra $100 for two extra bags. I got away with the payment as I had the Continental credit card. However, it seemed as if the baggage system was not working as the agent informed us that we had to take our bags to an area in front of a currently exchange.

Now is where my poor service happened. One of the members of my party did not hear that the bags had to be placed somewhere else and inquired from a young gentleman standing at the front of the queue where we should bring the tagged luggage. He proceeded to inform us that we should join the check-in queue behind him (that we had previously waited in), in order to ‘check the bags in.’ We mentioned that we had already waited in that check-in queue, and that we were inquiring where to drop the bags. The gentleman proceeded to adopt a sarcastic tone, saying that we weren’t listening to him, and that we should join the check-in queue. During the course of the exchange, he routinely interrupted our explanations that the bags had already been tagged, that we had received our boarding passes, and that we were just looking for the place to drop our bags off; he kept on insisting that we should stop asking questions, that he was right and we were wrong, and that we should join the check-in queue. The language he employed was both condescending and sarcastic, speaking very slowly as if we did not understand English. In exasperation, he gave up and turned his back to us, muttering under his breath (but still largely audible to the check-in queue and ourselves), “what idiots.” Moments later, we contacted his supervisor, who politely informed us of your company’s complaint policy, and it seemed as if the supervisor did not know his name. Approximately five minutes after the verbal exchange and after we had found the correct luggage drop-point, we noticed that the man was arguing with another passenger. Everyone in my party was pretty angry but some retail therapy helped a little bit.

Soon after, it was time to board. Boarding was quick and easy. However, the baggage system broke down and it took over two hours to load bags into the plane. Very few announcements were made and some passengers, including the one next to me, were worried about their connections. When the baggage system was “fixed” the plane was about to leave the gate. However, another problem occurred. A passenger was worried about a man who was “shouting” on the phone in a foreign language. She informed a FA but she just asked the passenger to quiet down. It seemed as if it was not enough and demanded to leave the aircraft just when it was about to taxi. We had to wait another 30 minutes for her and her family to get off the aircraft as well as her bags.

Once in the air, FA’s served lunch, which was, either chicken with rice or beef lasagna. One FA stated that the lasagna was vegetarian. I had the chicken, which was “edible,” and my friend had the lasagna. After meal service, duty free sales started and like the outbound trip, no effort was made with sales.
I was glad that CO had PTV in economy for it’s B757-200. However, my friend’s headset jack did not work. He informed an FA and just stated that she would report it in a log and offered to move to another seat. He declined but no other offer was made.

An hour before landing, a small snack was served, which was a hot turkey sandwich with chips and chocolate. Again, it was “edible.” We landed an hour or so behind schedule, which followed a long line at immigration due to other international arrivals at the same time.

Continental has caught up with other airlines. They have a good business class service that can complete with other airlines flying the same route. However, there is room for improvement. I didn’t like the fact that CO flies a B757 for transatlantic flights due to the fact that it is a small aircraft and both flights were very full. I believe that they are the only ones that fly this type of aircraft on most European routes. Also, CO needs to overhaul their dining options, especially when they begin to merge with United. Otherwise, I had a great time with Continental.

Pictures
Gate at EWR


Cabin at boarding


Large screen


The "tower of power"


Blanket


Set up with bread


Appetizers


Salad


Steak entree


Seafood medley


Ice cream sundae



Pillow


Questionable breakfast


Saying goodbye


After a long flight


T4 at LHR


CO check in at LHR


A friendly neighbor at LHR


My ride home


Almost time for boarding


Sorry I do not have photos on the return as my camera battery died. Thanks!
cxny1090 is offline  
Old Nov 20, 10, 4:55 am
  #2  
 
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they look like the UA product

Looks a lot like the new UA lie flat BIZ seats. Anyone know if they are the same product? I've flown those on the ORD-LHR run very nice - I like them better than the pods on VS/NZ - mainly because the cushions are much more comfortable on UA than on those pods. The pods have more privacy yes but too hard for me to sleep.
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Old Nov 20, 10, 5:56 am
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Welcome to FT! Wow - your first post is a TR!

Did you get a good night's rest on the EWR-LHR flight? Those flights are too short - given the dinner and the breakfast!

- Pat
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Old Nov 20, 10, 10:22 am
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Welcome to FT! Very nice trip report! ^
Yes, that was a skimpy breakfast.
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Old Nov 20, 10, 10:54 am
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Welcome to FlyerTalk. Not many people start off here with a trip report, but you really did a nice job. Thank you! Interesting that Continental would operate a 757 on the EWR-LHR run, much less at peak travel times.
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Old Nov 20, 10, 11:15 am
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I don't mind the 757 having flown many times on the 707s. Hoiwever my gripe with CO is the food in Y which I find horrible.

Lettuce, no cheese and lousy cheap deserts. Also main meals are substandard ruined by cheap sauces.

Serving lunch from Europe at 10 AM also gets on my nerves. But they have a great frequent flyer program and decent entertainment.
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Old Nov 20, 10, 12:25 pm
  #7  
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Very nice report. Excellent photos. Unfortunately, the continental breakfast you were served is de rigueur on overnight transatlantic flights. On BA overnight flights in business class leaving from the east coast of North America, the only hot thing you'll get is a warmed up roll with a piece of fatty bacon in the middle. Furthermore, on these same BA flights in business class, many of them don't even serve a full evening meal:

https://www.britishairways.com/trave...club/_gf/en_gb
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Old Nov 20, 10, 3:10 pm
  #8  
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Excellent trip reports!! I'm glad that you are so enjoyable flying on CO. What happens of your flight has been delayed due to baggage system is not working at all. This is reason why you were wait for 2 hours out of LHR-EWR. I am wonder if the baggage system should be fixed properly. Don't wait too long if your bags is running back to normal routine.

I'm curious that you didn't chargers the batteris for your camera. Next time you should have fully chargers the camera before you leave for TATL flight. It will guaranteed you can do that. You didn't take a picture that I can see beautiful sunrise & sunset, too. All I can says "WOW!!" it is so beautiful morning sky. Hope you will enjoyed for your stay in LHR.
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Old Nov 20, 10, 9:32 pm
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Originally Posted by cxny1090 View Post
The language he employed was both condescending and sarcastic, speaking very slowly as if we did not understand English. In exasperation, he gave up and turned his back to us, muttering under his breath (but still largely audible to the check-in queue and ourselves), “what idiots.” Moments later, we contacted his supervisor, who politely informed us of your company’s complaint policy, and it seemed as if the supervisor did not know his name.
Welcome to FT! Thanks for the TR.

Quick question on the incident with the hostile employee -- did you follow up with a letter of complaint or any kind of resolution with his supervisor? Just curious as I am not looking to run into anyone like this next time I'm at LHR....

In the meantime, thanks for being so detailed in your report!!!

putongo
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Old Nov 20, 10, 11:57 pm
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Quite the epic first post. Thanks for the report.
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Old Nov 21, 10, 12:40 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by businesstraveller2 View Post
Looks a lot like the new UA lie flat BIZ seats. Anyone know if they are the same product? I've flown those on the ORD-LHR run very nice - I like them better than the pods on VS/NZ - mainly because the cushions are much more comfortable on UA than on those pods. The pods have more privacy yes but too hard for me to sleep.
I don't think they are the same product. Nor have I tried the UA product. I will seek an opportunity to try it though.
cxny1090 is offline  
Old Nov 21, 10, 12:41 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Wiirachay View Post
Welcome to FT! Wow - your first post is a TR!

Did you get a good night's rest on the EWR-LHR flight? Those flights are too short - given the dinner and the breakfast!

- Pat
Thank you very much! I did get a little bit of sleep as I was preoccupied playing with the seat and eating.
cxny1090 is offline  
Old Nov 21, 10, 12:44 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by N830MH View Post
Excellent trip reports!! I'm glad that you are so enjoyable flying on CO. What happens of your flight has been delayed due to baggage system is not working at all. This is reason why you were wait for 2 hours out of LHR-EWR. I am wonder if the baggage system should be fixed properly. Don't wait too long if your bags is running back to normal routine.

I'm curious that you didn't chargers the batteris for your camera. Next time you should have fully chargers the camera before you leave for TATL flight. It will guaranteed you can do that. You didn't take a picture that I can see beautiful sunrise & sunset, too. All I can says "WOW!!" it is so beautiful morning sky. Hope you will enjoyed for your stay in LHR.
Thank you very much! I was not sure of the baggage problem but from what I was informed was that the baggage system broke down so the baggage handlers had to manually send bags to the aircraft. It seemed like a clue during check in when I had to put my bags in a baggage area.

Thank you for the camera advice. I was busy the night before that I forgot to charge it.
cxny1090 is offline  
Old Nov 21, 10, 12:47 pm
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Originally Posted by putongo View Post
Welcome to FT! Thanks for the TR.

Quick question on the incident with the hostile employee -- did you follow up with a letter of complaint or any kind of resolution with his supervisor? Just curious as I am not looking to run into anyone like this next time I'm at LHR....

In the meantime, thanks for being so detailed in your report!!!

putongo
Thank you for your concern. Yes, I did indeed follow up with a complaint letter. I sent first to Heathrow in which they gave a dearest apology and forwarded the letter to CO offices in Houston. CO responded with an apology as well and stated that they would discuss this matter. However, they would not tell me of the disciplinary action of the hostile employee. Though I did not receive any miles or any offering, it was nice that both Heathrow and CO took time to read my letter.
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Old Nov 21, 10, 6:32 pm
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Originally Posted by cxny1090 View Post
[...] A passenger was worried about a man who was “shouting” on the phone in a foreign language. She informed a FA but she just asked the passenger to quiet down. It seemed as if it was not enough and demanded to leave the aircraft just when it was about to taxi. We had to wait another 30 minutes for her and her family to get off the aircraft as well as her bags. [...]
This is so sad it's funny. I bet she fully supports and looks forward to backscatter scanning and groin patdowns, too.

Nice trip report, though.
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