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First PE experience on PRG-LHR-LAX (PE on AA 77W, ET on BA, LHR lounges)

First PE experience on PRG-LHR-LAX (PE on AA 77W, ET on BA, LHR lounges)

Old Aug 16, 18, 4:23 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 49
First Premium Economy experience on PRG-LHR-LAX (PE on AA 77W, ET on BA, LHR lounges)

This July, I had the opportunity to try the AA Premium Economy product for the first time on my trip between Prague and Los Angeles. I also enjoyed a brief stay at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 Qantas and Cathy Pacific lounges. Here is a brief trip report from this trip.

Introduction
With family in the Czech Republic and a current home-base in Los Angeles, I fly between PRG and LAX several times a year. After many different experiences with LH, AF, LX, BA and AA on my transatlantic journeys, I usually settle on an itinerary that seems to maximize my comfort and minimizes costs – a short hop to London on BA and a same-terminal connection via T3 to AA on the leg to LAX.

AA’s hard product seems to work best for me (I usually opt for Main Cabin Extra), with service and customer service on the long-haul being consistently good (unlike BA or AF, say). What makes this a better choice than, say, Lufthansa (which offers easier connectivity and an equally good hard + soft product) is the option to add extra legroom for no to limited cost, thus maximizing comfort, and my Silver status with British Airways, which maximizes lounge access. Unlike those who travel a lot for business, I usually pay out of pocket, so being cost-effective is a major factor for my travel choice. This time, a well-priced premium economy seat was available, making this a good opportunity to try out this cabin for the first time.

Prague – Heathrow
PRG – LHR (BA855), Euro Traveller
Gate Departure: 11:12AM CEST (Scheduled 11:15AM CEST)
Gate Arrival: 12:09PM BST (Scheduled 12:30PM BST)
Flight duration: 1:42
Seat: 6E

Check-in was a hassle as premium passengers were made to wait while most Euro Traveller pax were checked in. Clearly, customer satisfaction is still something to work on.

Nothing stood out on our feeder flight aside from the fact the Prague airport has finished renovating the passport control at Terminal 1 and is really quite a breeze to go through. Security at T1 still takes place at the gate, which is important to plan for if one goes to the lounge. We used the Menzies lounge which offers only very limited food selections but has most drinks one can think of, including good Czech beer. There is a small shower too. I was surprised a man on a wheelchair could barely use the restrooms given the lack of an accessible space for disabled passengers.

The flight on BA between Prague and London Heathrow was uneventful, but the downgrade in service is quite noticeable. Even the FAs seem to be ashamed of the fact they charge even for tea, coffee and water. I look forward to having more direct connections from Prague to the U.S. as the level of service BA offers is really minimal, seats are cramped and a congested Heathrow airport causes frequent delays, even when weather is not bad.

This time, though, we departed and arrived ahead of schedule.

Our route


Sky over Germany


Small legroom


Approach over London


Upon arrival to T3 at LHR


Summary
Online services: 5/5. Online and app interface are efficient, easy to navigate, and clean.
Airport staff (PRG): 10/20. Staff was great, but queue management terrible (regular line was skipping premium line for check-in and we just gave up after 15 minutes of no progress)
Aircraft: 5/15. The plane is old and lavatories not particularly clean.
Seat: 2/8. An economy seat with leather covers, but almost no legroom. Poor comfort even on a short flight.
Meals: 0/12. Food, water and drinks are for purchase only, and at bad quality. BA is really offering a very bad product on short-haul European routes, comparable to LCCs.
IFE: 0/3. None.
Cabin crew: 20/37. Cabin crew was welcoming during boarding but did not offer any other service beyond offering food and drinks for purchase.

Total score: 42/100

Layover at LHR

We had about 3 hours to spend at T3 - security has just been renovated and was a breeze to go through - so we decided to try two lounges: Qantas and Cathay Pacific business lounges. We enjoyed both, with the former mostly empty after the Perth flight finished boarding - though the selection of food at Cathay's lounge was superior to that of Qantas (which had a small lunch self-serve bar). Showers at both lounges are very clean and convenient to use (unlike BA's outdated and overcrowded showers at T3) and views from both lounges were decent. Overall, I rank the Cathay Pacific lounge at 9/10 and the Qantas lounge at 7/10.

Shower at Qantas T3 lounge




Wine at Qantas T3 lounge


Late-breakfast buffet at Qantas T3 lounge (around 1pm)


Lunch buffet at Qantas T3 lounge


View from Qantas T3 lounge



Cathay Pacific T3 lounge













Showers in Cathay Pacific T3 lounge




Noodle bar in the Cathay T3 lounge

Heathrow – Los Angeles

LHR – LAX (AA135), Premium Economy
Gate Departure: 03:42PM BST (Scheduled 03:15PM BST)
Gate Arrival: 07:09PM PDT (Scheduled 06:45PM PDT)
Flight duration: 10:52
Seat: 17L

Our flight to LAX boarded with a small delay, during which we were not informed by gate staff at all, and queued up for a west-bound departure. This was my first Y+ experience and overall, I am glad I did not spend a fortune on it.

Our route


Boarding
There is something quite magnificent about a 77W.


Cabin view
The Premium Economy cabin is relatively roomy, with enough storage space, but seat design is very austere.


Our seats
Our seats at the window allowed for a more private experience, but the space was not as large as I had expected, with very limited recline and no proper leg support.

Legroom in Premium Economy
Legroom is just 2-3 inches greater than Main Cabin Extra. Given the cost differential, this was very underwhelming.





Only leg rest in Premium Economy (no other support)
I wish a better, calf and lower-leg support was available in Premium Economy. This only seems to be installed on the first row, but would help tremendously in all rows.


Departing London for LAX




AA amenity bag
For some strange reason, all items in the amenity bag had crazy colors, making them quite unusable outside of an aircraft. Amounts of toiletries offered were tiny.


Classical music selection in AA's IFE - interesting but limited
I mostly listen to classical music and enjoyed the selection, but it was relatively limited given the length of the flight. It was nice, however, to get live BBC and CNN streams, and internet was available for most of the flight (I did not test).


Menu
Menu was simple and could have offered more variety.


Lunch
Lunch was good but definitely closer to economy meal quality than business. After, it's Y+, not J-...


Pre-arrival refreshments - nice surprise
The only bigger difference in service and offering relative to MCE was a pre-arrival snack that was healthy and truly refreshing.


Arrival to LAX




Summary:

Online services: 5/5. Online and app interface are efficient, easy to navigate, and clean.
Airport staff (LHR): 15/20. Staff not particularly welcoming, but quite efficient.
Aircraft: 13/15. The plane was newly refurbished and in good condition. Lavatories small as usual.
Seat: 4/8. A premium economy seat with extra space, but not sure if it’s really that much better than MCE for the price. I wish better leg support and more recline was added.
Meals: 8/12. Food in premium economy has better packaging, but taste is not something to write home about.
IFE: 2.5/3. Good and functional, but choice of good music is limited.
Cabin crew: 34/37. Great cabin crew. However, food service could be faster.

Total score: 81.5/100

Verdict

This was an enjoyable first experience on AA's premium economy, which allowed me to do work and relax on the long haul flight at an acceptable premium to the regular economy ticket. However, most of my expectations were unfortunately a little higher, so I am not sure how strongly I feel about flying Y+ again in the future. In the summer, the cost of a return business flight between Europe and the US is not too far from premium economy, in which I would definitely consider paying for a *much* better service.

As a BA Silver holder, I did not get any additional baggage allowance, which takes away some of the key benefits of paying more money for Y+. As far as FF mileage strategy, a nice benefit of Y+ is receiving more tier points to quality for status in the next year.

Flying with BA, I realize how much things have changed in just a few years - if it weren't for my positive experience with connecting to AA in the past, I would have long avoided the airline. I wish Lufthansa's Miles and More was more generous to people who spend more on flights, but do not fly as regularly, as I would have likely already made the switch.

Overall, I am not willing to pay much more for Y+ given that the difference in customer experience between Y+ and MCE is not very large (and I think there are better ways to spend hundreds of dollars). I am glad, however, I could finally have my own experience in this increasingly popular cabin.

Last edited by Jacob02; Aug 19, 18 at 5:24 pm Reason: photos added
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Old Aug 17, 18, 8:43 am
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Thanks for an interesting report. I cannot see any photos though?
The fact that the immigration area at PRG has been revamped has made it easier than in the past. But they could have put up a centralised security area just after that. The security checks at the gates are a pain.....
roadwarrier is offline  
Old Aug 17, 18, 11:59 am
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Passport control and photos

Originally Posted by roadwarrier View Post
Thanks for an interesting report. I cannot see any photos though?
The fact that the immigration area at PRG has been revamped has made it easier than in the past. But they could have put up a centralised security area just after that. The security checks at the gates are a pain.....
Agreed, it also does not seem to make security sense. I think it might be just the space restrictions, though would be curious to know about their rationale altogether, especially with the new duty free area built right after passport control.

Photos are included - please check for your network restrictions. They are hosted on imgur and are showing properly when logged off or from a different computer on my side.
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Old Aug 17, 18, 8:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Jacob02 View Post
Agreed, it also does not seem to make security sense. I think it might be just the space restrictions, though would be curious to know about their rationale altogether, especially with the new duty free area built right after passport control.

Photos are included - please check for your network restrictions. They are hosted on imgur and are showing properly when logged off or from a different computer on my side.
No Photos
standch and BlackSkyuk like this.
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Old Aug 18, 18, 8:52 am
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Originally Posted by Jacob02 View Post
Photos are included - please check for your network restrictions. They are hosted on imgur and are showing properly when logged off or from a different computer on my side.
Imgur no longer allows hot linking images. You'll need to use another image host, such as Flickr or FT. See the sticky in Trip Reports for details.
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Old Aug 18, 18, 11:10 pm
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Sorry all for the lack of photos, have just updated the links. Photos can also be seen here.

Last edited by Jacob02; Aug 19, 18 at 5:23 pm Reason: update
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Old Aug 24, 18, 2:56 pm
  #7  
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Your issues with PE is interesting, _I_ personally don't think PE is horrible, it is basically Domestic F service, free booze, PDB, meals on china and not on foil or plastic containers. Currently, the price difference between PE and Y isn't that big. I know the FA's aren't happy since the airline has reduced the # of FA's on certain aircraft. BA has dedicated FA's for their PE cabin, I wish AA would do that.
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