Envoy Degradation?

Old Jul 9, 2005, 6:30 am
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Envoy Degradation?

A little late in writing this one up but I was a little disappointed in my 6/30 PHL-LGW flight in Envoy. I got an upgrade at the gate halfway through boarding with a SA on an oversold flight so I can't complain but the level of service was definitly sub-par to Dec/Jan flights to and from MAD. Wondering if I just had a bad experience or whether Envoy as a whole is degrading.

Here's what I found:

1.) While all the FA's were certainly nice - only the service director seemed to have done Envoy before - hence he was telling everyone how to do everone. Seemed like they hadn't been trained fully. So I actually did experience slightly longer than normal delays on requests for water, etc. and it took 1 hour and 45 mins. for my salad to arrive. Dinner was cleared 3 hours into the flight when the sun was coming up - literally (we had left an hour late). 2 hours later of course it was breakfast as the flying time is only 6:16 so it made for a very short night - not to mention I was quite hungry by the time they served the food.

2.) Plastic silverware - all of it - the good kind that they use in F domestically - not the coach stuff - but still all plastic. I know they've used this for the light meal service but I was surprised to see this at dinner. Is this another cost-cut for Envoy or was it because it was an LGW flight?

3.) Food quality was subpar - I remember salmon or prochutto type appetizers. I got a large salad with interesting Middle Eastern chesse but it wasn't quite as good as having smoked salmon. The filet was bland and the potatos and cremed spinach were just ok. Not quite the more imagnitive menus I had remembered from earlier in the year with interesting combinations. The chocolate cake, chesse and grapes were excellent though.
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Old Jul 9, 2005, 6:40 am
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Funny I flew on the same day you did except I flew BCN PHL. We had silverware. Just a few days before I flew PHL BCN on the 26th and all silverware was on that flight as well. There were no delays in getting our food out.

On my flight back to the USA we had chocolate cake for dessert and there was a tub of icecream too. I always get the beef which was very good.
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Old Jul 9, 2005, 7:27 am
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One of the changes that has been made is regarding flight attendants. No longer are there international-specific flight attendants. So, the FA who got you from PHL-PIT could now be in the Envoy cabin. This is also a recent change so for a while, I think we're going to have be patient while every FA has his/her first experience doing this service.

No doubt the Envoy training is like any other: great in concept but when doing it for the first time under very real conditions, you realize it's something you master only with experience.

Hopefully GalleyWench can provide more insights.
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Old Jul 9, 2005, 7:47 am
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As to the silverware, to and from LGW the BAA requires that all flights use plasticware.

However, I heard a rumor that the BAA may have withdrew that rule recently and some airlines are going to move back to metal silverware.

Dan
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Old Jul 9, 2005, 8:09 am
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Originally Posted by dan1431
As to the silverware, to and from LGW the BAA requires that all flights use plasticware.

However, I heard a rumor that the BAA may have withdrew that rule recently and some airlines are going to move back to metal silverware.

Dan
I thought I may have heard that somewhere that there was a rule. Glad it's UK specific then.
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Old Jul 9, 2005, 11:31 am
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Originally Posted by EnvoyBoy
One of the changes that has been made is regarding flight attendants. No longer are there international-specific flight attendants. So, the FA who got you from PHL-PIT could now be in the Envoy cabin. This is also a recent change so for a while, I think we're going to have be patient while every FA has his/her first experience doing this service.

No doubt the Envoy training is like any other: great in concept but when doing it for the first time under very real conditions, you realize it's something you master only with experience.

Hopefully GalleyWench can provide more insights.
Hey, thanks for thinking about me! You are indeed correct in that anyone based in PHL can now work transatlantic flights if they are qualified on the airplanes and they have been to training for it. When I initially went to T/A training it was 4 days long, but that was a few years ago and when we still had first class and the upgraded Envoy service. I don't know what the training consists of now, but I doubt if it's 4 day's worth. LGW also tends to go a little more junior because of what that trip pays, so you could have been with more junior f/a's that weren't quite up to speed. Positions worked on the airplane can vary, envoy either goes very senior or very junior. It's one of those things that you either really love, or really detest working! I personally love it, because you get a lot more one-on-one with the passengers and can get to know them a little bit better. I'm sorry you had to wait so long for dinner though, you must have been starving.
Everyone else has addressed the silverware vs. plasticware issue, it's a UK thing and not another cutback to the service. I haven't read anything in our mail that the ban has been lifted, but will try to find an answer.
One other side note on Envoy service that was brought up a month or so back regarding the new pizza service. I just saw the handout for that the other day, and believe it or not, the instructions from the Pizza company say to serve the pizza in the box!! I was shocked when I saw that, and know that some people had complained that they thought it was tacky (I do too), but that is the way it is set up to be served.
I'm going back to PHL in August and my schedule has MAD and CDG in it so I"ll be able to better answer international questions then. Until then, if anyone has a question about the shuttle...
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Old Jul 9, 2005, 2:07 pm
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Originally Posted by GalleyWench
Hey, thanks for thinking about me! You are indeed correct in that anyone based in PHL can now work transatlantic flights if they are qualified on the airplanes and they have been to training for it. When I initially went to T/A training it was 4 days long, but that was a few years ago and when we still had first class and the upgraded Envoy service. I don't know what the training consists of now, but I doubt if it's 4 day's worth. LGW also tends to go a little more junior because of what that trip pays, so you could have been with more junior f/a's that weren't quite up to speed. Positions worked on the airplane can vary, envoy either goes very senior or very junior. It's one of those things that you either really love, or really detest working! I personally love it, because you get a lot more one-on-one with the passengers and can get to know them a little bit better. I'm sorry you had to wait so long for dinner though, you must have been starving.
Everyone else has addressed the silverware vs. plasticware issue, it's a UK thing and not another cutback to the service. I haven't read anything in our mail that the ban has been lifted, but will try to find an answer.
One other side note on Envoy service that was brought up a month or so back regarding the new pizza service. I just saw the handout for that the other day, and believe it or not, the instructions from the Pizza company say to serve the pizza in the box!! I was shocked when I saw that, and know that some people had complained that they thought it was tacky (I do too), but that is the way it is set up to be served.
I'm going back to PHL in August and my schedule has MAD and CDG in it so I"ll be able to better answer international questions then. Until then, if anyone has a question about the shuttle...
Thanks for your insights....as I said before, it was nothing about the FAs that I didn't like - they all really did seem to care - just having one guy train everyone on a sold out flight seems to be an unfortunate set of circumstances. While I know my experience was an exception - what were the disadvantages/advantages from both perspectives of opening up transatlantic to all?

As for the pizza in the box...I will have to say - that just seems silly - can't quite figure out the manufactuerer's logic on that one but I'll let you know what I think when I fly home (assuming I get the upgrade of of course
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Old Jul 9, 2005, 3:01 pm
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I was over at the UA forum when I noticed this thread.

UA Thread RE: Metal Silverware to the UK

Dan
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Old Aug 11, 2005, 4:18 pm
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Figured I would update this thread as well.

Service back from LGW was outstanding and much quicker.

However, on the pizza in the box issue - not only did I find it tacky for Envoy class (and they didn't serve it on linen like they did in January) but when you beant the box back - it covered the salad!!! Granted, moving the salad off the tray isn't the biggest deal in the world but I really think they need to change the presentation style on this.

Food quality was outstanding - pizza included.
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Old Sep 14, 2005, 6:18 pm
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We finally bit the PHL bullet and took an Envoy flight to CDG last night.

The commuter run from LGA was a miserable, noisy, and hot Dash 8 without functioning A/C and we had a three+ hour layover in the Envoy Lounge at Terminal A. This lounge was satisfactorily stocked with lunch stuff on a buffet and a bucket full of xoxos just as you walked in the door. It had been a long trip already because we were hauling our baggage courtesy of many posts here on FT that were clear that if one tries to check bags from Express to Mainline, there is small chance of proper connections being made. Therefore we schlepped all of our bags and left them at the gate with check tags from the gate agent (for the info of those reading this, they were among the first half-dozen bags onto the carousel at CDG).

The flight left on time and we had seats 1GH on the nice A330. These certainly were impressive accomodations with extra pillows being produced immediately, even tho the pre-flight bubbly served in plastic was almost undrinkably sweet.

We could not figure out how to turn on the overhead reading lights even tho I was fairly sure that I had the correct switch. The FA that we asked had not a clue, and when Franny found out that her footrest did not seem to work properly, she asked another FA about it and she also did not know anything about the seat controls. A few minutes later, she came back to us and said that the problems with the footrest and the overhead lights had been "written up" but apparently not dealt with. At major hub cities, I am not accustomed to ever being on international flights where planes left with broken equipment. I also remember a CO guy at EWR coming in with all of his tools to fix a broken reading lamp and some Lufthansas at FRA getting under the seats to fix a broken footrest on one of their 340s. So this will not do, especially since we're talking about their most deluxe seats on their flagship airplane out of their super hub on a most major route.

However, the broken lights and footrest turned out to be just a foreshadowing of things to come. When I opened the personal TV, I noticed that I had hit the jackpot and gotten the screen with the scratchings in it that had been mentioned in another post at least two or three weeks ago. Now this damn thing did not work at all. No IFE for an entire flight in seat 1H I had given up by then and did not ask the FA who tried to get it to work whether this too had been "written up" months ago with no apparent repair attempt having been made.

I will not go into any further detail vis-a-vis the extremely inexperienced and basically incompetent flight crew who did nothing to enhance what really was a perfectly acceptable food service (altho this airline could step away from serving such cheap and mediocre wines on these kinds of flights).

Just my two cents and we will see if the 330 service improves on the way home FRA-CLT next week. As a consolation, if you have row 1, you really don't need the IFE going over, but I generally do like to watch a movie coming back.
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Old Sep 14, 2005, 7:11 pm
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I'll go on record as saying that US is making a significant error in allowing any eligible F/A to bid the transatlantic runs in Business Class. If one is reading several of the last posts here, it's obvious to the travellers (many of whom have paid in the range of $4K+ for their r/t) that the crew is especially junior and simply unfamiliar with the service expectations and the a/c in general.

That's awful. And, it's a sure way to ensure that top dollar biz travellers steer far clear of US henceforth. Why wouldn't US's policy at least ensure that the crews working Envoy were always senior -- or at least had worked it more than xxx times in the last 12 rolling months, etc, etc. ???? That's just poor execution that's immediately evident to virtually every pax in that class of service. Really bad move.

Previous poster is correct about European carriers practically breaking their backs to often ensure that pax in J/C have no operational issues prior to pushback. I, too, have seen pairs of mechanics swarm on to an a/c to fix an air vent or change out a reading light for an occupied seat in J/C (but NEVER in coach!!).
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Old Sep 15, 2005, 8:48 pm
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I flew from MUC to PHL on Envoy last Saturday. Even though it was a A330, the flight was horrible. IFE did not run well, the food was very bad, and it took forever to serve the meal for 30 pessengers even though there were 5 crew members.

Once they get rid of the SA upgrade next year, I can certinaly move the LH via FRA.
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Old Sep 15, 2005, 9:09 pm
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Envoy Class is nothing more than international Business Class leg room accompanied by Premium Economy service, as I said before.
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Old Sep 16, 2005, 8:26 am
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Originally Posted by fly747first
Envoy Class is nothing more than international Business Class leg room accompanied by Premium Economy service, as I said before.
Saying it over and over still doesn't make it so. I challenge you to name a Premium Economy service that has Envoy class standards. And by that I mean the meal and drinks, not the quality of service provided by the cabin crew.

I totally agree here that Envoy crews can be abysmal, especially since the international bidding has been opened to any FA.

P.S.: I have recently strayed far from US and flew SQ and PrivatAir for LH transatlantic in C. It makes me want to NEVER go back to Envoy class. It's still better than coach, though.
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Old Sep 16, 2005, 8:56 am
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I really don't think that the Envoy Class service is that bad. My LGW-PHL on 8/9 was absolutely wonderful. Granted, the food isn't up to par with some of the top international airlines but every meal but one I've had in Envoy has been enjoyable. The A330 IFE is great (ok assuming its working), the seats are better than a lot of carriers on Envoy (again only on the A330) and the service is usually quite attentive (barring the time above - see 1st post in the thread).

Also, US doesn't need to compete with trans-pacific type Business service. There routes are far shorter and even paid-Enovy brings in far less revenue than a JFK-NRT or similar route does. Granted, there are a few things in Envoy to improve but in general I'm usually quite happy.
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