American Airlines Business Class Airbus A330 Philadelphia to Madrid

  • Flight: AA740
  • Route: PHL-MAD
  • Equipment: Airbus A330-200
  • Cabin: Business Class
  • Seat: 4H/5H

[Please see video above, if you prefer to watch a video review.]

As much as we fly American a lot, we still haven’t been on any of AA’s ex-US Airways A330s so we were really looking forward to this flight.

Our flight form San Francisco arrived in Philadelphia about an hour and half before departure, but sadly we did not get a chance to go to the AA lounge because we were waiting for our upgrades to clear.

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We arrived at the B gates and it was rather long walk from Terminal B to Terminal A, which is where our connection was departing from. When we arrived at the gate, I was patiently waiting for the screen to show the upgrade list if we cleared, but for some reason the upgrade list was not showing. I took a deep breath and approached the seemingly reasonable looking gate agent. I explained that my companion and I were both on the upgrade list, and asked whether they’ve already processed the upgrades. She asked for our last names and started typing away. A few minutes later, she printed out our new boarding passes – SCORE! I sincerely thanked her and went back to my companion to share the good news.

We waited for another 20 minutes and then boarding was announced. Concierge Key members boarded first, followed by business class passengers. Our boarding passes were scanned, and we made our way through the jet bridge. We boarded through door 2L and were greeted at the door by a flight attendant. We turned left into the business class cabin, and immediately found our seats. We were seated in 4H and 5H, which are the last 2 windows seats of business class on the starboard side of the plane.

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American’s (previously US Airways) A330-200 consists of 20 flat bed seats in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration. US Airways was actually the the first airline to offer reverse herringbone seats in business class, so these seats looked pretty basic compared to the current reverse herringbone seats offered by Cathay Pacific, American, Qatar Airways.

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Waiting at our seats were the wrapped pillow and blanket combo. As soon as we got settled, a flight attendant came by to offer us a Cole Haan amenity kit, and Bose noise canceling headphones. Then another flight attendant took our drink orders, in which I opted for a glass of champagne.

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We were also given a bottled water to keep us hydrated during the flight.

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I checked out the seat a little bit. There is a control panel right just above your shoulder, which has the IFE remote, AC and USB power outlets, as well as the headphone jack and adjustable reading lamp. There’s a small cubby hole near the arm rest which can be used to store phones and glasses. The IFE monitor is right above the foot rest, and swivels out. The monitor is on the smallish side and the picture quality isn’t very sharp compared current generation IFEs, but it was decent.

Soon boarding was complete and the Captain went on the PA to announce our departure and  flight time of 6 hours and 50 minutes to Madrid. The flight attendants started their checks and the safety video started playing as we pushed back from the gate.

The flight attendants cleared our beverage cups during taxi and also took our meal orders. We were also asked if we wanted to be woken up for breakfast, in which we said yes.

Before we knew it, the captain asked the crew to take their seats, and we were off to Madrid. The takeoff roll and ascent was smooth with literally no bumps on the way up.

I browsed through the IFE selections. There was a decent amount of movies, TV programs, music, and games available. I initially just watched the moving map, but decided to watch Doctor Strange later on- it was a good movie.

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Once we hit cruising altitude, the captain switched off the seatbelt sign and the meal service began.
After takeoff beverage service started, and I ordered a glass of champagne which was served with warm nuts. I swear AA definitely does their warm nuts very well. No nut rage here!

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Then the salad and appetizer tray was served, which consisted of the Super Grain Salad, and the Quinoa, Mango and Pepper Timbale. Both of them were surprisingly good and nicely presented. It’s worth noting that the business class meal was inspired by celebrity chef, Maneet Chauhan. A selection of bread from the basket was also offered, and I chose the pretzel bread-YUM!

Next up was the main entrée. I asked for the Korean braised short ribs, which was moist, flavorful and tender. The picture don’t do it justice, but it was better than most beef dishes I’ve had on an airplane.

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Then I ordered ice cream for dessert and a baileys on the rocks to wash it down with. The entire meal service took about 1.5 hours.

After the meal, I decided to visit the lavatory to brush my teeth and freshen up before going to bed. From the seat map, there is supposed to be 3 lavatories for business class passengers. One in the front of the plane and 2 lavatories behind business class near the galley, but for some reason the curtain behind the galley was closed so most passengers just ended up using the front lavatory.  There was nothing too special about the lavatory, it was very basic with just hand soap, paper towels, and tissues. No additional toiletries were available.

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I soon went back to my seat and converted it into a flat bed. It was very comfortable and I slept for about 3 hours.

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90 minutes before landing, I was woken up by the meal cart rolling by. It was time for breakfast! I usually get the table ready even before the flight attendants get to my my row to be more efficient, but this time for some reason I could not deploy my tray table. I asked one of the flight attendants for help, and he said “Let me get the hammer” – wow! Alas, after a few tries the table finally deployed, and the meal was served. First I asked for a cup of coffee. Then I ordered the quiche, which was served in a tray along with some fruits. I was also offered a selection of pastries and I chose the mini cinnamon roll. The quiche was a little on the soggy side, but it was fine.

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I went back to the lavatory right after the meal to beat the rush, only to be “shooed away” by a flight attendant who was guarding the front lavatory. She just told me to go back to my seat. I complied. Apparently, one of the pilots was using the restroom, but I was given no reason or explanation as to why she wanted me to be seated – whatever! After a few minutes, she saw me and signaled that it was OK for me to use the lav.

As soon as I got back to my seat, the captain announced our initial descent into the Madrid area. The lights were turned on, and the flight attendants started their preparation for landing. I put my seat upright and opened the window shades.

We had some pretty nice views of the sunrise on the way down.

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Landing was smooth and uneventful. We then had a relatively short taxi then parked next to an Iberia Airbus A320. We soon disembarked and were off to our connection to Lisbon.

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Our overall impression of this flight was mostly positive. The business class cabin and seats on this ex-US Airways plane were really showing their age, but still very comfortable for a 6 hour-ish flight across the pond. Catering was actually very good  (at least dinner was) on this flight. The service was also very good from the Philadelphia based crew, except for my one run-in with the flight attendant guarding the lav. I give this a very good 7.5 out of 10.
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