Review: American Airlines Business Class Airbus A330 Athens to Philadelphia

  • Flight: AA759
  • Route: ATH-PHL
  • Equipment: Airbus A330-300
  • Cabin: Business Class
  • Seat: 3H

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

 

After playing tour guide and visiting 4 cities in Europe in one week, it was time to head home. Our last stop in our European journey was Athens. We spent the day visiting The Acropolis and Syntagma Square, then spent the night at the Hilton Athens, which was a 20 minute walk from the Acropolis.

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The morning of our departure, we took a taxi to Eleftherios Venizelos airport which took about half an hour. Upon arrival at the airport, we went straight to the American Airlines check-in counters. As is the norm nowadays for flights by US carriers going back to the US, there was a security check at the queue, in which an agent asks you a few questions about your trip. The interrogation security questions took about 2 minutes, and then they let you through to the check-in counters.

The check-in agent was nice and she gave us our lounge invitations for the Goldair Lounge. She also printed our boarding passes all the way to San Francisco. Sadly, one of our companions got the dreaded SSSS (Secondary Security Screening Selection) printed on their Boarding Pass, which meant they had to go through another set of security screening at the boarding gate on top of the regular security screening for all passengers – not fun.

There was quite a queue at security and exit immigration, as there were other flights leaving around the same time as ours. We then made our way to the Goldair Lounge, which is the newest lounge at ATH.

 

The lounge was on the small side, and was really basic on the food side. There were a few hot options, and they also had some cold sandwiches, and veggies in addition to the wine and booze bar.

 

We had a few bites, but eventually left as the lounge was getting full. We decided to walk around the terminal and picked up a few souvenirs instead.

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About an hour before departure, we made our way to the gate area. There was a long queue to the gate as there were agents checking everyone’s boarding passes before they could get into the boarding area. When it was my turn, the agent looked at my passport and boarding pass, and waved me through. Sadly for one of my companions, they took her passport and directed her to secondary screening. They basically opened her bags and thoroughly went through all her things, while asking her questions and swabbing her stuff. The whole process took about 20 minutes per passenger. I’m not sure if they select people randomly, but I also saw 3 or 4 other people who were selected for secondary as well.

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After that painful secondary screening, we all went to the gate agent and our boarding passes were scanned. We were greeted at the door by the purser and were asked to cross the galley and turn left to our seats.

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I was seated in 3H, which is a window seat on the starboard side of the plane. The seats are the same what American has on their Airbus A330-200 planes, which I reviewed here.

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Waiting at my seat was a plastic wrapped pillow and duvet, as well as a Cole Haan amenity kit. Upon settling down a flight attendant came by with a tray of pre-depature beverages. I had a choice of water, orange juice, or champagne and I opted for the latter.

 

Another flight attendant came to offer Bose noise canceling headphones, and newspapers.

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Boarding was soon complete and the Captain came on the PA to announce our departure and our flight time of 10 hours to Philadelphia. The doors were closed and we soon pushed back from the gate.

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The safety video then started playing.

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During taxi, the flight attendant working our aisle came by to take our drink orders and confirmed our pre-ordered meal.

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We soon approached the end of the runway and had a powerful takeoff roll. It was a clear day in Athens which made for some amazing views of the vicinity below.

 

The seatbelt sign was turned off about 15 minutes into the flight and the flight attendants started preparing for the meal service.

Service began with a hot towel, which I also used to give the area around my seat a quick wipe down.

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Then the drink cart came and I ordered a glass of champagne, which was served with a ramekin of warm nuts.

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Next the appetizer and salad tray was served. The appetizer was rose harissa hummus with some sides. It was delicious! The salad was a gem wedge salad with roasted squash, sesame seeds, and tahini dressing. I’m not really a salad person, but I liked it. A selection of warm bread was also offered, in which I chose the pretzel roll.

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For the main dish, I pre-ordered the striploin steak. It was cooked to a perfect medium and was very tender! It was served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and steamed veggies – yum!

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For dessert, I ordered the hot fudge sundae with whipped cream and nuts. I also ordered some baileys on the rocks for my digestif. How can you go wrong with some ice cream and baileys?

 

After the meal, a flight attendant came by to pass out bottled waters.

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Then I went to the lavatory to freshen up. There are 3 lavatories in business class on the A330-300. There’s one in front of the cabin before the cockpit, and 2 lavatories on each side of the plane next to the galley, behind business class. The lavatory was on the small size and was very spartan, no lotion, face mist or moisturizer. All it really had was hand soap, in terms of toiletries.

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After getting back to my seat, I converted my seat into a flat bed and slept for a good 4 hours.

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I woke up and decided to browse through the IFE content. There was a good amount of movies, TV programs, music, and games available. There was also a very basic moving map to keep track of the flight progress. Unfortunately, the interface of this IFE system is slow and unresponsive unlike the Panasonic EX system that American has on their 777s. As usual, I just kept the moving map on.

 

Just like clockwork, about 90 minutes before landing, the second meal service started.

First the crew passed out hot towels.

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Then the beverage cart rolled by, and I ordered a glass of orange juice.

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Next came the food cart, we had a choice of BBQ beef toastie, or Japanese veggie rice bowl. I ended up choosing the BBQ toastie. The meal was served in one tray along with some fresh fruits, potato chips, and a chocolate pudding for dessert. Unfortunately, the BBQ was a bit too salty and the bread was hard as a rock. I ended up just eating the fruits and chocolate pudding and saved the chips for later.

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45 minutes before landing, the Bose headsets were collected, and the crew started their preparations for landing.

I visited the lavatory one more time to freshen up. I initially went to the lav in front of the cabin, only to be yelled at by a flight attendant that the pilots needed to use the lavatory, so I went to the one of the lavatories in the back instead.

Soon the captain announced our initial descent into Philadelphia and the seatbelt signs came on shortly.

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The approach was smooth and the visibility was good, which gave us a nice view of the city below.

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The landing was a bit hard, but we made is safely. We taxied for a good 5 minutes, and soon parked at gate A17.

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Immigration and customs were a breeze thanks to Global Entry.

We cleared transit security, then made our way to the Admirals Club. Sadly none of the admirals club in Philadelphia have any showers, which came as a big surprise considering this was an American hub.

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The lounge had sweeping views of the tarmac, and it was relatively empty while we were there. They also had a selection of soups, some cheeses veggies, fruits, and unlimited coffee and cookies.

 

All in all, I thought this was an OK flight. The SSSS was a little harrowing for my companion, and being yelled at by the flight attendant while I was on my way to the lav was also semi-traumatic for me. Otherwise, the seat was very comfortable and I was able to sleep for few hours. The service was done in typical AA style, which was efficient but a little cold and impersonal. The food was kind of a mixed bag. The first meal service was very good and the food was actually tasty, while the pre-landing meal was almost inedible. The IFE offered a wide variety of content, but the screen clarity, and clunky interface was a bit of a let down. Of course these are all #firstworldproblems, and I consider myself very lucky to be able to travel, much more in business class. That being said, I give this flight a 6.5 out of 10.

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