Trip Report: US Airways Envoy Class PHL to CDG

Earlier this year, I booked a roundtrip business class ticket to Europe for only 60,000 US Airways miles. This award no longer exists, unfortunately, but you can still book off-peak economy class tickets to Europe on US Airways for only 35,000 miles (only 30k if you have a US Airways credit card). The only catch is that you have to fly US Airways flights, and most people don’t think of US Airways as a great airline, but their updated aircraft to Europe are pretty decent.

The actual routing was SFO to PHL to CDG. Since I was flying in Envoy, I had access to the US Airways lounges at Philadelphia. You can also get access to all US Airways lounges through the American Express Platinum card regardless of my class of service or airline, and with the Amex Plat, you can also bring in 2 guests for free.

The former Envoy lounge at PHL

The former Envoy lounge at PHL

The lounge was relatively crowded when I arrived, but that was likely due to the timing of many of the transatlantic flights out of PHL. I also made the mistake of turning to the right instead of the left in the lounge: the right side is considerably more crowded because that’s where the bar is, but if you’re okay with walking a little further to get your alcohol, then I recommend heading to the less-crowded left side.

Food spread at US Airways lounge

Food spread at US Airways lounge

The lounge was pretty decent for a domestic lounge, so overall pretty unremarkable/somewhat poor for a lounge in general. The food and beverage offerings were a little lacking, but it was spacious with fast wifi and a fair number of power outlets, so it was a decent place to wait a couple of hours.

Pretty soon, it was time to board my flight to Paris. The cabin was relatively full in business class with only a couple of empty seats, but economy class was only half full or so.

My seat

Envoy class seat

The Envoy class seats are nice. It’s a reverse herringbone design, which is the same design that Cathay Pacific uses in their updated business class. There’s plenty of room, they convert to fully flat beds, each seat has aisle access, and they’re pretty comfortable for sitting and lounging as well.

Lots of leg room

Lots of leg room

On the other hand, it’s clear that the seats on US Airways could be better maintained. There appeared to be particles of food stuck between the seat and the compartment, the cubby for storing a small bag was a bit dirty, and it generally seemed a little run-down for such a nice seat.

Entertainment options are pretty good for transatlantic flights. Even in economy, there’s video on demand and power ports at seats, and there were a number of recent movies that I wanted to see like Argo and Lincoln (not that I chose to watch such well-made movies). In Envoy class, they distribute headphones, but they’re not noise canceling. They also only turn on the entertainment system once the flight is airborne.

Basic amenity kit

Basic amenity kit

The amenity kits distributed contained an eye mask, ear plugs, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, lip balm, and a pen.

And here’s the dinner menu:

Envoy dinner menu Envoy dinner menu continued

The food was overall okay. Definitely better than a coach meal, but overall a pretty forgettable meal. The food was better heading to Paris than it was coming back.

Salmon appetizer and salad

Salmon appetizer and salad

Pasta. I think it was supposed to come with a cream sauce?

Pasta. I think it was supposed to come with a cream sauce?

Flourless chocolate cake for dessert

Flourless chocolate cake for dessert

Breakfast before landing

Breakfast before landing

The service was friendly, if slightly incompetent. Maybe it’s because I’m Asian, but I don’t think the flight attendant expected me to speak fluent English and would talk to me very slowly and loudly. In addition, when I asked for prosecco to go with my dinner (since that’s what was on the menu), he just stared at me blankly. So instead I asked him for champagne, and he served me the prosecco.

I enjoyed sitting in 2H given that it has 3 windows compared to 2 for many other window seats. In addition, on both transatlantic flights I took, meal orders were taken from front to back. For a couple traveling together, I would probably recommend getting two seats across the aisle (e.g. 3A and 3D) rather than the two center seats since the divide between the center seats means that you’d have to lean forward to talk to each other instead of just turning your head to see each other.

Overall, it was a good flight, even if I didn’t get much sleep due to the timing of the flight (it departed at roughly 3:30pm Pacific and landed in Paris at 11pm Pacific). The seat and hard product were awesome, while the service was what’s to be expected from US Airways. It’s a pity that the off-peak Envoy class awards to Europe are no longer available since 60k miles is a steal (coach tickets for the dates I was looking at were over $1100).

10 thoughts on “Trip Report: US Airways Envoy Class PHL to CDG

  1. Mr. Bigglesworth

    If the lounge was so busy, why not go to the other US Air lounge or the United lounge @ PHL? You get access with your business class ticket.

    Reply
    1. Edward

      We were still able to find seats, plugs, and have adequate space–it was just more crowded than I was expecting. But you make a good point about other lounges that I had access to.

      Reply
  2. DrewBird

    Thx for this post. I am on Envoy CLT>GIG R/T next Feb (55K offpeak). Based on this report, I switched my seat to 2H.

    Any idea what food options would be like since the flight is 11:30pm – 7am?

    Reply
    1. Edward

      I don’t know the exact menus, but the food options should be similar to what I experienced: dinner (served express style or multi-course) and breakfast right before landing.

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Around the World in 100 Hours: United Business Class San Francisco to Seoul | Efficient Asian Man

  4. Shannon

    What kind of envoy suite award seat is bookable with other Star alliance partners? I saw there is 50K , 100K, 162.5K award seat on usairway. I suppose I can mix US airway with Asiana to North Asia by 90K US dividend miles?

    Reply
    1. EfficientAsianMan

      If you’re just planning on going to Europe, then yes, the cheapest award on US Airways is 100k roundtrip for business class, which would get you in Envoy if you’re flying on US Airways metal. They stopped offering the 60k off-peak roundtrip Envoy award to Europe which is what I flew for this trip report. But you’re also right that you could continue on to North Asia from Europe and pay only 90k miles, and you could combine US Airways Envoy with a different Star Alliance partner like Asiana, Austrian, Swiss, Turkish, etc.

      Reply
  5. Shannon

    Thanks but what kind of award seat of US airway is bookable with other airlines? Is any seat shown available on usairway no matter it is 100K and 165K would work? I think my question is there anything on US like only saver award bookable on UA ?

    Reply
    1. EfficientAsianMan

      Yes, you want to look for low-level award availability. US Airways has 3 levels for awards (well, 4 counting off peak): low, medium, and high. Only low-level (or potentially off peak) award availability is bookable by partners. I recommend searching via United.com or the ANA search tool, as those do a good job of showing nearly all seats that can be booked.

      Reply
  6. Matthew Battle

    Hello Edward,

    I am glad I found somebody who loves flying as much as I do but has the time and money to do so. I will be doing a few trips this year, mostly domestic, but one I will be flying from states to the UK and flying back from France to the states this summer. I saw you have flown on a couple of airlines between the 2 Continents and was wonder who do you recommend, not only for their lounge but also for their flight. Thank you and have a great day!

    Matt

    Reply

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