American Airlines Business Class Philadelphia-Munich Flight 716 – Review
Former US Airways Route Continues Storied Airline’s Tradition
American Airlines took the next big step in its merger two weeks ago, when it pulled the plug on merger partner US Airways’ reservations system and discontinued operating US Airways as a separate airline and subsidiary.
There was no better way to see how well things in the trenches were going than to fly a few days after the reservation system’s merger on a former US Airways international flight, in this case from Philadelphia to Munich.
Much of the AA merger’s heavy lifting – changing signage, re-painting many of the planes, merging frequent flyer programs, and aligning meals and amenities – had already taken place but the reservations system – the largest and most complicated technology an airline uses – would be the trickiest part of the airline’s merger and as such was saved for the end. (Admittedly, there is still more work to be done and several more systems on the operations side have to be merged, but this was the last major passenger-facing activity to take place.)
At check-in in Philadelphia, while it was evident that the agents – still wearing US Airways uniforms and badges – were on a new system based on how they were asking each other how to do things, there were no visible delays or problems worth mentioning. I took the time to ask various employees I encountered how they felt the transition had gone in the six days since the cutover, and the answers were always positive. Indeed, this stood in strong contrast to what we saw after United Airlines and Continental merged their systems a few years earlier.
Philadelphia International Airport’s international terminal is modern and airy, with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, as well as high ceilings and abundant natural light. It opened in 2003 and American is the largest airline at the airport, with more than 475 daily flights to 124 destinations including Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Madrid, and Paris.
The airline operates two Admirals Clubs – formerly US Airways Clubs – in the international terminal and I went to the largest one, located near gate 15 since the Munich flight would leave from Gate 20. The spacious lounge offered guests a choice of several hot soups, a selection of olives and vegetables, a cheese platter, and cookies and brownies, as well as a variety of beverages. I arrived early enough to get some work done and enjoyed a light snack about an hour before boarding.