US Airways First Class - Kansas City to New York/JFK

Living in the midwest, it can be a challenge to fly to JFK. Unlike those on the West Coast with almost hourly transcon service, or those on the East Coast with products like the US Airways Shuttle, those of us in the midwest don't have decent flight options to JFK, especially if wanting to connect to another flight from New York. During my search for award space, United.com presented me with the option to fly MCI-PHX-JFK on US Airways in first class. While this would usually be considered backtracking, the agent I spoke with had no problem getting her computer to accept these flights without requiring additional miles.

Kansas City International - deserted at 4:30am
 
US Airways check-in

The check-in process was fairly smooth, although the agent looked at me like I had two heads when I said I was going to New York, via Phoenix. I guess she's never visited FlyerTalk and seen some of the crazy routings that we fly to requalify!

Security was quick, as it usually is in Kansas City, though we had to wait fifteen minutes for the checkpoint to open. When it did, my PreCheck status was honored, and I was able to proceed through with my hoodie and shoes on, though liquids and my laptop still had to come out of the bag.

As we began the boarding process, the agent welcomed us to the "New American", and began the boarding process with first class. She also proudly welcomed aboard any American Executive Platinum members.

US641

Kansas City - Phoenix

Airbus A319

Seat 2A

Stepping onboard the US Airways A319 felt like traveling back in time. The aircraft interior seemed fairly old, and certainly looked as though it hadn't been cleaned since America West merged with US Airways in 2005...

US Airways First Class

The First Class cabin on their A319 held 12 seats, larger than the First cabin on American and United's A319s. The number of seats appeared to be the only upside of the cabin, as the seats were so close together, my knees ended up touching the back of the seat in front of me.

"first class" legroom

During a lull in the boarding process, one of the flight attendants offered a PDB service with water or OJ. Blankets were also offered to passengers once the drink service was complete. As the boarding process was completed, we were once again welcomed aboard the "New American", and the flight attendant talked for several minutes about the merger with AA. Having just pulled an all-nighter, I was exhausted, and fell asleep before the flight attendants could begin their spiel about applying for a US Airways credit card.

We landed in Phoenix just as the sun was starting to rise over the city.

Phoenix

 

US1986

Phoenix - New York/JFK

Airbus A321

Seat 2A

:rolleyes:

TSA clerks were roaming around the gate as we boarded, checking IDs. Another useless make work exercise, provided by the Thousands Standing Around! Once through the TSA gauntlet, the gate agent did a nice job enforcing the boarding order. She clearly announced that they were only boarding first class, though several group 2 passengers attempted to board, only to be turned away.

Of the four legacy airlines in the United States, US Airways is the only one to fly transcon flights without a dedicated premium configuration. American, Delta, and United all offer lie-flat seats in business class, and American takes it a step further by offering first class. The A321 for today's flight to JFK was equipped with their standard domestic first class seating, similar to my A319 from Kansas City.

Once the safety briefing was completed, the head flight attendant came around to take lunch orders. The choices were a chicken with poblano sauce and cilantro rice, or a pasta dish. I chose the chicken, and appeared to be one of the few actually eating on the flight. Close to half of the passengers opted the skip the meal service.

future AA aircraft

Twenty minutes after our departure, the seat belt sign was turned off, and the flight attendants began the service.

drink service

Fortunately US Airways will be adopting American's meal standards.. The meal below was quite different from what I am used to on transcon flights.

chicken with poblano sauce

The saving grace of the meal was the desert, an excellent lemon cake. As with the meal service, most of the passengers in first declined, leaving plenty of leftover's for the flight attendants.

Once the meal service was completed, I reclined my seat and slept all the way to JFK. I woke up about fifteen minutes from landing, just as we hit a big pocket of turbulence. The descent felt like riding a roller coaster, and I was certainly happy once the wheels hit the runway.

crossing traffic

As we pulled into the gate, the crew thanked us for flying US Airways, and proudly announced that they hoped to see us in the future on the new American Airlines.

Overall, I did not expect much from the flights, so I wasn't too disappointed in the lack of service that I received. Catering was nowhere near what one would receive on a transcon flight, and I am excited to see US Airways adopting the American meal standards starting April 1st. Although I would prefer to fly other airlines for transcon flights in the future, the crews were friendly and both flights were on-time, something that doesn't always happen these days on domestic flights.


Future posts in this trip report:

 

Comments

#1
Sanjeev M March 10, 2014 at 11:06 am

That meal looked fine to me for a 4.5 hour domestic hop. And this is a daytime PHX-JFK, not LAX-JFK. Of course meal quality could always be better.

What are the cutoffs for hot meals? I assume flights must be at least 2 hours long?

#2
Chris March 10, 2014 at 05:50 pm

US's First Class is in that perfect niche of being half a step below expectations. They give you just enough to feel bad for wanting more. Like stocking absolutely nothing except for a bag of chips on a 6 AM flight ORD-PHL.

My internal monologue: "Gee, this is First Class, I'd think they'd have a warm cookie or something. But it's only an hour and a half flight, I shouldn't complain. Let's check the IFE. Oh, wait. Sleep, then... Hey, there's King of Prussia!"

#3
MikeMilzz March 10, 2014 at 06:54 pm

You did a great job summarizing what First Class on US is like and man FFs hopes for the future. I reached US Plat last year and have gotten the upgrade a number of times. While First on US isn't nearly what First can be on other carriers, it's better than the back of the bus.

As you said the 319s are OLD (most of the US 320s are as well) and showing their age. I don't mind the newer 321s that US flies from PHX to hubs and a number of other cities. I'm excited to see some of the newer AA metal start to show up in PHX in the future.

Your comment about the dessert being the saving grace made me laugh. I'm not much of a sweets person, but I had a great carrot cake a few months back that I actually told me wife about. I never talk about US food, except for how bad it is, so this was a very welcome surprise.

You mention US adopting AA's meal standards on 4/1 but I think they're just adopting the windows. I don't think catering will change until later in the year...unfortunately.

One other question I've always wondered; as a person who flies across most of the country from PHX to the west coast...does this count as a 'transcon' flight or go you really have to go from coast to coast? My only point in asking is that it seems like a lot of energy has been going into upgrading these routes, and I'm hoping that maybe PHX could get some additional 'transcon' benefits.

Great summary. Hope the weather in New York cleared up for you while you were there!