Continental 66 CLE-LHR 16 August 2009 BusinessFirst by J. Augusta

I’m way behind on my trip write-ups and may skip a few but I did want to mention my flight from Cleveland back to London last Sunday. As you may know, Cleveland-LHR is a seasonal flight and is CLE’s only transatlantic flight (since CDG was canceled after last year) and I must say these guys really take pride in this one flight.

On arrival at the airport I did not see their BusinessFirst special counter at the end of the check-in area so I went to the regular EliteAccess line to print my boarding pass. Once the agent went to check my bags and saw I was flying in BusinessFirst on the direct flight to London she went out of her way to be friendly even telling me to make sure I say hello to the concierge (calling her by name) who would be hanging out in the President’s Club until the flight. Security was a bit slow but wasn’t too bad and before long I was through security at the C terminal at CLE. CLE is a bit of a disaster area right now as they rebuild the shopping areas, and as a result there’s not much of anything open except a few random restaurants and basically no shops. I decided I would spend my time in the President’s Club while waiting to board. Upon arrival the agent at the door again mentioned to make sure I stop by to say hello to the concierge. So I walked in, had a beer, and then strolled over to say hello. The concierge was quite friendly, offered to provide any assistance I may need, checked my boarding pass/passport and wished me a good flight. I went to the bar for a few more beverages and before long we were boarding the full flight to LHR.

Boarding was in the middle door, so I made a quick left turn to reach my seat, 1A (someone had grabbed 1B before I could get to it!) I was greeted by name by the flight attendants working the section and offered a drink. I settled down with a glass of champagne and paged through a few magazines while waiting to board. The International Service Manager then stopped by with the amenity kits and menus and also introduced himself. Flight time was also scheduled to be about 45 minutes shorter than on the books, so we were due for a nice early arrival into LHR. I ordered the steak as it was the best of the options (I think I’ve been through their meal rotations several times over the past 2 1/2 years of flying them!) Before long we were heading out for the short taxi and early departure.

Once in the air the cabin crew wasted no time preparing dinner service. Warm nuts and drinks were offered (Bordeaux for me) followed by the standard app cart (veggie wonton pocket type thing, crab cake, and some soup) with loads of bread, and then the salad. My steak was served soon after the salad and was cooked a bit on the well side but still edible. I think she came around with bread and wine refills every 5 minutes, it was great service! Dessert was standard cheese cart and ice cream. I went for the ice cream and had some peppermint tea before trying to grab some shut eye. Overall the dinner service was very efficient- taking less than 2 hours from take-off. This is one of my pet peeves with night flights as often times the dinner service almost takes 3 hours so this was a welcome relief.

I had decided to watch Wolverine so I finished that film and tried (unsuccessfully) to get some sleep. The recliner seats are great for day flights but I find the foot rest doesn’t quite go up enough to allow me to sleep well. I did have my eyes shut for a few hours, but I wouldn’t call it sleep. The crew waited until about 1 hr prior to landing to serve breakfast which I think was very welcome by the entire plane. This is typically another pet peeve as often times they start with ~2 hours left of flying time (if you add in the 3-hour meal, that means there’s only about 2 hours between meals!) I had a cinnamon roll and some coffee. We only had to circle a few times over south London before finally landing at LHR 45 min early. On landing we also disembarked from the middle doors. And for the first time ever on a CO flight, the flight attendants actually let BusinessElite out first thanking us all personally on our way out. Immigration had quite the queue, but I used the IRIS (eye-scanning machines) to skip the queue and proceed to wait 35 minutes for my bags. That’s another downside with the 757s- -they don’t use the bins for the bags so they take longer to unload. I met my driver right at the time my flight was scheduled to land so it was not a big deal as I still got in early.

Overall this was one of my favorite flights in a long time. It’s obvious the CLE station takes great pride in this seasonal flight and it showed. Everyone from the check-in agent to the club agent to the concierge to the gate agents to the CLE based crew were amazingly friendly. The best part came 2 days ago when I received in the mail a handwritten letter from the concierge thanking me for flying. In about 16 round trips on CO this is the first time I got a letter. Needless to say I was very impressed. We all know that it’s the little things that set airlines apart and in this instance CO came through with several of them.

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