THE FLIGHT: Continental Airlines CO113 at 11.15 from London Heathrow Terminal 4 to New York, Newark Liberty International Airport. The Boeing 757-200 offers 16 business class seats and 159 Economy. My seat was in BusinessFirst.
THE CHECK-IN: The BusinessFirst check-in desk was clear and the whole process was completed in moments. Directions to the lounge were given and even the security queue quickly diminished. The airline’s SkyTeam lounge is bright, spacious and modern and adjacent to Gate 21. There’s a food section with hot and cold snacks, quality coffee machines, separate bar area, lots of wicker and leather seats, a spa area, computers, oval meeting table and six games consoles. There are also five impressive ‘living walls’ and, unexpectedly, it’s almost all duplicated on the second floor which was delightfully empty on my visit.
THE BOARDING PROCESS: Both early and speedy with personal introductions (Hugh and Melissa) from the flight crew soon after boarding. The only disconcerting note was to see three crew members huddled over a three inch thick Boeing handbook!
THE SEAT: Continental’s acclaimed BusinessFirst seats are very comfortable and recline to a full 180-degree flatbed (6ft 4in long and up to 25in wide). There are four separate places to store items, while other features include a privacy screen between the adjacent seat, six-way adjustable leather headrest, reading light with three brightness settings, personal LCD 15.4in monitor, choice of movies, music and games plus iPod connectivity. The ‘Tower of Power’ behind the seat includes a useful UK power socket as well as headphones and computer link.
THE SERVICE: Drinks (including Champagne and mimosas) were offered before take-off with a promise that a full complement of drinks would be available after take-off. Soon after take-off there were hot towels, drinks and nuts plus orders taken for the choice of lunch main course – from a selection of four – and salad dressing(!). The lunch was served in a relaxed manner and the quality of the food was good. A hot cookie and drinks were offered four hours into the flight and a pre-arrival sandwich and tea/coffee before landing.
THE ARRIVAL: De-planing was swift but immigration took longer than it should. Once through, however, bags were waiting and the walk to transport was short.
THE DETAILS: Continental operates four flights a day from Heathrow to New York Newark with a fifth commencing on October 31. The airline also flies to New York from eight other cities in the UK and Ireland, plus two flights daily to Houston. Return fares Heathrow-Newark in September are £392 in economy and £1,598 in BusinessFirst inclusive of all taxes and charges.
Excellent flight with unusually friendly and efficient staff who seemed keen to make the journey as pleasant as possible. On the overnight return journey I slept for two or three hours – pretty much a first in some 40 years of travel – which says more for the beds than any words could.
Managing editor, Selling Long Haul