Note what is not in the title—p.s.—the “premium service” designation given to the Los Angeles/San Francisco-New York Kennedy routes in 2005 by United in an effort to distinguish itself from American Airlines (and later Delta Air Lines and Virgin America) on this lucrative but highly-competitive route. The name is but relic, a rusting placard affixed to the mid-aircraft galley.
I’ll miss it. I have many happy memories of p.s. over the last several years and as United makes the (logical) move to rip out the old first class and business class cabin on the existing p.s.-configured aircraft and install horizontal lie-flat BusinessFirst seats, we will see the end of an era. (And likely a much harder upgrade going forward).
The aircraft I flew to JFK was really showing its wear and tear—my seat was broken and the cabin looked tepid, for lack of a better word. By that, I mean the airplane just looked old and washed out. But the seat was still comfortable and suited my needs nicely for the five hour journey across the country. I’ll take this plane, broken seats and all, any day over a standard domestic “first class” seat.
Service by the purser was excellent for the most part, though not as polished as I would have liked. Walking all the way over from the Global First Lounge, I was the last customer to board and though I was offered a welcome drink and eye shades/ear plugs, I was not given a menu.
Before takeoff, the purser went around the half-filled cabin (yes, it went out with only six passengers) to take meal orders. She did not greet passengers by last name and asked me what I wanted without remembering she had never given me a menu. She laughed and apologized when I informed her I did not know what was on the menu. Smartly, she was carrying a menu with her and presented it to me.
But the purser was nice—she was friendly, gregarious, and though she did not do the little things that I would do if it were me interacting with passengers, she was actually a pleasure to have as a purser.
The rest of the crew, I’m sorry to say, was not as good. I’ve had some great JFK-based FAs over the years, but lately I have been disappointed by the apathy displayed by many JFK-based FAs on these transcon flights. Media players were distributed after takeoff and the grouch who handed them out simply said, “Do you want one of these?” When I said yes, she just plopped it down on the open seat next to me and moved on. She did not acknowledge my thank you. She started collecting them over an hour before landing, looking at me with her arms crossed as I unplugged the device and returned it to her. (Business Class media payers should be collected first, then first class last, but c’est la vie).
The food was a bright spot on this flight. P.S. first class and business class now have the same menu, with three choices, but my entrée of a tamale-filled breast of chicken with creamy corn sauce, grilled yucca and roasted tomatoes was excellent. It was spicy, which is difficult to accomplish on an airplane, and each ingredient had a unique taste that complimented the other nicely. The salad with garlic dressing was also excellent (nice fresh greens) and the jumbo-sized shrimp was much better than the baby shrimp served on most United domestic dinner flights as an appetizer. Mixed nuts were piping hot and refills were offered.
I paid for internet onboard and it wasn’t cheap at $21.95 for a flight pass—
But was it was worth it—I got much accomplished during the journey. Between award bookings, I did manage to squeeze in one film entitled “The Words.” Highly recommended.
Even with a sub-par crew, I always feel refreshed after a p.s. journey and today was no different. With a comfortable seat, plenty to keep me entertained, and good food and drink, the flight just flew by.