Welcome to my multi-part review of our summer vacation. We spent 12 days abroad, predominately in Athens and Paris. We did squeeze in about half a day in Amsterdam before heading home. While I’m writing the series, I’m happy to answer any questions you have ahead of time. We traveled in mid-July, so right in the middle of the Athens financial crisis. Here’s most of what I expect to cover, including links to posts I’ve already completed:
- Planning Our Summer Vacation!
- British Airways First and Business Class Lounges at Philadelphia Airport
- US Airways Business Class from Philadelphia to Athens
- Arion: A Luxury SPG Resort (Various Posts)
- Flying From Athens To Paris
- Hyatt Regency Etoile Paris
- Eiffel Tower
- Arc de Triomphe
- Disneyland Paris
- A Study of Macaroons
- Various Restaurant Reviews
- Taking The Train From Paris To Amsterdam
- Sheraton Schiphol Airport
- US Airways Business Class from Amsterdam to Philadelphia
Upon arrival at Philadelphia airport we had some luggage to check. The US Airways check-in counters were completely empty, not a single person in line (we were in the international check-in area). I suspected I would have some trouble getting the bags checked since we were traveling with a family friend, Gabby, who we affectionately refer to as our oldest child (well, Michelle tries to pass her off as her sister sometimes, but doesn’t need to since my wife can already pass for a much younger woman than she is). Gabby was on a separate reservation and I had a bit of trouble getting her checked in online. The adults were ready to go, while our son was a bit absorbed in mom’s iPhone.
I proceeded to the elite counter and the agent flatly told me, “You can’t check-in here.” I showed her my Executive Platinum card and she replied, “You need to check-in at the kiosk and check your bags there. If that doesn’t work, you can come back here and someone will try to help you.” Based on her tone and the lack of anyone else in line, I suspected that if we came back, the someone was unlikely to be her.
We went to the self-service kiosks. Lo and behold, we couldn’t get the bags checked, even after getting the assistance from a US Airways employee who was manning the kiosk area. She directed me back to the desk we had just come from. Since the only person standing there was the woman we had already spoken to, I shared with the floor supervisor manning the kiosks our earlier experience. She expressed some frustration with her fellow employee and told us to come get her if we couldn’t make headway.
At the check-in counter, the woman we first spoke with took our documents without saying a word. I indicated that I would like the bags checked under my record. This is just a small “better safe than sorry” practice I use after being stuck with a bag problem when United checked a suitcase on my wife’s non-elite record, lost the suitcase and then tried to charge me a checked bag fee when I went to ask where the bag was. A few minutes later she asked us to put our first checked bag on the scale. As I saw her printing out the tags, I noticed that she had checked all of our bags on the reservation of Gabby, who was on her own with no elite status. I politely asked her if she could check them under my record instead.
She pushed back and told me it was fine to check them under any passenger. I didn’t want to push my luck but asked politely again. With a fair bit more drama than necessary, she printed new tags as I asked. A few minutes later we were on our way (though I wasn’t sure if our luggage was). It’s a short walk to an escalator and security and we were one of only a few people in line. Once through security and in the concourse, it was a quick left-hand turn to get to the British Airways Galleries Club lounge.
The lounge doesn’t open until 3pm and our flight departure was just after 4pm, so it was going to be a quick stop anyways, and we were there a few minutes before the lounge open. Just a couple hundred feet past the lounge was a children’s play area, so we hung out there for a bit. Airplane-themed, our kids were perfectly content there while I bought some extra bottled water for the flight. When I came back, the kids were asking Michelle if we could get something to eat, so we took the short walk back to the British Airways lounge.
Now, I do have oneworld Emerald status, but I’m the only one in my family. I suspected that since we were traveling in business class, that BA wouldn’t let all 5 of us in, rather directing us to the Admirals Club a bit further down the terminal. But, the lounge attendant was fine with all of us entering and even using the First Class side of the lounge. I might have my lounge requirements wrong, but the lounge page on the OW site reflects my same understanding. I wasn’t arguing too strenuously!
We had less than 30 minutes, so dinner in the lounge wasn’t in our future. But, we did grab a copy of the menu and liked what we saw. Scallops, risotto and a Meyer lemon tasting would have been just fine for me.
Michelle ably found the champagne and we enjoyed a glass while the kids sipped on a Sprite (a treat they only get on vacation). There were a half-dozen different wine choices out.
The food display was ample enough for a quick snack, with tea sandwiches, cheese, fruit, hummus, some composed salads and bags of chips. There were some candy and other snacks as well.
There were a few different areas with soft seating and the restaurant ran along the back of the space. There was also a small area in the back with a couple of new computers for those needing to work. The lounge was quite compact, though considering the very few flights it serves the size was more than adequate.
The business class side of the lounge was about 50% larger and had a few more people (we were the only ones on the First Class side). There was plenty of space to spread out.
There were similar food and wine options on the business class side.
Both sides of the lounge appear to be ample for the amount of traffic that departs PHL. British Airways only has one flight at a time throughout the evening and most folks traveling on US/AA who might have access probably don’t know that they have access to this lounge. The Galleries lounge is certainly the best place to hang out in Philadelphia if you’re waiting to leave on a oneworld international flight.