Report from Philadelphia (waiting to connect to Doha)

My American Airlines RJ190 from RDU was chock-a-block full, and the upgrade list was 32 names long for 3 available seats. Though I am traveling on an AAdvantage frequent flyer Business Class award Raleigh-Johannesburg that cost me 180,000 miles, AA stiffed me on flying up front on their milk run RDU/PHL, but I did get a comfortable Main Cabin Extra bulkhead seat (5D).

Being a Lifetime Gold meant I got to board in the Priority lane, but at the lowest Priority level–Group 4–so that by the time I reached my seat, all the overhead space was gone. So much for “priority” and too bad for all the peons allowed on board AFTER me.

On arrival to the claustrophobic, ancient B concourse at Philadelphia (see photo), I couldn’t move in the congested hallway. Then my Qatar flight wasn’t even listed on the departure board. I stopped an electric cart driver to ask where to find my gate. Maybe it’s missing from the display because Philly doesn’t know where Doha is, I thought.

Business Class passengers flying Qatar Aireays are allowed use of the British Airways premium lounge at Philadelphia. But so are Aer Lingus, Iceland Air, and of course BA passengers. Thus the lounge is SRO (see photo).

Discouraged at the throngs, I walked to the adjacent American Express Centurion Lounge where my Platinum Card privileges extend to entry.

But not today. I was met by a brutish, well-dessed bouncer who extended his arm out to stop me, demanding to know if I was 3 hours or less from my departure time. I admitted that I have a 3 hour, 20 minute layover. Too bad, he smiled toothily, as he forbade entry. So much for my Amex Platinum Card privileges.

I returned to the BA lounge and eventually found a place to sit in the back by the toilets in an area adapted for laptop users. My spirits improved considerably when two very kind and enthusiastic young ladies, one a Filipina and the other from Africa, who work in the club insisted I try the well-chilled Piper Heidseick Champagne, along with a bowl of cashews and a smoked salmon sandwich (I tipped them $5 each; they were shocked, as apparently gratuities are rare). I’m on my 2nd glass as I write this, and hope I don’t fall asleep before my plane boards.

Then a 12.5 hour flight aboard a Qatar Airways A350 to Doha, where I’ll connect to Johannesburg. But in seat 2A in Business Class, I’ll be treated like an emir!

My American Airlines RJ190 from RDU was chock-a-block full, and the upgrade list was 32 names long for 3 available seats. Though I am traveling on an AAdvantage frequent flyer Business Class award Raleigh-Johannesburg that cost me 180,000 miles, AA stiffed me on flying up front on their milk run RDU/PHL, but I did get a comfortable Main Cabin Extra bulkhead seat (5D).

Being a Lifetime Gold meant I got to board in the Priority lane, but at the lowest Priority level–Group 4–so that by the time I reached my seat, all the overhead space was gone. So much for “priority” and too bad for all the peons allowed on board AFTER me.

On arrival to the claustrophobic, ancient B concourse at Philadelphia (see photo), I couldn’t move in the congested hallway. Then my Qatar flight wasn’t even listed on the departure board. I stopped an electric cart driver to ask where to find my gate. Maybe it’s missing from the display because Philly doesn’t know where Doha is, I thought.

Business Class passengers flying Qatar Aireays are allowed use of the British Airways premium lounge at Philadelphia. But so are Aer Lingus, Iceland Air, and of course BA passengers. Thus the lounge is SRO.

Discouraged at the throngs, I walked to the adjacent American Express Centurion Lounge where my Platinum Card privileges extend to entry.

But not today. I was met by a brutish, well-dessed bouncer who extended his arm out to stop me, demanding to know if I was 3 hours or less from my departure time. I admitted that I have a 3 hour, 20 minute layover. Too bad, he smiled toothily, as he forbade entry. So much for my Amex Platinum Card privileges.

I returned to the BA lounge and eventually found a place to sit in the back by the toilets in an area adapted for laptop users. My spirits improved considerably when two very kind and enthusiastic young ladies, one a Filipina and the other from Africa, who work in the club insisted I try the well-chilled Piper Heidseick Champagne, along with a bowl of cashews and a smoked salmon sandwich (I tipped them $5 each; they were shocked, as apparently gratuities are rare). I’m on my 2nd glass as I write this, and hope I don’t fall asleep before my plane boards.

Then a 12.5 hour flight aboard a Qatar Airways A350 to Doha, where I’ll connect to Johannesburg. But in seat 2A in Business Class, I’ll be treated like an emir!

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2 thoughts on “Report from Philadelphia (waiting to connect to Doha)

  1. Hi Will –

    I guess you can see why despite living almost equal distance between Philly and Newark airports, I fly mostly out of Newark. USelessAir, sorry American, operations at Philly are a mess.

    I’ll bet why you couldn’t find your Doha flight in concourse B display is because American only shows the flights for each concourse in the concourse (at least as of last year). They make you come to front of the concourse to the “big” board to find the flights from other concourses. Of course, there is nothing to indicate this anywhere. Philly, the flagship airport of USlessAir. They make United seem competent.

    Hopefully your Qatar flight was wonderful!

    Regards,
    Corey

  2. I’m surprised (tho maybe I shouldn’t be) that AmEx was so ridiculous about blocking you because your wait was too long. Isn’t one of the key selling points of these clubs that they’re a place for the business traveler with a long layover to have a place to cool their heels, have a nosh and drink and relax? (Or is there a per capita amount of food and bubbly that a long stay would exceed?)

    Seems to me that a phone call to AmEx deserves an explanation. How about it?

    Sheesh!

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