Tried & Tested

Continental Airlines B757-200 Business class

1 Jul 2010 by AndrewGough

BACKGROUND Continental flies four times daily from Heathrow to Newark, three of which flights are served by B757-200 aircraft and one by a B777-200ER. It is adding a fifth on October 31. As of June, all London flights featured the carrier’s new fully-flat bed in Business First (business class), which is being rolled out across the two fleets. The 777s are due to be completed by the end of this year, with the 757s, which also serve all the carrier’s other UK-Newark routes, to be finished by the end of May next year.

Installation on its B767-400ERs and 767-200ERs is due to begin next year, and at this point that is not expected to be affected by the carrier’s forthcoming merger with United Airlines.

CHECK-IN I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 4 at 0915 for my 1115 flight CO113, proceeding to Zone E. Both business desks were quiet. I showed my passport at a small station prior to the desk then completed check-in at the main counter. The process was thorough, with staff checking my US visa status and where I would be staying. I was through the fast-track lane at security in five to ten minutes.

THE LOUNGE Continental defected from Skyteam to Star Alliance last October, but while it remains in T4 it uses the Skyteam lounge opposite Gate 10, a few minutes to the right of security. (For facilities see “50 top airport lounges”, businesstraveller.com/archive/2009/july-august-2009). It was quiet, with food on offer including waffles and bacon rolls.

BOARDING At 1030 my flight was called and I walked for five minutes back past security to Gate 5. I used the priority channel and once on board was offered a drink and newspaper, and given a menu and amenity kit. Crew introduced themselves.

THE SEAT There are four rows of business on the B757, configured 2-2 (A-B, E-F) in a subtle herringbone formation with seats slightly angled towards the window (see plan, right). Seats are upholstered in blue fabric and encased in a fixed shell, with an adjustable headrest and controls for recline, lumbar support and leg rest. They are 21 inches (53cm) wide and join with an ottoman in front to make a 76-inch (193cm) fully-flat bed (on the B777 the width is 23 inches/58cm and length 78 inches/198cm). I was in seat 3B. The bed was comfy, and while I didn’t sleep on this flight, I slept well on my night flight home on the B777.

The seat-back in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen measures 15.5 inches and has iPod connectivity, and below this was a shelf. A good-sized table folded out of the shared armrest – it bounced a bit when I used my laptop. Behind my left shoulder was the so-called “tower of power”, with in-seat charging, and USB and headphone sockets, along with storage space for small items. There was a fixed privacy screen, and my right armrest lowered to be flush with the seat. The touchscreen IFE system was audio-video on-demand with 40 films, eight of which were new releases – the B777 has more.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? All seats have the same legroom, though as row one is the bulkhead, the ottoman and shelf are slightly wider (the shelf is not as deep). Window seats are more protected from footfall but do not have direct aisle access. There are galleys and toilets in front of row one and behind row four.

THE FLIGHT We took off at 1135 and soon after were offered hot towels, a drink and warm nuts. The food offering was generous. First came a selection of breads and three appetizers – potato and chicken soup, shrimps and spring rolls. I tried all three and enjoyed them. Then came a salad, followed by the mains – fillet of beef with spaetzle noodles (quite nice), roast chicken, halibut, or pasta. There was no wine menu but the choice included a Bordeaux and Burgundy.
After cheese, dessert and tea and coffee, plates were cleared, allowing me to work – there is an executive meal if you want more time, comprising an appetizer, salad and main served together at any time. Crisps and drinks were offered later, as were milk and cookies. There was also a pre-arrival meal of a chicken tortilla and fruit salad. Service was friendly and attentive.

ARRIVAL We landed at Continental’s “Global Gateway” at Terminal C3 at 1355. Immigration took about 15 minutes and my bag was waiting for me on the carousel.

VERDICT An impressive new product from Continental – the seat is comfortable and well thought-out and the service impeccable.

Michelle Mannion

For a review of the B777 flight, see businesstraveller.com/tried-and-tested

 

Fact file

  • SEAT configuration 2-2
  • SEAT LENGTH 76in/193cm
  • SEAT WIDTH 21in/53cm (25in with armrest lowered)
  • SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
  • PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight from London Heathrow to Newark in September started from US$3,144.
  • CONTACT continental.com
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