New York (JFK) to Brussels (BRU)
On the Ground: I arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport for my evening departure to Brussels around 4 p.m. I was flying the airline’s new Economy Privilege cabin, but the premium-economy service does not include priority check-in, security access or boarding. Luckily, check-in was a breeze, and security was as expected but no worse than usual. All in all, my experience from check-in to the gate was easy, and my trip to Brussels was off to a pleasant start.
Pre-Flight: My departure time coincided with other departing flights; the early evening time slot is popular for trans-Atlantic flights from the United States bound for Europe. As a result, the gate area was busy, but I was able to snag a seat nearby, as passengers were getting up to board the Alitalia flight at the next gate.
After grabbing some pre-flight supplies at the newsstand, I only had about 30 minutes before boarding began. I took out my laptop and logged on to the airport’s complimentary WiFi to send a few last emails before departure. Before I knew it, the gate agents announced boarding was beginning; to maintain an orderly boarding process, Brussels Airlines created separate queues for the various boarding groups, and boarding completed swiftly and efficiently.
In-Flight: I’m usually an aisle seat gal, but as I wanted to catch some shut-eye on my overnight flight, I opted for a window seat on this leg. Additionally, the added perks of Economy Privilege came in handy when it came to a restful flight: an additional 8 centimeters of legroom, double the seat recline, a fleece blanket and an amenity kit.
In fact, each facet of the in-flight experience is enhanced for an Economy Privilege passenger. Better-quality headsets highlight an already ample selection of in-flight movies and television shows. A hot towel after take-off and a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne before dinner give the experience a more exclusive feel, further heightened by the upgraded dining experience from the traditional economy-class meal service. I also appreciated a bottle of water before the cabin lights were dimmed. However, without a separate cabin, it was apparent to passengers where the enhanced service started and where it ended. I can imagine the disappointment of passengers a few rows back when they realized they weren’t receiving a hot towel.
As we prepared to land, I was gifted a small Neuhaus chocolate box — a sweet finish to the flight, but also a sweet beginning to my Brussels experience.
◆ I experienced Brussels Airlines’ new Economy Privilege service shortly after its launch in 2016. While not in a dedicated cabin, the premium-economy service does offer passengers a significant amount of added amenities and comforts.
◆ Economy Privilege is available for an additional $149 per passenger per flight. The benefits far outweigh this nominal fee.
◆ Economy Privilege replaced the first 32 seats of the economy-class cabin on the Airbus A330 aircraft and is available on long-haul routes between Europe and Africa, the United States and Canada.
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