On the Ground: I arrived at Newark and parked my car in the overpriced, $25-a-day monorail parking lot. There was a short line at the first- and business-class check-in that only took a few minutes to clear and I was quickly offered my boarding pass. At security, I used the first- and business-class line and I was in the Continental Presidents Club lounge in no time. I find the Presidents Club lounge invaluable; it offers a great opportunity to catch up on my reading, including Global Traveler, which is available in the lounge! (19/20)
On Board: Although Continental does not have totally flat-bed seats, the airline more than makes up for that with its service. Continental ranks high in passenger surveys because its onboard staff always seem to be friendly, attentive and professional. I chatted with my seatmate over a glass of champagne.We agreed that the champagne could be colder and informed the attendant who told us that he had just placed it on ice and it would be perfect in no time — the right answer. Once airborne, drinks were served with a selection of warm nuts. Then we were presented with the amenity kit and dinner menu. Dinner included a Boston lettuce and romaine hearts salad served with Parmesan peppercorn dressing. An Executive Meal option, in which dinner is presented on a single tray for expediency, was available for those wanting to sleep. I opted for the “full monty,” with a choice of duck, New York strip steak or seared salmon. I chose the steak, prepared with a pepper rub and a cabernet sauce. It was accompanied by roasted garlic mashed potatoes and green beans. After that came fruit and cheese, and a dessert cart that included a yummy ice-cream sundae. Prior to landing, a continental breakfast was offered which included fruits, cheeses and breads. (35/40)
The Experience: Continental’s BusinessFirst offers passengers the feel of first class for business-class pricing. The cabin at the front of the plane, where first class normally would be, has far less engine noise than the business-class cabin in a traditional three-class configuration.
Just before we landed at Charles de Gaulle airport, the purser walked though the cabin and thanked each passenger for flying Continental Airlines. This is what we all want as travelers: We pay for premium-class travel and seldom do we receive a simple smile and a thank you for selecting one carrier over the other. (38/40)
Total Score: 91/100
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