Different Airlines – Same Routes – To Chicago with AA and BA – AA98 Chicago to London Heathrow

Different Airlines – Same Routes – To Chicago with American Airlines and British Airways
Or “Oh Sandy. You came and you gave without thinking….”


Lets head out of the USA and off to a land where the weather is just murky. Or is that just Birmingham most of the time?

AA098 (Sold as BA1547)  – London Heathrow Airport – Chicago O’Hare International
American Airlines,  Boeing 767-300, Seat 20A, Economy Class
35 Tier Points Earned, 7906 Avios Earned  (3,953 Base + 3,953 Bonus)     

The pictures:

I boarded the plane to be greeted with a 2 class 767. The crew was friendly as I headed down past business class to be greeted with Economy Class.

And I thought I stepped back into the early 90’s

The state of the plane was not what I’d call premium down the back…. and Row 20 was a bulkhead. That was the good news.  The plane however  itself had seen better days.

I got to the seat and settled down to inspect the state of play… and lets say it wasn’t what I’d call excellent.

Even though there was an exit row at a bulkhead, whilst there was a little more room than a normal Y seat, it was tightish (a lot of the bulkhead people had feet on them in flight – something I wouldn’t do).

The seat controls were something from the last ice age, with dials and such. Obviously, IFE was limited to Big Screen IFE – another throwback to the past.

Well.. big screen may be a lie.

IFE “controls”

IFE Screen – a Quick journey allegedly.

The seat however wasn’t in great condition, with bits of it falling off… quite literally.

During boarding, someone who was too tall for their seat requested to be moved forward… and he did pre-takeoff to the middle of the bulkhead row. We’ll come back to him in a bit.

Soon enough the plane was buttoned down, and begun pushback for the hop back over to London. I noted where the staff sat, which was a new one on a 767 – the flight attendant seats were in the isle. Now whilst there are adequate exits on a 767 (I was next to one of them), I’ve got to say “huh?” I always thought keeping isles clear was a key safety thing.

Take off was its usual 767 self.

Now the gentleman in the middle seat in the bulkhead row started reaching for his waste bag as we begun our climb. When I reach for one, i’m building a GhettoIFE system. When someone else reaches for one… its 9/10 times to use it as a biological hazard cleanup tool.

Thankfully, the gentleman failed to expel what was in his body with AA staff reaching for plastic bags and other things , and the plane continued to climb out of Chicago.

Milwaukee I think…

By this point, my seatmate was fast asleep, and Mr Tall who was sat in the middle row had gone to the bathroom, and then to the exit row behind my seatmate.

Even though this is a last flight of the night service, there was a meal service to come. Lets look if Chicago catering by AA is any good… or not.

Tray out in preparation

As usual, it’s a chicken or pasta choice.



Out of focus salad. Note the tomato – at least AA are trying…

Cola and cake – yes, I ran out of room. Again.

The chicken was edible if forgettable – it was easy to cut and filled a small hole. The salad was fresh at least, and the addition of cheese and crackers (whilst I didn’t touch them) was a nice touch. The cookie for dessert… well you all know my opinion of that anyway.

Not a bad meal, but nothing exciting.

Still the tray was cleared away another drinks run was done, and the cabin went into darkness for the flight. I took advantage of the darkness and watched a bit of my own non iPhone IFE (as there was no way the headphone I had would had reached the bulkhead.)

I know all about not being a number… however that’s how airlines see me as… (Patrick McGoghan is The Prisoner)

Even that didn’t keep me awake, and I descended into sleep for a bit  – even after fumbling around for a lack of recline button on my seat.

Daybreak came soon enough as it always does on a Transatlantic hop and soon enough I woke up to a dark cabin and a complete lack of guessing where I was (there was some silly reality TV programme on that made me want to ponder the meaning of existence when I woke up).

Soon enough, a breakfast service rocked up.

Well. Hmm. Yoghurt. That’s instant pain in a pot (and all of you know of my love of fermented milk – especially with the lacto now). The croissant was a bit.. chewy but warm. At least the orange juice tasted of orange juice (believe me, some airlines make that a challenge).

I picked away at it for a bit, before giving up on breakfast as a bad idea… well – on any Transatlantic flight. Sadly, old Continental Routes seem to have the best breakfast going.

And you don’t know how painful it is to type that.

Breakfast was cleared down, and our route took us over the north of England.

Eventually we were placed in a stack and after a few loops, we were brought in on a river approach.



River approach

South London

Finally, the wheels were extended and we made it down onto 09R, ending the flying part of this adventure.

It was then a reasonably long taxi over to T3 and we were gated nearer to the terminal and passenger processing.  Soon enough the doors were opened, and after a minor stumble on the way out as people were taking their own sweet time getting of the plane as usual.

I thanked the crew, and left the plane for the final schlep of this journey – back to my home.

Overall: What was I saying about glorified buses across the pond in the first half of this? Feels like this again, except the equipment needs work – serious work – to bring it up to its competitors. This is a case of “can do better” here AA. Whilst the service was solid and the food products was good, the state of the plane really can’t be excused when other operators (lets say United) tidy up their plane in all classes.

Next: Homeward Bound


  1. colleen says

    If you have a lactose issue, why don’t you pre-order accordingly? Just curious, as this isn’t its first mention IIRC …

    • says

      Sadly, I didn’t know I was going to be aboard that flight until 5 hours before pushback, otherwise I would had ordered the meal in advanced….

  2. says

    Just did ord-man/lhr-ord on AA. As a frequent AA flier, I have come to expect the dull amenities an American. My flights were both on 767’s and both had the old school, center cabin tv ife. I used my iphone ( non ghetto ife, I am new here!) for entertainment. Having never really enjoyed a great ife experience except for a quick Atlanta Chicago run on Delta, I have always thought the future of ife was in the personal devices. Maybe next trip will be on UAL or BA and that may change me. My next flight is on Spirit – I’ll be reading the seat back ads!

    Great trip report.

    • says

      IFE is always a very personal thing. For me, I chose my path many moons ago (least of all for the AA98 experience, but when US Airways were at their worst in 2009.

      AA’s attempt on the outbound wasn’t bad (on a 777) with AVOD, it was just a shame the content was awful.

      The move to personalised IFE is coming slowly as more tablets and smartphones enter the market.

      BA’s AVOD product isn’t had bad, whilst UA’s system can be… Depends what side of units your are and what sort of distance.

      Personally, I think Air Canada has one of the better options in the air, with IFE with reasonable content, and a USB port to charge your own device.

      Thanks for reading – the final parts will be up later/tomorrow…

  3. says

    Best inflight entertainment was on my man-snn leg on aer arran (ei). There was an old man trying to make some time with the flight attendent. Lively man he was!

  4. NB says

    You are wrong on United. Their 747s in economy are ancient – big screen IFE, bits falling off the seats etc. No worse than what you describe but certainly no better. (They re-did the front of the bus but not the back).

    • says

      I know about the UA 747’s far too well sadly (I wrote about them last year). Those are on level of the AA 767’s – tided up at the front, left to rot in the back. The rest of the UA Long Haul Fleet (777/767ER’s) aren’t that bad, and the pmCO fleet is better in terms of content.

      It’s just the old birds letting the side down.