A Last Star Alliance Fling? To Chicago with United Airlines and Air Canada
The Introduction – and An Apology
- An Apology and The Introduction (this entry)
- To London Heathrow, BMI Lounge, Star Alliance Lounge
- United UA923 London Heathrow – Washington Dulles International
- TSA Shenanigans, United UA221 Washington Dulles to Chicago O’Hare
- InterContinental Chicago, North Michigan Avenue
- One Time Exception: Chicago Water Taxi
- Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- United UA474, Chicago O’Hare to Toronto Pearson International in United First
- Maple Leaf Lounge, Air Canada AC856 Toronto Pearson International to London Heathrow
- Homeward bound
- No more Star Alliance?
Firstly: An Apology.
Lets try writing this trip report again. Due to a big problem when I started to write this (work was just bananas), this got put to the wayside, and then left… and left… and left.
I rediscovered this as I was going through Google Docs a few days ago, and realised this actually was an interesting Trip Report as this was shortly after SHARES went live at United, and there were a couple of stand-out points. So this report is … a good 9 months late, but it should have some value (and amusement) to you all I hope.
Thankfully, I found I had written a majority of it, with just a few pertinent bits missing. Hopefully I should be able to assemble this over the next week or so and convert it into something resembling a trip report.
Once again, it’s my classic spring Chicago run where I turn my eyes onto the airlines to see if they’re still delivering – or not – down the back of the plane. And of course – this trip is economy class. But regular readers should have guessed this. This was probably my last Star Alliance run for quiet a bit unless something good comes up.
As I’ve noted elsewhere, I’m grounded on the bit due to Her Majesty’s Government and the Department of Health not knowing how to fund projects (thus jobs), so this could be the last one for a while.
As a reminder to some of my grammar conscious/grammar sensitive readers, please head to http://economyclassandbeyond.boardingarea.com/2012/03/18/blog-admin-a-message-to-the-grammar-checkers-out-there/ for an explanation of why my grammar may not be up to others high standards.
A Rock and a Hard Place (The Introduction)
Frequent flyer memberships and elite memberships can be a blessing or a curse – something a lot of us can agree on.
For me, it’s a mixed blessing. The upside is I can control my costs on certain trips (and lets make no bones, with the amount of luggage I tote on some trips, it is not a nicety having an extended baggage allowance, it’s a requirement). The down side is to get that baggage allowance, I need to fly a lot down the back of the plane lot of back of the plane a I don’t have expense accounts to charge our flying habit – hence why I spend a lot of my life in Economy Class
It also provides some of you with entertainment. Or is it car crash reading? It’s the same difference to me… 😉
Anyway, I got the call that I was wanted in Chicago again to do pretty pictures, and it’s impolite to say no when there is a trip to one of my favourite cities in the world. But when booking the usual London-Chicago trip, the question turns from how do you make it as interesting as possible?
Sure, I could do the basic back-to-back LHR-ORD-LHR trip, but that is just boring. Besides, I find it is nice to break up a trip occasionally.
That and the direct flights were to be overpriced… again (pretty common with United).
Eventually, I settled the following:
- Outbound via Washington Dulles on the way out as the times were agreeable – 923 to IAD, 221 onto ORD
- Inbound via Toronto on a UA151 flight to YYZ and homeward on Air Canada’s Boeing 777-300ER
Now whilst I’m not on speaking terms with Canadian Immigration still (especially after last time I went through Toronto), but an option for Air Canada is always welcome in my book… and it’s not exactly if I’m going into the country to corrupt the nation (although I swear that’s what Canadian Immigration think…)
So I opened my wallet and cried at the £411.93 (it seems the march of the upward airfare continues… and this is pre-APD rise), and booked the ticket to The Windy City.
Idly I checked the booking, and found that United had changed the return flight from ORD to YYZ, and the YYZ to LHR leg was re-timed and re-equipped to an A330.
Wonderful. A phone call later, and that was sorted and I was able to play with the booking again.
Checking the options, I saw something – an F upgrade for one of the legs. For $69 (The ORD-YYZ leg). Compared to the cost of the IAD-ORD upgrade cost (add a 1 in front to get the upgrade price), this seemed palatable. I therefore shoved the extra change towards United. If the extra miles didn’t turn up, who cares? In this case it would keep the agents quiet about my luggage if they asked. And that’s not a bad thing.
Map by the Great Circle Mapper: www.gcmap.com
So the big question – Where to credit to? Well to my own stupidity I credited them to BMI Diamond Club. So much for a head start on whatever airline I want to go for Star Gold with next time. Oh well.
For accommodation, I would be heading to my usual haunt of the Hyatt Regency O’Hare later in the trip. But I also wanted to enjoy life in downtown Chicago for once – and whilst commuting back and forth on the CTA Blue line is fun, it does damage to your back if you’re carrying the amount of stuff I carry or pick up for others downroute.
I therefore plonked for the Intercontinental Chicago on North Michigan Avenue.
Now that’s an eye opener for some of you I’d wager. Let’s just say I got a reasonable rate that day that made the Hyatt look expensive (and I don’t pay full rate at the Hyatt!)
So hotels, planes… am I missing something? Oh yes. Getting back n forth to London Heathrow Airport. Back to National Express with me with a £49.40 return coach ticket. This is due to National Express only selling full price tickets on Airport trips and no FunFares.
Forty Nine Notes to sit on a coach for 2 and a half hours there and back. I ask you…
Anyway, on with the show!
Coming up: I prove I can be a dolt some days, a farewell to BMI and of course… lounges!