Back Into Action, Back to the Back – To Chicago with AA and BA – To Heathrow

Back into action, Back to the Back – To Chicago with American Airlines, American Eagle and British Airways

Part 1: To Heathrow and some lounges


Part 1: To London, LHR Lounges

The pictures:

To say the art of packing is lost on me is akin to saying I know where everything is in my flat. The fact is I know where 9/10 things are… but can never find the magic one.

And that was the summation of my packing. I left it way too late (with Easter getting in the way), and it was last minute – forgetting power transformers along the way.

And headphones. Oh well.

At 2:15, I called for a cab -which arrived pretty promptly – that would take me to Digbeth Coach Station. The cabbie was in a talkative mood as he belted down to station, charging me £7 for the privilege.

As I arrived, the coach pulled into station. Pretty perfect timing.

National Express 210 Birmingham Digbeth to Heathrow Central Bus station
Price Paid: £25 (£1.40 Cashback via Quidco)

After my ticket was inspected, I was let aboard the chariot that would take me to Heathrow. The loads were low that the coach was barely a quarter full – leading to lots of space onboard.

Waiting for the off…

I sat at the front where there was a bit of extra legroom, which allowed me to stretch out… and try and get some sleep on the journey.

The coach wound its way from Digbeth to Birmingham Airport – picking up exactly one person. From there it headed to Banbury where we picked up… well – not a soul, and finally to Heathrow Airport.

In the end I managed to doze off after Banbury for a not too fulfilling one hour of catnapping on the coach.

By 5am, the coach had pulled into Heathrow Central Bus station, where I picked up my bags and was on my way through the back end of LHR T3.

At rest at Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow T3

Once I was under way, I headed through the bowels of the Heathrow Central Zone, popping up into the cold outside of T3.

Going into Zone F, there was an ugly sight to behold – a mammoth queue to get checked in and do a luggage drop. After managing to convince the staff I was a BA Gold, I was sent to the Business/First queue – which had no-one in it. Unsurprisingly, the check-in staff were ready to go – it was ICTS who were taking their own sweet time getting themselves into position with their fancy tablets.

After a light grilling by security, I was let through to check in – where my bags were tagged and my boarding passes issued.

By about 5:30 I had managed to clear check-in, and was heading to security. The next ugly surprise was that FastTrack security was shut.


Thankfully normal security was quiet with only a few souls around – and I was through in 5 minutes into the maze that is the T3 Duty Free shop.

Good luck escaping the Duty Free shop….

After negotiating that mess, I headed to the BA Lounge to relax in for a while.

Lounge Stop BA First Galleries Lounge

I headed to Lounge F and was greeted, with my BA Gold acknowledged and I was granted access to the lounge.

Of course, being in the BA F lounge that can only mean one thing.

Champagne Bar

Bottles of bubbles...

Pink Bubbles of course (Bollinger Rose)!

Don’t look at me in that tone of voice. It was 5 O’Clock. Just 5am in the morning…

I settled down near the food area, with cold cuts and pastries out, and supped my glass of pink bubbles.

Seating Area


Cold cuts




And for once in a BA F lounge – I was by one of the lounge staff asked if I wanted something from the menu.

Wonders will never cease!

I went for a bacon and egg sandwich, which was delivered promptly

And it hit the spot nicely. Bread was nicely toasted, Egg nicely firm and done and the bacon wasn’t plastic. Wonders will never cease. A very reasonable fill first thing in the morning for what would be a long old flight across the pond.

However, looking at the clock, and noticing what I was missing (some headphones that would actually pump out music and a plug adapter after only finding one in the flat), I decided to make tracks to Dixons Duty Free

Overall: A much-improved performance compared to last time in the T3 First lounge. Maybe I am wrong about BA at their T3 base, and they are starting to be more proactive first thing in the morning. This is a good thing.

I headed over to Dixons, and parted money for some nice Philips headphones, and a pair of power adaptors.

With that bit of business over and done with, I headed over to another lounge – The AA lounge – to relax in as the AA lounge is closer to the gates I’d need to be flying out of today.

Lounge Stop – American Airlines FlAAgship Lounge
(Yes, I use double AA’s for American Lounges still :p)

I was welcomed to the AA lounge entrance, and after my detail were verified, I was directed to the FlAAgship lounge (as opposed to the Admirals Club).

After arriving in the lounge, I headed off to the bar area with the computers – as I needed to get on with some geeky stuff first.

The bar work area

A quiet lounge – note the plane in the distance… that’s mine!

I was asked by one of the attendants if I wished for some breakfast… and yes, I went for another breakfast – and being the AA FlAAgship lounge, the only breakfast to really go for is Eggs Benedict.

Yes, there are other options on the menu, but there is the option of Eggs Benedict… which the AA lounge seems to do well.

Meanwhile the lounge as usual was reasonably quiet with passengers chatting to staff who wanted to chat, and those in another corner slowly dozing away in the background.

Cold breakfast items

Coffee, Tea and other things

Pastries and some hot items

I kept an eye on the clock and close to boarding time – I packed up my trash and headed for the gate, thanking the staff as I went through.

Overall: Whilst the AA FlAAgship Lounge is smaller than the BA Lounge and a bit older looking, it has a much tighter level of service that’s a bit more a leap ahead than the BA F Lounge… and it shows.

Thankfully as opposed to the normal five mile hike to the back end of T3, we were boarding at Gate 23 – the first of the gates past the AA Lounges.

Play it again Sam…

Somehow, on the way between the lounge and the gate, I managed to lose a pair of headphones that I had just brought. What is it with me and losing smegging headphones? Bloody annoying is what it is…

I entered the gate lounge, was security re-checked, and my boarding pass zapped. The gate lounge staff tried to help – and contacted the FlAAgship lounge to see if the headphones were there (they weren’t sadly)

Soon enough, the boarding calls begun, and I headed off to board the plane to Chicago.

At the gate…

Next – AA99 London Heathrow T3 to Chicago O’Hare T5


  1. Stefan says

    Your trip reports are hilarious! You spend your time in lounges and then suffer in that sh**ty Y seat. What a pain! Time for an upgrade. What is the point of BA Gold status if you’re constantly at the back of the bus?

    • says

      The point of BA Gold down the back is to make the flight a bit more bearable beforehand.

      Sadly, my budget doesn’t extend to business class (except on rare occasions).. except when the stars are aligned. Except on this trip… they did align at one point. Stay tuned 😉