Cold Chicago, Warm Planes – AA87 London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare

Cold Chicago, Warm Planes – To Chicago with AA and BA
AA87 London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare


AA87 London Heathrow T3 to Chicago O’Hare T5
American Airlines, Boeing 767-300ER sold as BA1542
Seat 12H, Main Cabin Extra
3,953 miles flown, 7906 Avios Earned 35 Tier Points Earned

The pictures:

With a walk down the jetway, I was greeted at the door, and directed to the right hand side to my seating block.

The seating block I was in was Main Cabin Extra – American Airlines extra leg-room seating product.

Cabin pre-takeoff

Leg Room was perfectly acceptable for an extra-space economy product with a few extra inches of legroom – and was even better as I had the seat next door free.


The overhead bin

However, there was one thing that I noticed: the smell of cat’s urine (or something of that ilk). And it was a distinctive unpleasant smell.

Thankfully, my sense of smell changed at 6000ft or so where the smell disappeared (and sadly, re-appeared at 4000ft before landing.

Pushback was slightly delayed as other planes were moving behind us, but eventually our Boeing 767 pushed back from the terminal.

The safety video played, and the grand taxi around Heathrow begun. As we were departing from 27R (the runway that is above the terminal area if you look at an overhead picture of Heathrow), the plane began the long taxi around the airport.

Company AA in new colours.

The queue for the departure runway

Eventually our turn came, and the pair of General Electric CF6 engines roared from the 767, and our plane barrelled down the runway on a long takeoff roll.


Soon enough, the engines throttled back and the plane began its climb to flight level.

In flight entertainment on the 767-300ERs is… limited to be kind. In Business Class, it’s Samsung Galaxy Tablets with Bose headphones. In economy class it’s the overhead screen with some wonderfully olde fashioned controls

Overhead screen

Classic controls… retro to say the least. All that’s missing are the pneumatic air-tube style headphones… 

So in GhettoIFE land, we have a solution for this… and called a GhettoIFE system…


After – Not sure what a GhettoIFE system is? See here for my introduction to Sick Bag based In Flight Entertainment systems

Headphones were also handed out. These are akin to the headphones giving out on longer US Domestic First class runs

These are in-ear style headphones, and are bit better than the standard headphones you get. Although to be blunt, these headphones aren’t the highest quality in the world (that, and they don’t last after a few days of wearing sadly – typical landfill headphones).

Shortly after, drinks arrived. I partook of my usual drink, with was served with some salty snack.

Lunch followed… with me a bit glad that I stopped at the lounge for breakfast:

Chicken with rice


Roll, Dressing, cheese

Additional cola

The meal itself was comparatively small to the breakfast meals in economy class. The chicken was cut-able and tasted of chicken (which kind of helps normally), the rice was reasonably soft too. The salad was fresh too – a good sign that the flight was freshly catered.

Not a bad meal, but the portion size was a touch small maybe – but that seems to be something in common with economy class meals these days..

During the meal service we were asked to lower the blinds so people could enjoy the entertainment – which essentially turned a daylight flight into a sleeper flight. Which if like me, you enjoy staring out of the window is a bit of a downer.

Dark in Main Cabin Extra, Light in Business


I took the chance to get some rest after being up on and off for 24 hours or so. Well, in a dark cabin, what else is there to do?

When I woke up, I had a wonderful case of headrest hair. Again. The joys of economy class flying is the risk of bad hair…

There were some people sneaking blinds up – me included, as nature is a wonderful thing

Time passed as they always do on these flights, and soon the crew were around again about an hour and a half to go with arrivals service – with a pizza offered.

The pizza was hot and warm, and wasn’t cooked to a cinder, nor soft and soggy, so not a total write-off. Not bad for a pre-arrival meal (and beats a cold sandwich that has been stored for way too long).

Yes, I’m still watching Pokémon XY. I watch worse (
Pokémon Black and White Anime was a lot worse…)

Light begun to flood the cabin as people woke up, and worked out the IFE system wasn’t great

The pre-arrivals video played as the cabin was cleared down as the plane begun its approach into Chicago.

Conditions outside were cold to say the least, with Lake Michigan pretty cold and frozen in parts.

We crossed into Illinois with the cold closing in.

Rather than a direct approach in, Chicago approach were vectoring in aircraft by going in land, turning, and then landing

Soon the wheels dropped, and the plane begun it final approach

A bit of a hairy landing, but the plane made it down safely. From landing, we had a long taxi over to the International terminal

Main terminal complex

A lot of snow still on the ground

A United E-Jet kicking up some snow.

Soon our plane docked at Gate M1 at the International Terminal, and it was time to disembark the plane that had carried me over the pond.

Overall: Nothing special in particular if I’m honest. It was comfortable transportation from A to B, although the plane did smell a bit. I’m less impressed with the blinds down in the main cabin during a daytime flight though. Still, at least the catering was reasonable – if a little sparse…

Next US Immigration, Crowne Plaza O’Hare.


  1. Greg says

    I’m totally with you on the ‘blinds down during a daytime flight’ nonsense. That is one of my biggest travel pet peeves!

  2. mcass777 says

    Well beach season officially kicks off today as Chicago’s beaches open for the Summer. Lake temperature is 43f and 36f some 5 miles off shore!! The snow maybe gone but the effects of Chiberia remain!