A Last Star Alliance Fling? To Chicago with United Airlines and Air Canada
(and a guest appearance from BMI)
- The Introduction (this entry)
Welcome to what might be a last big fling with Star Alliance for a bit – unless I decide to make a push for Senator Status… or some other madness overtakes me…. which for those who know me – is entirely possible.
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 had guessed this.
I’ll be following the style of my previous trip on ANA’s 787 to Japan, and making the trip report a lot richer. Well that is the plan. What happens when I put hands to keyboard is another matter.
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.
I’m also keeping to the style of the last report and publishing it bit by bit. It allows me to write and get stuff out to you, and gives me a chance to to finish it without wanting to pull my hair out.
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 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 usual London-Chicago trip, the question turns from how do you make it as interesting as possible?
Sure, I could do an 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 UA 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 n forth on the CTA Blue line is fun, it does does damage to your back if you’re carrying the amount of cargo I carry.
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 fond farewell to BMI in it’s current form and of course… lounges!