Chicago XV – Tiers and Dreams
Feature an American Airlines Tier Points run and British Airways new 787 Dreamliner.
Welcome to my traditional autumn audit where I look at airlines and see how well things are going on a particular route, operated by particular airlines. In the past, this used to be a United love fest, but as I’m now a BA Executive Club member – I’m concentrating on oneworld airlines.
The route for the Trans-Atlantic part of the trip almost replicated flight for flight the route I took last time when I went to Chicago. However, I’ve squeezed in some extra fun with this… as I’m a few tier points short of a party at the moment…
- Tiers? And Dreams? Huh?– THIS SECTION
- Off to Heathrow, American Airlines FlAAgship Lounge
- American Airlines AA99 London – Chicago
- Crowne Plaza O’Hare
- Back to O’Hare, AA AAdmrials Club
- American Airlines AA1380 Chicago to St Louis, St Louis AAdmirals Club, AA1685 St Louis to Dallas Fort Worth
- DFW and AAn CEO encounter…
- American Airlines AA1180 – Dallas Fort Worth to San Juan
- The Intercontinental San Juan and #Rucksackgate
- San Juan International Airport
- American Airlines AA1591 San Juan to Dallas Forth Worth
- More messing around DFW
- American Airlines AA1618 Dallas Fort Worth to St Louis International, A quick STL Stop, American Airlines AA1186 St Louis to Chicago
- The Hyatt Regency O’Hare with a Rucksack gate update
- One Time Exception: A Chicago Photographic Interlude
- O’Hare Take 3, AA AAdmirals Club
- AA3360 Chicago O’Hare to Toronto Pearson
- Toronto Airport Omnishambles – The Long Wait, BA Toronto Lounge
- BA96 Toronto to London Heathrow featuring the British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner
- Homeward bound
- The long and winding road
Tiers? And Dreams? Huh?
Well once again, I appear to be heading off to Chicago to catch up with my friends for a weekend. But also, I’m all too aware that my tier point total for 2013… is rather bare to put it blunt.
Therefore the trip would be two-fold – the first part will be the classic Chicago Trip, the other would be solely optimised for Tier Points.
Now, a bit of background – I’m used to traditional earn the qualifying miles, get the shiny plastic. BA has to be different of course, and uses Tier Points which vary depend distance and class – with economy points not earning a lot (even if you fly long distances) whilst Business and above can earn lots of points by flying short distances.
A bit barmy, but that’s BA’s way of making sure the lounges aren’t stuffed with low-paying passengers (like me)…
So lets look at the Tier Point run first… and FlyerTalk came to the rescue with a nice 520TP run with a direct departure from Chicago O’Hare. That works out nicely for me. The run is a there and back with an overnight, with stops in Saint Louis, Dallas Fort-Worth before finally ending up at San Juan. And then doing all of that on the way back.
The legs between ORD<>STL and STL<>DFW would be in First, yielding 60TP a leg in First, whilst the DFW<>SJU legs would yield 140TP a leg in Business. 520TP for sitting on my backside for two days and getting a lot of flying in isn’t a bad thing in my book.
All this- for a measly £480. Not bad compared to the main fare to get to Chicago.
Image – Great Circle Mapper – www.gcmap.com
This leaves us with how to get to Chicago… and when. A co-worker of mine threw a spanner in the works when I was meant to be going, but thankfully 1) I had no tickets booked and 2) she changed her mind after a bit of begging. Therefore I changed my usual Wednesday – Tuesday Trip to a Tuesday Through Tuesday Trip to allow
- Arrival day travelling
- Travelling to SJU
- Travelling to ORD
- Catching up with friends for 3 days
- Travelling home
- Back in the hot-seat in the office the next day.
Hmm. Not much of a “Holiday” there, but I’ll take it.
I decided on the LHR-ORD direct flight (as I like to get to Chicago early in any trip so I have some of the day to do things…), which would earn 35TP, and going homewards a short hope via Toronto (for all of 20TP as it was a tag-on) and a Premium Economy seat from Toronto to London for 90TP.
Except, I wouldn’t meet a Boeing 747-400 at Toronto. I’d be meeting a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Now, I’ve done my fair share of slating the 787 Dreamliner project recently (and I’m not letting up when there’s a mess up), but I’m one for giving things a fair crack of the whip. So after the premium experience of the Dreamliner I had with ANA last time, I’m interested how it is in Premium Economy (or a British Airways brands it – World Traveller Plus).
All this for £670. Not excellent, but better than a kick in the teeth.
For hotels, for my starter for 10, I ‘d retreat to my usual haunts of the Crowne Plaza O’Hare for the first night (mainly because it’s reasonably priced), and the Hyatt Regency O’Hare (for the time I needed to be 11 floors above where I was catching up with friends over the weekend). For San Juan, I decided to splurge (but only a tiny bit) on the Intercontinental San Juan – it being near the airport for the flight back to Chicago.
So, a lot of new experiences ahead – 3 new airports, 2 new bits of equipment (the 787 and the MD-80), a completely new territory (Puerto Rico), and my first hit of American Airlines Business and First products.
Oh, and return fare on National Express back and forth to Heathrow. The IC San Juan made Heathrow airport prices look expensive…
So a new map outlining the chaos ahead:
Image – Great Circle Mapper www.gcmap.com
Easy enough… is it?
Or is a normal GhettoIFE tale that descends into levels of untold madness?
What do you think?