The Last Push! The Final 700 Tier Points to BA Gold!
JFK, A FlAAgship Lounge and AA85 New York-JFK to San Francisco
- Why do I do this to myself? (The introduction)
- Off to Birmingham Airport, Air France AF1656 to Paris CDG
- Ibis Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport
- A Rushed Check in, AA Lounge
- AA45 Paris CDG to New York JFK
- A Delayed Transit, AA85 New York JFK to San Francisco International
- Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
- Intercontinental Mark Hopkins
- One Time Special – Around the Bay and Under the bridge
- Two Time Special – 3 and a half miles. Across the Golden Gate Bridge and back
- Escaping San Francisco to the Crowne Plaza
- Early Morning San Francisco Airport, AA24 San Francisco to New York JFK
- A Dash Across Manhattan and NJ, Newark Airport
- BA Galleries Lounge, EC8004 OpenSkies Newark Airport to Paris Orly West
- Paris. City of Dreams, Romance and Pickpockets?
- Eurostar 9013 Paris Gare du Nord to London St Pancras, Chiltern Railways London Marylebone to Birmingham Snow Hill
- 700TP: Job Done
At the gate, a Oneword member of staff was on-hand with connections, stating that my connection to San Francisco was safe. This was semi-reassuring as US Immigration can be a real dice throw some days.
To be honest, I was expecting the worst when I arrived at JFK. However, only the Manchester flight had arrived before our flight, with the London flight behind us – so it was a chance to get through the queue quickly.
I was seen to quickly by the US Border agent, and was stamped through without an interrogation (with a bit of a smile when I said I was here for my end of year mileage points). With no luggage to pick up, it was straight to the customs point, where I was let through without a problem.
Much easier than last time.
With those formalities out of the way, it was time to re-clear security. This involved heading upstairs and into the main security queue (with a rather well hidden fast track section).
Once through that, it was through a classic metal detector. All formalities done, I re-assembled my stuff again, and headed for a departure gate screen – with a note that the onward flight was delayed by 30 minutes.
A decorated AA jet
With nothing else to do, I headed up to the Flagship lounge.
Lounge Stop: American Airlines FlAAgship Lounge
I was welcomed to the lounge complex, and invited into the FlAAgship lounge area of the lounge. The lounge itself was reasonable large – larger than the Chicago O’Hare FlAAgship lounge, but not expansive.
I found a place to charge up the laptop and phone (both of which were suffering a bit from only being DC power aboard the plane… and me having no empower socket adaptor. For once, I was happy with a delay as it would give me extra time to charge up.
The delay crept from 30 minutes to 45 minutes, giving me a couple of hours in the lounge, to contact those who I needed to contact, and inspect the changing food section.
Meanwhile, I had a look around the food options – which was set for a lunch/dinner menu
Meats and Cheeses
The food in the lounge was a better spread (than say, an Admirals Club), but still not near what I’d call an International standard (compared to some Asian or European lounges). Still, better than nothing.
The view wasn’t exactly stellar, but gave some nice views of passing AA traffic.
With 16:00 passing, I decided to head to the gate. I thanked the staff and headed down to Gate 5.
Towards the gate
The queues there were quite substantial with people queuing up left, right and centre, with some seat swapping going on. Eventually, boarding began, with a massive rush even for Priority AAccess. My boarding pass was scanned, and I was allowed to board the plane for the next part of the trip
AA85 New York T8 JFK – San Francisco International
American Airlines Boeing 767-200ER (Swapped from a 767-300ER)
Seat 2A, First Class
210 Tier Points Earned, 2,572 miles flown, 2,572 +1,286+2,572 Avios Earned
My instant reaction to this bird when I saw it was “Eww”. It looked dark, the cabin looked liked it had seen better days, and the cabin was pretty much solidly filled already. I took my seat and sat back as the rest of the plane boarded.
It was only when I started writing this trip report that I had stumbled aboard a 767-200ER rather than a 767-300ER.
And I can see why AA is dumping these birds in favour of A321s. Dark, and not in the greatest of conditions. Even though I was in the “First” class section of the plane, the words “could do with a lot of improvement” came to mind.
Offers to hang up coats were made as the crew hurried around trying to get the plane out as soon as possible.
There were a fair few pre-boarding announcement, with the most important being that the IFE system was out of action, and would require a 2 hour fix if we wanted it fixed (the captain decided to fly instead to get to our destination). Not so bad for me in Business Class (as Samsung tablets would be available after take off, but not so great for those in economy. The announcement was a quick route had been negotiated, but it would be quite bumpy on the way up – so service would be delayed.
Eventually, boarding was completed and the safety demonstration was conducted manually. After a while, the plane got pushback permission, and our 767 left the corner of JFK T8, beginning a long taxi to the runway.
Delta 737 barrelling down the runway.
After passing terminal 1 and terminal 3, our plane took a right, before lining up for the runway
The Captain took the plane into the sky, and it was a pretty bumpy climb to say the least until the captain found some clean air – and then continuing the climb.
It gave for some stunning photos though:
Cabin during cruise – IFE dead as can be seen. .
As the skies darkened, first service began. Samsung Tablets and Bose headphones were distributed. These had the same content as loaded for the previous transatlantic flight. However, I did run into a problem with these ones as the power kept slipping out of socket in the laptop, shutting the tablet down – almost as if the devices were crippled to run off the mains
The packed bundle
I also briefly considered buying some GoGo Credit… and then turned off the WiFi function, as there was a charge of up to $30 for the trans-con flight.
Umm. No. Love Interweb connectivity, but not at that price.
Drinks came round, with hot nuts
This time they’re hot. And there was a refill too.
Dinner quickly followed, with Beef selected for the main. First up is the starter tray:
So we have an onion and leaf salad, with crumbled feta cheese on it, and the chicken with pineapple and melon.
Believe it or not – it’s not as offensive as it sounds. All items were fresh and tasted reasonable, with the salad easy work, and the chicken not tough.
Wine was also offered too.
Now, I’m not a great eater of Beef in the air like most people. Least of all, I’m odd in that I like my beef cooked, killed, and killed again, and zapping it to ensure it’s close enough a cinder. Or for the non-initated – “well done”.
Well, it’s not completely dead, but dead enough for the sake of this discussion. It was a bit of work getting into the steak, but wasn’t that chewy (a good thing). The very was killed quite successfully (although fruitarians may debate if it was alive in the first place, or killed when plucked unwillingly from the ground), whilst the potato thing was quite enjoyable.
Meanwhile, outside, night had fallen.
The trays were cleared as I settled in for a long trans-con flight.
Hot drinks were offered – coffee was the order of the day still for me.
Soon enough the clanking of trolleys was heard again as the lights have gone down. Yes, it’s the famous Sundae service. And this time as I had some Lactase tablets to hand, I had one.
I do learn. Honest.
(and as a side note, I didn’t suffer. In fact, this was the first Ice Cream I’ve had in a couple of years…)
With that cleared down, there wasn’t much more to do that check out the tablet IFE, and look out of the window to see if anything interesting turned up
And that’s how I spent the time to landing really. I declined the cookie (not wanting to dice with lactase any more that day), and just sat back.
The seat itself – is a reasonable business class seat. I wouldn’t pay for this as a first class seat though. Quite an old generation seat, loud motors and those console displays look like something from many years ago. And not overly comfortable if I’m honest.
The journey otherwise was in the black, with blue bits along the way with settlements showing up in the night.
Eventually, the lights came up as were closing in on San Francisco, to allow the cabin crew time to clear down the plane.
With that, the lights went down again as we closed in on Bay Area
Our approach was quick and sporty, with a lot of reverse thrust needed to slow us down
As we turned off the active, we headed for Terminal 3 – our destination of the night
With a bit of speed (trying to make up for the late pushback), we taxied to the gate, where the jetbridge was waiting for us.
With that done and the engines powered down, the seatbelt sign was released, and everyone raced to get out of the plane (and me too – I wanted some “fresh” air)
I retrieved my stuff, and thanked the crew, and headed off the plane
Plane at the gate
Overall: I’ll give the staff their due – they had a tough service to carry out due to a late plane, a plane swap and on top of that delays. They pulled it off successfully. Food was of a good quality (if better than the Trans-Atlantic flight I came off of), but there is one unforgivable thing… and that’s the state of that 767-200ER. The only time I flew one of these planes before was in the “capable” hands of US Airways… and that plane had seen better days too. I look forward to seeing the new A321s on these routes. Whilst they will have less seats and less reward seats… they can’t be any worse than this bird…