Cold Chicago, Warm Planes – To Chicago with AA and BA
Off to Heathrow, British Airways Galleries First and American Airlines Flagship Lounge
- Let’s Play “Stacking Discounts!” (The Introduction)
- We’re going where the air is free (NX210 to LHR), BA Galleries Lounge AA Flagship Lounge
- AA87 London Heathrow T3 to Chicago O’Hare T5
- Crowne Plaza O’Hare
- Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- One Time Exception – Millennium Park
- Back to O’Hare T3, American Airlines Flagship Lounge
- AA4253 Chicago O’Hare T3 to Toronto Pearson T3
- Toronto, Oh Toronto…
- The British Airways Galleries Lounge, Toronto
- BA098 Toronto Pearson T1 to London Heathrow T5
- Arrivals Lounge, Homeward Bound
- Warming up slowly…
I’ve always had trouble with the American Airlines OLCI with a check-in pass-through with BA – with the former kicking me out and forcing me to check in manually. For once – I don’t know what I did right – but check in actually worked. On the outbound leg, I had a check of the seat map to see “how bad” the seating situation had deteriorated. Unsurprisingly, the seat next to me had been taken, but the row in front was now free.
12H is better than nothing.
With that, I was checked in for once early, and with a reasonable seat in Main Cabin Extra. Further checks indicated that 12K was going to be free. Of course – there was one way to find out until I actually was aboard the plane and sat down.
Oh, the spice of life!
With that, it was back to work arguing with an Active Directory server (well, 4 forests of them, that are un-federated and badly built – but that’s besides the point), writing procedures for badly built stuff and how-to for people who that think that SQL Server Management Studio is the perfect interface for low-level users to do complex management tasks…
With me packed and as ready as I’ll ever be (nope – STILL not a fan of suitcases), it was time leave the flat and head for the coach station to begin a new adventure.
Nope. Still not sure about suitcases…
A short taxi ride, £7 and directing the driver to the block of flats I live in
Eh? I’m not out of the flat at 2:15 for the 2:45 coach to Heathrow? Allow me to explain. With me on AA87 instead of my usual AA99, I’m not on my early coach, rather the later coach, I had more time to relax on the sofa, pack, play Pokémon, find lenses etc.
That still didn’t help as I left the flat a good 40 minutes early.
Ooops. On the plus side, I was at the coach station early, with everything in hand.
The joy of Digbeth Coach Station.
Still, there is WiFi there, and also it’s not too cold – which suits me nicely. Put it like this, I had time enough to get into an argument about how dead a beef fillet should be (Sorry foodies. Unless its killed, carbonised and killed again with little chance of revival, I’m not a fan), give advice over how to look one after themselves after straining their shoulders… and all the usual things I do on Twitter (of course – you should be following me @GhettoIFE. Go on. Follow… Pretty please).
Eventually National Express Service 210 to Gatwick South pulled in. With 2 hours 40 on the clock, and stops in the Midlands, it was the usual ride that National Express tends to make as tough as possible, with stops at Birmingham Airport, Coventry and Warwick Parkway station – then fast to Heathrow.
Off we go!
Legroom – not too bone crushing.
I shuffled around to find a place to rest and drifted to sleep where possible – whilst the phone battery seemed to take a pounding (something that is way too familiar these days sadly).
Dawn broke as our coach headed down the M40, before slowing for the London Orbital Motorway – the M25.
Slow I say? Why yes, it’s 7am – Rush hour(s) is in full swing with speed limits down, and traffic down to a crawl.
I’m glad I built extra time in my schedule for these delays.
It got even the slower as the coach peeled off the M25 and on to the M4 (which going towards Heathrow means heading towards London.
Still, the coach finally headed down Heathrow Approach and under Runway 27L/9R, finally popping up in the Central Terminal area.
Our coach parked up at the station, and that was that part of the journey done.
100 miles down. Only 3,952 or so to go…
With that I located a trolley, and begun the great push to Terminal 3.
Still doesn’t look right without a rucksack… although everything now fits on a trolley…
Arriving into Terminal 3 in the daylight is pretty much a new experience for me (most of the time, it’s black outside when i’m on the early flight). I made my way to Zone F and to Elite check-in, where it was… quiet (Even in the Economy check in area, it was quiet).
I made my way to check in, and after being cleared by ICTS, it was over to main check in to dump the bags. With that done, and my boarding pass issued, I checked the seating situation – and it was confirmed that the seat next to me was still free. With check in closing in 1 hour 20 so, it was unlikely that the un-checked in loaded would take the seat next to me.
With that, I was directed to FastTrack and sent on my way.
Fast track itself was pretty fast through T3 for once, with people organised, and having their items ready to scan. My stuff went through in a matter of minutes and I was on the other side of Duty Free, free to move about the terminal (one of the nice things of the T3 Fasttrack is it dumps you beyond the duty-free shop.
After sorting out a couple of minor things in the terminal (as well as racking up some extra reward points), it was time to relax in a lounge, and get breakfast.
First stop today would be the British Airways Lounge.
T3 Galleries lounge complex
Lounge Stop: British Airways Galleries First, T3.
I headed into the lounge complex and was greeted – and directed to the first class section.
My boarding pass was scanned, and I was allowed in, with the first stop being the Champagne bar.
Taittinger Rose. Hello Bubbles!
Well it’s Five O’Clock somewhere. And I spent Five am mostly sampling National Express at their best, so my body clock is somewhat off.
With a glass of bubbles in my hand, I headed off to the somewhere near the food area to charge up the phone, and myself (And asking you all of you if Champagne was an acceptable breakfast beverage – most of you agreed)
The lounge as usual wasn’t bustling but it was busy. A good sign indeed.
A passing attendant also was flagged down to get my breakfast order. Standard rules indicate Egg Benedict as a breakfast. Today was no different.
Menu for waiter ervice.
Eggs Benedict and Taittinger Rose
The WiFi was of a reasonable speed – however, I did have to hunt around for a working electrical outlet. Once plugged, the world was good for a while.
It gave me time to write, do a few things I needed to do before heading off.
It seems this lounge improves – certainly in the dead point of 6-7am, a 9am performance was a lot better with people awake.
My next stop would be to position myself better for the flight – the American Airlines flagship lounge – just down the way from the BA lounge.
Lounge Stop – AA Lounge.
I was welcomed to the complex, and after my boarding pass was scanned – i was directed to the Flagship lounge.
And it hasn’t changed one bit.
Pastries and hot items
Cold food offerings
Business Centre PC’s – Powered by HP
However, I wasn’t interested in the food this time – I needed to do some printing in case the wonderful US Customs and Border Protection wanted more information and “proof” out of me. So, the next half hour was spent fathoming out how to use their system (as you have to email stuff to be printed to the services, rather than use directly wired link.
Rather annoying really, but eventually print out started to spew from the printer.
Still, with stuff in hand, and a quick raid of the nibbles before, it made for a quiet place to relax – and when you’ve got an economy flight ahead of you, that’s important.
Eventually, my date with fate was coming, with boarding announced for AA87 from the lounge. With that, I packed my trash up and headed for the gate.
The gate was on the main spar, and a short walk from the lounge complex.
The American Airlines 767-300ER… with winglets, waiting for me.
I entered the gate lounge, and my boarding pass was scanned and accepted, with ICTS waving me through. As the majority of the plane had boarded, I head through the door, and down the jetway…