Cold Chicago, Warm Planes – To Chicago with AA and BA
The British Airways Arrivals Lounge and finally Homeward Bound
- 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…
After heading down the steps, it was time for a bus ride back to the T5 complex.
Big Trent! Heavy Trent!
A bit of ducking and diving through some cuttings, and the bus deposited me at the T5A – the main departures/arrivals complex.
I headed back to the elevators, and up to the arrivals area, and straight to the UK Border. A quick judgement showed that the human screening queues were pretty long, whilst the ePassport booths were moving at a reasonable pace.
I headed to the ePassport booth, and after a short wait, entered the clearance area. After a minute or so waiting for the human to intervene (hint: ePassports booth clearances are cleared with a person looking at pictures and comparing biometrics and are not automated in any way), I was cleared for entry back into the United Kingdom.
With that, I headed to the luggage carousel for a wait.
And I mean a LONG wait.
Luggage delivery at T5 varies (like most airports). Alas, it took them an hour from landing to get the first bags out onto the belt (with my bags thankfully making it).
Then there was one…
Not overly impressed there. BA promised 30 minutes or so normally, and flunked majorly.
And at this point I missed the coach home. AGAIN.
So, with a sigh and another £5 down, I changed my National Express coach ticket for another one thanks to BA’s luggage delivery incompetence.
Thankfully, the extra time at the terminal gave me an opportunity to try something – the BA arrivals lounge.
Heading up to the T5 mezzanine level (in between Arrivals level and Departures level)
For those coming out of T5, nearest esculator is at Meeting Point South.
Lounge Stop: British Airways Arrivals Lounge
I was welcomed to the lounge, with my access granted thanks to my BA Gold (and much to the disgust of someone behind me who wanted to get – but came in on a Club Europe flight only), and headed into the lounge.
Main lounge area
Bad Daytime TV.
First Class area
With 30 minutes or so before the bus, I eschewed getting a shower, and rather getting some breakfast after the derisory muffin served on the flight.
Breakfast is pretty much the same as the First Class lounge.
Flatware and sauces
Cold Cuts and cheeses
Snacks and nibbles
The food was hot and of an edible quality, giving me the chance to make sure I had everything in the right position for when I got home.
The lounge ladies commented I hung around only a short while – with a slow nod of understanding of coaches. With that, it was back downstairs and outside to the coach stand to wait for the inbound service.
It’s art. Allegedly.
The coach pulled up, and the load began.
My ticket was looked at, and the driver made a few faces – I’d discover why in a bit – but I was accepted for travel for the ride to Birmingham.
National Express 210 – Heathrow T5 to Birmingham Digbeth Coach station.
The service was pretty packed when I boarded, giving a good reason why the driver made a face (with the entire coach full by the time it left Heathrow Central).
I chose a pair of seats at the back of the coach – next to the toilet. Not the most pleasant position, but it was seating at least.
Air Canada Boeing 777 landing at Heathrow
The drive this morning took us right (skipping T4), and heading straight towards the central terminal area. There, every spare seat was taken for the ride home – including the seat next to me.
Approaching the Central Bus Station
At least there seemed to be some extra leg space at the back. However, being at the back meant I was riding on top of the wheels, which was a bit bouncy for the journey home.
Crossing the M25
The coach trekked up to the Midlands, leaving the M40 to call at Warwick Parkway station, then Coventry, and Birmingham International, before arriving at Birmingham Digbeth, with the coach making good time on its journey.
Nearing Birmingham City Centre – St Martins Church to the left, the Rotunda in the middle and the silver dotted building is Selfridges
A few minutes later, I was reunited with the luggage (all undamaged), and it was time to jump a cab for the final part of this trip. Yes, I could had taken buses, but that would had involved more changes in the heart of the city.
I wasn’t prepared to deal with that quite yet.
The taxi deposited me at GhettoIFE towers after emptying my pockets of another £8 I’ll never see again. From there, it was through the gates, and back into the hallway, where another trip was done and dusted.