A celebratory trip to Chicago – with British Airways and American Airlines
- So, Chicago eh. That’s really different.
- Take the National Express, Manchester Airport, British Airways Terraces Lounge
- BA1385 Manchester Airport to London Heathrow
- T5 – Pick a lounge. Any Lounge – British Airways Galleries South, Galleries T5B
- BA295 London Heathrow T5 to Chicago O’Hare International
- The joy of O’Hare and Crowne Plaza O’Hare
- Experiments with a Canon 40mm lens
- Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- Using Amazon out of your home country in a pinch
- Back to O’Hare, The New AA Flagship Lounge
- AA86 Chicago O’Hare to London Heathrow T3
- Terminal change shenanigans, British Airways Galleries North
- BA1386 London Heathrow to Manchester Airport
- Luggage delivery incompetence, last-minute changes, and CrossCountry Trains home
- Why celebrate?
So, Chicago eh? That’s really different.
As I’ve explained many a time, I have friends. I know, this shocks a lot of people. But there it is – I have friends. And these friends want me to be to take portrait photos.
Who am I to say no to that?
And why celebratory? I’ve been doing this photography thing for them for 10 years – and that’s cause for celebration. (Although thinking about it, there’s an article somewhere that compare how the passenger experience has changed over 10 years down the back of the plane… must get on that sometime…)
So, the classic question of how to get there opened up. Whilst I have plenty of Tier Points thanks to the previous trip, I still need two more qualifying flights (curse me for being cheap and not booking revenue flights with BA).
Oh yes, we’re back in Economy Class. The days of champagne filled flights are gone for now…
I did my usual comparisons, and found that departures out of Manchester Airport were a lot cheaper than Heathrow (as usual), so I fiddled around with the ticket.
Whilst I would had preferred a direct flight from Manchester – this would be aboard a Boeing 757 across the pond. Whilst a 757 isn’t a bad plane, there are better options for the transatlantic legs in terms of passenger comfort.
Somehow or other, I found the perfect fare via Kayak and Travelup that would give me four segments – routing via London Heathrow both ways.
This came in at £511.90 (including the credit card charge). A bit high – but it’s still better than paying £580-600 out of Heathrow.
The segment breakdown would be:
- Manchester to London – British Airways A320
- London to Chicago – British Airways Boeing 747-400
- Chicago to London – American Airlines Boeing 787-8
- London to Manchester – British Airways A320
This was slightly disappointing as I would have preferred AA on the way out and BA on the way back (mainly as I had a lot of work I was leaving behind in the UK, and I could had worked on the plane with Wi-Fi connectivity). Also – American Airlines offers one heck of a better passenger experience across the pond heading to the USA compared to what BA might offer.
But – it would do.
The 60 extra Tier points would be welcome, but more importantly – it would push me over the four paid segments I need to retain silver too with British Airways (let’s just say I prefer redeeming for short-haul flights these days – to me, it’s one of the sweet points of the Avios scheme).
In terms of hotels – there was some odd pricing going on in the Chicagoland region. Probably because someone sneezed at the pricing engines, and was holding conferences.
In other words, it was going to be expensive. Whilst I had a group rate at one of the hotels I was going to be staying at (the Hyatt Regency O’Hare), the Crowne Plaza… was expensive (I’m expecting $100… and looking at it harshly when they’re charging $180 for a room).
I booked a National Express coach ticket to meet the plane on the way back, as well as get there on the way out. This probably wasn’t my best idea – as the Manchester Airport National Express out-station can be… a pain in the backside.
I’d discover that they were still a bunch of pains of backsides again, and would have to rely on the trains to get me home
So, here’s the map for this celebratory adventure over the pond.
Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz
So, with all of that – let’s go to have this celebratory trip to Chicago!
Next: To Manchester Airport.
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