AA99 London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare – MAIN CABIN EXTRA – Long Way Home
In this adventure:
- I’ve got to stop looking at odd routings and thinking they’re good ideas
- Sleep? What’s that concept? Off to Heathrow T3
- Lounge Fight – Cathay Pacific and American Airlines Lounges
- AA99 London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare
- The Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- The Nutella Cafe
- Fooding Around Chicago
- The Canon 100D – Good for aviation photography?
- Camera shift – from EOS 6D to EOS R
- Back to O’Hare, Air France Lounge
- AY10 Chicago to Helsinki Vantaa… with Air Italy?
- 2 hours and 20 in Vantaa
- AY1335 Helsinki Vantaa to London Heathrow
- Busing back
- Long Way Home or short way back?
AA99 London Heathrow Terminal 3 to Chicago O’Hare International Airport
American Airlines, Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, Seat 9L
3953 miles flown, 20 Tier Points Earned, 998 Base Avios + 1,976 Tier Bonus
I boarded the plane and was welcomed aboard the 787 Dreamliner. I took my place past economy class and into Man Cabin Extra – and Row 9 – one row behind the Bulkhead road (which was consumed by a family)
And I have no problem sitting in one row behind. Whilst the legroom is slightly compromised, the seat is wider than the standard 787 seat – which means you’re not confined to your space
In addition, the middle seat was free – effectively making this the equivalent of a Eurobusiness flight for 8 hours plus. This I could handle
But before we go on… we all know that the American Airlines IFE system has faces of its many staff on its planes.
So what’s the chance I run into the same virtual flight attendant again? Amazingly high it seems!
With me settling in, the plane loaded up for the planned flight to Chicago. And as predicted – the plane would not be going out full to Chicago that day.
Which would mean an easy run for the crew as well as for me and the middle seat.
As for the seat – it’s one that American Airlines have been using for its Dreamliner fleet (I’m still working on identifying the manufacturer). It’s not a bad seat per se – it is slimline, and a little tight thanks to the 17” width.
Thankfully there in adjustable headrest which makes life a lot better.
With boarding complete, there was a short delay to allow ground staff to depart… and without much fanfare, we were on our way out of Terminal 3.
Of course, we all know what happens next – the “Going for Great” safety video.
Now, I don’t actually have much of a problem with this video (mainly as it does give the safety information over – even if it is’ in a stylised fashion. It was always the ending that annoyed me with the cheering.
That bit has been muted off for some time now, so the video feels… a little incomplete at the end. However, as a safety briefing – it gets the information over concisely.
Which is more than the British Airways one ever could.
AA99 taxied out from T3, heading straight down the taxiway to 27R.
There wasn’t much a delay getting out of Heathrow – as I said – the airport seemed… quiet, both on the ground and in the terminals.
With a roar, the twin engines of the Boeing 787 powered up and took AA99 into the sky.
During climb, Mother nature gave one of her wonderful morning-time displays.
With the plane in the sky, there are things to be done – the first thing, of course, being connectivity.
Well, how else could I annoy people at 30,000ft or above?
Connectivity on this plane is via the Panasonic Ku based satellite internet system with $19.95 for a full flight.
I paid up – hoping the connectivity would had improved since I last used the American Airlines System across the pond
Readers will not be surprised to learn… it hadn’t.
This is a shame – I’ going to be blunt. The Panasonic Ku system can easily hit 4-8mb in the air without even trying. The throttle of .6mb (be it system or device based) is awful and doesn’t promote the use of the product in the air.
Still, .6mb is enough for certain things – even if they’re treacly slow.
And for the big event later … It would have to do.
What big event? Hang on people. I’m getting to it.
Moving onto the IFE system, it is again, the Panasonic IFE eX3 series system. As such, it flow and it pretty usable.
As well as a choice of films and TV shows, there is a Live TV feed – which covers sports and news programmes. So, I went for BBC World News – which pretty much kept me company over the pond
Drinks and breakfast followed with the choice of pancakes or an omelette. I went for the omelette and was not disappointed.
This is not a bad tray in the least. The omelet was very edible (if a little small), whilst the Danish was an interesting addition. The fruit was fresh,, and the liquids were all reasonable. Not an exciting tray by any stretch of the imagination, but a solid tray.
Which for an economy class breakfast is all you can ask for.
With the breakfast service cleared down, I settled down on the important subject I had been missing out on for the past hours.
And I needed it thanks to a mixture of exhaustion. Not only that, when I would arrive at Chicago – I would need to hit the ground running once I landed.
I managed around 3 hours in the end – not perfect, but better than I have done on a Boeing Dreamliner in the past
I woke up in time for the ice cream service. Considering I was half asleep when it arrived, I propped it on the middle table whilst I tried to drag myself to some sort of awareness.
10 minutes later I was digging into a melted ice cream. I can handle this
With me waking up, and everyone else fast asleep – it was time for the big event. Yes, ladies and gentlemen – it’s time for the AVGeek Fairy Light Challenge.
What’s is the AVGeek Fairy Light Challenge? It all started with a Hong Kong-based Instagrammer doing this.
I’m sure we can ridicule this, mainly due to the fact the promoter is sitting backwards in their business class seat. Whilst it didn’t have the space to sit backwards in an economy class seat, I could utilise the fairy lights and put on a face that signals that I am not impressed in the least.
And that leads us to this:
View this post on Instagram
If there is a trend for this 1) it needs to die a death FAST. and 2) if we’re going to persist in this, then I have no issues in killing this trend at all.
I consider it a life calling.
Whilst the trend of the Dreamliner is a mixed thing (in an economy class passengers viewpoints), I’m still not a fan of the dimmable windows on a plane. Whilst they can offer darkness, the planes can look. Turquoise.
I suppose the thing that gets to me the most is how unnatural the light looks.
Whilst there appear to be developments in the field of true darkness, personally, I can’t see anything wrong with fitting a window blind to a plane (other than adding extra weight to carry those blinds around).
The electronic blinds brightened – indicating it was time for the arrivals service. A choice of two folded pizzas was offered – Pepperoni or Cheese.
That’s a term you never want to hear a flight – “Folded Pizza”. Remember when American Airlines used to serve a mini pizza and pasta on arrival. Heavy days.
That being said, the folded pizza wasn’t that bad in the least – it has flavour and had some bits of pepperoni in it – a welcome sight. A shame they dropped the Monty hot boxes – but this seems easier to clean up afterwards and recycle.
Additional drinks were offered by the crew.
Now at this point – you’d expect the electronic blinds set to full open to allow passengers to wake up before arrival. Nope. The crew dimmed them to halfway again.
This something else I don’t like about these blinds, that crew can override settings on a plane.
With 40 minutes on the clock left, eventually, the crew released control of the blinds, giving people less time to wake up.
It’s also at this point that Dan, the friendly US Customs and Border Patrol video played, showing the options you have when entering the USA.
The crew followed around with Blue customs forms for those who needed them. I pass as I was planning to run the risk with the machines later when I landed.
With time on the flight coming to an end, the cabin was cleared down and prepared for landing. .
With ease, the plane crossed Lake Michigan, and tracked into Wisconsin, and finally making a loop for O’Hare – landing towards the city.
And a bit of cloudbusting aboard AA99.
With ease, AA99 landed at Chicago O’Hare International.
Even though the plane had landed towards the international terminal, O’Hare traffic control had other ideas, and made the plane taxi all the way back to the west side of the field, before allowing us to turn and taxi all the way down the right side of the field
You’ve got to love the controllers at O’Hare some days.
Central Terminal Area
As such, taxing was a good 20 minutes after we landed till the plane approached Gate M11. Eventually, the 787 found the gate, and the engines powered down
With the gate at the stand, and the seat belt signs extinguished, it was time to make my way into the United States of America
Overall: Whilst the 787 in 3-3-3 is never going to be a comfort winner, at least American Airlines have made the experience passable with the other touches – such as a usable IFE system with content and a solid catering option.
If only one of the majors could break the 3-3-3 pattern on the Dreamliner.
Until then – for an A to B over the pond the American Airlines 787 – with AA99 makes for a passable experience.
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