American Airlines AA99 – London Heathrow Terminal 3 to Chicago O’Hare Terminal 5 (Main Cabin Extra)
Taking the Longer Way Home
In this trip
- So. Keeping it original for autumn, aren’t we?
- Off to Heathrow in the dead of the night
- Terminal 3 Lounges… And more delays
- American Airlines AA99 London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare (Main Cabin)
- In the USA, Candlewood Suites O’Hare
- TRAVEL PLUS: Fooding around Chicago.
- Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- Airplane Art Extra – from the 10th Floor of the Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- TRAVEL PLUS: The Art Institute, Chicago
- Back to O’Hare, Air France/KLM Lounge
- Finnair AY010 Chicago O’Hare to Helsinki Vantaa
- A Helsinki Layover
- Finnair AY1335 Helsinki Vantaa to London Heathrow
- To the Coach
- Sometimes, it’s about the journey
AA99 London Heathrow Airport to Chicago O’Hare International
American Airlines, Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
Seat 11L, Main Cabin Extra
3953 Miles flown, 20 Tier Points earned, 988 Avios Earned + 1,976 Tier Bonus + 988 BA Bonus Avios offers.
An APEX Association Five Star Global Airline.
I was welcomed aboard and turned right – past the premium economy cabin and to the main cabin. What was meant to be a rather full flight had emptied out a fair bit in the forward economy cabin.
I made my way past person in the aisle seat and settled into the familiar American Airlines Boeing 787 economy seat. And it’s seen me through various journeys – to the point that I’ve worked out which one suits me best on a 787.
It’s knowledge I can use.
With the last few passengers aboard, boarding complete was announced.
Then came something I haven’t seen on an AA flight – a great seat switch-a-roo, with passengers swapping seats at will.
The cabin crew came to put a stop to a little of it – protecting the first few rows stating “these were seats that were chargeable before check-in”. But people got the seats they wanted… mostly.
And by some odd chance of fate, I got a row of three seats to myself.
What’s the term…. Ah yes “Engage Smug Mode. Smug Mode engaged”.
Headphones were also handed out at this time – once again, sponsored by Avis.
With that, the plane pushed back from Heathrow 3 hours and 10 minutes late. It would be in the hands of the captain if American Airlines would be paying EC/261 that day or not now.
The safety video played – and this is a video that is beginning to age. Whilst it was a fresh video when it was released, there are points where it is too self-congratulatory (and of course, the applause that is muted at the end of the video).
Our aircraft had a slow taxi around Heathrow, turning to 09L for a take-off.
Let’s say I couldn’t work out how to shoot video this time, and we’ll settle for some photos. Or I was exhausted.
I think we’ll take a combo of the two and work with that.
With the aircraft departing from 09L, it climbed and turned to go past Heathrow Airport, and on its way across the pond.
Now, you’ll note there’s no takeoff video. There’s a very good reason for this – I was falling asleep at the bulkhead. Holding a camera can be hard sometimes
Eventually, the aircraft broke through the clouds and into the blue sky.
This is a perfect time, of course, to experiment with was installed on the aircraft – and we’re going to start with Wi-Fi first.
Wi-Fi aboard this aircraft is provided by Panasonic Aerospace, with their Ku connectivity variant. Payment is simple – create an account, then either pay with PayPal or Card. I chose PayPal – and my payment went through.
I tried the connectivity speeds on the aircraft – and I must have been one of the few people onboard using it with these speeds
Later, I tested it later – with speeds more along what I was expecting. In use – it wasn’t too bad. Pages loaded fast enough, the content was able to make where I wanted to go and the experience was smooth enough.
With me connected in the air – it was time to abuse the IFE selection. Again, there is a Panasonic ex3 IFE system here – so utilising it was pretty fluid. In addition, I had set up one screen as a live map through the fight, and the other as an IFE entertainment screen.
I started off with a wholly remarkable film – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Yes, it’s only partially like the book or the TV show, but it retains a bit of the charm of it (and Stephen Fry makes an excellent “Voice of the Book”.
Meanwhile, the first service had begun – a welcome snack of… Biscoff Biscuits. I swear they’re cornering the market in biscuits in the air. At least they’re better than the dry pretzel mix that used to be served.
Unless you’re gluten intolerant.
The main breakfast service which had been catered for an early flight was then distributed – a choice of waffles or omelette.
I went with the omelette – to see what catering surprises there were under the foil.
As usual, Heathrow can normally cater a reasonable breakfast – and this meal isn’t too different.
With the water bottle pocketed, and the tray cleared, it was time for shut-eye. And of course – for those with a short term memory, I had three seats all to myself.
So I did the only thing I could do – Lie one on them.
I think there were more than a few jealous eyes on my seats… but as no one claimed them, I had my own in-flight couch to curl on. And boy, I used every inch of it.
I slept pretty much from the end of the meal service to the Gander Coast – a good three hours or so.
Better than nothing.
However, the bumps in the air meant seatbelts were required to be on – and I couldn’t find a position where my body would be secure on the bench.
I, therefore, went back to a seated position, only to go into a lying position once we were clear of the bumps, and a belt around my legs was tightened.
Meanwhile, this was the perfect time to go to a time a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
With Luke shooting a Proton Torpedo down an exhaust shaft, the Dreamliner’s internal colours went orange or so.
It was time for the pre-arrival snack.
This snack has been through so many changes, I’ve lost track of what is actually “good” (although the small pies in March were pretty much a low-point).
So this time… what do we have? Folded Pizza. A choice of a vegetarian or Pepperoni one was offered.
So, how bad was the pepperoni?
Not that bad. It was hot at least (which is a good sign), meaning the cheese was a bit gooey. Whilst the pepperoni wasn’t busting out, you still had some per bite – which was welcome to see… or taste.
And all the better than those mini pies, which were so tiny. So tiny.
With the cabin cleaned up from the pizza and the drinks run, it was time for CBP Dan to come on the screen, informing us of our options of how to clear the US Border.
With light flooding back into the cabin, the aircraft tracked down from Canada and over the state of Michigan, as it began to line up for O’Hare.
With the aircraft descending, by the time the aircraft began crossing Lake Michigan, the cabin was prepared for landing.
The aircraft made a twisty approach to O’Hare, crossing approaches. This made for a great view of the downtown core of Chicago from the air.
Eventually, the aircraft lined up to pass over the North Shore, tracking its way down to the ground.
With a bump, AA99 landed at its base of Chicago O’Hare.
After peeling off the runway, the aircraft began tracking back towards the International Terminal (Terminal 5). Thankfully, there was a gate waiting for our Boeing 787 as we passed some of the international traffic already parked.
With ease, our plane turned for the gate and came to a halt – ending this journey.
Of course, as soon as the seatbelt sign was extinguished everyone rose to grab their items – and for some, rather rushed – as their connections were either tight… or had gone.
The aircraft had landed 2 hours and 30 minutes late – which for me meant no EC261 claim. However, at least the pilot tried to make up time on the block – a welcome thing to see. With the doors opened and passengers informed of where to get connection information, I thanked the crew and headed off into the hot mess that could be Chicago O’Hare Terminal 5.
Overall: Not counting the delay, this again was a rather well put together service. It’s also welcoming to see some catering improvements in flight (even if I didn’t see any ice cream service). Whilst the crew weren’t the friendliest, they weren’t the worst crew I’ve encountered on my travels.
But having a row of three seats was a nice benefit this flight. It helped more than I would ever care to admit.
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