Sweet Home, Chicago
Back to the Windy City (at last) with American Airlines and British Airways
- Well, it’s been a long two years, hasn’t it?
- Testing, Testing, Swab 1-2-3…
- Off to Heathrow (Take the coach they say. It’s fun they say)
- Cathay Pacific T3 lounge, Heathrow Airport
- AA87 London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare International (Main Cabin Extra)
- Into the USA, Crown Plaza O’Hare
- Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- Airplane Art from the Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- Fooding around Chicago… Badly
- Starbucks Reserve Rosterary, North Michigan Avenue
- Exploring Chicago with a smartphone
- Back to O’Hare, British Airways Lounge
- BA296 Chicago O’Hare to London Heathrow (World Traveller Plus – Premium Economy)
- Welcome back to the UK, or how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory
- To the Journey
Editors rambling introduction: Admit it. You’ve missed me putting myself through the mill on long haul economy and premium economy flights. But… we’re back. I want to say hello to friends for the first time in two years in person. And one city does that best for me: Chicago.
And yes, this is a traditional long-haul Kevin trip report. With all the grammar mistakes you’ve come to expect. Grab a deep-dish pizza and get comfy. It’s another ride into the world of passenger experience, flying, lounges and maybe a poor deep dish pizza.
Yes, they do exist.
Well, it’s been a long two years, hasn’t it?
But as things ease, it’s time to reconnect with something important: friends. Whilst email, messages and other video services offer the chance to connect, there’s nothing like meeting up with friends in person to celebrate and be happy.
I missed out on travelling in October last year – as the US was still limiting which citizens of certain countries it would let in. Of course, by November the US entry risk model changed.
I also had personal problems in September/October, making that trip less likely than not. But I’ve “mostly” healed at this point, making Chicago viable again.
Of course, how to get there and back becomes the question. Normally, I’d be looking for crazy and wild routings. Why? They’re fun. They add a little drama.
However, with things in the world as they are, I decided to err on the side of caution and just chose direct flights for this trip.
Boring, but when restrictions are a little easier, I’m sure I can find some bat-crazy routings.
I booked the ticket during the British Airways January sale. In terms of flight times, I’m looking for the earliest flight to get into the city to allow me to do things, and a late flight back to maximise my time and holiday.
Alas, the Human Malware has taken its toll on the timetable, with what I consider to be an “early” flight long since scrapped (the 07:50 departure), with the first departure of the day at 10:35 with American Airlines. Meanwhile, the last departure of the day is operated by British Airways in the evening departing at 21:35 to get me into Heathrow after 10 am the next day.
In the grand scheme of things, I filed that under “that would do”, compared to the usual joy of things. For comfort purposes, I chose Economy Class on the way out and Premium Economy on the way home. For £580 – it is about the same price I was paying a couple of years ago.
Onto hotels. And if this seems far too familiar, it’s life. Its order. It’s a sense of normality.
For the first night, I would be at the Crowne Plaza O’Hare – as the price was right for a redemption (11k points + £26), whilst I would be on a group rate at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare for the rest of my stay.
As for getting to the airport, I decided National Express would be the order of the day. Getting back, timings were 1) all over the place and 2) not attractive (because spending 5 hours plus on a coach was not my idea of “fun”). I, therefore, filed that under “I’ll deal with that when I get back to the United Kingdom”.
On reflection, that was one hell of a good idea.
In addition, I needed to get two sets of Supervised tests done – one for check-in purposes and one for the event I was to see my friends at – both of them were done with ExpressTest, which offered a supervised AntiGen test for £35.
So, with all the preparation done, it was time to do something I did last year. Head to Birmingham Airport for a supervised antigen test.
Next: Testing, Testing
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