Sweet Home Chicago
AA87 London Heathrow Terminal 3 to Chicago O’Hare International Terminal 5 (Main Cabin Extra)
- 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
AA87 London Heathrow to Chicago
American Airlines A87,
Seat 18L, Main Cabin Extra
3953 miles flown, 20 Tier points earned, 988 Base Avios Earned
Heading down the jetbridge, there was a small queue, but I was welcomed aboard and headed down to the Main Cabin Extra.
The Business class cabin seemed to be rather busy, whilst Premium Economy was doing some good business later during boarding.
Then we come to Main Cabin Extra, where the passengers thinned out considerably.
I made my way to the seat (the row after the bulkhead. Why this seat? Well, I like to have things available to access (and not in the overhead all the time). In addition, if my luck held out, I would have a flatbed across the pond.
I was greeted by name as I came to my seat – the flight attendant was doing a little cleanup and maintenance on a seat. That was a nice touch – a sign that the flight may be good.
With the plane filling up in the rear economy cabin, I was crossing everything that more people didn’t check-in for the flight. Thankfully, my wish came true – with boarding completed early, and doors going to close a lot earlier than scheduled.
It was to the point the plane was pushing back a good 10 minutes early from Heathrow.
With that, our Boeing 777-200ER pushed back for its long journey to Chicago, with a block time of 8 hours and 15 minutes ahead.
The safety video played, with the obvious drop-ins added and the clapping at the end faded out. I’m not against this safety video – although the self-congratulating part of it being edited to silence is a good move.
Although I am partial to a good old fashioned safety card.
Our aircraft taxied out of the Terminal 3 zone and made its way past Terminal 5, with our aircraft set to make a London-facing departure.
There was a short delay to make it to the runway as other local traffic was making itself known.
With our turn, the engines roared, propelling the Boeing 777-200ER into the sky.
With the aircraft skyborne, IFE was ready for consumption. After these messages.
Of course, Airline executives have something big about loading an entire season of a TV show on their devices, rather, preferring to load 4 episodes at a time on their systems.
I chose 30 Rock to start with. The Panasonic ex3 system felt a lot more sluggish than previous uses of the system – I’m not sure why, but it didn’t feel responsive to touch initially.
To fill the time and annoy people, I chose this as the perfect time to use the Wi-Fi. Connectivity on this aircraft is provided by Panasonic with a Ku connectivity solution. Various options were available – I chose a flight pass, using PayPal for the $35 for onboard connectivity.
Bandwidth was pretty good out of London and covered areas, however, it got a lot flaky later on, requiring multiple sign-ins and the system not responding well until we were well over Canada.
Once the aircraft had settled into its cruising attitude, onboard service began. As the aircraft had departed after 10:00, this would be a “lunch” service.
A choice of pasta or chicken was given – I went for the chicken. What wonders would I encounter?
Food came first, followed by a drink, with a choice of Chicken or Pasta. I went for the chicken.
This would be a black bean sauce chicken, with rice with kidney beans. This was served with a pretzel stick, salad, cheese and chock cocoa cake.
The salad was mostly non-offensive – with a dressing to go over it which was welcome. The pretzel baton could have been used as a weapon.
As for the main dish… well… umm… I’m going to call the rice with kidney beans “inspired” and leave it at that. Not what I would have chosen personally, with a chicken stock may be going a lot better than kidney beans. At least the black bean chicken was well seasoned.
At the same time the meal service went out, the snack service came with it.
With the IFE system rather full of junk, I settled on the 1989 version of Batman (Michael Keaton) to fall asleep to (and there’s only one Batman for me – the Bright Knight that was Adam West).
And on three seats, it’s not impossible to use it as a flatbed – rather if you’ve had a two-seater Ikea Kipllan sofa in the past, you’ll know how to curl up on it – and that’s what I did.
I managed a solid three hours rest across the pond – I considered that a win.
I didn’t notice if there was a mid-flight service – however, it seemed the crew were happy to hide in the galley for most of the flight.
I on the other hand needed to be entertained. I needed a film set in Illinois, about party times. Yes, of course, it is the classic film Wayne’s World.
Yes, I am of the age that I think it’s a masterpiece of a film, with the fun of a film, the cameos and Tia Carrie singing. You might have a different opinion.
As party time continued, the arrivals service commenced, This would be a drink and a choice of a four-cheese or pepperoni folded pizza.
Ah yes. I forgot about how… variable the second service aboard an aircraft can be.
Second services in Economy Class are designed to be given up quickly and collected quickly at the end of service. The folded pizza met that requirement without any trouble
The folded pizza itself wasn’t too bad, with a reasonable amount of pepperoni inside it. It filled the spot I had after being aboard the aircraft.
And I was glad I had the extra water – in interior terms, the Boeing 777 ages badly against the 787 in terms of passenger humidity levels and by the post-flight, my skin was well and truly dry.
The service was cleared down and the aircraft prepared for landing. It took a route over Lake Michigan, aligning itself for arrival over Lake Shore and into O’Hare.
Interestingly, the TSA Bob video did not play – I was starting to think what fun and game would exist when I got onto the ground. Well one of them showed up – we would be docking at Gate M21 – pretty much the far side of Terminal 5.
That would be a problem I would have to deal with when I arrived.
With ease, the Boeing 777-200ER arrived at its home of Chicago O’Hare making a touchdown.
With the aircraft pulling off the runway, it began a 10-minute taxi around O’Hare airport.
By 13:01, we were approaching our gate at the far end of Terminal 5, where the aircraft was directed to the gate.
With the engines powering down, it was time to stretch and grab my stuff. The crew did not control the flow of people exiting the aircraft, which meant it was every person for themselves.
With my turn to exit coming, I thanked the crew and headed off to the joy of US Immigration.
Overall: Not bad at all to put it mildly. Whilst I would have preferred the Boeing 787’s that used to ply this route, the 777 provided a comfortable passenger experience – mainly because it was empty in my row. I suspect I would have said other things if American Airlines managed to sell out all the seats in a 3-4-3 seat formation.
The catering wasn’t out the world impressive – but it at least “matched” what I had in the “before” times – although they seem to have cut back their service runs during the flight to the two main services only (for example, splitting the welcome snack and breakfast run, rather than combining it into one.
As for the crew – warm and welcoming – perhaps the most important thing of all.
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