Fall fun in the Windy City
To Chicago with American Airlines and British Airways in Economy Class seating
In this adventure:
- Still trying to keep it different
- Great. A Broken Down Coach…
- Cathay Pacific Lounge, Heathrow Terminal 3
- AA99 London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare (Main Cabin Extra)
- Avid Hotel, Chicago O’Hare
- Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- Airplane Art from the Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- Table for One – Time for Food
- Trying a different Deep Dish Pizza (Pequods)
- Night-Time fun with the iPhone 14 Pro
- Return to much busier Chicago O’Hare Terminal 5
- BA296 Chicago O’Hare to London Heathrow (World Traveller)
- A Coach, A Coach. My Kingdom for a Coach
- Not the end, for 2022… maybe…
It is time to step away from the wonderfully wide and premium seats and travel back to the roots of this blog – long-distance Economy Class travel.
Whilst there might not be much that glamorous about this joy of travel, it is an important segment we cover on the blog.
Why? Business and First class can be very much “aspirational” products which are only achievable with bargain airfares, a butt-ton of miles or when someone else is paying up. And I hate to be blunt – most of the plane is sitting sandwiched in the tight economy class seats rather than in the plus wide open spaces of business class.
So I think keeping an eye on the transatlantic passenger experience is an important thing – least of all, we can see what is happening in the cabin, what changes there are and if things have improved.
Or got worse.
If you have been paying attention, you would have noticed the Snapshots that turned up for this trip report earlier. Well, we are now onto the hard part – the long opinionated written word.
I will yatter on, however. Also, this is the perfect time for an annoying disclaimer.
Whilst I am using Grammarly a lot more than I should (dyslexia is a pig and gets me most days of the week), my usual detractors who moan about my spelling and grammar can read this press release I wrote a few years ago about this inconstancy and how I deal with it.
Still trying to keep it a little different
Whist the Chicago runs have been fewer than I want (thanks, pandemic), I do like to keep the trip as interesting as possible – if for my personal sanity rather than anything else.
I started looking at this trip in August, and the flights I wanted were going to cost me body parts this time, with an economy class return setting back £640 or so.
I held off on purchasing a ticket for a bit, hoping the fare gods would change their minds and that prices might fall in due course. £640 would have been the highest fare would have ever paid for this transatlantic run.
Thankfully, the British Airways sale arrived on the 1st of September – and fares dropped comparatively hard, with my Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare fare dropping to £559 return in Economy.
That is not ideal, as that is still a lot of dough to go across the pond – but at this point – I will take it, compared to the sky-high fare earlier.
I kept an eye on Premium Economy seating prices- but there were other cost pressures at the House of Kevin – namely the car insurance bill was due. Which for any car owner in any country is never a nice thing to see. Combined with a few things, September was an expensive month that needed to be managed. It also does not help the cost of living crisis is biting everywhere.
I’ve also got in the habit of making sure there is enough cash to clear the credit cards off each month, so there was little flex if I wanted it.
I kept my fingers crossed for upgrade space for at least the return journey (as Premium Economy would have been a £1000 extra on the way out – on the way back it was a mere £279). To say I overslept on this is an understatement, however.
With the flights selected, it was time to move on to hotels. As usual, I would be in the Hyatt Regency O’Hare for most of it. For the day that arrived, I looked at the IHG portfolio – and found a new brand to play with – Avid. This is IHG’s new discount brand that they have been building out, so I had a vague interest in it – even though by the time taxes and everything hit, it was still nearly £100 for a night. Alas, my usual choices were out of my price range.
I idly looked at Heathrow hotels the night before and quickly decided against it (Something of £144 for a Heathrow hotel put me off), switching back to the classic of National Express for at least the way out.
For the return back to Birmingham from Heathrow – I booked National Express again – however, I paid the excess to change the ticket – as the Heathrow Lottery could mean I wait for 10 minutes or two hours to get out of the airport.
And £5 for that peace of mind was worth it – even if it bumped by fare to over £51 for a return ticket.
With that, I only had one other problem to worry about – caused by our political elite and the markets – which was kicking the British Pound around like a happy sack.
To say I was annoyed would be like saying that <sentence redacted by the editor>. It seems that Cashback and Fee-Free Currency Exchange cards are going to be my best friend on this trip.
With that, let us head to Chicago. And see if I can escape with my shirt intact.
Or not, as the case may be.
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