Great. A broken-down coach with a dead battery. Wonderful. Just… Wonderful.
Fall fun in the Windy City
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
- Avid Hotel, Chicago O’Hare
- Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- Airplane Art from the Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- Night-Time fun with the iPhone 14 Pro
- Trying a different Deep Dish Pizza (Pequods)
- Return to O’Hare Terminal 5
- BA296 Chicago O’Hare to London Heathrow
- Where’s the coach?
- Not the end, for 2022… maybe.
After a busy evening of final packing (and of course, forgetting things as usual), 2:15 in the morning rolled around. It was time to get my crap out of the flat and into an Uber.
And thankfully, there was one at 2:15 in the morning. That was one thing off my mind. The driver deposited me to the side of Digbeth coach station, which required me to move my backside to the front of the building.
Those who know how I travel will know that was a challenge that was not needed at 2:30 in the morning.
By the time I had entered the building, the coach was readying for boarding. Maybe my timing has finally improved in life.
Thankfully, the coach started boarding. As this coach had come from Wolverhampton, it was rather empty – which is sometimes rather nice for a long coach trip.
At 2:45 the repeated announcement “stand clear of the doors, mind your head” started playing.
The coach driver tried to turn over the coach engine… and nothing. Absolutely nothing. It turned out the coach had a dead battery and needed a jump start.
Sigh. This is not what I needed – with this eating into check-in and lounge time. It took 30 minutes for a breakdown truck to reach us. With a jump, the engine of the coach came to life.
That was the good news. The bad news was that the cabin lights were still out.
This required another 15 minutes of fiddling with the coach before it was jumped into life.
At around 3:23, we were finally underway.
This is not going to end well.
Not the best start to the journey, to put it bluntly. Thankfully, the coach driver had two tricks up his sleeve to try and save time. With no one scheduled for pick up at either Birmingham Airport or Warwick Parkway, they planned to skip those stops, with just Coventry to pick up passengers
Not ideal (and with a dead battery, which increases the risk massively if the engine stalls), but the driver chose to press on.
National Express has been working on its coaches recently, and the fleet is slowly being upgraded – the main upgrade is, of course, USB-A sockets front and centre in front of you (as opposed to using a mains adaptor).
This is an improvement.
The legroom is its usual 31ish” seat pitch self. Thankfully, the coach was lightly loaded – so I had two seats to myself for the run down to Heathrow.
At Coventry, someone was watching over the engine so it did not stall, whilst the seven passengers who had been waiting patiently boarded the coach.
With that, the driver took off and headed down the A46 before finally hitting the M40. With a few minutes here and there, we were estimated to hit Heathrow around 5:45 instead of 6 am.
That left check-in a lot tighter than I would normally want – but what I could I do? Oh yes. Check-in for the flight.
Meh. I’m filling this under “details”.
With that paperwork done (and checking the middle seat was still free), I idly tried to put on for Same-Day Standby (this being an AA flight). Of course, that does not work internationally.
Resigned that I would be rushing around Heathrow like a blue-assed fly when I got there – I closed my eyes to rest as best I could.
Well, what else could I do at that exact moment?
Although this new sign made me laugh.
Going up and down the M40 on a coach so often, you can tell when you’re hitting the Chilterns when you’re peeling off the M40 and it’s time to start waking up – as the M25 and M4 are never far away.
Thankfully, travelling London’s largest parking lot was a lot more tolerable and free-moving that day, as was the M4 (without the need to do odd manoeuvres around it).
Soon, the coach was racing down the Heathrow approach road and finally under the tunnel of love runway, popping out near the central bus station.
Into the tunnel
With ease, the driver parked up at Heathrow airport at 5:45.
I retrieved my items and grabbed a trolley. With a good 30 minutes down (and the rest) – I was not in the mood to hang around and needed to get my crap checked in.
I said move it.
There was only one song going through my mind at this time.
Sorry, Christopher Cross fans. This version works better for me.
Heading downstairs, I played tourist guide to a few people, directing them where to go, then made my own mad dash towards Terminal 3, knowing that I was pushing it for luggage deadlines.
I popped out at Terminal 3 and as usual, tried to guess where American Airlines processes its premium passengers. This time, we would be in Zone D.
Press Control+Alt+Del to log in.
I headed to the check-in zone, to be stopped by a gatekeeper. With the keeper happy I was an elite-level passenger, I was allowed to proceed to the check-in queue.
Thankfully, there was near enough no wait to be seen and I was directed to an agent. I was asked when I was heading to, and my first bag was accepted for travel.
I then attempted to check my second bag in, and the agent piped up what it would cost. I asked them to review the fare and oneworld rules, which allowed me to take two bags.
That was met with an “oh.. Is your status in the ticket?” click-click “oh it is”.
The second bag was accepted for travel without further discussion. With that, I was given my boarding pass and the luggage slips.
With a boarding pass in hand, I headed upstairs to security – whilst I was in the airport and I had some time to myself, time was not exactly a luxury I had to waste it.
I skipped past the normal queue and headed straight to the FastTrack area. In a major show of efficiency, I cleared the entire security process in under four minutes flat.
Although something was going off in the back of my mind. Laptop, Camera… something is missing….
Hmm. It’ll come to me at the most inconvenient moment.
As I had no purchases to make in the terminal (or time to browse for electronics I couldn’t justify) I headed off to the Cathay Pacific Lounge for breakfast.
Because after that race at Heathrow, I needed fuel. And there was a glass of bubbly with my name on it (and it wasn’t going to be in the AA lounge – that’s for sure).
Next: Cathay Pacific Lounge, Business Class side.
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