A Coach, A Coach. My Kingdom for a Coach.
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 (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…
Arriving at Heathrow, I followed the rest of the cabin as we filed out of the aircraft – with the paramedics secure and working their important job in the front cabin of the aircraft.
Time to exercise those leg muscles!
Only one jetbridge is attached.
We had docked at Terminal 5 B Gates – which meant a walk to the transition area and then onto the UK Border.
A slightly smaller 787 than the one I took.
Well, there was an important thing to do first.
If you know, you know.
With that done and my body much more comfortable, I headed for the transit towards T5A and immigration.
I miss the bouncy travelators at Heathrow T4.
Down, down, deeper than down.
I went through the transit system that is employed – after all, this is a reasonable use of a rubber tyre people mover system. It was a possibility I could have walked to T5A (and to a point, that was tempting, but also, I forgot how much a transatlantic flight drains everything).
Popping out at T5A, I headed for the lifts, as it is one of the quickest ways to the immigration hall.
Arriving at the hall, I followed the ePassport line, then ducked out of it to the “rejects“ line (knowing full well the machine would reject my passport). At 10ish in the morning, it was reasonably busy at Immigration.
It took around 10 minutes to clear the manual passport inspection lane, but I was soon through.
From here, it was time to find out what belt my luggage would be spitting out of – with Belt 4 being the lucky belt that day.
Tum tee tum. Gotta love every codeshare on the planet to work out your actual flight.
I grabbed a trolley and sat for the inevitable wait.
Checking the Find My app, I confirmed at least both of my bags had landed successfully (which for some trips, British Airways couldn’t even manage that task), so it was just a matter of waiting, waiting and more waiting.
Well. The other bag changed to the UK later on. Although it wouldn’t be the first time BA left one of my bags behind in a different country.
Eventually, the red suitcase spat out, and then the ski bag followed it in short order. From here, it was a short walk to UK Customs and the Public Area.
With items in hand, I checked the coach times – if I rushed out, I could make the 11:35 coach back to Birmingham. However, that coach would take the best part of 5 hours to reach my destination, whereas the coach I was to be booked on would “only” take four hours.
To the public area.
I decided to stick to the coach I had booked, as I exited the secure area – and straight into Costa Coffee.
SOURCE OF CAFFEINE IDENTIFIED. MUST OBTAIN.
I’ve written about the loyalty experience before, but my most valuable Costa Coffee redemption of the year took place here – even if it only cost 15p than usual for my cup of sanity.
I love you, coffee.
It also gave me time to repack some of the bags to meet National Express’s luggage limits, as I had the joy of the coach shortly.
With everything nearly good enough for the coach home, it was a matter of keeping an eye on the coach times via the National Express tracker (as it was coming in from Gatwick). With the departure time drawing close, I made a walk to the coach stops – where it had just drawn up in the wrong parking spot.
My bags were accepted for travel, with the coach going to Wolverhampton. I climbed aboard and found two seats to myself for the trip back.
Good enough for the trip home, provided no new friends joined me. Thankfully, none did.
The coach had a controlled stopping pattern, with it going to Heathrow Central, then heading to Oxford, Birmingham Airport and finally Birmingham Digbeth Coach station – a route that normally takes 3 hours or so – but with daytime traffic (and peak time traffic), would take an extra hour.
I could have taken the train home, but to be honest, I was not in the mood to deal with London taxi drivers and the vagrancy that is Avanti West Coast’s, London North Western or Chiltern Railways timetable. Cross-city transfers with heavy luggage are not a fun activity, as I’ve proved multiple times (especially when suitcases decide that their zips don’t need to function anymore).
With a coach pre-paid for, I think I made the right choice for the ride home.
There’s still an airport out there.
Small model plane.
Bye, Central Bus Station.
The coach made good time out of Heathrow and started making good time to Oxford. I tried to catch a few winks of sleep, but it was not what I would call a successful experiment.
Even the coach has air distributors.
Choose an adventure…
Even accounting for late lunch hour traffic in Oxford, the coach made it out in reasonable time. I also got to see a bit of Oxford during the day… which was different.
Mainly the bus station.
Of course, the traffic started to jam the moment we hit the borders of the Birmingham box (the ring of motorways surrounding the Birmingham area, with traffic for the M42 splicing onto the M40).
The times that I thought were generous, were looking rather accurate now.
Elmdom International Airport.
After departing Birmingham Airport the bus made a diversion to the nearby train station, where there was a driver swap. With the swap completed, the coach continued down Coventry Road towards Digbeth Coach Station.
About 5 minutes late, the coach arrived at Digbeth Coach station – the coach gateway to Birmingham (if we exclude the Megabus and FlixBus stops in the open air).
Everything accounted for.
I retrieved my items (marvelling at Digbeth Coach station in the daylight – it’s rare I see it like this and normally when I’m arriving back from a trip) and headed straight to the taxi rank – where one taxi was waiting.
That would be perfect for the short ride home.
I’m amazed this is organised as it is.
I jumped it for the short ride home, as I was not in the mood to wait for an Uber or deal with going around in circles at peak. It was easier to just grab a taxi and head home.
For the princely sum of £10, I was at the gates of my flats.
A few minutes later, I was at my front door, ending this adventure.
Finally: The end for 2022? Maybe not.
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