Different Airlines – Same Routes – To Chicago with American Airlines and British Airways
Or “Oh Sandy. You came and you gave without thinking….”
- Cheap Flight? In the autumn? Which planet are you on? (The Introduction) – (THIS SECTION)
- To London, BA Galleries First, American Airlines FlAAgship Lounge
- AA99 – London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare International
- Crowne Plaza O’Hare
- Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- One-Time Exception: From Addison to Downtown – Riding the L
- Trials, Tribulations and Sandy
- O’Hare T3 and the American Airlines FlAAgship Lounge
- AA98 - Chicago O’Hare International to London Heathrow
- Homeward Bound
- Oh Sandy, you came and you gave without thinking… (The Wrap-up)
Enough of premium class shenanigans that I’ve written about a few times this year. It’s back to my traditional place – the back of the plane – as I see if this BA Gold is actually worth anything in the air or on the ground.
I also get to play with a new airlines – American Airlines who I seemly avoided for quite some years being a Star Gold.
However, this trip would be interrupted rudely. By a hurricane… but I’m getting ahead of myself…
Cheap Flight? In the autumn? Which planet are you on? (The Introduction)
Yes, I’m heading back to Chicago. It’s not surprisingly really – two trips a year to see friends and do some photography – there is never a reason not to go to the Windy City.
But with a trip like this on the horizon, it was time to head to the olde booking engines to see what I can find. And at the beginning of August, this was a case of > £500 fares (with £550 being the average fare).
And that’s just too expensive for what is essentially an 8 hour flight there and back down the back of the plane.
Now we know that most fares are primarily made up of tax and fuel surcharge, so anything to reduce the costs aid the cause would help at this point.
Thankfully, as the flames of the Paralympic cauldron were extinguished in London, British Airways kicked off a fare sale – and all the other airlines responded in turn, bringing down fares back into the sub £500 territory. What was £550 was now £475. And that’s an improvement no matter what way you cut it.
Looking at the fare – It was £124.99 return. Then we add the taxes and fuel surcharge – and well…
See http://boardingarea.com/blogs/ghettoife/2012/08/30/biritsh-airways-pushes-a-fair-tax-on-flying/ for my take on taxes and flying
I don’t really need to go further that is the madness of aviation do I? Tax and fuel surcharges. They’ll get you every time…
Anyway looking to the route. Now I’ve doing the Chicago hop (or variations thereafter) a fair few times – and one of the constant challenges is to keep the route “fresh” from being boring (dread to think – direct flights there and back!!!), so it was off to the fare engines to find something interesting. Heading out to Chicago, I like to arrive 1) early and 2) direct where possible so I can get the hell that is US Immigration done and dusted, whilst having the majority of the day to myself when I arrive. This pointed me to AA99 – the 07:45 flight from Heathrow (which is practically the same time that flight UA923 pushes back from T1)
The going home part was the tough bit as 1) wanted something indirect for an extra few Tier Points and 2) wanted a BA flight on the final leg. Looking around at the thinning options (which included a transfer from LGA to JFK… err. no, AA to AA at JFK, to BOS), I found a set of flights that would connect in Philadelphia.
Whilst I’ve been through PHL before with US Airways… I haven’t with AA and BA. Considering this was also £5 more expensive than going direct on the way home, the ticket was booked and that was that.
Next is the issue of hotels. And this is where I went splat big-time. For these trips, I tend to base myself out of the Hyatt Regency O’Hare – mainly because the conference I attend is there – so I tend to book 4 or 5 days at one hotel for convenience’s sake.
Alas that idea went out of the window when I found the reduced rate I normally use was only available for 3 of the 5 nights. I booked those nights (as the by the time the conference winds down, it’s 2am in the morning and I have to be up by 9am bright and bushy-tailed), and considered my next options.
Thankfully, Rosemont in Chicago has a “few” hotels in the area (mainly because Chicago O’Hare is around the corner), so there are multiple options depending which chain I want to be loyal to… and being myself, I plumped with ICHG.
For the first night I decided that The Crown Plaza was pricing out attractively, so that was a no-brainer and was booked instantly. For the Sunday Night/Monday morning, I decided to flex my AMB status and go for the Intercontinental O’Hare… because I could really. That and a 4pm checkout would dovetail nicely towards my flight home.
See – planning at work!
To get to London, it’s the usual 2:45 coach from Birmingham to Heathrow, and on the way home - I had a spare train return portion for the Chiltern Railways service. Which is nice.
So Three hotels, Three Flights, 1 coach journeys a train ride and maybe a One-Time Exception.
Alas, not everything went to plan as a hurricane would throw some of this trip into disarray.. Hunker down, get some drinks as I go the AAmerican way…