AA99 London Heathrow to Chicago, Economy Class.
Back into action, Back to the Back – To Chicago with American Airlines, American Eagle and British Airways
Part 2: AA99 London Heathrow Airport T3 to Chicago O’Hare International T5 (booked as BA1540)
American Airlines, Main Cabin, 26J, Boeing 777-200ER – 4th April 2013
3953 miles flown, 35 Tier Points, 7906 Avios earned.
I was welcomed aboard (and surprised the lead flight attendant with my iPhone Boarding Pass – Yes, an actual use for the Passbook App), and was directed to the right hand side of the plane to find my seat.
Eventually, I found my seat – 1 row behind the seat I was in last time. So I moaned about how tight row 25 is on an AA 777. How tight is row 26? A lot better surprisingly. For starters my knees weren’t touching the seat in front of me.
Either 1) I’ve lost a lot of weight (unlikely) 2) I removed everything behind me or 3) A seat isn’t just a seat as usually is.
No matter. It was relatively comfortable (which for a TATL flight is important), and I had my window views. These things are good for me.
Boarding in progress
As boarding was being completed, a crewmember informed me that the headphones were not found – well – at least they tried, and that’s important in my book.
Boarding completed on schedule, with the seat next to me occupied for the leg across the pond – not a big thing as this AA 777-200 is in the classic 2-5-2 layout. Meanwhile pushback was delayed 20 minutes or so due to a plane behind us in the way (our plane was docked at gate 323, so there’s a bit of waiting sadly to get out of the airport).
For me, I took the opportunity for start dozing after the safety video had finished. Bear in mind I got the best part of an hour on the coach, and didn’t have time to doze due to the rush to pack to get out of the front door. One pushback was complete, the plane begun a slow taxi past the T5 complex, finally lining up for 09R, where after a short wait, the powerful engines spooled up… and off we went.
New Colours waiting
BA 747-400’s at T5B
Climbout was it’s usual powerful self, and soon enough we were tracking towards Wales, Ireland and the Atlantic Ocean.
Now, sitting in the first section of the Main Cabin has its benefits – few as they are – the fact is if you’re wanting food you get served first – as the trolleys start from the first section.
So here’s the tray – I went for the omelette.
Since towards the end of my last USA trip, I discovered Lactaid, which in situations like being in a plane and going out help an awful lot if I can’t avoid milk based products. It makes life a little easier even though I avoid milk based products like the plague at home…
So lets look at the tray – and it seems AA has better caterers out of LHR than United as the omelette wasn’t burned. It’s a small thing, but of makes a big difference. The vegetable mix that accompanied it wasn’t a bad thing, making a nice warm savoury dish. Meanwhile, the fruit was fresh – although there was a lot of melon. Guess there was a special on melon that day when AA put the food orders in.
I took out the contents of the nibble tray for later, as well as the bottle of water… and there was a hand-collection of trays in some parts of the cabin (including at my row). As my seatmate had gone to the small room, I got the laptop out to help me write during the flight later on.
And as much as I tried to get some rest, it just was not happening. Normally I rest my head against the bulkhead, but I seemed to slip my head onto the window rather than the bulkhead. Even padding the side with a pillow or didn’t help. Certainly the headrest didn’t do much for me sadly.
Eventually, I gave up on the idea of rest and decided to get on with some work
Hang on – wait a second… No GettoIFE? Is the world ending?
No dear friends, I haven’t given up on my iPhone in a sickbag concept that has failed to take off. Nor did I forget to pull out the craplet (my Chinese cheap £58 tablet I bought in Hong Kong that’s on the frizz again).
I had other fish to fry… and write up.
Most of you know I do a lot of “grown up” photography as well as travel photography . Well this trip, I would be running a class on “grown up” photography (and maybe… I’ll put the slide deck up – however, it’s not for family viewing…)
Therefore most of the time I had my ageing Apple MacBookPro (that has seen plenty of miles) out, and now a seemingly dying battery that has “Service battery”, whilst trying to type up this trip report, and preparing a presentation that seemingly needing tweaking a lot of time.
Writing more than one thing at once… presentation in the background, a bit of a trip report at the front..
So how hard is this in an economy seat with no extra power?
The flippy uppey two part try table helps a lot in my initial experiments, and whilst tight – there’s a comfortable typing position with room to breath. On the plus side if you negotiate the laptop to the right, not a lot of space is impeded. It also helps when the person in front of you doesn’t recline their seat.
During my interactions with the crew, they were in a good mood, and were happy to help – even engaging me in a discussion about Diet Coke.
It’s the little things that matter – it showed the crew were human and were willing to help.
Meanwhile, the views outside didn’t disappoint as the plane crossed Canada
About 1 1/2 hours to go, the 2nd service was delivered. Again, a proper tray meal – looking something like this:
Well I think the bread thing is a pizza related item, and the pasta is pasta. The pastry item was hot, along with the filling (although not easy to cut up with plastic cutlery), whilst the pasta was nicely chilled with the vegetables nicely caramelised.
So it is possible to have two TATL meals that aren’t rubbish down the back of the plane. Wonders will never cease…
And yes, I did have a nude GhettoIFE system… more commonly known as an iPhone. Now everyone got the Emergency Services new number? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab8GtuPdrUQ
The plane was cleared down, and I took my chance to do paperwork, stow the laptop and get ready for landing.
Beginning to cross Lake Michigan
Meanwhile, Gate and Transfer data was broadcasted to seats
All was secured long before we crossed the other side of Lake Michigan, with the plane vectoring in for Chicago.
Crossing the north shore.
Soon enough, the wheels were down and the Boeing 777 touched down at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
A bit of a taxi, passing the grounded LOT Polish Airlines 787, and a turn – we quickly arrived at the terminal. Meanwhile – pulling up at the same time was a United Airlines 777. This was not what I wanted to see, as there would be now two planeloads of passengers trying to funnel through US Immigration. A limbering up and running would be needed once off the plane…
Uh oh (the United 777 beginning to dock)
The plane docked at the International Terminal, and we were allowed to disembark.
Overall: Another solid performance by AA. Keeping the product simple and delivering the product constantly are good things in my book. The staff made the service very acceptable. However, I wish the alignments on the seats were slightly better against the bulkhead…
Next: Hyatt Regency O’Hare