Indirect fun – To Chicago with America Airlines and Finnair
Or… Back to the back of the aircraft with thee.
In this adventure
- How much is it this time??? (The introduction)
- Early Morning National Express, Mid Moring Terminal 3
- Elegantly Lounging around Terminal 3
- AA99 London Heathrow to Chicago (Main Cabin Extra)
- Into the USA, Crowne Plaza O’Hare
- Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- Airplane Art Extra: From the Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- Chicago Classics: Mannys Deli and Cafeteria
- Bench Test and First Impressions: Canon EOS R50
- Back to Central Camera Chicago
- Back to O’Hare, Swissport Lounge Chicago T5
- Finnair AY10 Chicago O’Hare to Helsinki Vantaa
- A quick ground-side visit, and an even quicker stop at the Finnair Lounge
- Finnair AY1337 to Heskink Vantaa to London Heathrow
- An unexpected coach home
- Expect the Unexpected
We’ve hit autumn this year. That, in itself, is amazing, considering parts of the year I’ve had so far and some of the things that have happened.
For those of you who are new to the blog, welcome to my traditional second transatlantic flight of the year to Chicago, which I try to spice up a little – beyond the there and back again. Even in an A380, they get a little boring.
For those who know, welcome back to the usual chaos of a Chicago trip, back in my traditional home – Economy Class.
I’ve got the route is a little tried and tested, but I’ve laid enough fun in it – and maybe an adventure of the way. For now, please sit back and relax. This is going to be fun.
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.
HOW ******* MUCH IS IT THIS TIME?
Expletives removed by the author.
The cost of living comes to us all – however, it seems to hurt more when spending more for less. This is the case for this trip, where I need to be in Chicago at a relatively peak time in the autumn,
Combined with the joy of School holidays, basic return fares between London and Chicago were coming in at £550 return + baggage, taking it well into the £650 and beyond.
Because airlines love to unbundle everything, and then make you pay for things again.
I waited like I normally would for the sale season to kick in – and the prices dropped to… wait for it people… £611 including baggage (£511 without).
For reference, I paid an economy and premium economy ticket in March this year for £541. I’m filing that as “Hurting” in cost terms.
Heck, I’m near Premium Economy Prices for this run if I go at other times of the year (and if that’s not a massive hint of what’s in the backlog, I don’t know what is).
Anyhoo. I was close to booking this on British Airways fare engine and using the 2000 Avios I would earn to get £20 off for this trip. Then my brain went into overdrive. What was American Airlines offering? Whilst I couldn’t use Avios on the route, I might get something a little more interesting – to put it mildly.
And there were interesting things. Initially, I tried to build a long layover in New York – and that flopped faster than me saying “Has anyone got a Buffolant for trade, please?”.
But, interesting options were opening – beyond the usual Philadelphia or Charlotte transfer.
I narrowed it down to three options for the way home
- The simple route – take a British Airways A380 from Chicago O’Hare to Heathrow – I’ve played aboard this aircraft twice already this year… so it is not high on the agenda
- Take an American Airlines 737 MAX to Dallas-Fort Worth, then backtrack to Heathrow – I was tempted, as I haven’t flown a MAX yet.
- Over to Helsinki and down to Heathrow with Finnair – whilst this might be the longest way, it seemed a lot more fun, as I’d be able to stop for a few things I wanted at the airport.
And let’s be honest, I need a Fazer bar of chocolate (and other things).
It took a few days for me to finally settle on a few things (not helped by emergency callouts by friends), but in the end, I slammed the hammer down on a ticket routing me directly to Chicago on the outbound and sending via Helsinki Airport on the way back.
Going early in the morning is never a debate – it means I have a substantial amount of the day to myself at my destination – as opposed to waiting aboard an aircraft.
The extra tier points – are beside the point (all 10 of them – but you never know how that will turn out in the final analysis).
For hotels, night one is always a question – mainly because I want to be active when landing. I checked the properties around – but in the end, it was a choice between the Avid and the Crowne Plaza – the Avid for costs (at around £80 for a night) or the Crown Plaza (around £120 for a night).
Given I would be in Ubers/Lyfts after I landed, going to various outlets and doing business, the extra fees add up – making the Crowne Plaza more than cost-effective (after all – going up and down the Manhime Road is no fun).
For the rest of the trip, I would be staying with my friends at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare.
Finally, we need to get connectivity to and from the airport. And this is where things went splat rather quickly.
Travelling in the dead of the night means National Express. With the timings on the return… questionable (mainly thanks to the variance of Heathrow baggage collection), I bought a single ticket and would deal with the return journey when I got to Heathrow as it is impossible to guess how the handling at the airport is (and previous experiences have lead to one-hour ways and beyond).
Even if National Express has shrunk its baggage options by a lot.
With that, it’s time to head to the Windy City and traverse the 3912+ miles across the Atlantic…
NEXT: 2:15 in the Morning. Bliss. Sheer. Utter. Bliss.
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