Firstly an apology… I have very few photos. This is not like me but I decided that on this trip I would relax more than I normally do on trips so I haven’t been looking for photos to take. I hope that it doesn’t make the post too dry.
A lot has happened over the past few days. I’ll concentrate on the highlights…
Newquay to London Heathrow
This is the first time I have taken this route. My normal route to LHR from my home near Plymouth, Devon, is either by car or train. This time, as FlyBe has started flights to LHR I thought I’d give it a go.
To be honest, I wish I hadn’t!
The flight was fine but by the time I had driven the hour and a half to Newquay, waited for the flight, flown to LHR and then made my way to the hotel it was no quicker than either of my two normal options. In fact, it was probably a bit longer! It certainly was more expensive even if you take fuel and parking into account.
So will I be flying to LHR again from Newquay? Probably not!
Wrong Day Scare!
My first flight from LHR was to Bucharest. I boarded the flight and sat down and as I hadn’t yet set my phone to flight mode I received an email. Reading it gave me a huge scare…
It was from Amercan Airlines telling me that my flight from LHR to JFK was on time… THAT DAY! Not the next day!
What should I do? I was boarded on a flight to Bucharest and was due to return to LHR next day to get the flight to JFK but here was an email saying my flight to JFK was today.
We hadn’t yet completed boarding so I spoke to the flight Customer Service Manager (CSM). He was the chief flight attendant for the flight. He looked at the email and checked my ticket. The ticket was correct so he suggested that it was possibly just a glitch at American Airlines. So I stayed on board and went to Bucharest.
The following morning, before going to the airport, I called American Airlines and they confirmed it was a glitch. Phew! For a while I thought I would miss the flight and have the whole trip cancelled.
I could relax.
I have to say that the crew of the BA flight were superb.
Vienna House Hotel – Bucharest, Romania
The hotel is a short walk from the airport or a free shuttle exists but unless it is raining it makes more sense to walk.
The hotel itself was OK but nothing special. The first room I was given had the window blinds on the floor so I couldn’t black out the room so they changed my room without a quibble.
The second room was so hot it made sleep impossible. The heating/aircon system was still in heating mode so I couldn’t cool the room and as the window had a balcony where others could walk I didn’t feel safe sleeping with the window open. So I roasted and didn’t sleep. This was to come back to kick me later in the trip.
I was on a dinner and breakfast package. The dinner was OK but not special and the breakfast was again… adequate but nothing special. All in all, although I had no major complaints, I was disappointed with the hotel. I was due to return to the hotel on my return leg but I have cancelled. I’ll take my chances with a different hotel.
American Airlines – LHR – JFK
I had never flown AA before so I was looking forward to this flight. On boarding I was a little disappointed with the business class seating arrangement. The suit was actually excellent. Very comfortable and with lots of storage space. My issue was with how the seats are angled away from the windows. I love to look out and the seat arrangement make this difficult to see anything much. It is a small gripe and when you are paying so much for the flight and you have a choice between airlines and different seating arrangements it is important.
The service from the crew was very good although I couldn’t say that it was a whole lot better than BA… it was just different.
Would I fly AA transatlantic again? Yes, but I might prefer BA, especially as there are additional AVIOS with flying BA and this may be the differentiator for me. They weren’t so far apart for much else to matter.
The AA pilot was a bit of comedian though asking us to keep our hands and feet inside the aircraft at all times!
New York to Los Angeles
I had chosen this route in part to fly the trans-continental flight with AA. They use an Airbus A321T. The A321 is normally a short-haul aircraft and BA has some for flights within Europe. But the A321T is the longhaul version and so it was a bit of a novelty to try it out.
The seating was a bit weird with the business seats in a 2-2 arrangement with the 2 seats each side of the cabin next to each other but slightly staggered. I was in the window seat and although the seats were lay-flat beds it meant I had to step over the legs of the person in the aisle seat to get out. I didn’t like this. It was similar to the current Club World seat with BA but it felt much more difficult in this arrangement. As it was, I only needed to get out once so not really a big issue but I didn’t really like it much.
Apart from that the flight was a good one and 100% full with lots of people of stand-by.
Lack of Sleep
With not getting much sleep in Bucharest, and combined with me not sleeping much on aircraft, I arrived at LAX exhausted. By that time I had been up for 24 hrs. I need a coffee (or two!) but on arrival at LAX I found everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, closed. Here was one of the busiest, biggest, airports in the world all shut up for the night. I found this particularly strange as they have departures and arrivals all night.
I refused to believe that the whole airport was closed and so I wandered from terminal to terminal hunting down coffee… there was none to be found! The entire airport closes from about 1am to 5am with all restaurants, cafes and shops shut.
To make it even worse, all the seating has armrests so it wasn’t easy to find somewhere to go horizontal for a few hours sleep. Most people that were over-nighting in the terminals were on the floor. I decided not to risk it. I was so tired that if I did get to sleep I felt there was a good chance I wouldn’t wake in time for my flight so I stayed away and wandered the terminals talking in the surreal ambience of the empty airport.
It wasn’t so bad. I toughed it out until 4am when the AA lounge opened and I could get coffee and something to eat.
My LAX experience was not what I expected but it is a lesson learned… don’t stay at LAX airport overnight!
If only I was not so tired!
The flight from LAX to Phoenix (PHX) was to be a short one of only 1:15hrs. Again, the flight was totally bookedwith loads on the standby list. We boarded and when the last passenger was on board the flight attendant made an announcement… she wanted a volunteer to offload and take the next flight so someone else could board. As compensation they were offering $600 and a guaranteed seat on the next flight. If I was not so tired my hand would ahve been one of the first up. As it was I couldn’t contemplate any more time out of my bed. I made one guy’s day. He said this would pay for a trip to Europe… good for him!
Apparently this happens quite often here in the USA. Can’t see it ever happening on BA!
Bed, at last!
So here I am. In Phoenix… a little frazzled but other than tat all OK.
After meeting up with a friend doing a similar trip for a coffee I hit the sack at 2pm… I awake at 10pm feeling a bit better but now I have a problem – it is 10pm and I have just got up! I am not sure I am tired enough again yet to sleep so for now I am keeping UK time. May be I’ll adjust over the next couple of days – we’ll see