London Heathrow – New York JFK
Aircraft: Boeing 777-223ER
Departure time: (local) 08:25 LHR T3
Arrival time: (local) 10:50 JFK T8
Flying time: 7:15
This time I had decided to drive down to LHR as with the fire fighters strike I thought there may be some disruption with the trains, also later I realised that at 5am there are no trains, which may have been a bit of an early setback in my quest to get to JFK.
Arrived at Heathrow after a bit of a race along the empty motorway with another car, always fun in the early hours when there’s no traffic. Parked up and headed off to T3. There were long lines at Economy check-in and as I now had Gold status (thanks to the helpful agent at AA who said I needed two flights to get enough miles, after one I had more than enough, so this flight was really a bit of a waste of time as far as getting frequent flyer status goes, but an opportunity to catch up with my relatives. So not a wasted trip really.)
There was no one in the Business class check in Que. so I made my way to the desk and checked in, it was the same person who checked me in last weekend, she asked me what I was doing this weekend, so I told her about the mileage run. She seemed to see the funny side of it. Off I went to security, and onwards to gate 15, I had my camera ready to snap some of the Asian aircraft that are usually at T3, but the fact that it was 6am and most of the Asian flights don’t arrive until around 9-10am meant that apart from our 777 and a UAL 777 that arrived in thirty minutes the gates were completely empty.
So I found my self a seat and relaxed for about an hour, with the incessant noise of a broken A/C duct above my heard grinding away, Ahhh the wonders of T3. By about 7:30am we were wondering when, and if the gate was ever going to open. Boarding was stated on the ticked stub to commence at 7:35am and soon enough an AA supervisor came along and practically shouted at the gate agents why the dam gate was not yet open, and that it would be on her back if the flight did not leave on time. Nice to see that AA is organised. The usual security checks were held, although the scanner did not seem to like my shoes as they had to run it over them twice before they got a green light. Do I really have that smelly feet?
The gate area started to fill up with passengers, this was going to be a pretty much capacity flight. Soon enough boarding commenced with the First and Business passengers on first, then Group 1,2,3 etc. AS I was now Gold status I can board with group 1 no matter where I’m seating in coach. So I tried to do this, but the gate agent was having none of this and told me to wait my turn with the rest of coach. How nice. After a few minutes contemplation I asked again why I couldn’t board? I also shoved my ticked stub in his face so he couldn’t dismiss me again. He finally let me board with a puzzled look on his face and that was the end of that. This aircraft had been in service with American since 28/06/00, and was beginning to show its age after only 2 years. Still it was a B777 so no complaints here. Push back was started with the whining of the Trent 892-17’s starting up, and soon enough we were on our merry way to runway 9R. On our way we passed an interesting aircraft, for me anyway. A Nigeria Airways B767-204ER leased from Air Atlanta Iceland TF-ATY.
Along with all the usual visitors at LHR we joined the que for the active. Soon enough our turn came as the Bmi A320 in front of us powered off in the dark and cloudy sky in a spray of water. Takeoff was smooth and took a little over 40 seconds, making a left bank after takeoff towards the north of England, soon we disappeared into the thick and turbulent clouds with a fair bit of chop on our way up to our initial cruising altitude of 34,000ft.
At around 8,000ft we came out of the cloud to a glorious morning sunrise, bright blue sky’s and a yellow and red glow on the horizon. Our captain for today’s flight would be Capt. Pete Jeffrey’s, and our estimated flight time would be 7 hours 14 minutes. With the 777’s great power we were soon out our cruising altitude and the engines died to there cruising hum. Breakfast was a choice of egg omelette or pancakes, I had resigned my self to the fact that airline food will never be exiting to eat let alone look at so when my “pancakes” were put in front of me, I dug in expecting the worse. Well I can’t say I was disappointed. They were pretty rank, very dry and with crunchy bits in the middle. I don’t even want to know what these were. But anyway onwards and upwards. The films for this mornings hop across the pond would be, yes you’ve guessed it the exact same as on the flight before. So I caught up on some shut eye and spent most of the flight looking out of the window, passing us going towards England/Europe was a AA 767-300 and what looked like a Lufthansa A340 but could have been Air France. Our route took us on a northerly course just south of Godthab on the southern tip of Greenland, which for those of you who know the Atlantic crossing well, is a very northerly course for a JFK flight. Its pretty much the same route that West coast USA and Canadian flights take. Soon we were turning south towards Goose bay and Quebec with our speed now at 456mph/735kmh, it took a while to get down to St John, Portland and then Boston. Somewhere over the Boston area we started our decent, the weather was pretty clear with the occasional lone cloud floating past. We made a few turns and joined the APR making a pretty firm touch down at 10:45am local time. Heading over to T8 we passed the AF Concorde flight from CDG. Pulling up to the gate the Capt came on the P/A announcing that we would shut down here and get a tug to the gate. No idea why this would be but hey. As it was we didn’t shut down there and continued to the gate where the jetbridge operators were obviously having trouble getting the height needed to reach our #1 door. Soon enough they did and with a clunk we were on our way towards the wonders of JFK immigration.
Flight number: 4811
New York JFK – Boston Logan
Aircraft: EMB ERJ135LR
Departure time: (local) 12:15 JFK T9
Arrival time: (local) 13:20 BOS
Flying time: 0:48
Well if your still reading I’ll thank you know and say you are obviously either bored out of your mind or for some insane reason are enjoying my lengthy report. I’ll try to make this bit a bit shorter and to the point.
After my lengthy chat with immigration about why I had infact not been arrested on my last visit to the US and that really they were not looking for me I made my way to gate 40D where the bus took us to our aircraft on the ramp with about 15 other EMB’s and a bunch of Saab 340’s. Walking into a RJ you realise the advantages of being pretty short as you hit your head repeatedly on the aircraft’s roof, cursing down the isle to your seat. With everyone on board the single F/A decided that the ambient temperature was not warm enough and boosted the heating system to a balmy heat, which reminded me of laying in the sweltering sun on a beach somewhere near the equator. Soon enough people started tom complain and she resentfully turned it down to a more bearable heat.
Heading swiftly to the active runway we turned on to it and powered up shooting down the runway at speed.
Lifting off we made a few turns to avoid the incoming traffic and were soon enough at our cruising altitude of 19,000ft for our flight to Boston. Passing upstate NY the drinks and pretzel service began, with hardly enough time to reach the end of the cabin we were making our decent into Logan. Touching down with a fair bit of surface wind we bumped about a bit until finally settling down onto the runway. Taking the high speed taxi way we reached the apron pretty quickly and were bussed to the gate were I said goodbye and thank you to the Captain who happened to be coming with us to the gate. And off I went to find my cousins and enjoy my day and 1 night in Boston.
Flight number: 4864
Boston Logan – New York JFK
Aircraft: EMB ERJ135LR
Departure time: (local) 05:50 BOS
Arrival time: (local) 06:40 BOS
Flying time: 0:50
So after my quick day, evening and night in Boston I was ready to head back to Logan. As I had wisely decided to stay at an airport hotel, I managed to get a whole 3 hours sleep before my flight back. I know, I know I wasn’t not feeling fantastic by this time to say the least. Although one thing I would like to say is this. Anyone who is thinking about heading over to Boston and needs to stay near the airport really do check out the rates at the Hilton Logan. I’ve never stayed in such a dam fine hotel. I think its rated as a 4* because it does not have a pool, but I’ve stayed at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong and it didn’t have a foot hold on this hotel. Usually I’m not a big fan of Hiltons, but I think as this one had been recently built they had not spared a $. Fantastic is the only way I can describe this hotel. Anyway just thought I’d let you guys know. Anyone else stayed there, I’d like to hear your views.
So I arrived at the terminal at some ungodly hour in the morning and proceeded to check in for my flight to JFK and the onwards to LHR. After a bit of taping on his computer the agent told me that he couldn’t get the computer to print out Gold status boarding passes even though it said on the computer I was Gold status. I really wasn’t to bothered about this, as I’d just use my print out from AA.com that had my mileage balance on it at the gate and be able to board with group 1 on the LHR flight. But he obviously was and proceeded to call the Advantage office and then the computer support office. I was starting to get the impression that the passengers in the que behind me were about ready to rip the shirt off my back, so I did my best to hurry him along. Anyway after about 5 minutes of this he decided that it was not good enough and upgraded me to Business class on the LHR flight. Which I was more than happy to accept. Off I went through security and boarded the flight to JFK.
A very new EMB for my hop to JFK, still had the “ new plane smell” about it. Took my seat and we were soon off and onto the active, as at this time in the morning there was only us and an AA A300-600R heading off to SXM (how much did I envy them). We were airborne very quickly and turned out over the ocean to a southerly heading, pushing our way upward through the clouds to our cruising altitude of 17,000 feet, which just happened to be a height where we were skimming the tops of the clouds, giving a real impression of the speed we were going at. Sunrise was beautiful as ever from an aircraft with shafts of golden light spearing through the windows of the cabin. The usual drinks service came around, and again we were on our decent into JFK. Arriving at the apron we had set off from only the day before, we were the only aircraft there, and the trip to the terminal was swift and uneventful.
Flight number: AA142
New York JFK – London Heathrow
Aircraft: Boeing 777-223ER
Departure time: (local) 08:30 JFK T8
Arrival time: (local) 19:35 JFK T8
Flying time: 6:15
Reaching security for this flight I noticed a que that I later found out took an hour and a half to get through for security checks. Luckily there was absolutely no one in the AA premium service que and I walked to the front and got through security in around 30 seconds. (One of the main reasons I wanted this Gold card) Arriving at gate 10 the sight that greeted me was pretty much chaos. Five flights all leaving within an hour of each other and all being either 777’s, A300’s or 767’s meaning that the area was rammed to bursting point with people milling around. I decided that a trip to the coffee shop wouldn’t be a bad idea and spent the next 30 minutes there watching the chaos unfold. Soon enough our flight was called and I made my way to the gate area. Boarding was swift and for the first time ever I didn’t get stopped for a random security check. Obviously I must have not been looking my usual suspicious self today.
On boarding the aircraft I found my seat 14A to be occupied by a rather “large” business man. I politely pointed out that I had the same seat number on my boarding pass, at which he replied in that oh so wonderful mid west accent “Hey son why don’t you go back to coach and stop bothering me”. How nice I thought. Right time to find the Chief purser. After a few minutes of heated discussion between us three the purser gave up to the fact that someone somewhere along the line had made a mistake and double booked the seats. As this flight was pretty much 100% full I was given a choice.
A) I could accept $350 USD and take the next available flight out. I would have taken this but due to the fact I started work the next day I couldn’t really do this.
B) That he could try and re-seat me any ware on the aircraft where space was available.
I took the second option resigning my self to the thought of 6 hours down the back. But as he walked off and appeared a few minutes later gesturing to me to follow I thought hmmm maybe not. 3A happened to be one of AA’s flagship service First class sleeper seats, which to say impressed me would be an understatement.
After getting comfortable and thanking the F/A profusely I settled into the seat and read the through the operation instruction on this piece of technological mastery. Soon we had pushed back and were off on our way to 22R as we turned onto the active, I noticed that behind us in the que was G-BOAE British Airways SST Concorde, looking splendid In the morning sun. Powering up we accelerated off down 22R and were airborne pretty quickly turning left to get on a north-easterly heading. Looking back I could the BA Concorde powering down the runway and lifting off then disappearing behind us. Magnificent site.
To tell you the truth once I had figured out how to use the seat, I reclined it and promptly found the pillow and thick blanket and had a bit of shut eye. It felt like a few minutes had passed when I was woken up for dinner by a nice F/A who had me a glass of ice cold orange juice waiting. Exactly what I wanted, I was parched. Dinner was served which was char grilled chicken with snap peas, potato gratin, a Caesar salad, warm bread role, and some other funky stuff that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. This all came on white china and a table cloth with plastic cutlery which kind of killed the experience a bit but hey I understand the reason behind this. After this was cleared away I was offered a multitude of deserts. I chose the Orange Saffron pudding which was dam fine. We were only about an hour of LHR passing south of Dublin and over the Irish sea. Still cruising at 39,000ft I put my seat back into the upright and locked position and could see small towns and cities spread out over the land below. The seats in first are at an angel to the aircraft body so you are naturally facing the window. Pretty cool. Soon my ears began to pop and the sound of the engines whine lowered to a hum as we started out decent into the London area. On our way down I could see about 7 aircraft’s strobes flashing away in the sky around us. Soon the whiz of the flaps could be heard from the rear of the aircraft and the rumble and clunk of the gear going down and locking was felt from below we passed over the threshold and touched down, greasing the runway with hardly an audible note of the reverse thrust we exited the runway and made our way to gate 16 retracting the spoilers and flaps on our way. Once arrived at the gate our F/A’s came round and said the usual thank you for flying American and it was a pleasure to have aboard blah blah. And out I went saying goodbye to the captain as I left.
And there I end my mileage runs for now. Hopefully when I get paid again I’ll be up in the silver bird soaring off to some far off destination. Who knows. All I can say for now is thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the report and thanks for flying with us today.