Welcome to the second report of my spotting trip to LHR and MAN. This report covers the return journey back to the USA, highlighted by the new Business Class product on American’s 767-300ER. I went ahead and decided to skip ahead to this report, rather than writing one about the Flybe Q400s from London-Stansted to Manchester via the Isle of Man. Though those flights were interesting with a lot of details to share, I decided that more would be interested to read about American’s retrofitted Business Class product on the 767-300ER. So, I hope you enjoy the report!
A little bit of background information first. We had originally bought seats in Y for this trip, but I had called American in mid-April, requesting an upgrade. The agent put us on hold for the upgrade, and informed us that we’d know 24 hours in advance. If we were bumped up, American would charge us $350 and 25,000 miles per person. It’s a good thing my dad had accumulated quite a bit of miles by that point! He is also an AAdvantage Gold member, and I think this helped in getting the upgrade.
During the trip itself, I didn’t think much about our potential upgrade. I didn’t want to raise my hopes up unnecessarily, but all that changed during the early morning of July 4th, the day before our flights back home. I logged in to aa.com, and found it to say “seats unassigned”. I found this odd, as I remembered selecting 25H and 25J for Dad and I. I then realized that we had gotten the upgrade, but I didn’t want to fully celebrate until I saw it say “Cabin Class: Business”. Thanks to the Wi-Fi at the Airport Inn, I was left waiting for about five minutes, until the screen loaded and it said the words I had so been hoping for it to say. Elated, I shook my dad awake and told him, and we gave each other high-fives!
I’ll begin with a couple of pictures from Manchester taken during our stay.
IMG_0116 by kann123air, on Flickr
We stayed at the Airport Inn. It was alright, though nothing like the Renaissance Hotel that we had stayed in before coming up north to Manchester. But hey, they had free breakfast, so I can’t complain there!
IMG_0120 by kann123air, on Flickr
The walk from the hotel to the morning/early afternoon spotting location is wonderful, with a narrow trail winding through woods. It’s a very short walk, taking me about 10 minutes.
IMG_0121 by kann123air, on Flickr
IMG_0109 by kann123air, on Flickr
IMG_0123 by kann123air, on Flickr
I did about ten seconds of “car spotting” near the hotel, along the beginning of the trail to the spotting location. I’ve never heard of the Honda Jazz in the states!
IMG_0124 by kann123air, on Flickr
The trail contains a little bridge, under which this little river flows.
I’m going to next show some shots taken during our stay. I only have a couple edited so far, and here they are. Two have already been accepted! D-AIUB MAN 7-4 1200px USM210 by kann123air, on Flickr
Taken from the Runway Visitor Park, which is probably about a 40 minute walk from the hotel. This is only an estimate, as thankfully Dad and I never had to do that walk. Dad’s cousin, who lives in the area, would sometimes give us a lift, and once, a friendly spotter dropped us off back at the hotel.
G-HUET MAN 7-4 1400px USM220 by kann123air, on Flickr
I got my fair share of exotic airlines!
I was treated with some absolutely glorious light during the last evening, as evidenced in the many pictures below. I particularly loved the dark clouds in the background of some of the photos.
IMG_0144 by kann123air, on Flickr
9H-AEH 7-4 1400px USM210 by kann123air, on Flickr
OH-BLP 7-4 1200px USM200 by kann123air, on Flickr
IMG_0138 by kann123air, on Flickr
IMG_0143 by kann123air, on Flickr
Now, some taken from the spotting mound, which is a ten minute walk away from the hotel (as mentioned earlier).
G-VXLG MAN 7-3 1400px USM220 by kann123air, on Flickr
N287AY MAN 7-3 1200px USM220 by kann123air, on Flickr
Photo © Amrit Kannan
Photo © Amrit Kannan
IMG_0107 by kann123air, on Flickr
A spotter at this location showed me this book, which I eventually bought at the Runway Visitor Park on the last evening. It’s a must-have for any dedicated spotter, containing every single registration of every passenger aircraft containing more than 19 seats in the world.
IMG_0125 by kann123air, on Flickr
For lunch on the last day, Dad and I visited The Honey Bee, a quaint little pub about a 15 minute walk from the Airport Inn. A beautiful place, with great fish and chips!
IMG_0127 by kann123air, on Flickr
IMG_0129 by kann123air, on Flickr
Trying out a soda not available in the USA, J2O. I believe this was the Orange and Passion Fruit flavor.
IMG_0130 by kann123air, on Flickr
Dad ordered a lamb dish, on the top. As mentioned before, I had the fish and chips.
IMG_0131 by kann123air, on Flickr
Taken on the walk back. I found it interesting that most signs display in miles here!
IMG_0132 by kann123air, on Flickr
The Airport Inn, as viewed from across the street.
IMG_0133 by kann123air, on Flickr
Alright, time to get to the actual return journey. For more pictures taken at MAN, please check my profile after a little while. Hopefully by then, I’ll have more acceptances from both LHR and MAN.
IMG_0148 by kann123air, on Flickr
Before leaving the hotel room, I tracked the plane that would be carrying us to ORD. Here she is, about to touch down from JFK.
DSC_0001 by kann123air, on Flickr
Taken on our drive to the airport. My dad’s cousin, a local in the area, kindly offered to drop us off.
DSC_0002 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0003 by kann123air, on Flickr
Entering the airport now.
American and US Airways have a separate check-in area for Business Class passengers. After walking straight to a check-in desk (avoiding all the lines at the economy check-in), the agent printed out our boarding passes and invited us to check out the British Airways executive lounge after security. I didn’t know J passengers on AA could enter this lounge, so this was a pleasant surprise!
DSC_0004 by kann123air, on Flickr
The entrance to the lounge. One must go up a flight of stairs to reach this, or take an elevator from the secure area of T3. BA agents, situated at a desk opposite to this one (behind this photo) checked our boarding passes and invited us in.
DSC_0005 by kann123air, on Flickr
The lounge is located right above the common area past security in T3, and you can see this through the glass.
DSC_0006 by kann123air, on Flickr
We had a great view of N379AA, the aircraft that would carry us across the pond this morning. As shown earlier, she had arrived earlier that morning from JFK as AA210.
DSC_0007 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0008 by kann123air, on Flickr
A list of all scheduled departures of BA and AA flights from MAN for that morning.
The lounge had a good selection of breakfast items. Nothing hot, but tasty nonetheless.
DSC_0009 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0010 by kann123air, on Flickr
Dad getting some coffee.
DSC_0011 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0012 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0013 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0030 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0014 by kann123air, on Flickr
I had two of the biggest pastries displayed, washed down with some cranberry juice.
DSC_0015 by kann123air, on Flickr
After finishing, I went back to the window to get my picture with ship 379.
DSC_0019 by kann123air, on Flickr
You can see my morning spotting location in the distance, right by the beginning of 23L.
DSC_0020 by kann123air, on Flickr
Looking to the left now. Another AA 763, N384AN, had arrived earlier that morning from ORD and departed for JFK shortly after we left.
DSC_0022 by kann123air, on Flickr
A view of the lounge, taken while facing away from the window.
IMG_0153 by kann123air, on Flickr
I noticed something interesting on approach for 23R…
DSC_0024 by kann123air, on Flickr
…moments later, touchdown!
DSC_0026 by kann123air, on Flickr
IMG_0152 by kann123air, on Flickr
Yup, it’s time to go downstairs.
Shortly before leaving the lounge, I went to the restroom. Showers were located next to it.
IMG_0155 by kann123air, on Flickr
IMG_0154 by kann123air, on Flickr
IMG_0156 by kann123air, on Flickr
Taken after exiting the restroom/shower area.
DSC_0031 by kann123air, on Flickr
We then left the lounge to walk around T3.
DSC_0032 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0033 by kann123air, on Flickr
Taken while walking around T3.
DSC_0034 by kann123air, on Flickr
As we approached our departure gate, 49, we got a better view of our beautiful 767-300ER.
DSC_0035 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0036 by kann123air, on Flickr
Thomas Cook’s new livery looks good!
DSC_0039 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0040 by kann123air, on Flickr
MAN is full of low-costs!
DSC_0044 by kann123air, on Flickr
Note the sticker near the tail of this FR 738. I was hoping to see one of their new 73Gs, but that didn’t happen.
DSC_0045 by kann123air, on Flickr
He’s a good plane spotter too, but he gets burned out after an hour or so!
DSC_0046 by kann123air, on Flickr
Wow, an A310!
DSC_0051 by kann123air, on Flickr
The new livery is great, and it looks especially good on widebodies.
DSC_0053 by kann123air, on Flickr
Our captain, probably doing some paperwork.
DSC_0054 by kann123air, on Flickr
Looking down the left again. Highlights include the AA seven-six and KLM’s retro 738. I caught that one a few days earlier in LHR.
”Ladies and gentlemen, we are now ready to start the boarding process for American Airlines flight fifty-five to Chicago.”
Flight: American Airlines 55
Aircraft: Boeing 767-323/ER
Departure time: 09:45am BST
Arrival time: 11:22am CST
Flying time: 7 hours 37 minutes
MAN-ORD AA55 flight path by kann123air, on Flickr
As usual, a special thanks to www.flightaware.com for having these maps.
I wanted to be the first to board, so Dad and I quickly got up and stood in front of the desk before anyone else got there. After about ten minutes, I looked back, and the line had gotten incredibly long. Shortly afterwards, us passengers began to become impatient… When were we going to board? It had now been about fifteen minutes since the announcement.
An agent came to the front of the line, and addressed those of us who could hear him.
”There’s a slight technical issue. Nothing to worry about.”
After about five more minutes of waiting, boarding finally started. We never got any clarification on what exactly was wrong, but hey, at least we were boarding.
N379AA MAN-ORD J cabin by kann123air, on Flickr
What a beautiful looking cabin! My seat was is the first one that has a table in between the aisle and the seat, on the right side.
DSC_0059 by kann123air, on Flickr
When I learned that we got the upgrade, I selected seats 3A and 4A for Dad and I. I chose to take 4A, since the seat itself was right by the window. Business Class seats in AA’s retrofitted 763 alternate between having a little table to the left of the seat and to the right. Wanting to take pictures out the window, I obviously preferred having my table to the right.
While still at the gate, a male F/A had to enter my seat area to let some passengers by. While he was next to me, I told him that I was collecting AA’s heritage amenity kits, and I asked if I could take any spare ones, if there were any. He said that he expected many seats to be empty, and continued to say that he’d be more than happy to give me some. A few minutes later, right before pushback, he returned to my seat with a fresh America West kit! Through his many pre-departure duties, he remembered my request, and for that I thanked him profusely.
I had an AirCal amenity kit at my seat, and my dad had an Allegheny one. With the HP one, my collection had grown to four, as I already had a TWA one that my dad had brought home from one of his previous trips.
Around the same time, the female F/A, Wendy, walked around the cabin and handed out U.S. customs cards to the passengers. My dad informed her that the cards were obsolete for U.S. citizens, since kiosks are available in the customs area at ORD and other major U.S. airports, such as DFW. She responded, “They’re not obsolete until someone informs us.” Okay then…
DSC_0062 by kann123air, on Flickr
Very comfortable blankets and pillows were placed at each seat prior to boarding.
DSC_0063 by kann123air, on Flickr
My view from 4A.
DSC_0064 by kann123air, on Flickr
I opened the compartment in front of me, hoping to see the Samsung Galaxy tablets that are standard on AA’s 763s in Business. It was empty!
DSC_0065 by kann123air, on Flickr
Although I had pre-ordered my meal on aa.com about 24 hours earlier, menus were still handed out. This was probably because there was a light meal offered prior to landing, and pre-ordering wasn’t available for that, for some reason. The menu was very well done, and each page will be shown later in the report, shortly after takeoff.
DSC_0066 by kann123air, on Flickr
Taxiing for takeoff for the flight back to Doha.
DSC_0068 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0069 by kann123air, on Flickr
A female F/A came around the cabin and offered water, orange juice, or champagne. I chose water, and she quickly went back to the galley to get me a glass, as she didn’t have any left on her tray. I found it interesting that I easily could’ve grabbed a champagne, despite being underage! My empty glass is visible here.
IMG_0160 by kann123air, on Flickr
It’s time to go!
DSC_0070 by kann123air, on Flickr
My Spanish skills leave a lot to be desired, but I think I managed to decipher that.
DSC_0076 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0071 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0072 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0073 by kann123air, on Flickr
Our jetbridge then pulled away. Around this time, the safety video played.
DSC_0074 by kann123air, on Flickr
SQ327 taxiing for departure to MUC and SIN. I find some of SQ’s routings interesting, such as this one, SIN-DME-IAH, and SIN-BCN-GRU.
DSC_0079 by kann123air, on Flickr
EY16 taxiing for departure to AUH. I flew on A6-ETG, another EY 77W, on AUH-ORD three years earlier. Very comfortable, despite the much-complained-about 10-abreast seating.
DSC_0081 by kann123air, on Flickr
Meanwhile, SQ327 thundered down 23R.
DSC_0082 by kann123air, on Flickr
I pity those poor people onboard that 752 to IAD. I love the 757, but for a TATL journey, I would choose almost any other aircraft first.
DSC_0084 by kann123air, on Flickr
I flew on this reg three days earlier, on IOM-MAN. The F/A onboard that flight was perplexed when I asked to move from seat 2A to 8A, but she understood after I said that I wanted to have a better view of the engines and landing gear.
DSC_0086 by kann123air, on Flickr
It was then EY16’s turn to depart.
DSC_0087 by kann123air, on Flickr
She would push back a few minutes later for JFK.
DSC_0089 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0088 by kann123air, on Flickr
A good looking winglet, but I wish AA had decided to put some color on it as they had on the old livery.
DSC_0090 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0091 by kann123air, on Flickr
There… My share of birdwatching for the trip is over. My dad is an ornithologist, and got his Ph.D. by studying the Great Pied Hornbill in India, so he birdwatches wherever we go. He studies goshawks while I photograph gashawks!
DSC_0092 by kann123air, on Flickr
The front half of our cabin was almost completely empty.
DSC_0094 by kann123air, on Flickr
At the 23R threshold now.
DSC_0095 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0098 by kann123air, on Flickr
Interesting-looking training model.
”American fifty-five heavy, cleared for takeoff, runway two-three-right.”
”Cleared for takeoff, runway two-three-right, American fifty-five heavy.”
Our two GE CF6 engines then roared to life!
DSC_0100 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0103 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0104 by kann123air, on Flickr
If you look closely, you can actually faintly see the Airport Inn. Follow the road that goes under the two runways, and look behind the airport buildings on the left along 23L. You’ll see a building surrounded by trees. That’s it!
DSC_0105 by kann123air, on Flickr
23L is still going!
DSC_0106 by kann123air, on Flickr
Gaining altitude now.
DSC_0107 by kann123air, on Flickr
Already leaving England.
DSC_0108 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0109 by kann123air, on Flickr
Crossing the Irish Sea now.
DSC_0110 by kann123air, on Flickr
The captain made a brief announcement around that time, describing our flight path. I recorded it, and it’s available below.
Shortly afterwards, the F/As came through the aisle with a food cart, except food wasn’t on it. I wasn’t really sure what they were doing, until my dad turned around and told me that they were handing the Galaxy tablets out. Ah, so they do it after takeoff! I was wondering why we didn’t have them.
Wendy came by and plugged mine in, and asked me if I wanted Bose noise-canceling headphones. I, of course, said yes.
DSC_0111 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0112 by kann123air, on Flickr
DSC_0113 by kann123air, on Flickr
I really wasn’t in the mood to watch a movie, but I scrolled through to see if anything seemed interesting. I had already seen American Sniper, and though it was a great movie, I didn’t really want to see it again. On flights that offer AVOD, most of the time, I just watch the moving map. The Galaxy Tabs don’t have this feature, much to my disappointment.
DSC_0114 by kann123air, on Flickr
I watched a small video about the retrofit Business Class seat while enjoying some hot nuts and ginger ale.
Now, the lunch service started. I will now show the entire menu that was handed out.
AA55 MAN-ORD menu1 by kann123air, on Flickr
AA55 MAN-ORD menu2 by kann123air, on Flickr
AA55 MAN-ORD menu3 by kann123air, on Flickr
I chose the creamy herb dressing on my salad, and I had pre-ordered the seared chicken breast. Dad got the Asian-style salmon.
AA55 MAN-ORD menu4 by kann123air, on Flickr
Of course, I got the traditional AA ice cream sundae. More on that later.
AA55 MAN-ORD menu5 by kann123air, on Flickr
Didn’t mean much to me, but some of you might find this page interesting.