A Weekend Proposal: American Airlines Business Class – London to Chicago

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American Airlines Business Class

Emily & Daraius heading back to the US

Trip Report Index:

This is a more detailed account of our weekend trip to London in October, 2011.

We got up early on Sunday and  ate breakfast in the lounge at the Hyatt Churchill in London.  After breakfast, we  checked out and went to the lobby where we were expecting our cab.  I had asked the concierge, the night before, to arrange for a taxi back to Heathrow airport.

However, the taxi wasn’t waiting down, but arrived after 15 minutes.  I’m not sure if this was because the driver was running late or because the concierge had not arranged the taxi.  That’s why I always plan in buffer time to our travel schedules.

We were soon on our way to Heathrow and the driver took it upon himself to explain to us the different neighborhoods and sights en route to the airport.  London taxis are exorbitant, but the taxis are very well maintained and the drivers are thorough professionals.

We checked in at the Flagship check-in for American Airlines at Heathrow, and soon we went through Fast Track security.  Sometimes Fast Track security can be hit or miss because the lines there are longer than the regular lines, but we manged to get through very quickly.

We stopped in the shops and browsed through the British sweets and crisps (chips).  One of our favorite travel experiences is to visit grocery shops in new countries and buy whatever looks interesting (that’s a long list!)

American Airlines Business Class

Shopping for treats

Since we didn’t have time to visit a grocery store in London, we stocked up at the airport.  Emily’s favorites were munchies, Mars and Lion bars.  I love Walkers crisps – Cheese & Onion, Prawn Cocktail, and Steak & Onion

We skipped the lounge, because we preferred browsing through the British treats in the shops.

Emily Jablon:  Actually, Daraius wanted to visit the lounge, but I told him that it was pointless walking for 20 minutes only to spend another 15 minutes in the lounge before walking to our gate.

Daraius:  We got on the plane and found an amenity kit, a pillow, and a blanket on our seat.

American Airlines Business Class

American Airlines Business Class Seat

Emily Jablon:  It was a heavy blanket, more like a light comforter! 🙂

American Airlines Business Class

You decide – blanket or comforter?

Daraius:  The amenity kit was the new Eames Dot Pattern version.  Darren from Frequently Flying did a great review of the amenity kit (better than anything I could do), so do check out his review and see where he ranked the kit on his 7 point scale.

AA Amenity Kit

American Airlines Amenity Kit (Picture courtesy of Darren from Frequently Flying)

We toasted ourselves to glasses of water.

American Airlines Business Class

Our Toast

And waited for our meal.

American Airlines Business Class

Waiting for the meal

The wine list.

American Airlines Wine List

Wine List

And the food menu.

Food Menu

Food Menu

We started with the salad, but 1 serving would have been enough for both of us.  I’m also not sure why the honey Dijon dressing was served in a wine glass.

American Airlines Business Class

Too much green!

I had the Shrimp and Scallops Sambal (Lime-marinated shirimp and seared scallops served with a sambal sauce, accompanied by jasmine rice with almonds, sauteed onions and leeks) which was quite nice and a welcome break from the regular menu.

American Airlines Business Class

Shrimp & Scallops Sambal

Emily had the Chateaubriand (Grilled fillet of beef topped with a green peppercorn sauce, offered with potatoes au gratin and sauteed mushrooms, leeks and onions)

American Airlines Business Class

Chateaubriand

We were very tired, so we skipped the dessert (Cheese Tortelloni Ice Cream Sundae or a Fruit plate) and went to bed.

Prior to landing we had a deep dish pizza which was okay.

American Airlines Business Class

Deep Dish Pizza

The service was surprisingly good!  The flight attendant was very warm and friendly and went up and down the cabin many times to check on her passengers and to make sure we were okay.

I’m so used to flight attendants on US airlines ignoring me, that I did feel a bit uncomfortable with all the attention.  I was waiting to find out what the catch was, but there was none.  The flight crew just did a great job!  Perhaps there is some truth to the notion that American Airline’s business class flight attendants are friendlier than their 1st class flight attendants.

We landed on time in Chicago and went to the Admirals Lounge until it was time for our flight to Kansas City.

This was a busy trip, but is my best award redemption.  I spent 200,000 American Airline miles to get Emily a business class seat next to mine, and it was worth every last mile!

Since this was a last minute trip, and I needed Emily to be on the same flight as me, I didn’t have much choice.  But I did manage to avoid paying the late ticketing fees for booking a ticket within a week.

I wouldn’t normally recommend spending double miles, but Emily and I will always remember this trip.  And that’s what counts!  Collecting miles is fun and exciting, but using them for unforgettable experiences is even better.

Bottom Line: There’s no way I could afford a trip like this if I didn’t collect miles and points.   Looking back, this was a perfect trip and I got really lucky.  The weather in London was unusually warm, the hotel suite was perfect, and I got to spend time with Emily.  She even said “Yes!”

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21 responses to “A Weekend Proposal: American Airlines Business Class – London to Chicago

  1. Shrimp flavored chips? How were they? Has AA always done food/wine for business class? Is there a charge or is it included? Kim and I have always wanted to tour the UK.

    • @Ken – I really liked the flavored chips. I even order them online b/c they were so good! AA has always had food and drink in their international business class. It is included with the ticket. AA has great availability on their flights to the UK and if you’re willing to pay the high fuel surcharges on British Airways, the availability is even better!

      @The Wanderer
      – Good observation on the pricing on common products. I remember seeing a can of Pringles sell for $5 in Thailand.

      @Steelsnow – Hmmm…perhaps that’s why she placed a new bottle of mouthwash in my bathroom!

  2. My wife and I always make sure to stop in a grocery store wherever we travel. We especially love the different candies in Europe and the types of chips in the Caribbean and Central America. It is also very interesting to see the pricing on some of the products that we can easily get here at home. Shopping in the local stores can really help you get a better idea of the culture of the area you are in.

  3. Funny visual – Eating a handful of steak & onion chips, followed by a handful of prawn cocktail chips. That’s got to rate somewhere between corn nut breath and morning breath! Glad she said ‘Yes!’ before you ate all of those chips…

  4. I am allergic to shrimp darn it! 🙂

  5. If in Business Class, how’d you use Flagship Check-In at LHR? Are you EXP?

  6. This isn’t a big deal, but when reading this I thought it was really odd that Cheese Tortelloni was a DESSERT. So, I looked again at the photo of the menu you posted. Just to be accurate, wasn’t Cheese Tortelloni one of the Main Course choices (I tend to notice such choices since I’m a vegetarian and it looks to be the only veggie option)? The menu says that the desserts were an ice cream sundae or fruit plate, right? 🙂

  7. @Million Mile Secrets — Interesting! This used to be First Class and OW Emerald only I believe.

    • @John777 – It is very interesting, because the new Flagship Check-in in LA is not available for business class passengers.

      @Kris – Congrats and have a wonderful trip! I forgot to mention that the seat is not a flat bed 180 degree bed, but tilts down. This doesn’t bother me, since I can sleep anywhere (even in coach), but it does bother some folks. Grocery stores are a great way to glimpse into the life of the local culture. I love Cadbury Dairy Milk and Flake!

      @Charles – We didn’t have much time, so we wanted a direct flight to the US. Singapore would be a great choice, but the availability isn’t that great.

      @jimmy – You get to keep the amenity kit, but have to return the blanket and pillow. The food and drink in business class is included in the ticket, otherwise I’d be bringing on-board my own sandwich! It is 100K AA miles for a return award at the low level from the US to Europe.

  8. Yesss! I’m flying AA biz class on my way home from my honeymoon, so I’ve anxiously been awaiting this post. This makes me even more excited. My fiance and I love hitting up grocery stores abroad too… Not only cheaeper, but also super interesting. And I am obsessed with Cadbury when I’m in the UK!

  9. wow, the AA food pics actually look quite good. Nonetheless, I would never risk flying AA business back across the pond. lufthansa would be a better alternative in my mind, or Singapore business from frankfurt to JFK

  10. Darius,

    Do you get to keep the Amenity kit after you get off the plane or they come to collect them like they do at economy seats?

    sorry but maybe another stupid Q is, do you pay extra for the business class meal or it’s included in your ticket?

    How many points/miles for business class from US to london?

    thanks

  11. I was looking a few days ago for an award flight from LHR-DEN and it was 20k for mileSAAver coach, 50k for mileSAAver First/Business, 62k for mileSAAver First. That’s just seems great to me! I’m not sure if we’d have access to the lounges in the US with only a mileSAAver First/Business ticket though. Lots of availability for me though. When is good travel time for the UK? I wanted to surprise Kim with a trip to London for her Birthday May 9th, but she doesn’t have the time off work for another trip. Also, why does American make you shooese between “AA + Alaska Airlines” or “AA, American Eagle and AmericanConnection”? Wouldn’t you get better results if it just showed both?

  12. I love that you are a total romantic and take Emily on amazing trips around the world. That’s the dream! Now the question is will you have a destination wedding, or a family location wedding?

    • @Ken – You’ll get access to the Flagship First Class lounge if you have Milesaver First ticket or the business lounge if you have a milesaver business ticket. May is a nice time to visit because it is just before the summer rush, but still a little cool. Check out Rick Steve’s guide for things to do in London.

      @Travel and Credit – It was a family location wedding in India. But the honeymoon(s) are still to come!

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