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Trip Report Index:
- She Said “Yes!”
- Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill
- 36 Hours in London
- American Airlines Business Class – London to Chicago
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!)
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.
Emily Jablon: It was a heavy blanket, more like a light 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.
We toasted ourselves to glasses of water.
And waited for our meal.
The wine list.
And the 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.
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.
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)
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.
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!”