Semi-live TR: First TP run

Old Apr 27, 2014, 10:19 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2005
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Semi-live TR: First TP run

About a month ago I finally bit the bullet and decided that, as a lowly Bronze, it was about time that I pushed past Silver (the highest I've ever got) and went for Gold. Obviously, given my rather low number of TPs at the time (just 360) the only way to actually achieve this was to do the run to HNL (and I thank the members on here for finding this route and finding some relatively cheap fares).

After making this decision the only thing to do was to decide how long I wanted to spend getting there & back, and how long I was going to spend in Hawaii. Given that I wanted to actually make a bit of a holiday out of the trip I opted to book a 5 night stay in Honolulu (well, Waikiki to be marginally more accurate) and that I would take the best part of 3 days getting there, to add in a reasonable amount of "buffer time" if things went awry and because, given I'm making this an actual holiday (I know, how crazy am I?) I was going to need to check some luggage.

Consequently my routing would be:
  • LHR-BRU - BA394 [25 April]
  • BRU-LHR - BA397 [25 April]

  • Night stop at home

  • LHR-BOS - BA213 [26 April]
  • BOS-LAX - AA143 [26 April]

  • Night stop in LA

  • LAX-HNL - AA283 [27 April]

  • 5 nights off

  • HNL - LAX - AA298 [2 May]
  • LAX-BOS - AA222 [3 May]
  • BOS - LHR - BA212 [3 May]
  • LHR - BRU - BA394 [4 May]
  • BRU - LHR - BA397 [4 May]

Having booked the flights, the only thing left to do was to book hotels (LAX & Honolulu) and a hire car (largely because I'm going to be there for a few days & will want to explore a bit). In the end I opted for the Marriott at LAX and the Marriott on Waikiki Beach, which will probably be a bit bland but should be reasonably reliable.

All booked, just time to pack & head off.
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 10:34 am
  #2  
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LHR-BRU/BRU-LHR
So day 1 came and the return trip to BRU was surprisingly easily. Given I tend towards pessimism, I decided to do the day return on the basis that something would go wrong and I wouldn't get back home on the Friday night. As a result I took everything with me to BRU & back home again. One quick Friday morning cab ride to T5 (one of the benefits of only being about 30 mins from LHR) and I had checked in & was through security. Having had to pay for the outbound ticket to BRU due to there being no Avios availability I ended up taking advantage of a £69 CE upgrade offer when I checked in, largely so I could get something to eat & relax in the lounge at T5. Boarding time arrived and I settled myself in to seat 1A.


As anyone who has flown to BRU will know, it's a very quick flight and I was very surprised just how much the crew managed to fit in to so little time. Having taken off I would estimate it was less than 2 mins before the crew was up & prepping the lunch service. Having never done a short CE flight before I was surprised just how "big" the meal was. For lunch we were presented with what I could best describe as a selection of chicken & "stuff"


Was all very tasty & surprisingly filling, even the dessert cup. No sooner had I settled back after the meal we were descending into BRU. After a surprisingly long walk from the aircraft I picked up my bag & went back upstairs to check in again. Within about 10 mins of collecting my bag I was back through security and in the lounge to relax for about an hour. This gave me a bit of time to catch up with a bit of work I couldn't avoid doing despite being off for the next week.

Boarding time came round quickly and it turned out this was a very busy flight back to LHR (hardly surprising really given it was a Friday afternoon) and it was somewhat overbooked. Unfortunately I was stuck in an aisle seat on the way back, towards the back of the CE section.


Service on the return was somewhat slower but all done very quickly. Was a decent offering on the way back too, if you like prawns which I don't.


Still the salad was more than edible as was the "apple crumble" dessert. After circling LHR for about 30 mins, significantly adding to the flight time, we were back on the ground and I joined the long queue at immigration.

By this time my phone was ringing and text messages were being received from the taxi company as I was running a good 40 mins late. After a slightly slow taxi journey home (Friday traffic) I collapsed on the sofa thinking of what I was going to put myself through on Saturday!
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 10:37 am
  #3  
 
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Looking forward to the rest of your TR. Good plan and obviously well thought out to avoid to many potential problems along the way. Enjoy the ride.
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 10:43 am
  #4  
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LHR-BOS
Day 2 and time to head to the US of A… After a reasonably good sleep and relatively gentle start to the morning I was in another cab to T5. Saturday morning traffic was even lighter than Friday morning and I arrived to check in. Being a Saturday, T5 was a lot busier than it had been the day before and "fast track" regained its reputation for being anything other than fast. All in all, it didn't take too long to get to the lounge to unwind, relax and have a bite to eat.

As ever, boarding time came round pretty quickly and I was heading off to T5B. Luckily I had managed to get my favourite seat on the 744 (64K) and it wasn't long before I was enjoying my pre-flight champagne.


Lunch on the flight was rather mixed. I opted for the salmon starter and the the fillet of beef.



The salmon was very tasty, and the was a good portion on the plate. Unfortunately the same could not be said of the steak, one of the few times I'v not enjoyed a steak on BA. Guess I'll put that one down to bad luck… As usual I opted for the cheese instead of the dessert together with a glass of port.


After that I settled back to try and get a bit of sleep knowing that I still had a good few hours of travelling to do.
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 11:04 am
  #5  
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BOS-LAX
After arriving in BOS, I hauled myself off the plane and headed off to immigration. One of the benefits of arriving into BOS is the usually short wait at immigration. After the usual grilling ("Why are you here?", "Who are you travelling with?", "Are you meeting anyone here?" and "Why do you come to the US so much?") I was waiting for my bags. These started coming off pretty quickly but, as usual, mine took an age to appear.

Bags collected I made my way to the transfer desk to drop my bag off again. I was definitely expected (I was the only transfer passenger on the flight), and bag dropped off I went for the walk to Terminal B. In hindsight I should have done the walk via the car park, if only for a bit more fresh air.

Arriving in Terminal B I went to one of the AA desks to pick up my boarding card. That done, it was a relatively quick trip through security and then to the Admirals Club lounge. Unfortunately at this point I still didn't have sufficient status to get in for free so paid for a one-day pass on the basis that I wouldn't necessarily need to use the lounge prior to the HNL flight on Sunday. After a quick, but refreshing & necessary shower, I settled down for some snacks and a rest.

Boarding time came round and I was quickly on board an ageing 757, settling into seat 2A.


Then the fun started… We pushed back about on time, and were soon heading off towards the runway only to turn back to the terminal as the captain wanted them to check that the pushback tug hadn't done any damage to the nose gear (apparently something had gone wrong). Twenty minutes later we were off again. Service on the flight was anything but quick, frustrating for me as I wanted to get a bit of sleep. Fortunately they served my favourite American beer (Sam Adams) so it wasn't too long before I was enjoying a couple of them.

I'd taken advantage of pre-ordering my entreé on the AA website which seemed to confuse the crew somewhat as they insisted on asking me what I wanted. No pictures but the food was actually worse than the flight to BOS. I had a salmon started (tiny portion) and the gorgonzola crusted steak (tough as boots and not that tasty).

My companion in row 2 was rather "flamboyant" and he struck up conversation pretty early on in the flight and he gave me a few suggestions for places to go in Honolulu (all of which I have forgotten as I was quite tired by this point). He also told me some stories about various "stars" that he'd met over the years which may or may not have been true.

Luckily he went to get me some extra drinks during the flight, which only seemed fair considering he was up & down like a yo-yo to get more whisky and to chat with the crew. I tried to get some sleep but that's pretty difficult on the old 757 seats as there's no footrest and no headrest. Still, I did manage a bit of sleep.

After all of the fun at BOS, by the time we arrived at LAX our gate had been taken by another aircraft. As a result we sat on the ground for about 30 mins waiting for another gate to become clear. A reasonably long walk through the terminal and I then spent another 20 mins waiting for my bags to appear. Fortunately, when I headed out of the terminal to get the hotel shuttle one arrived almost immediately and it was only myself on board.

I eventually got to my room just after 10pm, a good hour later than I'd hoped, and pretty much crashed straight into bed.
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 11:38 am
  #6  
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Pre LAX-HNL
Sunday morning has arrived and the alarm went off just before 7am. Wasn't the best night sleep I've ever had, largely due to the ridiculous feather topper they have on the hotel mattress (I wish I'd taken it off) which basically ensured I cooked in bed. Oh well…

The shuttle back to the airport arrived pretty quickly and it didn't take long to get back to LAX. Checked in and joined the rather big queue for security, even the priority line was long. Once through security I went to look at the departure screens and discovered that the HNL flight has a 90 minute delay. Not the end of the world but frustrating as I'd not planned to want to use the Admirals Club lounge today (no, I still don't have enough TPs to get in unfortunately).

So here I am, reflecting on the trip so far. Points I'll remember for future trips:
  • Make sure you're well rested before starting a TP run
  • Build in plenty of buffer time, flight delays DO happen
  • Keep hydrated
  • Avoid AA 757s and definitely avoid row 1
  • Expect to be tired
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 11:48 am
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Brings back all the good memories of doing a long haul TP run - the good old 757/738. But I agree about Sam Adams - my favourite beer when in the US by a country mile.
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 11:50 am
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Great start to your TR keep up the good work I am now subscribed
Thanks
John
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 11:59 am
  #9  
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5 nights off in HNL? You could easily fit in a run to SJU during that time

Seriously though, hope it all goes ok and looking forward to your further posts JimEddie. The 757 seats are not great for sleeping in. I managed a bit but it was not great and only because I was quite tired. I found the 737 seats a bit more comfortable for some reason, although I think they are the same seats? Hope you get to meet some fellow ft'ers during the trip.
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 12:45 pm
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Great trip report so far. I'm looking forward to the rest.

Regarding the pre-booking of meals on AA, I'm interested to hear if it works out on the rest of your flights.

I had a recent trip, BA codeshares, and I had pre-booked by following the links from MMB to the AA website. Now, I couldn't decide so changed my mind several times. That might have had an impact. Anyway, on the first flight, no pre-order for me.
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 12:47 pm
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Good report so far - the BRU shuttle is brilliant
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 3:30 pm
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enjoying it thanks
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 9:31 pm
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by Speedbird876
Great trip report so far. I'm looking forward to the rest.

Regarding the pre-booking of meals on AA, I'm interested to hear if it works out on the rest of your flights.

I had a recent trip, BA codeshares, and I had pre-booked by following the links from MMB to the AA website. Now, I couldn't decide so changed my mind several times. That might have had an impact. Anyway, on the first flight, no pre-order for me.
We did a TP run in March LAS-MIA-SJU-MIA-MCO-LAX-LAS and the pre ordered food worked fine of the 4 flights with meals only 1 the FA's asked what meal did we want the others were delivered without asking and they confirmed that was what we wanted..... I have to say we were very impressed with al the AA crews.
John
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Old Apr 28, 2014, 12:00 pm
  #14  
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LAX-HNL
After what felt like an age we were finally called to the gate. Unfortunately this turned out to be gate 45, which is the LAX equivalent of gate 10 at T5. Fun bus ride later and I got on board to find that pretty much everyone else in First was already in their seats. This of course meant there was pretty much no space left for my bags in the overhead compartments.

And then we waited, and waited, and waited some more. Eventually the Captain told us why the flight was running so late. Turns out the First Officer had been taken ill and there weren't any on standby in the LAX area. So, instead, AA had found one near DFW, got them out of bed and put them on a flight to LAX… Eventually said First Officer arrived and we were on our way.

Fortunately I was on one of the 757s with newer seats this time, rather than the 70s style seats from the flight on Saturday. Far more comfortable and an actual head rest!


As usual the AA crew was not what you could call "quick" about doing anything, but at least they had beer so I was happy. Lunch arrived and this time the pre-order didn't seem to cause any confusion.

First though was the salad, and I had the choice of a ginger vinaigrette or a "creamy Caesar" dressing. I opted for the vinaigrette and regretted it almost instantly. For starters it "looked" awful (see below) and secondly it tasted like I was eating a raw piece of ginger. Oh well, noted for the future.


For my entrée I'd chosen the pecan crusted chicken.


The chicken lived up to it's expectations (tasteless & chewy) but at least the mash and veg were nice.

I settled back in the seat to try to get a bit of sleep, although the guys in the row behind had decided to have a rather heated conversation about 'something'. I have no idea what, but it was enough to keep me awake. Oh well!

Dessert came round and for some crazy reason I went for the cheese. When will I learn that Americans just don't do cheese!!

In the end I gave up trying to sleep and started watching stuff I'd downloaded onto the iPad for just such an eventuality (why they don't have the pre-loaded tablet on the HNL flights I'll never know). Wasn't too long before we started our approach into HNL.



After 'deplaning' (what's wrong with disembarking?) headed off to collect my bag and from there to pick up the hire car. Helpful agent at Avis gave me a few suggestions of places to go to and then I was off to try to find the hotel. Fortunately I'd decided to take the GPS they'd offered (I know, for a price) but it did stop me getting completely lost!

After not too long I arrived at my base for the next 5 nights, the Marriott (more about that later).
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Old Apr 28, 2014, 12:12 pm
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Nice update - it's great when you finally arrive in Hawaii isn't it? Even if it's a bit overcast, it's just got a lovely feel to it.
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