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ex DUB - SFO TR

ex DUB - SFO TR

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Old Apr 19, 16, 1:31 pm
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Join Date: Jun 2015
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ex DUB - SFO TR

The night before. Positioning flight Aer Lingus weds evening. Needed to check bags due to Stobart regional prop plane. Onwards HBO.

Overnight in Radisson Blu - 10 mins walk from terminal (NB remember not to cross the bridge over the road - go down to departures and stay on rhs, otherwise you have to cross a dual carriage way without a cross (ok at 10 at night, but possibly trickier during the day. Must say i preferred it to the Malfron, but either are fine for an overnight.

First flight 7:40 DUB LHR T5. wish I’d gone for the earliest flight a) to reduce IRROPS fear and b) to give some more time in lounge, as I only have 1.5 hours at LHR. Main problem is next leg is LHR MIA which goes from T3 so (as this leg is in First) no opportunity to use Concorde lounge. That said, AA lounge in T3 was very nice (but only there for about 10 mins). Noticed a LOT of onward fliers from the DUB flight.

Looooong walk to the gate, but straightforward boarding, separate bridge for First. Excellent welcome on board and settled into 1A. As reported on seat guru there is no overhead locker and the jacket locker in the middle was already pretty full of bags. But got mine in OK. Very warm introduction from CSM. When BA do this sort of thing right, its very right.

Easy flight, lots of sleep. Seemed rather stuffy in the cabin, could do with upping the air change rates. Rich food and reduced cabin pressure having an effect on digestion systems in the cabin.

On arrival at MIA, only one bridge at rear of WTP, which was a drag as you have to wait behind WTP folk (oh the horror I know!) and because I’d gone down on the left hand side ended up stuck behind CW pax who were being held back for F pax. resolved this by going back up through F cabin. First world problem I know, but its the details which should be perfect for F.

In fact it was a pretty straightforward immigration process - was through in 20 mins. A fair walk and I note there were some buggies that were picking people up seemingly at random to get a lift to the immigration control - but they were so hampered by the people not much of a saving. Lots of automated machines, so exited very quickly, and followed signs to Terminal D for AA, which was only about 10 mins away.

Quickly found the Admiral lounge which was pleasant, was able to get a shower immediately. Fairly busy and quite limited food selection however.

Boarding onto the 77W for the MIA LAX leg was straightforward. Gate was close to the lounge. Quite struck by the different attitude from FAs (compared to BA), having to walk past conversations to get to my seat 2J in First. Couple of observations - the F seat is very nice, with quite a lot of gadgetry (I like the swivel seat), but difficult to see that its a huge difference from AA Business. But its a lot better than BA First seat - more space and more stuff. I have however decided that the noise from the AC unit at this end of the 77W is annoying, its more of a noise nuisance than the engines. Being further forward (as opposed to the business ‘mini cabin’) doesn’t change this. One of my best investments is some Bose noise cancelling headphones (you do get these on the AA flights but a) you can only use them for the IFE i.e. not your own tech and b) they get taken off you about an hour from the end of the flight). Nevertheless its a long time to be wearing headphones. But proper First (this was a 3 class) and lie flat, but didn’t actually use this much to sleep as its a daytime flight, but nice to be able to lie flat to relax and lie on your side. No much in the way of other kit, small toilet bag.

Had a layover that night in LAX at the Holiday Inn which was cheap but quite tired looking. Asked for a floor at a high level which I got, but for some reasons it didn’t have any curtains. Also a through the wall AC unit which was very noisy.

Still OK for a nights sleep and efficient shuttle to the airport in the morning. Very nice Admirals lounge for F (including the presence of a major TV series star). Some slight confusion in that the gate for the last leg LAX SFO changed at the last minute, but fine, not far to walk. When I first went in and asked about how far the gate was (42A) she said “Oh you can see the plane from here”, so I was watching the pilots doing preflights etc, but didn’t seem to be much activity. Anyway I wandered down with 30 mins to go and the gate said Las Vegas… Slight moment of panic, but board showed the new gate not far away.

The LAX SFO was a very pleasant flight, my tip for this is to get a seat on the lhs then you get a view of the west coast all the way up, very stunning. Fairly basic service in the business section, coffee and a bag of popcorn, but nice short flight and really quite relaxing. Made me think about a metric for TPs/hour…. (60/hour for this one - 42/hr MIA-LAX, 26/hr on LHR-MIA).

The return leg. This was always going to be a long haul. Start at the AA lounge at SFO for 6.30 flight which was very nice, got some breakfast. Again the SFO-LAX leg was very pleasant. I was in 1A which was on the wrong side for views, but the seat opposite was empty so switched over.

Arrived at D terminal and some some reason the next leg LAX-MIA was leaving from Tom Bradley. Not too far to walk and was in the new business lounge there which is very big and seemed pretty empty. Lots of food, so a hearty breakfast. One thing is in that lounge the board only shows international departures (it being the international terminal).

Boarding onto the LAX-MIA straightforward again. Same 77W, same seat as before, same issues. One VIP on board… Quite bad weather on direct route so quite a roundabout routing to the north which lost about 30 mins and a long period with turbulence and FAs confined to seats. Interesting PA from captain “with this weather and seatbelts on, this is not a good time to be passing round babies…”. But otherwise a very pleasant flight, food was good, but by this point I’d felt like I’d been grazing all day, on not the most healthy food. Into MIA Term D. Was looking for the nearest Admirals lounge as I was pretty sticky at that point and only had about 1.15 to next flight and wanted a shower. At AA lounge was directed to the oneworld lounge at Terminal E which is about 10 mins walk and told it was a better lounge. Did get that shower (incredibly hot water, had to kind of run through it to get wet) and time for a quick sit down.

For the MIA-LHR a bit of a scrum at the gate. Had to ask to be let through. Standing at the head of priority queue was a large man who had clearly staked his claim to his place in the line. “Excuse me” I said. He turned round and looked me up and down. “They’ve only called first” he says, turning back. “Yes” I replied. “Would you mind letting me through?”… Slightly sweet moment, but did make me reflect that being F is a bit like taking part in the Stanford prison experiment.

At the door quite a lot of toing and fro-ing so FA apologised that she couldn’t leave the door to see me to my seat. I managed to find it myself. F was full and seemed pretty busy, as were FAs. Its the end of the easter holidays to there were quite a few children in there. Some quiet, some less so. Was expecting it to be quite noisy, but settled down. Was in 3K this time which was OK. I was slightly aware that people behind in the middle seats can watch whatever you are watching on IFE or laptop, and as this was a young child, this did slightly affect my viewing choice. Actually this is always a bit of an issue. On a previous flight I was watching the film Carol and the dinner arrived at a fairly key scene and instead of turning it off I only managed to pause it, so slightly uncomfortable few minutes whilst the table was laid with a substantial amount of nudity on screen. One thing that really struck me, having just come off the 77W First, is how smaller and lower spec the BA F seat was. Seemed much smaller and certainly less wide, and much less space around you.

By this point I was pretty done it. Couldn’t face eating any more, so watched a film then when to sleep. As I was dropping off I was reflecting that F on the overnight is a bit of a waste as you’re asleep for most of it. Don’t really get to appreciate the food or drink (why would you be eating a 3 course dinner at the equivalent of 2 in the morning). Was woken for breakfast, but really not hungry at that point, pretty groggy. Again at arrival had to wait behind the WTP pax and this time the FA weren’t holding back the Business pax, so too a while to deplane. Again, slightly undermines the F experience which is pretty much on the plane only, certainly not getting through the airport. And then of course onto the overly hot and cramped bus to the T3 - T5 transfer and the usual farce of ‘Fast Track’ security in which the ‘lucky’ pax are let out of the fast track queue to join the other (quicker moving queues). This seems to happen every time I come through. I wish they either sort it out or do away with it. I was also struck by the rather slack attitudes in comparison to equivalent staff in US who are seem rather more crisp and efficient - less personal conversations and ‘banter’. Oh that reminds me, in the US Pre-check (their Fast track) the scanners don’t require you to remove laptops, liquids, etc.

But had some time in Concorde lounge. Managed to get a shower (was on a wait list for a Cabana, but not available) and hung around for a while. Feeling very tired by this point and not hungry at all - which is a shame as so much delicious food was available. Short walk down to the gate for LHR-DUB and the short hop back to DUB. Repositioning flight was 3 hours away, but I’d booked lounge access with Aer Lingus (when will the BA merger finally come through??) and worth it for IRROPS protection. Reflecting at that point that €20 euro (on top of a €25 fare) was really quite good value. Is it really worth all this TP chasing (time and expense) when you can just buy it? Its OK I was VERY tired by this point, I’ll feel better soon.

Anyway, overall it was a good experience, all flights reasonably timely, all FAs very amenable, BA have the edge on that front. I really enjoyed F on the way out, felt that I didn’t get to appreciate it on the way back. I wish the bits between the plane and the lounges were better. The F on the transcon was also excellent, but for 5 hours AA business is very close behind. In retrospect I’d maybe choose slightly longer layovers to take the edge of transfers.
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