Sunday, August 18, 2013

UAL 959: LHR-ORD (Economy Plus)

The worst day of vacation is when you wake up and realize you are going home in a few hours.  After a late night out in Exmouth Market with some friends we woke up, packed and headed out for some breakfast.  A dreadfully inattentive group of servers at a pub near the hotel had us leaving for Heathrow about 20 minutes later than we originally wanted.  

We decided to take a taxi to Paddington and use the other end of our round trip Heathrow Express ticket. MS was heading to Heathrow to pick up a rental car while I was heading home.  We didn't properly estimate the traffic mayhem that the London Marathon would cause - and our driver didn't seem to know any alternative routes.  After 50 minutes of this 20 minute ride, we hopped out of the taxi and took the tube to Paddington.  Honestly, I was concerned that I would miss my flight.  Worst case scenario I stay an extra day in London...but I wanted to go home at that point. An extended travel day would not be ideal.

By the time we made it to Paddington, it was 14h04 and my flight departed at 15h20. Heathrow is not the easiest of airports to navigate either.  Although we had a very tight connection over Thanksgiving and the Heathrow United Ground Crew did a phenomenal job.  The train to Heathrow leaves at 14h11.  I love the Heathrow Express. We were at Heathrow at 14h28 -- and my flight began boarding at 14h30.  While I did not run, I was as close as I could get to it without actually running.

After a brief hiccup with my mobile boarding pass and the United check-in crew saying I couldn't make the flight, I managed to get to security. Heathrow Security seems to be much more inconsistent that what TSA even doles out in the US.  Shoes on or off, depends on the person. Tablets in or out of the bag. Liquids following US rules or no rules. Required to keep passport in hand or required to keep it in your bag. It's like a crap shoot with these people.

And as always, my United flight left from the gate at the very far end of the terminal - I think if you look hard enough you can see Cardiff from that gate.  I made it to the plane and was actually sitting in my seat at 14h48.  I can't believe I made it from Paddington Station to be sitting in my seat on board in 37 minutes. I've said it before -- I love the Heathrow Express.

Carrier: United Airlines (LHR-ORD)
Flight: UAL 959
Seat: 25H
Departure: May 27, 2013 - 15h20 / 15h22
Arrival: May 27, 2013 - 18h30 / 18h02
Travel Time: 9 hours 10 minutes / 8 hours 46 minutes
Flight Miles: 3,953

This blog post is really about the flight home, but honestly, there is nothing to write about regarding the flight itself. It was very uneventful. The service was standard United Economy international service. My seat mate kept to himself.

I did have the vegetarian lentil entree (which was not an offered choice, I had to ask for it) and it was quite good. Not "order in a restaurant good", but "airline food good".

We landed a bit early and I headed to Customs and Border Patrol and using Global Entry, which my American Express Platinum card paid for, I was in the arrivals hall right around 18h20 and walking in my front door right around 18h50. All in all a pretty good travel day, even if there were some hiccups along the way, everything worked out pretty smoothly.

My weekend in London was quite enjoyable - and I still think London on a three day weekend is quite doable, assuming you aren't trying to hit ALL the tourist attractions. Go visit some friends, grab a pint have some afternoon tea (and if the weather cooperates, rent a bike and go for a lovely ride).

Do you take the Heathrow Express in London? How much do you love Heathrow?

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