BNE to BNE - The Long Way

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Platy

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Please would you share your planned itinerary?

Incidentally, the DONE4 fares are going up 1st June by about $500.
 

NM

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simongr said:
Interesting - in F last week (HKG-SYD) all of the extras were separate and not in the sleeper suit package...
Maybe they have read all he comments here?
simongr said:
Just a couple of questions - I am assuming that you changed out of your sleeper suit during transit?
Yes
simongr said:
They provide shaving foam in the Wing dont they?
Don't know. I use an electric shaver.
simongr said:
How long was the transit in HKG - given its the same aircraft I was surprised you had time to shower etc at HKG...
Transit is a little under 2 hours. I have well over an hour in The Wing, plenty of time for breakfast and a shower.
 

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Platy said:
Please would you share your planned itinerary?
You will just have to wait and see how it pans out :p
Platy said:
Incidentally, the DONE4 fares are going up 1st June by about $500.
I was a little surprised since the A$ is very strong. The fares must be popular.
 

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I will update with details of LHR-FRA, FRA-DFW (where I am now) and DFW-ORD.

This week I have spent more time in planes and airports than not.
 
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Platy

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On DONE4 pricing ex Australia:

- QF are putting their price up from today
- When I spoke to BestFlights.com yesterday they didn't expect to be putting their prices up
- QF Travel Centre in CNS was quoting around $1,000 more than the QF telephone booking line
 

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Picking up from where I left off ....

At the Avis desk, I was told my TA had booked me a 7-seat minivan! Well, that would be nice if I had my wife and 4 kids with me, but this trip is just me, my suit case and carry-on bag. So I was offered a Mini Cooper for half the cost of the booked minivan. I doid not take much convincing. Now I would be dropping it back tomorrow, but noted they offer 1 hour grace and over that I have to pay for a second day. So my pickup time was duly noted as 2:15pm.

I had already programmed the hotel and office addresses into the Favourites of my PPC GSP, so with it all plugged in and operating I headed for the wilds of the M4, M25, M3, A331 etc to Farnborough. At that time of day the drive was easy.

After checking into the Holiday Inn, I called my local colleague and arrange to meet him in the hotel bar when he finished work. After a pint we headed off to his "local", which was a very small country pub about 30 mins drive away. Several pints and a nice meal later he dropped me back at the hotel and we made arrangements to meet at the office the next day.

We had a valuable few hours together in the office and after lunch I decided it was best to leave early to ensure I beat the 3:15pm return deadline for the car - and to ensure plenty of time at the JW Blue lounge (aka T1 FLounge). I was very glad I did leave early as the M3 was a car park for about 8 miles due to a truck roll-over. Using the GPS to get back to the Avis car rental centre was much better than my previous unguided attempts where I ended up driving through the tunnel to T123 and back again to the rental car returns. I put five quid worth of petrol in before returning. Gee petrol is expensive in the UK!

I made the 3:15pm deadline, despite the best efforts of the M3 and the driving rain, and jumped on the bus round to T1 check-in.
 

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The R (Premium) check-in area was deserted at that time of day. I queried about changing my LHR-FRA to an earlier flight and was told I have to take my paper ticket to the ticket desk to have it changed. Since there was no queue, I decided to change to the earlier flight. That would still give me plenty of time in the lounge and get me to my hotel an hour earlier.

The whole process of changing my ticket and checking-in took less than 5 mins. And the security screening also had no delay. Shoes off this time. I had placed all my liquids in my checked bag assuming it was going to reliably delivered and I didn't need anything for the 1 hour flight.

So straight through and to the FLounge. Showed my BP and my QF Plat card and no problems walking into the FLounge. It was not long before I had to gain the attention of the wait-staff to replace the now empty JW Blue bottle.

The flight was delayed slightly, I assume due to the LHR weather. The sideways rain is a fair indication that ATC will be limiting the airport operation somewhat. So it was probably a good thing I changed flights as these delays always seem to get worse before they get better.

Eventually the flight is called and I make my way to the gate via the loo. By the time I am walking down the last part of the concourse, I am being paged. I am the third person to board.
 

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Upon boarding, I find two people already sitting in 1A and 1C, deep in conversation. The FA sees that I am holding a BP for 1A and very quickly suggests I slot into 3F and have the row to myself (3D and E are free). I was not in a mood to argue so just stowed my bag and slid into the window seat. Very soon the CSD approached the person sitting in 1A and asked to see if BP. He had noted they were now one person extra in the front cabin. He was told in no uncertain way that he was not allowed to upgrade himself and if he wanted to sit with his friend then they would have to do that down the back. So they got up and moved back to economy. I stayed in my 3F seat.

We have a reasonably long taxi to the active runway, but no further delays and no long queue for take-off as can happen at LHR. There is little view as we very soon climb through the thick clouds.

As soon as the seatbelt sign is off, we are offered drinks. The 15yo Glenlivet is a welcome sight for such a short-haul business class service. This is quickly followed by a light meal consisting of a cold chicken salad and sweet sticky something for desert. It was quite ok for such a short flight.

Another long taxi after landing into FRA and we eventually arrive at the gate. Its a short walk to passport control and as it often the case when arriving on a BA flight in RA there is no queue at the non-EU passport line. Hand over the passport and it is briefly inspected, a quick glance at me to verify the photo and its stamped and handed back. No questions about how long I plan to stay, where I am staying, who I work for, the purpose of my visit or any of the other questions often asked at places like USA.
 

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From my last visit to FRA, I know that the courtesy shuttle bus to the Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport North picks up from Terminal 1, and the BA flight arrives into Terminal 2. So I head straight for the airtrain to Terminal 1. It is fast and effortless to follow the signs to Terminal 1.

It seems that every time I use airport-hotel shuttles, I must just miss on bus as I always seem to have to wait the maximum time for the next shuttle. But this time I only have to wait a few minutes and the bus arrives. I am the only passenger for the 5 min ride to the hotel.

I have booked an "upgraded room" and am given that room type. I note from my last visit that I am now 2 from 2 stays here with no PC Platinum recognition (no upgrade, amenities etc). But I am only here overnight so its no real issue. I request to be booked for the 8am shuttle back to the airport the following morning and head off to get some sleep.

The following morning, after verifying my flight time, I recall that AA check-in does not open until 3 hours before departure. So that means there is no point in getting to the airport before 8:50am. So I call reception and change my shuttle reservation to 8:30am, again relying on my previous experience to know its a long walk from the shuttle drop-off point at Section A to the AA check-in desk as section C of Terminal 1. The return shuttle is full (8 passengers) so it is good that I had changed my reservation as there are some people who have no reserved and they have to wait behind for the next one.
 

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NM said:
Hand over the passport and it is briefly inspected, a quick glance at me to verify the photo and its stamped and handed back. No questions about how long I plan to stay, where I am staying, who I work for, the purpose of my visit or any of the other questions often asked at places like USA.
FRA immigration is indeed a breeze. I had an 8hr layover in FRA in Dec and decided to check out all the LH lounges in the airport, including the ones in the Schengen zone and got let through without any questions asked. And on the way back I had to go landside to get to the FCT. Only a 'what are you doing in Germany?', to which I replied 'to get to the first class terminal' and got let through without further ado - not even asked to produce my onward boarding pass or anything! :)

In the US I'd have been put on some blacklist or something...:D
 

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The walk to the AA check-in area takes about 10 mins, wheeling my bags along the length of Terminal 1. When I get to the top of the escalator I head to the F/J check-in area where I am met by Susan who has the task of pre-screening the passengers before they are permitted to check-in. This is the only place I have ever had such a detailed inquisition about me and my plans for the USA. It really is intrusive and I really don't understand the reason behind the thoroughness, especially when you note the lack of questions for me to enter Germany.

I am asked if I am travelling for business or pleasure. When I answer business, I am asked all about what I do and who I work for. I am asked for a business card of some other form of company identification. I pull out my company photo ID and she holds on to it and says she will need that to show her supervisor (what??).

Next I am asked for proof of when I was staying in Germany. My hotel receipt is shown and again she holds onto this for the time being. Then I am asked about where I will be staying in the USA and can I prove it. Luckily I have a print-out from Priority Club reservation showing a summary of most of my accommodation details for the rest of the trip. That is also held by Susan. I am asked who paid for my ticket and details of the purpose of my business visit, if I am visiting customers, other staff, suppliers etc. This whole question and answer session takes about 10 mins. No wonder the economy check-in queue is so long!

Eventually Susan believes she has collected enough information and takes my tickets, passport, company ID and other collected paperwork over to the supervisor and they discuss for another few minutes. She eventually returns and put a stamp on my flight coupon and scrawls some marks onto the coupon (of course with the 4 layers of carbon this goes straight through to the following coupons making it impossible to read the departure time details for this flights!). Then I have all my papers etc returned and am invited to use the next available check-in agent. Wow, what a process just to get to the check-in desk!

At the check-in desk there is a problem. Susan had only stamped and scrawled on my FRA-DFW coupon. She had not done the same on the DFW-ORD coupon. So she is called over by the check-in agent and asked to verify that coupon as well. Then I am able to be checked in for my flights and boarding passes printed.

The AAdmirals Club is land-side and I am invited to head up the escalator and visit the lounge before heading through security to the gate. The lounge is pretty basic with some comfortable seating and a stocked bar. The only food is some small bread rolls with jam and cream cheese. I have a few Mineral Waters and use the WiFi internet to use call home using my IP Softphone.

Eventually the flight is called so I head down to the security checkpoint and passport control. This time I am requested to remove shoes, belt, watch and glasses before going through the metal detector.

Outbound passport control is manned by only two agents and is the bottleneck for outgoing passengers. They have to hold up the security screening because the queue waiting for passport control has backed up to the x-ray machines. When I finally get to the front of the queue, the stamping process is very fast with no discussion. Then its a very short walk to gate C4 for another boarding pass and passport check to enter the gate area. I then head straight onto the aircraft and find I am one of the last business class passengers to board, even though there are still a large number of people milling around the gate (well over 150 people I estimate).
 

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Now I've always believed that it's harder to get through the infamous Inquisition at FRA to check in for an AA flight (does this happen for all other US airlines as well?) than it is to actually clear US immigration, unless you're unlucky enough to get hauled aside for secondary inspection or something. The last AA person who interrogated me at FRA was quite intrigued as to my choice of routing to the US - via Europe instead of the transpacific... Thankfully 'more miles' was considered a valid reason. :D
 

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QF009 said:
Now I've always believed that it's harder to get through the infamous Inquisition at FRA to check in for an AA flight (does this happen for all other US airlines as well?) than it is to actually clear US immigration, unless you're unlucky enough to get hauled aside for secondary inspection or something. The last AA person who interrogated me at FRA was quite intrigued as to my choice of routing to the US - via Europe instead of the transpacific... Thankfully 'more miles' was considered a valid reason. :D
FRA is the only place I have received such an inquisition. I don't know if other airlines departing Germany for USA or even AA at other European ports make such an issue of knowing all your travel details before allowing you to check-in. But this is my second experience of it at FRA.
 

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I love the seat pitch on AA's 777 and 767 business class. I normaly prefer to fly in an aisle seat, but with AA's very generous pitch, I am happy to take a window seat. There was plenty of room for me to walk to my window seat without encroaching on my 12B seat partner, and can easily slide my roller bag under the seat in front and not come close to touching it with my feet.

Pre-takeoff drinks of champagne, juice or water are offered - champagne is always a good way to start a 10 hour flight. We are soon pushing back and quickly into the air. The Captain tells us the winds are favourable and we should be about 30 mins early into DFW where the weather is clear.

As always for AA long-haul flights, I was careful to select a seat according to FEBO. AA take meal orders based on the flight number of the flight, with even numbered flights having orders taken from the front of the cabin and old numbered flight from the rear (Front Even, Back Odd). But knowing there are two meal services and that serving is always from the front, I like to avoid the back row on odd numbered flights. AA will run out of the most popular meal choice, which is something that I have never had happen to me on any other airlines when travelling in business class (yes, I know there will be people who have experienced this in QF, BA, CX etc, but I have not had that experience or even heard the FAs on my flights telling people they cannot have their first choice.

When the time comes for meal orders to be taken, the FAs head straight to row 13 (the rear of the J cabin) and start taking orders. Hmm, 13A, B, D and E all choose the lamb. The she moves forward and starts with 12D, then 12B who both also request the lamb. Now I know I have made a wise seat selection as I also request the lamb. That is 7 from 7 for the lamb. There is only one lamb dish left for the 3 rows in front of me. At least there were three other choices on the menu for them to choose from. I order a Diet Coke for starters, while my seatmate requests a scotch on the rocks and has two bottle of Dewars poured over a full glass of ice. I consider following his lead and asking for one bottle of Glenlivet poured over 2 ice cubes, but decide to stick with my initial choice for now.

The meal is very good, though lamb cutlets can be a little difficult to eat with airline cutlery - even though the knife was steel, it was blunter than most plastic knifes I have used so far on this trip. I take a glass of Koonungra Hill Shiraz with the meal and once again am reminded why I usually don't have wine with my meal. Dessert is Ben & Gerry's Cherry Choc-Chip Ice Cream.

After the meal I pull out my laptop and watch a few DVDs. Again on this day-time flight the FAs insisted on having all the blinds closed. If I wanted to sleep on the flight I would have chosen a night-time flight. I chose a day-time flight because I wanted to be awake on this flight and sleep in a hotel room at the end of the day.

About 2 hours before landing we are offered a snack. This time the orders are taken from the front of the cabin, which is why I like to be just back or forward of the middle according to FEBO. The choice is Mushroom Pizza or Cold Asian Chicken Salad.
 

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On arrival into DFW, it is evident that several other flights have arrived at the same time, including one other from FRA (LH) and several from South America. It takes about 30 mins to walk to immigration processing and get through the queue. The USA immigration inquisition is much less daunting or through than the FRA pre-check-in checks. It takes less than a minute to hand over the passport, have the I94W form and passport stamped, place two fingers on the scanner and smile for the camera.

By the time I get to the baggage carousel, all the bags have been delivered and the belt has stopped. So I walk around the belt until I find my bag and I am pleased to see there is no queue to exit customs (unlike my last time arriving on this flight into DFW). Outside customs I am directed to the correct belt to drop my already tagged bag for the connection to ORD. Then a quick check of the departures monitors shows I have to head from my arrivals Terminal D to Terminal A for my connection. I allowed plenty of time for my connection and at this time I wish I had booked the tighter connection.

The new SkyTrain makes it very easy to get between terminals. I went through security screening at Terminal D and then up to the SkyTrain and was at Terminal A in a matter of minutes.
 

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At the Terminal A Admirals Club I hand over the QF Platinum card and my AA BP and am presented with a single drink voucher. Oh well, I am not really in need of multiple drinks and can't be bothered asking for more. Upstairs I make the most of the T-Mobile hotspot and call home again. I exchange the drinks voucher for a bottle of sparking water.

I keep an eye on the time and knowing that boarding starts 30 mins before departure I check the departures display at about 35 mins to go. It shows On Time so I leave the lounge and walk to the nearby gate. Hmm, Gate A21 shows the right flight details and there are lots of people milling around, but there is no aircraft parked at the gate. How can it possibly be on-time when the inbound aircraft has not yet arrived? I decide to take a seat and see what happens.

Soon there is an announcement that the flight will be boarding late and since this is a beverage-only flight, people may like to go and purchase food now. Many people take the advice and leave the gate area. Eventually an MD80 rolls up to the gate and disgorges its passengers.

We are then told that boarding will be at 6pm, though due to storms in the Chicago area we will not be taking off until 7:20pm. It seems they need the gate (or perhaps the on-time departure stats are measured from push-back time) so we will be sitting on the tarmac for over an hour - oh great. I am very glad to be seated in F! At least they offer us drinks while we are on the ground.
 

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Once onboard I ask for a Glenlivet and Ice, and my seat neighbour does likewise. He comments that we have just emptied the bar of the Glenlivet as they only load 2 bottle on the MD80 flights. Of well, its down to Dewars for the rest of the flight, so the next one is requested with ginger ale to make it drinkable.

I made a call to my Chicago-based colleague who was going to meet me at the airport to let him know were delayed and not expecting to arrive until 9:30pm. So I suggested I would just get the courtesy shuttle to the hotel and we made arrangements for him to collect me from the hotel in the morning to drive to the office.

After about 30 mins sitting on the tarma the captain tells us we have been given a landing slot into ORD and we are second in line for takeoff so please turn off all phones and laptop computers immediately.

Soon after takeoff we are offered a choice of meals, cheese ravioli or beef salad. This is typical AA domestic F fair. Edible, but not great. The FA (John) is very jovial and chatty which helps to pass the time. My seatmate is also good for some conversation to help pass the time.

We ended up landing about 9pm. By the time my bag arrived on the belt and I found my way to the courtesy bus centre and waited another 25 mins for the hotel shuttle, I found it was 10pm before I reached the hotel. It had been a long day of travel and I was ready for hit the sack.

The check-in agent at the Corwne Plaza Rosemont told me he had provided a complementary upgrade, for which I thanked him. When I got to my room I realised this was not just an upgraded room but a huge King Executive Suite. It was about half the size of my house. It didn't take me long to settle into bed.
 

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NM said:
AA take meal orders based on the flight number of the flight, with even numbered flights having orders taken from the front of the cabin and old numbered flight from the rear (Front Even, Back Odd).

Is that from the back on old odd number flights and different on the new odd numbered flights.:p
 

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Good trip report NM.

NM said:
From my last visit to FRA, I know that the courtesy shuttle bus to the Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport North picks up from Terminal 1, and the BA flight arrives into Terminal 2.
Did you stay in a standard room? I have selected this hotel for a one night stay in August based on price and the availability of free airport shuttle.

I will more than likely stay in HI Express Airport in September again based on price and only 5Euro for Airport shuttle.

NM said:
The meal is very good, though lamb cutlets can be a little difficult to eat with airline cutlery - even though the knife was steel, it was blunter than most plastic knifes I have used so far on this trip.
There is only one way to eat lamb cutlets. :oops:

NM said:
At the Terminal A Admirals Club I hand over the QF Platinum card and my AA BP and am presented with a single drink voucher.
Did someone mention that as Emeralds we can get multiple drink vouchers in US lounges. I may have a few hours to kill at LAX and ORD and if possible have more than a couple of "free" beers.
 

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JohnK said:
Good trip report NM.

You should get plenty of vouchers. Not sure but as a WP - shouldnt you get F lounge access? The LAX f lounge has open bar.

John - when are you in the US?
 
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