TRIP REPORT: Off to Heathrow (Take the coach they say. It’s fun they say…) – Sweet Home, Chicago

Off to Heathrow (Take the coach they say. It’s fun they say… it doesn’t help when the rideshare vanishes…)
Sweet Home Chicago

  • Well, it’s been a long two years, hasn’t it?
  • Testing, Testing, Swab 1-2-3…
  • Off to Heathrow (Take the coach they say. It’s fun they say)
  • Cathay Pacific T3 lounge, Heathrow Airport
  • AA87 London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare International (Main Cabin Extra)
  • Into the USA, Crown Plaza O’Hare
  • Hyatt Regency O’Hare
  • Airplane Art from the Hyatt Regency O’Hare
  • Fooding around Chicago badly
  • Starbucks Rosterary, North Michigan Avenue
  • Exploring Chicago with a smartphone
  • Back to O’Hare, British Airways Lounge
  • BA296 Chicago O’Hare to Heathrow (World Traveler Plus – Premium Economy)
  • Time to find my way home
  • to the journey

Early morning fun and games. Or where the hell is the rideshare when you need it?

After a past odd few weeks, getting up and moving around has been… challenging. Yes, that’s the term I’m going to use and stick to it.

Suffice to say, I was mostly ready to go at 2:30 for the short ride to the coach station. However, both Ola and Uber weren’t. It took more than a few efforts to get a ride… to the point where I would be cutting it very fine.

How fine? At the time my Uber picked me up, the app estimated the rideshare would arrive as the coach would be departing. The driver made up some time, to the point where they brought me two minutes by the time he got me to the coach station.

It’s a pity one of the doors from the road was closed, causing a stressful rush into the coach station.

I made it into the coach station and to the queue for the coach, with one minute to spare… and almost the last person to board.

Well, there was thankfully a queue for people to board, with a couple of people having issues. It brought me a few minutes, to say the least. My barcode for the ticket was confirmed, with my luggage taken off me, and I was set to board.

The coach had come in via Liverpool, stopping in Birkenhead, Chester, Stoke-on-Trent to start with – thus it was loaded by the time it hit Birmingham.

However, the driver wasn’t local in the least, as they decided to go round the M6/M42, rather than the local’s method of going down the A45 to the airport. And that’s a time killer.


This wasn’t going to end well.

In terms of the coach, it’s the standard National Express affair. The seat itself is good enough – with a 30” pitch. It’s not bad, but when the coach is packed, it is less than pleasant.

I took the time that I was awake here to complete the Online Check-in process. With the Verifly details now in and confirmed, OLCI was completed successfully.

I checked the seat map, and the aircraft was looking surprisingly empty in the middle section, whilst the back was busy enough. It looked like if I was lucky, I would be getting all three seats to myself.

You’ll have to see if that held or not.

From Birmingham airport, it was time to head off to Oxford, where we lost more time – to the point by the time coach arrived at Heathrow we were a good 20 minutes down.


Heading towards Heathrow Central.

But eventually, the driver decided to park at the back end of the Heathrow bus station, because that’s the driver’s mood.


The back end of the Heathrow Bus station. Thanks for that.

Once I found a trolley, I started to move and back into the world hub of Heathrow,


Welcome!

But it also seemed the Great British Public have forgotten how elevators work in the time we have been locked down and that you need to press buttons to call one.


Yes. You have to press the down button. No, it’s not automatic. No, I’m not going to do it for you.

After a short wait (as a coachload of passengers tried to get into two lifts), it was my turn to head down.

I did a little Heathrow helper for some people who were lost, guiding them where they needed to go as well.

With that done, it was time to head over to Terminal 3 – something I haven’t done for some time.

I popped out on the forecourt for my first appointment for the day – a trip to ExpressTest.

Some things don’t change. After another barcode scan and a 15-minute wait, It was time to have a nose swab. The results came through quick enough, and I was off and running with a check-in.

I headed indoors and initially to Zone D to check in. I was then sent to Zone C for premium check-in.


Although not now. That rule has changed.


zone d.

Yes. I love this Heathrow shuffle as much as anyone else does. honestly. It amuses me the desk shift around based on a shiny bit of plastic.

Upon entering the area, I was directed to the First Class check-in area. Weird, but fine.

On approach to First Class check-in, I was questioned about why I was sent there. Happy that the agent’s front of house messed up, I was directed to the desks.

It was confirmed that I would be checking two bags to Chicago and that all my details had been confirmed and were inside VeriFLY. A boarding pass was splashed out, along with baggage tags.

With my bags taken away from me, I was free to head upstairs to security – so that’s what I did.

Thankfully, FastTrack security was pretty quiet, and I was through the process in a few minutes flat, with my bags not pulled for secondary inspection.

There’s also one major benefit of using FastTrack at Terminal 3 – you skip past the rat run of Duty-Free. Always a wonderful thing to skip past that bit of airport retail experience so you can continue on with life.


Back to the Oceanic Terminal Waiting Area.

I stopped to get some water bottled (as hydration is a thing…)


Oh. This is what replaced Dixons Travel.

And considering I would be aboard a Boeing 777 in a while, this would be no bad thing) and made a decision on a lounge – mainly as I had achieved zero sleep on the bus, and whilst lounge hopping is a thing, the Cathay Lounge is one of the better options at Heathrow.


To the lounges!

So yes – its return to an old friend – the Cathay Pacific lounge.

Next: Noodle and Dim Sum time


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