This sounds like another tier point run; to get to New York, via a 9hr 30min flight to Charlotte North Carolina, followed by a 2hr connection to New York. But it’s not, and unlike the previous trips I wrote about, this is business rather than leisure travel. Plans had simply changed, and rather than spend time in Charlotte I now needed to head straight to New York, but the fare class of the trans-Atlantic prohibited any ammendments.
Despite this, somewhat frustratingly, American Airlines had contacted me the day before the flight. The AA733 I was due to fly on was over booked, and would I move to the next Charlotte flight for $600? No, because I have a New York connection, but I will happily take a direct routing to New York for no compensation. “Sorry sir, I can’t offer that, but please ask at the airport”.
American Airline depart from Heathrow Terminal 3. Congestion is bad both en route to, and at the terminal. The cause en route turns out to be quite obvious.
At the airport I try to see if a re route direct to New York might be available. As a BA Gold, and OneWorld Emerald, they at least go through the motions of trying to help, but the AA733 is no longer overbooked. The best they can do is a £1000 change which I decline. Giving up and heading airside, security is light at 7:30 am, and the Cathay First Lounge as delightful as ever.
Heathrow to Charlotte (140 TP)
Today I’m flying on an Airbus A330-200. The ‘200’ is the reason for some of the trouble and the flight being oversold. It’s a slightly shorter version of the more regular ‘300’ variant, with less seats. It’s a reasonably common thing for airlines to substitute aircraft with alternatives for technical or operational reasons, and that’s what’s happened here.
Inside it’s the typical slightly older AA business class – direct aisle access for all, but the seats falling a little short of their Flagship 77W product. But there’s an absolutely delightful member of cabin crew serving the starboard side of the cabin, for whom nothing is too much trouble. The ice cream sundae she serves as a desert after lunch, is almost enough on its own to forsake BA in future when flying trans-Atlantic.
Charlotte to La Guardia (5 TP)
There’s a short layover at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and arriving internationally have to clear immigration and come back through security. My domestic flight to La Guardia is in economy, and I’ve been allocated the middle seat someone near the back of the plane. I figure the flight is probably full, but stop by the desk to chance my luck and see if a seat switch is possible. The desk agent is incredibly helpful, moves me to an aisle extra legroom exit row seat, and graciously declines the tip I offer. Through security, and time to relax in the Admirals Club for an hour or so.
The flight to La Guardia is uneventful. I’ve been up over 18 hours when we board, so sleep most of the way.