Connecting at JFK
BA international flights arrive at JFK Terminal 7, and to connect to my domestic American Airlines flight to Vegas I need to change to Terminal 8. There’s an elevated transit called the AirTrain which connects the terminals, and also connects to a station called Jamaica where you can pick up the New York Subway or Long Island Railroad if you are staying in New York.
I only have to wait for a minute and am on the AirTrain, one stop to Terminal 8. My US Global Entry includes “TSA Pre“, expedited security which waives the need to remove electronics and liquids from bags, and allows you to keep wearing shoes, belt and jacket. Unfortunately the BA printed boarding pass doesn’t have this field, and after deliberating for a minute whether to get an AA boarding pass printed at the desk, decide just to join the regular queue. It’s slow moving and people seem to be carrying a lot of hand luggage, but I’m airside in fifteen minutes or so.
The Admirals Club Lounge, JFK T8
American Airlines runs a network of lounges called the Admirals Club. However, unlike most airline lounges in Europe, travelling on a domestic first or business class ticket does not automatically grant you access. You need to be either connecting from an international flight in business or first class, or have OneWorld Sapphire or Emerald status (equivalent to BA Silver or Gold respectively).
Drinks are rationed to two unless you want to pay, at least “premium” drinks are, which in the case of this lounge includes Brooklyn Lager which I like. Standard free drinks include things like Budweiser, the like of which have given the US a reputation for tasteless watery beers, a reputation which hopefully few people cling onto now given the excellence of modern craft brewing in the US.
As fortune would have it, I randomly choose a seat in the lounge overlooking the departure gate for my flight to Vegas, so can watch the 737 get prepped whilst drinking the Brooklyn Lager.
AA Domestic Business Class, JFK to Vegas (140 TP)
Some of the longer transcontinental routes within the US have a very good business class offering, with lie flat seats. Unfortunately JFK to Las Vegas isn’t one of them, and is operated by a Boeing 737. However, compared to the business class you’d find on most short haul flights within Europe it’s actually pretty good.
BA’s short-haul business class (called Club Europe) simply blocks out the middle seat. On this American Airlines 737, the seats are bespoke and four across, 2 on each side of the cabin. They’re much like big padded arm-chairs and pretty comfortable. I’ve managed to pre-select a front row bulk-head seat, though for reasons I can’t ponder it’s numbered 3A. Another nice touch of AA business class is the offer of a pre-take off drink. Being a fan of American IPA’s, I choose the Goose Island, one of my long time favourites.
The flight pushes back roughly on time, but there’s a relatively long taxi to the runway at JFK, roughly 20 minutes or so. By the time we take off, I’ve been up for around 20 hours, and after eating dinner manage to sleep most of the rest of the flight. We arrive in Vegas 10 or so minutes behind schedule, but I’m relaxed; other than a cab to the hotel, there are no connections to make this time.
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas
There’s an old adage that in London you are never more than 6 feet from a rat. The same probably holds true of slot machines in Vegas. This is the sight which hits you as you emerge from the jet bridge into the departure hall.
It’s now around 23:30 local time, 07:30 UK time, I’ve been travelling for over 24 hours, but I’ve made it to Vegas!