After two years with no face-to-face meetings for work, things have suddenly taken off. Following my trip to Berlin at the start of May, I was off again in July, this time to the Bay Area, where I had a week-long meeting, followed by a week of exploring. I then flew to Atlanta to spend a couple of weeks with Amanda, before flying home exactly a month after I left.
Flying into the Bay Area presents a range of options, with San Francisco and San Jose being the most convenient. I did a similar trip in January 2020, and, just as I did then, I decided to fly to San Jose with British Airways. Although San Francisco is slightly more convenient, with several flights a day, on both occasions it was considerably more expensive. This made San Jose, with its one flight a day, the logical choice and, just as I did in 2020, I decided to fly in World Traveller Plus (premium economy to you and me).
Although I’ve just returned from that trip, it’s only now that I’ve had the time to start writing up the Travel Spots, starting with this one about my flight to San Jose.
Welcome to the second instalment of my Travel Spot, covering my flights to/from Dublin in October 2019, at the start/end of a two-week trip to Ireland. I spent my first week driving around Ireland, enjoying the beauty of the Wicklow Mountains, Waterford, Cork, the Ring of Kerry and Galway. This was followed by a weekend in Dublin (visiting coffee shops, of course) and a week working in Leopardstown, just south of Dublin, before I flew home on Friday afternoon.
The first instalment was about my flight from Heathrow to Dublin, travelling in Club Europe with British Airways, while this post covers my return, which saw me take the slightly bizarre route of Dublin – Heathrow – Manchester, again flying Club Europe with British Airways. This was partly due to laziness on my part (it was the seventh trip of a hectic year, sandwiched between two trips to Japan) which made the default option of booking with British Airways the easy way out, and partly down to airline madness, which makes this sort of routing cheaper than flying London to Dublin with British Airways, then returning from Dublin direct to Manchester with Aer Lingus (which would have been the logical route to take).
Welcome to another Travel Spot post and, no, before anyone wonders why I’m flying from Boston to Dublin, this isn’t part of my current trip. Instead, I’m catching up on my backlog of past trips that I didn’t get to write up at the time. In contrast to the recent diet of long-haul flights, this covers the short hop I took across the Irish Sea in October 2019 to visit Ireland for a couple of weeks, one for work, with the other spent driving around Waterford, Cork and Galway.
It was the seventh trip of a hectic year, sandwiched between two trips to Japan (more long-haul flights!), so represented a welcome change of pace. This post covers the flight out from Heathrow to Dublin, travelling in Club Europe with British Airways, while a separate post covers my return, which saw me taking the slightly bizarre route of Dublin – Heathrow – Manchester.
The Boeing 747 first flew in 1969, making it two years younger than me. Nicknamed “Jumbo Jet” and “Queen of the Skies”, the massive passenger jet has been an icon ever since, while I achieved my long-standing ambition to fly in one when, on my first transatlantic flight, a British Airways 747 took me from Heathrow to Washington Dulles. Since then, I’ve been an occasional 747 passenger, mostly with British Airways, although, as time went on, I fell out of love with the plane, seduced by more modern jets with better-equipped cabins.
My romance was rekindled when I started flying business class for work. I was fortunate enough to fly in the 747’s main Club World cabin twice, first returning from Chicago, then from Phoenix. However, the best was still to come as I discovered the delights of the upper deck. Then, on what would become my final flight on a 747, I was upgraded to First Class!
I say final flight, because airlines have been retiring their 747 fleets. British Airways had been one of the holdouts, but its last two 747s had their final flights this month, prompting this post, a fond farewell to the Queen of the Skies.
This is the second and final part of the Travel Spot which I started last week with my flight from Phoenix to London, itself the final instalment of a five-week long trip I took in 2018. Last week’s post was all about the Boeing 747, prompted by the news of the final flights of British Airways’ remaining two Boeing 747s. However, getting to Heathrow wasn’t the end of my journey: I still had to make the comparatively short hop to Manchester and from there, get to my Dad’s, something I’ve done numerous times.
As I left things at the end of Part One, I’d made it safely to Heathrow Terminal 3, but I was 1¼ hours behind schedule. At that point it was 14:40 and my connecting flight for Manchester was due to leave from Terminal 5 at 15:10, which meant I had to get from between the terminals, clear passport control, go back through security and board my flight, all in less than 30 minutes…
Did I make it? No, of course not. For the very first time in my life, I missed a flight. This is post is all about what happened next, what airlines do when you miss your flight and the lessons that I learned from the experience.
As regular readers of Brian’s Travel Spot will know, while I was travelling extensively for work, I stopped trying to write up my Travel Spots as I went, leaving me with various unfinished journeys, so to speak. Today’s post is one of those, a throwback to 2018 and the very end of my five-week long trip across America, which started in Boston at the end of February. I took the train from Providence, Rhode Island, down the northeast corridor to Manassas, catching the Crescent to New Orleans before taking the Sunset Limited all the way across to Tucson, Arizona. From there, I drove to Phoenix for work, before catching my flight home, which is the subject of today’ post.
This post was prompted by last week’s news of the final flights of British Airways’ remaining two Boeing 747s. Although my return from Phoenix wasn’t the last time I flew on a 747 (that was in January 2019, when I was unexpectedly upgraded to First Class on my way out to Phoenix of all places!), it’s the last of my 747 flights that remained without a write-up, so it seemed a fitting way to mark the retirement of British Airways 747 fleet.
Welcome to the fifth and final instalment of this, the second (and possibly last) Travel Spot of 2020. It covers my recent trip to America, which began when I flew to Boston at the end of February. At that point I’d expected to spend five weeks in the US, culminating with two weeks in Chicago for work. However, as I explained in the previous instalment, the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic saw me abruptly cut short my trip the day after I arrived in Chicago, when I decided to head home.
I flew from Chicago to Boston on Monday, 16th March, staying overnight in an airport hotel so that I could catch my hastily rearranged flight back to the UK the following morning. It was a surreal experience, arriving at a near-deserted Chicago O’Hare airport on what should have been a busy Monday morning. However, that was nothing compared to my flight back to the UK, which is the subject of today’s Travel Spot.
It was as if someone had thrown a switch, changing the world almost overnight. When I’d flown to Chicago from Atlanta just three days before, the world had seemed pretty normal. Now it was anything but…
Welcome to the first Travel Spot of the new year, on my first trip of 2020, which means I started the year much as I started 2019, when I flew to Phoenix on the 4th January, managing to get upgraded along the way from Club World to First Class. That was also on the first Friday of the year (I flew yesterday).
This time, I flew from Heathrow to San Jose, California, where I spent a week (for work). Then I was back in Phoenix the following week (work again), before spending a week travelling around Arizona, enjoying the winter sun. Finally, I flew to Portland (Maine) to see Amanda for the weekend, which was an interest contrast (similar to last year, when I flew from Phoenix to Chicago). From there, it was on to Boston to fly home at the end of January.
As usual, I flew with British Airways to and from the US, while, due to time constraints, I did the internal travel by plane as well, flying from San Francisco to Phoenix with American and from Phoenix to Portland with Delta. I’d have loved to have done either (or both) of those legs by train, but it wasn’t feasible.
On Friday I’ll be flying to Tokyo again, so I thought it was high time that I finished writing up my previous trip, so welcome to another Brian’s Travel Spot, this time covering my return from Tokyo. On my flight out, I travelled a new route and new airline for me, flying with Finnair from Manchester via Helsinki and on to Tokyo’s Narita airport. However, for my return, I was back in more familiar territory, flying with British Airways from Narita to Heathrow, with a short hop after that to Manchester.
This is the fourth time I’ve flown from Tokyo with British Airways and the third time I’ve done it from Narita (my other flight, in July last year, was from Haneda, Tokyo’s second airport). It’s also the third time that I’ve flown Club World (business class to you and me), although the first time I went to Tokyo, in April 2017, I was in World Traveller (economy to you and me).
The first step, as ever, is getting to the airport, taking the Keisei Skyliner. For the first time, I’ve covered this in its own post, so we’ll start at the airport.
Welcome to second instalment of the latest Brian’s Travel Spot, covering my journey to Tokyo, flying with Finnair via Helsinki, a new route and new airline (for me). Part I covered my journey from Manchester to Helsinki, while this, Part II, covers my onward flight from Helsinki to Tokyo’s Narita airport.
On my previous three trips to Japan, I’ve flown British Airways, and, wherever possible, I fly direct (one less thing to go wrong). However, since I was starting in Manchester, I had to change planes somewhere, so I decided to try the Manchester-Helsinki-Tokyo route, flying with British Airways’ One World alliance partner Finnair.
Compared to the route I would normally take, flying to Heathrow with British Airways and on from there, this meant a longer first leg, heading over the North Sea to Helsinki (approximately two hours in the air versus 35 minutes), followed by a shorter second leg, roughly 9½ hours as opposed to 11½ hours. That may not seem like much, but when you’re trying to sleep on the plane, that’s actually two hours less sleep, which can be crucial!
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself: my first challenge was to make my connecting flight at Helsinki.