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Forums Other Destination advice Trip Report: oneworld tier point run to San Francisco June 24

  • Metty 86 posts

    This isn’t really a Destination thing, so delete if inappropriate, just thought that it may be of use to those who don’t have time to digest FlyerTalk and read about mad people doing Tier Point runs to get status for a ££ spend only slightly more than the taxes and charges on a redemption.

    Booked in July-23. Travelled end of June-24.

    Others may have cleverer ways of doing the research work but my standard method is this. Starting at Google Flights and guessing DUB as an origin, but can put in multiples up to 5, so maybe Sofia, Budapest, Stockholm, Dublin, Amsterdam first with destination of Anywhere Google Flights Anywhere search

    Click on Explore. You get an interactive map. Filter by selecting Oneworld only, set a max price and interact with the map looking for cheapest places, obvs West Coast USA via LHR and East Coast USA or Far East are good bets. But note that the Anywhere search is only for next 6 months. The best deals to USA are >6months away, so take the best destination(s) for <6months and plonk in some dates for same >6months and review. Having found something that works, I then go multi-city and put in the return to MAD, BCN, AGP etc as they tend to dump some of the tax/charges. Personally, I then recreate in ITA Matrix as further honing is possible and then ITA Powertools to book (in this case to American Airlines) as it works magic that I can never recreate if trying a booking from scratch on my chosen route using AA website.

    For this trip, the fare booked via AA was £1115 for DUB-LHR-JFK-SFO-JFK-LHR-MAD in Business. Given that a redemption to the USA is £100 less but also requires Avios/points, this is pretty good value and this nets 640 Tier Points. Not as great value as Sri Lankan Abu Dhabi-Jakarta which I did in May, but still good. However, indirect flights starting ex-EU are not for everyone… ask Mrs Metty who joined me on a Cairo-LHR-JFK-LAX-Hawaii rtn once…and depending on you’re tolerance of risk, the ancillary costs (positioning flights, hotels) can rack up.

    Some personal observations from this trip.

    LHR-DUB positioning flight: Avios in Business on first flight out; my trip buddy loves being in row 1 and I don’t (bin space angst and looking at a wall) but in 1C even worse; others bumping into you, knocking drinks off the table, standing in feet area while waiting for the loo.

    DUB lounge in T2 at least has windows but a much longer walk than that from the old T1 stands. We weren’t doing a ‘back to back’ so had a couple of hours to kill in the (underwhelming) lounge. The connecting flights route was closed so exit and re-entry through security was required. It was quiet on this occasion.

    DUB-LHR was ok, LHR connection security was busy, went to lounge in B gates.

    LHR-JFK unremarkable, Club Suite B777-300 in the mini Business cabin was better than the ‘dorm’ feeling further back. Usual inconsistent BA service, having taken my meal order I got sparkling not still water, mozzarella salad starter instead of a prawn dish etc. Last time I asked politely whether I’d been given someone else’s meal I was shouted at, so kept quiet. I eat anything anyway. No offers of re-fills or any proactivity seems to be the norm but I feel for the crew. This isn’t even a crew-hated A350 galley but getting from 6A to the toilets after meal service was like an obstacle course with crew, trays, trolleys everywhere, it feels like chaos. Don’t think I would have made it to the Club Kitchen at all as that’s the other side.

    At JFK, Global Entry worked in a flash at the machine. My travel buddy used the Global Entry app which seemed more effort to load up than just using a terminal but I guess if there was a queue for the GE terminals it would save a few seconds. We went to the Greenwich Loungs as we like looking out the windows and the taproom area is OK. Having tried the Chelsea lounge previously it’s possibly good for celeb spotting but – a bit like the Concorde Room at LHR – can be frequented by entitled types that I don’t like too much.

    JFK-SFO on the A321T was good; feeling a bit travel-weary it’s nice to have a lie-flat Business rather than a big seat domestic First. BA may be inconsistent but I find that AA are amazingly consistent, especially JFK based cabin crew. ‘Drink?’ rather than ‘Good morning Mr Metty have you had a chance to choose a beverage?’ But the food is substantial, sundaes still great, cookies and as much to drink as you can stomach. The 321T galley seems to have been designed with service prep in mind, way less chaotic than anything on BA. Temperature in the cabin was frosty like US air conditioned buildings can be, I like it this way, but even with some pax asking for extra blankets, they kept the cabin cool.

    Arriving just after midnight and having been travelling for well >24hrs we stayed in the Grand Hyatt SFO that’s attached to the terminal. Nice quality, comes at a price, but they do offer binoculars in the airport view rooms 🙂

    SFO-JFK on A321T one cabin crew member decorated the cabin with battery operated candles in a glass which was lovely and put candles in the toilet with a potted plant too. Having asked, it’s his ‘thing’ apparently. Made the point of thanking him as it was a nice touch whilst appreciating AA management for allowing some freedom of expression and completely forgot to give him a Taylor Swift friendship bracelet. Oops. Overall the crew were even more ‘New York’ than the outbound, but service was great. The baskets of snacks for between meal grazing were each about twice the size of the BA Club Kitchen offerings but hardly touched.

    JFK-LHR 777-300 again. Last time I got a beep on boarding it was a downgrade to economy as my seat was broken (subsequently resolved on board). This time it was an upgrade to F which was nice of BA. Ate sparingly on board and crashed out, waking 40mins before landing in an absolute pool of sweat. Oh how I regret not bringing my portable USB fan to counter BA’s tropical ‘send them to sleep’ cabin temperature policy. I know others refer to me as Sweaty Metty but boiling me and giving me a headache wasn’t great. Then on arrival the cabin crew were being nice and chatty and asking about my trip and I completely forgot my iPad that had been squirreled in one of tha numerous seat storage areas. Doh.

    LHR-MAD as the JFK had arrived at B gates and we were departing from B gates, I assumed that the B/C connection route would be closed as it often seems to be. But it was open and we were back in the B lounge in minutes. The BA lounge dragon pointed at the toilets when I enquired about a shower; odd, I thought, have they moved? She later admitted she didn’t know where the showers were as they were operated by the catering company (?) and nothing to do with BA. But she did give me the number of the LHR lost property folks who didn’t open until after we were airborne. I was in 1C again, and having said to one of the crew that I couldn’t put my water and tea on the middle table (1B’s) as it was hanging at an odd angle, the inevitable happened and someone in a rush to get to the toilet banged my table and I was then wearing my tea and water. Doh. By this stage, despite showers and caffeine at JFK and LHR I was flagging, so refused all solids on board.

    The IB lounge at MAD was quite quiet and cool-ish unlike T5 at LHR. Food was Ok too.

    MAD-LHR on an IB A350-900; for a new plane it felt a bit plasticky but the ability to go horizontal for a while was appreciated. We landed LHR and 30mins wait for a stand. Off to Lost property office right at the Elizabeth Line/Pod parking end of T5 and was absolutely delighted to be reunited with my iPad for a fee of £25. Apparently the first set of cleaners didn’t find it, ’twas the second lot of cleanerswho saved it being taken to LAX, where it would doubtless never be seen again. I told the delightful young lady in the office that she’d made an old man very happy to which she replied saying that I’d made her happy by being happy. My travel buddy looked awkward, wondering what would happen next. Luckily, I again forgot to offer a Taylor Swift friendship bracelet thus any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour was avoided.

    We were lucky, no changes to the flights since we booked nearly a year ago and everything went fine. We’d been relatively conservative with longish connections and I feel fairly normal 24 hours after arrival home. Obviously this is not for everyone but if you like travel, flying etc, it’s fun.

    Having lost my passport on board Sri Lankan last month where the crew refused to let anyone off the aircraft until it was found (a couple of rows back lodged in a window panel) and leaving my iPad on board yesterday, I wonder if anyone has any tips to help reduce the risk of leaving things behind when tired/drunk? I could get a dayglo cover for my iPad I suppose!

    PeteM 785 posts

    How did the passport end up there?! Interesting report, thanks!

    ABA 28 posts

    Nice report Metty, thank you. Useful for my tier point runs.

    MF176 206 posts

    Enjoyed that, thanks. Also intrigued how the passport ended up there on Sri Lankan!?

    Metty 86 posts

    Enjoyed that, thanks. Also intrigued how the passport ended up there on Sri Lankan!?

    Sorry for the delayed reply. I had my passport in shirt breast pocket before I nodded off and woke up in an odd position – this was an A320 so just big seats in business but they recline a lot – and immediately realised passport wasn’t where it should have been.

    It was in a black passport holder and somehow had migrated backwards 2 and a bit rows along the wall of the cabin just above the floor where the window panels meet (aircon?) panel vents. It must have fallen out against the window and been vibrated rearward. I told the senior cabin crew and on arrival at the gate they blocked everyone in economy from getting off the aircraft while I was on hands and knees and thankfully locating it after a few minutes.

    Following that, I used one of those cross-chest bag things to keep my passport, ipods, phone and credit cards and just wore it all the time. I nearly had a nasty accident with that…thinking I could put a water bottle in there too…luckily leakage didn’t do any damage.

    Tocsin 67 posts

    Catching up on HfP and I offer belated thanks for the interesting TP TR 🙂

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