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An Amazing Mileage Run to England & Scotland
Last week I flew to England and Scotland for a couple of days. The main purpose of this trip was a mileage run, but I left a little time for some sightseeing. My plane ticket was booked during the British Airways sale last year for $408 + 30,000 Avios. My routing was LAS-LAX-LHR and LGW-LAS. I threw in an Avios booking from LHR-EDI-LGW so I could spend some time in Scotland. (If you don’t speak airport codes, I flew from Las Vegas to London and back with a side trip to Edinburgh.)
The trip started a little frantically. A small emergency had to be dealt with just as I was about to head out to the airport. It put me behind and I arrived at the Centurion Lounge 10 minutes before my plane was set to board. I hadn’t eaten anything all day, so I had a quick sandwich and a glass of their mango tea (which I love) and boarded my plane to Los Angeles.
My layover in Los Angeles was a little over 3 hours. This was fine with me since it gave me a chance to check out the American Airlines Flagship First Lounge. It was my first time in this particular lounge and it was about as I expected. The food and drink offerings are a step above the Admiral’s Club (of course), but not on par with most international airlines. I did enjoy the “build your own” pho. The broth was surprisingly good.
Before heading out to the plane I decided to grab a few extra waters, but the fridge was blocked by two men talking. I quickly realized one of them was David Hasselhoff! Eventually he realized I was waiting and moved his conversation to the hallway. Unfortunately after getting my waters I had to get through that space and the Hoff once again had to move. As I exited the lounge I texted my friend that I just had to Hassel the Hoff.
My flight to London was on board an American Airlines 777-300ER. The business class seats are the same reverse herringbone style that is seen on Cathay Pacific and other airlines. It is a great seat and a great way to spend 10 hours. Just before boarding was complete, two men ran onto the airplane. One of them was the Hoff and he was sitting right in front of me. The best part? He was wearing a shirt that said, “Don’t Hassel the Hoff!”
Not to skip ahead, but I did not talk to or bother the Hoff as I was there to enjoy my flight and I am sure he was too. It didn’t hurt that the entertainment selection was very good and the Bose noise cancelling headsets are excellent. As for food, the steak I ordered for dinner wasn’t terrible, but I didn’t like the breakfast quiche in the morning at all. Overall, the flight was as good as I could expect and I arrived in London feeling semi-refreshed after sleeping about four hours on the way over.
The American Airlines flight landed in Terminal 3 at London Heathrow and I needed to get to Terminal 5 for my flight to Edinburgh. This involved a very long transfer via bus before a huge line and interrogation at immigration. Apparently the immigration officer didn’t believe why I was there or that I would leave in three days. Fortunately I was able to produce an email with my ticket information when she asked. Sigh.
As a OneWorld Emerald via my American Airlines Executive Platinum status I was able to use the British Airways First Class Lounge. My experience in that lounge was the same as every other BA lounge I have been in. They are always SO CROWDED. They must have a ton of elites, because there is almost never a seat. I was glad to get on to Scotland.
The flight to Scotland was on a one-class A321. I managed to snag an exit row with an empty middle seat and it was quite comfortable. We landed in Edinburgh at dusk (4PM) with light snow flurries. The weather report two days prior had said it would be clear, but we all know how weather reports are. To get into the city I took the tram (8 GBP return) which brought me to the center near the castle. It was dark and snowing hard by the time I arrived.
My hotel in Edinburgh sat in the Grassmarket area at the base of the castle. It was a local branded hotel and was very nice. The room was fairly small, but it was just me so it was comfortable enough. That first night I grabbed some fish and chips, walked around in the snow and collapsed. I did manage to wake up at 1am to watch my Packers lose to the Arizona Cardinals in overtime. A long night to say the least!
Being up in the middle of the night was a theme of this trip. I desperately wanted to stay on U.S. time if possible and in the end I was successful. Unfortunately this meant a lot of sitting awake at night watching Netflix. (Thanks VPN!) During my time in Edinburgh I didn’t do too much, but I did visit the Castle, National Art Gallery and National Museum and walked around quite a bit. Oh and of course I had to visit a local pub!
I flew back from Edinburgh to London Gatwick the night before my British Airways flight to Las Vegas. For a hotel, I chose the Hampton by Hilton which is attached to the North Terminal. In fact, it is the most convenient of all of the hotels there. At 12,000 points + 32 GBP I thought the value was good. The hotel wasn’t fancy but the room was nice and comfortable.
My flight back to Vegas was on a British Airways 777-200 without first class. The flight was only about 40% full which means that the seat next to me was empty. This was good, because I didn’t have to experience the awkward face to face confrontation during takeoff, landing and service. The BA Club World Business Class seat is narrow and generally terrible. It is seriously one of the worst if not the worst lie flat products around.
What was worse than the seat was the ancient IFE. The screen was so low quality and dim that I had to turn off some movies that were too dark in favor of lighter ones. On the plus side, the noise cancelling headphones were very good and the service wasn’t terrible either. The food was another story. Not disgusting, but not very good.
I landed in Las Vegas at about 2PM in the middle of a rain storm. Yes, it rains in Vegas occasionally. By this time I was exhausted and ready to see my family. The trip was manic for sure, but I was able to visit a new country and to see a small glimpse of an amazing culture. I can’t wait to go back to Scotland to see more.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this was mainly a mileage run. American Airlines and their partners are running a promotion on Transatlantic flights, so my roundtrip ticket earned 25,000 bonus miles in addition to the flight miles, class of service bonus and my Executive Platinum bonus. In the end I earned a total of 50,200 miles for this journey!
While I wouldn’t generally recommend flying to the U.K. for three days, this trip was a lot of fun. I paid $408 + 30K Avios to earn 50K AAdvantage miles and some cool experiences. Seeing Edinburgh with a dusting of snow was fun and so was resisting the temptation to Hassel the Hoff. Life is about living and I’m blessed to be able to take trips like these.
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