When Irregular Operations Go Horribly Right: Flying British Airways New First Class on the Oneworld Megado
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After a very busy first day on the Oneworld Megado in London and a night at the Hyatt Churchill, the Megadoers arose bright and early for the American Airlines flight back to Dallas.
When I got in the cab to get to the Heathrow Express, I noticed there was a voicemail from American Airlines - apparently the flight from London to Dallas was cancelled and I was reaccomodated. Weird - I loaded my AA iPhone app and saw that I was put on the British Airways nonstop flight, which left an hour later. However, it didn't show was class I was in - originally I booked the discounted group business class rate and then won an auction to upgrade to First Class for $1,200. Would American honor that and put me in British Airways First Class?
I was one of the lucky ones. I assume because I am an Executive Platinum, they put me on the London-Dallas non-stop aboard a 747, though some other First Class passengers were downgraded to Club World Business Class and most business class passengers had to re-route on other airlines or via Newark, Chicago and Miami.
Killing an extra hour at Heathrow as a First Class passenger was a treat, since their Concorde Lounge is fantastic, with a full-sit down restaurant and great plane-watching views. As a First Class passenger you can guest one other person in, so a bunch of us hung out there before we dispersed to our different flights. I had a traditional English breakfast and some Taittinger Mimosas that helped me start off my long day of travel on the right foot.
Honestly, the only negative aspect of the journey was the disheveled "come one, come all" boarding process. There was a fast track lane for premium cabins and elite passengers, but it wasn't well policed and it was blocked by the stampede of the chock-full 747 passengers who wanted to get on their way.
However, once onboard and I turned left toward the nose of the 747 to the First Class cabin, all stress dissipated. We were welcomed by a super-friendly Dutch purser and a bunch of us Mega Doers took our seats and kicked off the trip with British Airways' signature cocktail, the Kir Royale.
The lunch service started once we were airborne and I had a salad with smoked tomatoes and a crawfish terrine to start, both of which were just so-so, but I really enjoyed my main course of duck and a deconstructed rhubarb crumble for dessert.
I stretched the seat to its full lie-flat position, got about 6 hours of sleep, and woke up in Dallas ready for another day of the Megado.
Do I think it’s embarrassing that this happened to American Airlines on their Megado? A little, but airplanes have mechanical issues all the time, and the AA and BA crews did their best and got all of us on planes (most of us in our original class of service) quickly—and the bottom line is, we all eventually got to Dallas today, though I was definitely one of the lucky attendees, and I got to experience another Oneworld partner airline rather than flying American the whole time.
Note: If you want to fly British Airways, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points at a 30% bonus until January 31, 2011 and Chase Ultimate Rewards points (from Sapphire and Ink Bold cards) also transfer at a 1:1 ratio.
American slipped a note under my door apologizing for the cancellation and notifying me that in addition to the miles and double EQMs I would have gotten if I flew AA, I'll get an additional 25,000 miles deposited into my account and two additional systemwide upgrades. Now that's what I call proactive, stellar customer service!