Phoenix-London on British Airways: seeking advice please

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#1
Arizona
13 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
We are gearing up for our first flight to Europe next summer, traveling as a family of 4 (kids ages 11 and 12 at time of travel). We are staying in London for several days to sightsee before taking a British Isles cruise.

Since we live in the Phoenix area, we will almost certainly take one of the two British Airways non-stop flights from Phoenix to London. On the day we travel, there are 2 such flights:

  • BA 290 leaves Phoenix at 5:10 pm and arrives LHR at 11:10 am the next day.
  • BA 288 leaves Phoenix at 7:40 pm and arrives LHR at 1:35 pm the next day.
I keep going back and forth on two decisions related to our air transportation.

  1. First, I'm unsure which flight to take. I'm mainly worried about maximizing our chances at sleep and minimizing jet lag. I assume we'll have an easier time going to sleep on the second flight . . . but then again, we'll probably get served dinner around 8:30 or so.
  2. Second, I am debating between going on World Traveler (economy) or World Traveler Plus for the comfort. It's complicated by the fact that I can get two AA Saver round trip seats in economy, probably a smart way to use up 120,000 of our American Airlines miles. (And goodness knows . . . they are certainly not easy to use up!) I really, really would rather sit in the (slightly) larger seats of World Traveler Plus for our 10 hour flight. But I'm having a hard time justifying the extra cash expense since we can get the two frequent flier seats on economy.
Any advice or input, especially from those who have been on one of these specific flights, would be much appreciated!
#2
Tacoma, Wa, USA
8,234 Posts
Joined Dec 2000
Both flights appear to be on 747-400

My first choice would be on 288. Only because it arrives later.
1. The 'arrival" rush into LHR is over. Immigrations and passport control might be a little faster.
2. Arriving later in the day means you may be able to check into the hotel when you actually get there.

Even if you get some sleep, you'll be running on adrenalin.
#3
Houston, TX
5,099 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
While agreeing with Klfrodo's logic about LHR, I really enjoyed our late afternoon departure (from IAH) which meant we got to enjoy our dinner and get to sleep at a reasonable time to have a good sleep as opposed to finishing dinner at 10 pm or so.

Have you thought about putting the kids in WT and you and yours in WT+? That way you get to have a lie flat experience which will significantly improve your chances of actually getting some good sleep and the kids can sleep anywhere....at least all the ones I know can.
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#4
Arizona
13 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
Originally posted by klfrodo
Both flights appear to be on 747-400

My first choice would be on 288. Only because it arrives later.
1. The 'arrival" rush into LHR is over. Immigrations and passport control might be a little faster.
2. Arriving later in the day means you may be able to check into the hotel when you actually get there.

Even if you get some sleep, you'll be running on adrenalin.
Thank you for your response!

Good point about the hotel. We're actually staying in an air bnb type apartment, and the person checking us in will meet us at (virtually) any time during the day.
#5
90,049 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
I would go with the 5:10 PM flight.

You will have dinner at a reasonable hour.

Watch a movie.

Then get some sleep.

When you arrive push yourself to stay on the new time zone.

Key for us is after checking in to walk around. The outside air does wonders.

Glad to hear you are staying in London for several days before the cruise.

Keith
#6
Arizona
13 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
Originally posted by Clay Clayton
While agreeing with Klfrodo's logic about LHR, I really enjoyed our late afternoon departure (from IAH) which meant we got to enjoy our dinner and get to sleep at a reasonable time to have a good sleep as opposed to finishing dinner at 10 pm or so.

Have you thought about putting the kids in WT and you and yours in WT+? That way you get to have a lie flat experience which will significantly improve your chances of actually getting some good sleep and the kids can sleep anywhere....at least all the ones I know can.
Thanks for the input, Clay. I was thinking the same thing that finishing dinner around 9 pm or later was not my cup of tea. (I'm of those people who don't do well eating on the later side.)

And yes, I *have* thought about giving the kids two seats in economy and getting 2 World Traveler Plus seats for ourselves. It is an extremely tempting and cost effective solution considering that our FF miles can get 2 economy seats, but nothing in World Traveler Plus. I start feeling mildly guilty for considering it, but then I realize . . . hey, you're taking the kids on vacation to Europe!! British Airways actually has a policy for this for children over 5. At 11 and 12, I think it's a reasonable choice. (They're old enough to handle themselves reasonably well, and young enough to not be bothered by the smaller seats.)
#7
Arizona
13 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
Originally posted by Keith1010
I would go with the 5:10 PM flight.

You will have dinner at a reasonable hour.

Watch a movie.

Then get some sleep.

When you arrive push yourself to stay on the new time zone.

Key for us is after checking in to walk around. The outside air does wonders.

Glad to hear you are staying in London for several days before the cruise.

Keith
Thank you so much, Keith. I will try to remember your excellent advice about taking a walk.

Leaning towards the earlier flight. I think it will feel more natural for our schedules. Maybe. I am probably overthinking this!
#9
Seattle WA
4,522 Posts
Joined Jan 2002
Definitely WT for the kids and WT+ for the grownups.

You're better off purchasing the WT+ tickets rather than using miles for them. On mileage tickets (either AA miles or their own) BA adds "carrier fees" (used to be called "fuel surcharge" fees until BA got sued in US federal court over it) which severely reduce the value of the miles you spend in the first place, and the WT+ seats also get whacked with the highest Air Passenger Duty (departure tax) rate, while the WT award seats pay the lower price. Those fees are built into the airfare for the purchased tickets but they're ON TOP of the mileage "cost" for the award seats.

Even so, look closely at the budget for the award seats. Try valuing your miles at 1.5c or 2c each, add the cost of the fees and taxes, and see how it compares to just buying the seats in the first place. You might be surprised, shocked even.
#10
Arizona
13 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
Originally posted by Gardyloo
Definitely WT for the kids and WT+ for the grownups.

You're better off purchasing the WT+ tickets rather than using miles for them. On mileage tickets (either AA miles or their own) BA adds "carrier fees" (used to be called "fuel surcharge" fees until BA got sued in US federal court over it) which severely reduce the value of the miles you spend in the first place, and the WT+ seats also get whacked with the highest Air Passenger Duty (departure tax) rate, while the WT award seats pay the lower price. Those fees are built into the airfare for the purchased tickets but they're ON TOP of the mileage "cost" for the award seats.

Even so, look closely at the budget for the award seats. Try valuing your miles at 1.5c or 2c each, add the cost of the fees and taxes, and see how it compares to just buying the seats in the first place. You might be surprised, shocked even.
Thank you, Gardyloo, for your thoughtful reply. I actually have an accounting background, so have probably analyzed this to death. The cash cost for an economy flight on BA from Phx to LHR for our dates is approximately $1600. Alternatively, I could spend 60,000 of my AA miles plus $500 in fees. So, a net value of around $1100 for 60,000 miles, or 1.83 cents per FF mile. So really, not a bad use of miles at all, especially given how hard it seems to be to ever *use* AA miles.

Still really struggling over the idea of putting the kids into a different cabin. Probably an overactive guilty conscience, since we're pretty much going to be joined at the hip with them for our two weeks in Europe!
#11
1,903 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
I seem to be the only one on here who has this opinion (given when this has come up before) but I think it's pretty naff when parents go for a higher class of service than their children.

When I was a kid I flew longhaul a reasonable amount (every other month or so) and never flew in a different cabin from my parents, even when in Business or First Class. I grew up in the U.K. and it wasn't until I moved to the US that I came across this phenomenon so I guess it's more of a cultural thing.

To me it seems like treating your kids like second (or third!) class citizens. Do you put them in a motel whilst you stay in your suite at the Mandarin Oriental, or give them a few Euros for a Big Mac whilst you hit up L'Arpege for a tasting menu?

IMO, just because you're taking them to Europe doesn't excuse you from relegating them to the cheapest all round.

Originally posted by Clay Clayton

Have you thought about putting the kids in WT and you and yours in WT+? That way you get to have a lie flat experience which will significantly improve your chances of actually getting some good sleep.
No lie flat seats in WT+. 38" pitch, a little more width, one less seat in the window pair and some extra recline.
#12
7,234 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by Disneyfriend

Still really struggling over the idea of putting the kids into a different cabin.
You mentioned that BA has a policy for this, but I haven't flown BA in decades so I'm not familiar with their current policies. I do know, however, that some airlines require that minor children travel in the same cabin class as their parents, or that you pay an unaccompanied minor fee for them. Maybe BA doesn't, but double check if you haven't already. Either way, I'd feel funny getting a much better seat for myself and sticking my kids in the back with strangers.
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#14
1,607 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Having flown BA WT and WT+, go for the upgrade. The better service, food [business class meal - well it's still airline food], and increased recline [not flat] and excellent noise blocking head phones, priority boarding, juice/water/sparkling wine before take off, win out for us. I would go for the earlier flight, too. By the time the first round of beverages are served on the later flight, you'll be ready for sleep. A light snack/breakfast will be served before landing at LHR.

To keep the children happy and occupied during the flight, pick up a few extra snacks at PHX after going through security. Hope it's not Terminal 3; what a mess, just flew PHX to BOS last month. TSA was very aggressive in searches and we have Global and Pre-check.

Yes, crunch the numbers - when I did, I moved from BA to Virgin Atlantic to save about $1K RT BOS/LHR.

Darcy
#15
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
278 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
Originally posted by WatchHill

To keep the children happy and occupied during the flight, pick up a few extra snacks at PHX after going through security. Hope it's not Terminal 3; what a mess, just flew PHX to BOS last month. TSA was very aggressive in searches and we have Global and Pre-check.

Yes, crunch the numbers - when I did, I moved from BA to Virgin Atlantic to save about $1K RT BOS/LHR.
British Airways departs from Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor. Terminal 3 has been a mess for a while, and I agree that for some reason, it takes much longer to get thru TSA (even with pre-check) in T3. I guess it's hit or miss.
#16
1,903 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Originally posted by WatchHill
Having flown BA WT and WT+, go for the upgrade. The better service, food [business class meal - well it's still airline food], and increased recline [not flat] and excellent noise blocking head phones, priority boarding, juice/water/sparkling wine before take off, win out for us.
WT+ does not get priority boarding. Priority Boarding is limited to First, Club World and oneworld Rubies and up. At some airports there may be a separate WT+ check-in line but this an exception rather than "brand standard". Personally I find it amusing the headphones would be described as "excellent", even the ones in First are terrible, IMO.

I should note that BA doesn't participate in TSA PreCheck.
#17
Arizona
13 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
Originally posted by WatchHill
Having flown BA WT and WT+, go for the upgrade. The better service, food [business class meal - well it's still airline food], and increased recline [not flat] and excellent noise blocking head phones, priority boarding, juice/water/sparkling wine before take off, win out for us. I would go for the earlier flight, too. By the time the first round of beverages are served on the later flight, you'll be ready for sleep. A light snack/breakfast will be served before landing at LHR.

To keep the children happy and occupied during the flight, pick up a few extra snacks at PHX after going through security. Hope it's not Terminal 3; what a mess, just flew PHX to BOS last month. TSA was very aggressive in searches and we have Global and Pre-check.

Yes, crunch the numbers - when I did, I moved from BA to Virgin Atlantic to save about $1K RT BOS/LHR.

Darcy
Thank you for the input, Darcy. All of those little extras - and especially the wider seat and greater legroom - make flying WT+ much more appealing to me! Especially for a 10 hour flight.

I think we will go with the earlier flight - dinner will work better for us, I think.
#18
Arizona
13 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
Originally posted by fbgd
WT+ does not get priority boarding. Priority Boarding is limited to First, Club World and oneworld Rubies and up. At some airports there may be a separate WT+ check-in line but this an exception rather than "brand standard". Personally I find it amusing the headphones would be described as "excellent", even the ones in First are terrible, IMO.

I should note that BA doesn't participate in TSA PreCheck.
I did hear that BA doesn't participate in TSA PreCheck/Global Entry. Such a bummer! We just got it last year, too! But they have the only nonstop flight from Phoenix to Europe, and I'm not sure a connecting flight is worth it just to fly another airline and get to use our Global Entry.
#19
1,903 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Originally posted by Disneyfriend
I did hear that BA doesn't participate in TSA PreCheck/Global Entry. Such a bummer! We just got it last year, too! But they have the only nonstop flight from Phoenix to Europe, and I'm not sure a connecting flight is worth it just to fly another airline and get to use our Global Entry.
You don't need to be flying an airline that participates in TSA PreCheck to be able to use Global Entry, they are two separate programs. I have been using Global Entry when arriving off BA flights for years and years. Just insert your passport as normal and it brings up all your flight information.
#20
Arizona
13 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
Originally posted by fbgd
You don't need to be flying an airline that participates in TSA PreCheck to be able to use Global Entry, they are two separate programs. I have been using Global Entry when arriving off BA flights for years and years. Just insert your passport as normal and it brings up all your flight information.
Thank you for the clarification . . . I guess I didn't understand the distinction. So Global Entry helps to expedite re-entry into the U.S., and would apply to our arrival back in Phoenix (since Sky Harbor has Global Entry kiosks).

But it would not help to expedite us through security at either Sky Harbor (on our Phx-London leg) or Heathrow (on our London-Phx leg), because British Airways does not participate in TSA Precheck. Is that about right?