Washington D.C. to Brisbane with AA and Qantas in First. Part One.

I’d planned this trip for a quite a while.  I was in Washington D.C. with some friends and colleagues, commemorating US National Police Week.  Every year, colleagues in the police service from around the world give their lives serving their communities and Police Week is there to not only remember their sacrifice, but also more importantly to help support the families of those left behind.

This was my fifth year going, and rather than deciding to head straight back to the UK, I wanted to visit some friends of mine from London, who’d recently moved out to the Gold Coast, in Queensland, Australia.

So back in September 2016, using the British Airways website, I looked for availability on Qantas and AA travelling from Los Angeles or Dallas / Fort Worth down to Sydney, and then Sydney on to Brisbane.  The travel gods were clearly smiling on me, and found one first class seat, on the QF008, from Dallas down Sydney, on almost exactly the dates I wanted, and then the appropriate connections either side.

I jumped on the phone to American Airlines, where I had a small stash of AAdvantage miles, and for 110,000 miles and £29.60 in tax was confirmed, flying Washington Reagan, to Dallas / Fort Worth, to Sydney and then on to Brisbane.

This is one of the area where AAdvantage is substantially better then Avios which calculates rewards segment by segment.  For comparison, it would have cost:

  • Washington to Dallas – 20,000 avios
  • Dallas to Sydney – 200,000 avios
  • Sydney to Brisbane – 9,000 avios
  • TOTAL – 229,000 avios

For those that don’t know, Washington D.C. has three airports, Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) to the north east of the city in Maryland, Washington Dulles (IAD) to the South West in Virginia, and Washington Reagan, also in Virginia, but directly on the metro and right in the heart of the city.

I was travelling on flight AA162 leaving at 14.59 so jumped in an Uber with a few buddies from Police Week and a few minutes after leaving the District, was at the AA checkin area at Terminal B.

Since the AA / US Airways merger, the combined American is spread over a number of the terminals there with the various piers being connected airside by a bus transfer.  I believe there’s a plan to move the security areas upstairs and connect everything on foot, but given the pace of airport infrastructure developments in the US, will believe it when I see it.

Check-in formalities only took a few minutes and was through the TSA PreCheck line, and into the Admirals Club after a few minutes.  Whilst I was waiting, it was such a beautiful day, I took this time-lapse video of the apron.

Another thing I always do at airports is take a look at Grindr.  I’m sure this will elicit some comment, but I’ve found it awesome for meeting people to have a chat with.

This trip was no exception.  There happened to be a bloke a few metres away in the lounge who was also a Brit!  After exchanging a few messages I waved and we just started chatting properly over a Gin & Tonic.  Amazingly, we had one of my best friends in common and spend the next thirty minutes until his flight was ready passing the time.

For me, that’s why I enjoy using the various social networks – it can be a lovely way to meet people for a chat and a drink rather than anything else.

Soon it was time to board the three hour flight down to Dallas.  The food service wasn’t bad for a three hour flight, leaving in the middle of the afternoon.

I’m sure many readers will have flown domestically in the US, and the traditional adult beverage severed with warm nuts was proffered.  Gin & Tonic is my standard here and the crew didn’t disappoint.

American Airlines Gin and Tonic with warmed nuts
American Airlines Gin and Tonic with warmed nuts

A few minutes later and lunch was offered and I chose the slightly less unhealthy cold chicken salad.  It certainly wasn’t haute cuisine, but perfectly acceptable for catering at 36,000 feet.  I was being good, so declined the bread, but there was a good choice available.

IMG_5724
American Airlines cold chicken salad

After the meal more drinks were offered and there was a pretty good selection of videos on the in-flight entertainment built into the reasonably news A321 aircraft.

After slightly over three hours it was time to land in Dallas / Fort Worth.  Stay tuned for the next instalment in my trip report, including a video guide to possibly the best showers in any airport lounge, anywhere.

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