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XPs, Tier Points and BA segments

XPs, Tier Points and BA segments
XPs, Tier Points and BA segments 
via Alitalia and BA Business and AA Flagship First
August 2019

Another week.  Another mileage run.  The last one of the year, or so Mrs. SFO777 insists and I promised. LOL.   I'm off to Rome this afternoon on the return leg of a dirt cheap roundtrip that will get me close to FB Silver thru 2021.  From Rome, I'm logging the requisite 4 BA flights that will let me requalify for BA Gold and my One World Emerald status thru the end of August 2021.  Here are my next 54 hours...

• Alitalia Business Class LAX-Rome 
• Alitalia Business Class Lounge at Rome FCO
• BA Lounge at Rome FCO
• BA Economy (exit row) to London LHR
• BA Galleries First Lounge at London LHR
• BA Economy (exit row) to Amsterdam AMS
• YotelAir in terminal hotel at AMS
• BA Lounge at Amsterdam AMS
• BA Club Euro Business Class to London LHR
• BA Galleries First Lounge at London LHR
• BA Club World Business Class to New York JFK
• American Flagship First Dining at JFK
• American Flagship First to LAX
 

I parked in the T4 garage right across the street from The Bradley terminal.

Since Alitalia does not participate in PreCheck, I headed for the secret TBIT/T4 security checkpoint, where once again I was the only passenger.  Amazing.

Great plane spotting from the T4/TBIT connector.

And the lines for regular TBIT security.  LOL.

I headed for the Korean Lounge, the only Sky Team lounge in the Bradley.  LOL, I don't think so.  The line just to get in...

Yikes.

So I headed downstairs and towards Gate 159.

Which was a great choice since the gate area was remarkably calm, and remained so even at boarding. 

Los Angeles LAX to Rome FCO
Alitalia AZ 621
777-200
3:10pm-12:15p +1
August 12, 2019
Business Class Seat 1A
 
 l was not the least bit impressed with my Rome-LAX Alitalia flight year so I had low expectations for this one.  Fortunately, today was much better than that one.

On board, a dated but reasonably comfortable 1-2-1 configuration.

This first sign of improvement from last year was the new IFE, significantly better than the 20+ year old relic of a system on last year's flight.

Today's menu and wine list.  This looks pretty good, although so did last year's menu look good.  It was just that the food on that flight was generally awful. 

Best airline cuisine for the ninth consecutive year?  Proof positive that airline awards are meaningless.  Although the fine print doesn't award the actual food served, just the menu.  LOL.

The Alitalia amenity kit.

A little above average with Ferragamo products, including a take home body lotion size.

Wow, so much better than the old IFE.

And Wifi.  Not great WIfi, but at least one could keep in touch with emails and texts.  And a free 50MB for Businesss Class passengers.  I wound up not even using the entire 50MB.

And we're off...

Service was generally OK.  Most of the crew was seasoned and efficient, but Iacked personality and seemed to be just going thru the motions.  Prior to take-off, lunch orders were taken from each passenger.  And within 30 minutes of take-off, service began... with the meal service.  No drink service, just right to the meal.  Showtime Alitalia style... with individual settings for each passenger.   While the food last year was meh, the wines were excellent as they were today as I went with the suggested wine pairings.

For my Appetizer, I chose the Bresaola Roll with Goat Cheese.  It was quite good. 

The Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil was very good as well.  

For my Secondi, the Beef Filet with Mushrooms, with pan fried chard and rosti potatoes.

It was delicious, especially with the lovely L'Atto Basilicata IFT Rosso Cantina del Notaio.

Cheese plate and another glass of the L'Atto Basilicata.

And finally some sweets, the warm Ricotta and Raisin Pie.

Yummy.

At this point, we were just under 9 hours to go.  I did a little work, watched a movie and then popped an Ambien... and slept like a baby for nearly 6 hours, waking up as we descending to Rome.

We landed on time at a little after noon.  All in all, an enjoyable flight and much better than last year's never ending 14 hour westbound ordeal.  

We arrived on time, and headed for the Casa Alitalia Business Class Lounge.

After security, in the concourse...

... and towards the Casa Alitalia...

... Alitalia's Business Class Lounge.

The Alitalia Lounge is attractive, with numerous seating areas and a large dining area, with excellent food options.

And a pizza oven!

First stop was a much needed shower.

And then for some lunch.  Lots of great options.

Both pasta dishess were really good.

As was the pizza.

After an hour or so, I headed out for the British Airways Lounge and my flight to London.

From the Alitalia Lounge, I headed for the long trek to the BA Lounge for my 24+ hours with BA.   BA Gold requires 1,500 Tier Points and at least 4 BA segments.  While 1,500 Tier Points are easy for me to accumulate, it's those 4 BA segments that are the challenge.   So I planned this trip to knock off all 4 segments, starting today with Rome-London-Amsterdam.  I chose AMS because it had the cheapest two flight one way Economy fares from Rome as well as some of the cheapest Business Class fare to LAX.  I paid for each ticket using Amex Pay WIth Points and my 35% Platinum card rebate.  Since Club Euro (aka Euro-fraud Business Class) is simply a 31" pitch Economy seat with a blocked middle, I saved money and bought an Economy ticket... and selected exit row aisle seats, with at least a foot more legroom than in Business Class. 

At around T-45, I headed out for the gate... which turned out to be all the way back and just beyond the Alitalia Business Lounge.  LOL. 

Rome FCO to London LHR
British Airways BA 547
A321-neo (32Q)
3:15p-5:00p
August 13, 2019
Economy Exit Row 16D
 

Today's flight was one of BA's new 32Qs, which is British for "cram wafer thin seats into an A321".   This Euro-fraud configuration doesn't even have a middle seat drop down tray.

But as bad as Club Euro is, Economy is horrific unlesss you are in the exit row.  Wafer thin seats with no recline at all.

Lots of legroom... but can anyone make a thinner seat?  Yikes.

The exit row legroom makes the 2+ hour flight survivable.

We arrived on time and pulled into the B Gates...

... which meant a train ride to the main Terminal 5 A Gates.

After a quick stop for Fast Track security, I was in the main T5 concourse.

And a few minutes later, the Galleries First Class Lounge.

 

Meditation anyone. LOL.  BA will do and sell anything for a buck, or GBP in this case.

I'm partial to the Terrace and headed there for find a comfy spot to pass the next 2 hours. 

Say what?  Looks like BA has also sold the Terrace for the summer.  LOL.

I lucked out and found a nice quiet seating area, with great views.

After a G&T, time for some dinner.

I checked out the serve yourself options...

Ugh...

The "Brought to Your Table" options looked a little better. 

The Green Thai Chicken & Vegetable Curry was tasty.

At T-45, our gate was posted.  The good news is that we're at nearby Gate A17.

London LHR to Amsterdam AMS
British Airways BA 444
A320neo (32N)
8:15p-10:35p
August 13, 2019
Economy Exit Row 12D
 

Mercifully, the A320neo seats were a lot more comfortable than the A321neo.

And great leg room with recline for the 45 minute flight.

We pulled into Gate D26, a long, long way to the main terminal and the Lounge 2 shopping area.

Seven minutes later, the escalator to the mezzanie level and my hotel for the night, the YotelAir hotel.  I was looking for something convenient and in terminal, and without the need to go thru additional security and/or passport control.

Definitely not a Mrs. SFO777 hotel.  LOL.

A double "suite" at nearly 180 sq. ft.

And my room 23.

At a spacious 120 sq ft.  LOL.  OMG, this is hilarious.   Think train compartments.  More like a capule.

But actually pretty comfy despite the lack of any semblance of luxury.

I checked out just after 8am, some two hours before my flight back to London.   The BA Lounge is located at the opposite end of the mezzanine level of Lounge 2.

OK, now this is really cool.  The giant clock appears to have man painting the time in real time.  The clock was designed by a Dutch artist and apparently is 12 hour long recording.

At the far end of the mezzanine, up the elevator or stairs is the BA Lounge.

Very attractive with wonderful tarmac views.

At T-50, I headed for the long, long trek back to D27.

Amsterdam AMS to London LHR
British Airways BA 444
A321
10:05a-10:40a
August 14, 2019
Club Euro 1A
 
I got to the gate at T-40 and found that boarding had already begun, sort of.   Boarding passes were scanned and we all waiting 10 minutes as a few wheel chair passengers were boarded. 
 

Row 1, the only good Euro-fraud "Business Class" seats on the plane. 

Something to drink, sir?  A Bloody Mary sounds great, thank you.

The cabin and seats may be crap, but at least BA serves a full meal on a 50 minute flight.   Today's quiche which was leek and something that I've forgetten.  Service was wonderful as two crew members took care of a dozen or so of us up front.

This was really good.  

A short 40 minutes after take-off, we descending towards Heathrow.

Fortunately, today arrived at the A gates.  And the usual walk to T5 connections and Fast Track security... just like yesterday.

And back to Galleries First Lounge where I headed back to the beach.

... and my home for the next 2+ hours.

OK, this looks too good to pass up.

Nice views but I'd stick to the original Bailey's.

Improvising for power as outlets and few and far between on the terrace. 

 My 1:10pm BA departure suffered the same dishonest creeping delay that is typical at AA.  My departure changed from 1:10pm to 1:30pm, then 1:40pm, then 1:50pm, then 2:00pm and finally 2:10pm as I saw my JFK First Dining   date evaporate.  At 1:20pm, I headed out for the train to the B gates.

For years, Emirates bought this space to rub it in the BA.  Apparently BA bitched and complained so that now no one advertises here.

Last year...  LOL.

At least the plane is here.

London LHR to New York JFK
British Airways BA 177
747-400
1:10pm-4:00pm (sked)
2:30pm-5:35pm (actual)
August 14, 2019
Club World Busines Class Seat 64K
 
Boarding was painfully slow with a bunch of SSSS and handicapped passengers pre-boarding.   And the all encompassing Group 1 which included One World Emeralds and First Class.
 

This tells you all you need to know about what BA thinks of its miserable First Class product.  Ignore them at boarding and let them board with the masses thru 2L.

The jet bridge to 1L and First Class, apparently not in use today.

The upper deck Business Class cabin.

My seat, the coveted 64K... last row, rear facing window.

Tons of storage space.

The view from 64K.  Fortunately, no one in 64J today.

Very private... 

... and very comfortable.

And today's BA tease of the day.  Wi-Fi on board?  In my dreams.

Today's menu.

Blah, blah, blah.   Late tow from engineering and then the plane needs to be cleaned.  LOL.

Finally.

Ancient IFE.

Service on today's flight was excellent.   My usual G&T to start.  

Followed by a glass of Burgundy, unfortunately at only slightly cooler than room temp.  

Showtime, BA Club World style...

For my starter, I went with the Spice-roasted cauliflower with beluga lentils, lime cream and fresh mint.  Delicious.

This is the best BA can do?? 

My main, the Braised breasts of corn-fed chicken, braised pearl barley risotto, wild garlic.  This was very good.

For dessert, the Warm stickey toffee pudding...

... was fabulous.

The cheese plate was really good.

No point in watching a movie since IFE was crap and the movie selection very limited.  But I slept solidly for nearly 4 hours.   Our 5pm ETA slipped away as we took the scenic route to JFK.

A passing storm at JFK slowed our arrival even further as the ground crew took a lightning break.   We finally pulled into the gate at 5:28pm, just 62 minutes before my JFK-LAX flight.

Even though we pulled into the gate at 5:28pm, it took another 8 minutes to deplane.  Now I'm down to 52 minutes.  Sadly, I had no time for First DIning today and will be happy just to make my flight since I didn't even have a boarding pass.  Fortunately, a terrific AA rep was waiting for me with my boarding pass midway thru the T7 international arrivals dungeon and escorted me thru CBP to the Air Train exit.  Amazingly, a train pulled into the station just as I arrived at the platform. 

I headed for Flagship First check-in and then PreCheck where there was no one in line.

I headed for the next to furthest gate in T8, the lovely Gate 34.

... and amazingly arrived at 5:54pm, just 20 minutes after deplaning at T7.

... where our gate agent announced Group 1 boarding.

New York JFK to Los Angeles LAX
American AA 302
A321T
6:30pm-9:45om (sked)
6:50pm-9:45pm (actual)
August 14, 2019
First Class (I fare using Business Extra upgrade certicate for First Class)
Seat 3F

 

Today's menu, more important today since I missed First Dining.

While the white wines were still cheap $13-$15 selections, the reds were impressive (for an AA domestic flight) including the very nice Miner Stagecoach Merlot which retails for $45-$50.

The current AA amenity kit.

Pretty pathetic.

Excellent service today from our LAX-based crew led by lead flight attendant Janet.  

Showtime, AA style.

AA has come a long way since the BA-like paper salt and pepper packet of a few years ago.

Paprika Chicken starter was excellent.

Wild Mushroom Velouté Soup was yummy.

The Beef Bolognese was delicious.

For dessert, the Fig and Brie Cobbler was spectacular.

Gorgeous sunset heading west.

IFE acting up tonight and showing JFK to JFK.  LOL.  I hope not.

Our approach to LAX on another beautiful So Cal night.

We arrived on time at 9:45pm and pulled into Gate 49A.

Little traffic and 80 mph traffic flows tonight on the 405 and I was home in southern Orange County 65 minutes after deplaning.  What a fun couple of days earning XPs, tier points and logging the necesssary 4 annual BA flights.  Thanks very much for following along with this report.