A Golden Trip Part 10 – Reflections of a weary traveller

It has been almost four weeks since I started my trip, and it feels like both yesterday and such a long time ago. I have really enjoyed writing this blog series about the trip, as it is a way to enjoy it again. I feel the same way about the journey planning stage and looking forward to it, getting maximum value from the event!

In total, I earned 1,330 Tier Points and 56,861 Avios. With the reduced tier point thresholds this year, reaching more than 1125 Tier Points requalifies me for Gold, so I have secured this until April 2024. The Avios are worth over £450 if I exchange them for Nectar points, but I will probably use them for flights. Given that a return to Inverness, Toulouse, Nice or Geneva, which are my usual redemptions, comes in at around 9000 Avios, this is enough for two family return trips. Even if I could secure this for £100 per return per person, this represents some £600 worth of value which is good.

I was fortunate to have a friend with an expiring Gold Upgrade voucher that he was willing to give me. The new rules from American Airlines allowed me to upgrade my business class legs from London to JFK and onto Los Angeles into First class.


Over the trip, I enjoyed lounge access at every airport I visited. Whilst this was sometimes due to the ticket I was travelling on, or the credit card I had in my wallet, the Oneworld Emerald status from the Gold card allowed me access into the lounges on the domestic legs with American Airlines that the First class ticket would not have done. I was able to use the best lounges that the Oneworld partners offered, from British Airways, American, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Finnair. It is hard to pick a favourite because the time in the place makes such a difference. I was excited to get back to the Qantas Lounge in Los Angeles and pleased I could sample breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Flagship Dining in New York has the best view of any of the lounges, and the chips were incredible.

But I think my favourite lounges were the British Airways Concorde Rooms in New York and London. The one at Heathrow always felt special and was a great way to start the trip, but I think I was most pleased to have visited the Concorde room in New York one last time before the terminal closes.


Unfortunately, British Airways seems to have the worst showers of any of the lounges I visited. Interestingly, they are equally bad in New York as they are in London. I think my favourite was Qantas in LA because of the decoration, but I also enjoyed the amenities provided in the Cathay Pacific lounge in LHR Terminal 3. The bottom line is that being able to have a shower before or after a long-haul flight is a luxury, and I was very grateful for the facility in each place.

Seats and cabins

I was delighted to be able to sample the new Finnair business class cabin with its revolutionary non-reclining seat. It is unique, and I was so comfortable while sleeping on my London flight. I don’t know the details, but I understand that it offers significant weight savings over a traditional reclining seat and think that this is probably how many airlines will move in the future. The first class seats on the American Airlines transcontinental A321T are more akin to their international business class, so it’s not a fair comparison with the British Airways first class suite.

I was able to sample both their newest and previous iterations, and it’s only when you compare them side-by-side that you realise how good the new one is. The screen is better, and having a door adds to the level of privacy (not that I used it). There is no better way to cross the Atlantic!

In-flight catering

I did a lot of sleeping on planes on this trip, and there were several flights where I had little interaction and no service. I enjoyed my first American Airlines ice cream sundae, but hands down best meal was on the outbound transatlantic flight from London to New York.

It’s not just about the food, but the whole experience. As I have said, I think lunchtime departure flights are the absolute pinnacle of first-class transatlantic travel. One rocks up at the lounge for breakfast and a glass of champagne and then leisurely boards the plane. By the time you’re up in the air, it’s noon and time for a gin and tonic with some nibbles before you sit down, metaphorically speaking, for lunch just before 1pm.

The four-course lunch, with matching fine wines, follows, and you can have a decent couple of hours’ nap before arriving in New York at 14:30 in the afternoon. Once the formalities of passport control are dealt with, it’s either a short trip across to Terminal 8 for a connection, or you are an hour away from Manhattan. This allows you to travel, check into a hotel, freshen up and be ready for cocktails before dinner. Who could ask for more?

With news of the budget and the tanking of the pound against the dollar, who knows when I will be heading stateside again?! In an ideal world, this will be in Easter 2024, when my current gold card expires, but I still have the gold privileges for a month. Who knows what will be around the corner? In the meantime, I have these happy memories to reflect on and relive through the blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s