Tuesday, August 5, 2014

US Airways - American Airways, OK. But British Airways?

Historically, US Airways has flown from Charlotte to London-Heathrow on Flight 730 with a return on Flight 731. They still do but you would never know. Actually, US flew to Gatwick until last year. I loved Gatwick and will miss it.

Looking at a flight from 1 September with a return on 8 September (as an example) I found that:

From Pittsburgh I cannot make a RT journey that way I had been doing so for many years. Yes, Flight 730 does go to LHR but no longer direct as it stops in Raleigh-Durham. Flight 731 does fly back direct to Charlotte but I have to assume that if you originated in Raleigh you would have to transfer in Charlotte on the return.

I can find no flights originating in Pittsburgh via Charlotte or Philadelphia. All flights go to a different city even if they stop in Philly along the way. Going from Pittsburgh to Charlotte or Philly no longer is offered despite being available.

The US Airways website shows that all flights departing the US are British Airways with only a few being American Airlines despite being married to one another.  

Many of the flights offered from Pittsburgh take me to Orlando. What was once a seven-hour flight is now over 17 hours. It seems that my planned trip for May 2015 is in turmoil. I can see how US Airways was made to drop their flights as American is the major airline in this merger. But why cut flights to have BA add more. Obviously there is a lot of information I do not know and it is confusing.  And don’t even get me writing about price. I see that flights that were $1,200 RT are not $1,900. YIKES!

I was going to write US Airways and have them explain this to me but what has happened is done and in place. The merger may be very well better for them but as a customer it is making flying less enjoyable. Is this a conspiracy? Well, I am still going. It will be more money and I am not sure if I can use my miles. But I do have more options to fly out of different cities and flying BA makes you feel that you’re one step closer to London. If anyone has something to say or add to this please send me an e-mail to edvidunas @ gmail dot com.   

Cheers, Ed

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Popeye's Pub- London

Back in the 1980’s when I started to visit London a bit more frequently I found a nice pub that was not really out of the way but as it was several minutes walk south from Victoria Station not many tourists would venture there. It was a shame really as the pub was at the entrance to Pimlico, which is very posh. The pub was not posh. Today it is a high-end restaurant befitting the area but back then it was the place I wanted to be.

The Ebury Arms was a typical London boozer. The bar was a large wood wrap-around in the middle of a large saloon floor. It displayed several wood hand pulls with fancy beer emblems that Andy Cap would have easily known. Also typical for this type of pub was the pool table and never ending playing of American country music. County music is even today very popular and may be why I am drawn to London. Well, that and the beer, fish and chips, Hyde Park Corner and pretty much everything in between. The Ebury was a tenant pub meaning the landlord” lived with his family upstairs. They had a dog as well.

One evening as I had a pint in my hand and Jonny Cash in my ear I saw the landlord’s daughter coming down the stairs. Following just steps behind her was the pooch. I think it was a Jack Russell. I also think it had a storied life. Once on the saloon floor the dog started running around the bar as though he was chasing a pub mouse. I never saw what he was after but he seemed intent on getting it. I have to give him thumb, err, paw-up for trying as he only had three legs. And that’s not all.

In addition to missing a front leg he had an eye patch over one. The tail was either totally missing or partially bitten off. He was also missing a chunk of butt on his hindquarter. I sat there and wondered what he must have gone though during his life.  Did he earn these “badges” over time or was he in one really big fight where he took several blows but came out top dog? I wanted to name him Popeye.

Sadly, the pub and Popeye are long gone. Now the Ebury has wine glasses and white tablecloths. To bring a tear in my other eye Jonny Cash is no longer sharing the room with cigarette smoke.  I still find London pubs what have a live-in dog or cat and a mouse every now and then. You will not find smoke anymore but Jonny still sings at the Dickens in Southwark SE1 and so many pubs still have piano night and sing-a-longs. Should you find an “olde” London pub like this take time to look around and see what is vanishing at an alarming rate. Think of Andy and Popeye and the tears in my eyes when I see them being converted or torn down. Cheers to them all.    

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Paddington to Heathrow Trains

For years I have traveled to London from Pittsburgh thru Charlotte to Gatwick. US Airways has pulled out of Gatwick and now lands at Heathrow where their Philadelphia flight has always landed. I will miss Gatwick in many ways but I am not opposed to Heathrow. My first time coming in to Heathrow in February 2014 was great. Signage in the departure hall was well placed and getting the Heathrow Connect train to Paddington could not have been easier. I was a little surprised how far I had to walk from the elevator to the platform but I had the wherewithal to have luggage on wheels. Departure day was another matter.

From the taxi rank at Paddington I made my way to the platform after buying a ticket to the airport. All passengers need to use the elevators if they have luggage. as escalators are luggage free. Safety issue I am told. As the elevator door opened I found myself on a platform. I saw signs for the tube and other trains but nothing that said Heathrow Express or Connect. I was on platform 12 and couldn’t remember if this is where I came in upon arrival. It was also 6:30AM and I was the only person on the platform. After a while a few people did wander through but they where off to parts unknown. I was perplexed. Was I at the right platform and how do I find the others? I found nothing and a few people who had ID badges had no idea. One person said the Connect usually stops at this platform. Usually? Well, that certainly put me to ease. As the first train of the day was to come in the monitor sparked to life and I say that I was on the correct platform and that I would be departing the Twilight Zone shortly.

Painted markings on the floor for the tube was great as were the platform numbering. But I thought the signage for the Connect and Express was very poor. Or I could have just not seen the signs. If anyone can confirm that my observation was correct or if I need to specs, please make a comment. I will be back but you can be sure that I will take better note of my locations.