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Trip Report Tedgale trip report: One glorious week in London, February, 2015

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This will be a long, fact-laden report. I've used sub-heads for ease of reading and I will post in instalments. Here's my first bit.
Opening text seems a bit leaden to me. I will try to speed it up and liven it up from here on:

We have just returned from a week-long trip to London (Feb 9-17, 2015) -- a very successful holiday and the renewal of a long dormant love affair with a city I last saw two decades ago.
As this city is so frequently written up, I will make my report selective. My reports tend to the dry and factual -- no gush about "to-die-for" desserts I ate or the cute puppy that licked my hand outside Harrods. I'll try to focus on information that may be useful to other travellers preparing a visit.
I'll start with the background:
We are an older Canadian married couple, ages 62 and 71 -- frequent travelers interested in history, art and eating, who appreciate quality but always scrutinize the value-for-money ratio.
We winter in Savannah GA but pried ourselves away from the 70 F weather for a compelling personal reason: To attend the memorial service for my late sister-in-law, who died in a domestic accident only a few months after she and my brother moved to London from NYC.
Though the trip had a sombre beginning, we were resolved to have some good times with family and we succeeded admirably.

Flight booking: We traveled using Aeroplan points accumulated on Air Canada. As United Airlines seems to be the sole US-based Star Alliance member, we were compelled to fly UA from Savannah to London, making connections at Dulles in Washington.
On the outbound journey, we chose the late-evening flight (10 PM) so that we would arrive at 10 AM. (The other option was to arrive around 5:45 AM which, given the time change, means a sleepless night and an arrival shortly after midnight, East-coast time.) Since flights from SAV to IAD are few, this meant a six-hour layover at IAD, which we used to grab dinner with my younger brother and his wife near their Vienna, VA home.
I had read enough reviews of UA in general and its Boeing 777 refit in particular to be prepared for crummy service and a less than comfortable ride. To mitigate this, we chose to fly Business class -- 90,000 points instead of 60,000. Considering the cash value of a Business class ticket is approximately 4X the price of an Economy ticket, this seems a bargain.
When you fly to and from the US, the additional taxes and fees for a Business class flight are about $400 Canadian (20% less in USD). If you fly transatlantic from Canada or even if you fly from the US but change planes in Canada, your fees skyrocket: they can go as high as $1500 for a Business class flight.
...Which is probably why we had such a huge balance of points to begin with. There is absolutely no way I'd fly from Canada to Europe on an economy ticket purchased with points. Buying a Canadian seat-sale ticket is almost as cheap as flying on points and it gives you far, far greater selection of flights and carriers.

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