Welcome to another Travel Spot at the start of another trip to the USA, where I try to think of different variations on the theme of “Brian Goes Back to Boston” for the title. This is my third visit in six months, although my ultimate destination is (just as it was on the previous two trips) Portland, Maine. While I’m flying British Airways again, this time, for variation, I’m in World Traveller (economy to you and me) rather than World Traveller Plus, the first time that I’ve flown to Boston in economy since (check notes) two years ago. So really, not much change there then. In all, I’ll spend four weeks in Portland, before flying back from Boston (in World Traveller Pus) at the start of May.
As before, this Travel Spot covers my flight from London Heathrow to Boston Logan, plus my journeys to Heathrow by RailAir coach and from Logan with Concord Coach Lines. The two previous times I flew to America, the pre-flight process was so involved that it warranted a dedicated post on each occasion. However, this time, little has changed since I flew in January, so I’m going to keep that part to a minimum.
As usual, this is a very long post, so I’ve split it into the following sections:
- Pre-flight COVID-19 Tests
- Getting to Heathrow by RailAir Coach
- Terminal 5 and the First Class Lounge
- More Delays at the Gate
- Boarding and Even More Delays
- British Airways Refurbished 777-200
- New World Traveller Seats
- Take-off and Dinner on the Plane
- The Flight and Making Coffee
- Boston Logan and the Bus to Portland
When I flew to Boston in January, British Airways had just one flight a day, making my choice a fairly easy one. Now, at the start of April, there are three daily flights (morning, afternoon and evening) plus one American Airlines flight (which leaves an hour earlier than the corresponding British Airways morning flight). I ruled out both of the morning flights (10:15 / 11:15) since that would mean getting up far too early. One the other hand, the evening flight (20:05) gets into Boston far too late (22:30), making the onward connection to Portland tricky (there is an 23:25 coach, getting into Portland at 01:25 in the morning, which makes for a very, very long day). So, the afternoon flight it was, which leaves at the very civilised time of 17:05.
I’m flying today (Monday, 4th April), but even booking a month ahead of time at the start of March, I found that prices for the outbound flights were expensive, which is partly why I’m flying World Traveller this time. The good news is that the return flights were still reasonably priced at that point, with World Traveller Plus just £100 more than World Traveller, hence my decision to upgrade myself on the flight back. As an aside, looking at the prices for the return flight, if I were to book the same flight today, still a month ahead, it’s £600 more to fly World Traveller Plus. Meanwhile, if I was booking today, a seat in World Traveller is considerably more than I paid for World Traveller Plus!
Once the flights were booked, I still had to go through the usual pre-flight rigmarole, although this time nothing had changed since I flew in January, so if you want a detailed breakdown of what’s entailed before you fly, take a look at the dedicated post I wrote back then. As before, I already had an ESTA, while providing the pre-flight Advance Passenger Information is now second nature to me, which just left the COVID-19 related elements.
This time around I was (slightly) more organised than in January, but even so, I held off booking my COVID-19 test until a week before the flight (I’ve had the rules change just before my flights on two occasions). In January, I used Qured and, since I was familiar with the process and had had a good experience the first time around, I went with Qured again.
The booking process was straightforward, and I already had an account, where I registered my test on-line, the physical test kit arriving by courier the next day. However, I ran into a problem when I tried to book the video consultation (all pre-flight COVID-19 tests for the US need to be supervised). Even though it was a week before the flight, there were no slots available either on the day of the flight (Monday) or on the Sunday. Since the US rules require you to take the test no earlier than one calendar day before your flight (in my case, the Sunday), this was a problem
Now, in Qured’s defence, there’s a helpline number prominently displayed in all their e-mails, which I immediately rang. Much to my surprise, my call was answered almost straightaway, the person on the other end of the line promising to find me a video consultation on Sunday, with e-mail confirmation to follow. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive anything, so next morning I had to ring again. Once again, my call was answered almost immediately and once again, I was promised a video consultation on Sunday, only this time a received the confirmation e-mail within an hour and was able to relax.
The rest of the process went smoothly enough, although my consultation, booked for 17:30, didn’t start until 17:45, which, given my problems setting it up, left me with a nervous wait. However, my video supervisor was charming and very efficient and, perhaps most importantly of all, my test was negative! I uploaded the photo and got the all-important certificate back a couple of hours later (in January this took 15 minutes, but I suspect that Qured is a lot busier now!).
That allowed me to upload all my details into VeriFLY app, which in turn generated my VeriFLY pass, showing that I’m good to fly. Finally, I was able to check-in on the British Airways app and I was good to go.
Once again, I caught the RailAir coach, buying my ticket using the First Bus app the night before. This time, since I was coming back to Guildford at the end of the trip, I could get a return for a very reasonable £17. After a leisurely start, I packed my suitcase and headed down to Guildford station, arriving at 12:55 for the 13:00 coach (I could have caught the 14:00 and still been at the airport more than two hours before my flight, but this gave me more wiggle room).
Unsurprisingly, given it was Monday, the coach was delayed, not arriving until 13:10, although on the plus side, it wasn’t raining (I’d hate to have to wait for the coach in bad weather). However, what did surprise me was the queue. There were 10 people waiting for the coach, when I’m used to having it to myself or sharing it with at most a handful of people.
The coach left at 13:15 after a quick turnaround, although we were held up for a while by one passenger arguing about his ticket. I’m used to the RailAir coach taking a rather bizarre route around the back of Guildford so that it can call at The Chase (ostensibly for the University), but whether that’s been dropped for good, or if it’s a temporary measure due to the roadworks going on around the station, we went up Walnut Tree Close to the A25 and from there directly to the A320 to Woking.
Despite avoiding the additional stop, going was slow due to the traffic, while we also had a very cautious driver, leading to long waits at roundabouts (I suspect that the driver was either still learning the route or very new). We got to Woking at 13:40, still 15 minutes late, where we picked up even more passengers. I counted 15, making 25 in total, definitely a new record for me when travelling on the RailAir coach, and that includes my trips before the COVID-19 pandemic. On the whole, this is a welcome sign, since I was really worried that with a handful of passengers, the RailAir coach wouldn’t be viable long-term, forcing me back onto taxis.
I was very impressed with the level of mask-wearing amongst my fellow Guildford passengers as, despite the Government’s abandoning of all public health protection measures, nine out of the 10 of us wore masks. Sadly the same couldn’t be said of the Woking cohort, where maybe half of them were masked, but that’s still a much higher proportion than I’ve seen on public transport in the UK for a long time.
We left Woking at 13:45 and made our way to the M25, which we joined at 14:00. Sadly, there had been an accident (a four-car pile-up with one car having been very badly rear-ended) with a police car, ambulance and fire engine in attendance. The good news (for us, at least) was that it only slowed us down for a few minutes, and we got to Heathrow Terminal 5 at 14:15, just 20 minutes behind schedule and still almost three hours ahead of my flight.
Given how busy the coach was, I feared that Terminal 5 might be over-run, but instead it had a pleasantly-busy hum to it. I’ve seen it quieter, but it’s also been much, much busier. As it was, there were fairly short queues for both economy and business check-in, while over at first class, I walked straight up to a check-in desk. Since I’d already completed the VeriFLY app and checked in online, I just needed to show my passport. Within a minute, I had dropped off my bag, collected my boarding pass and was heading for security.
First class has its own dedicated security lane at Terminal 5, right behind the check-in desks, which is one of the joys of gold status (it allows me to use the first class check-in desks and lounge even when, like on this occasion, I’m flying World Traveller). There are two x-ray machines for first class, but only one was working, so for the first time ever, I had to queue to get through security, with about 25 people ahead of me. The good news is that the queue moved quickly, I remembered to take out everything that needed taking out, and within 10 minutes I was through security and into the lounge. It’s a sign of how spoiled I’ve become that, under any other circumstance, I’d consider 10 minutes to get through security lightning quick.
Having written about the first class lounge on several occasions, I’ll limit myself to a few observations. Heathrow has removed the requirement to wear masks, and, as a result, there was precious little mask wearing in the terminal. In my experience, the lounge never had as much mask wearing, since plenty of people used the “eating or drinking” excuse not to wear a mask, so I wasn’t surprised to find myself one of a handful of masked passengers in the lounge.
British Airways has restarted its help-yourself buffet (which, given the lack of masks, I kept well clear of), but fortunately on-line ordering is still in place, which I hope is now a permanent feature. In other news, one bank of the coffee machines has been returned to self-service, but sadly I had packed my scales in my main bag (which I’d dropped off at check-in) so I couldn’t weigh my shots.
The lounge was as busy as I’ve seen it, making it hard to find a free seat, but I eventually located one. By the time I was settled, I had 1½ hours before boarding was technically due to start (and, as it turned out, a lot longer), so I ordered some lunch (smoked haddock and mozzarella fishcake), along with a cappuccino (which I made for myself), all washed down with a glass of the excellent 2009 colheita port from Warre’s.
I spent the remaining time writing about my journey to the airport and updating the Travel Spot, by which time it was almost four o’clock, when boarding was due to start (optimistically British Airways always lists long haul flights as boarding an hour before scheduled departure time which hardly ever happens). However, by this point, our scheduled departure time of 17:05 had already been put back to 17:30, followed a short while later with another delay to 17:45.
Fortunately, I was able to keep track of our (lack of) progress on the British Airways app, which meant that I didn’t have to keep getting up to look at the monitors. I was, however, very glad that I was in the lounge and not stuck out in the main body of the terminal (no gate was shown, so even had I wanted to, I couldn’t have gone to the gate to wait).
The British Airways cream tea is actually a (warm) scone, a small jar of jam and a generous pot of clotted cream. Aware that whichever way I applied the jam/cream on my scone, I’d offend someone on the internet, I decided to conduct an experiment, putting jam then cream on one half and cream then jam on the other.
The result? Well, I’m not sure it makes much difference to the taste, since I enjoyed both my scone halves. However, I found it much easier to put the cream on first, followed by the jam, while putting cream on top of the jam was very tricky. There was also a slight difference in sensation, since whichever was on top hit my taste buds first and I found that I preferred the sensation of jam to cream (generally speaking, I like jam better than cream). As a result, I’m in the cream first, followed by jam camp, although I’d never tell anyone who prefers jam followed by cream that they’re doing it wrong.
This experiment, along with my espresso, neatly passed the time until 16:45, when the app started displaying the gate (C65). This was marked as open and, with the flight still showing as delayed until 17:45, I decided to head over to the C gates, reasoning that by the time I got there, boarding would probably have started. With hindsight, that proved to be something of a mistake.
I packed my things away and headed down to the main floor of the terminal before following the familiar path down the long, long escalator to the transit, a neat, automated system that shuttles back and forth between the main terminal (A Gates) and the B and C satellites. When I arrived at the C gates, there was a big throng waiting to go up the escalators, with the people at the front standing two-abreast (as usual) so that no-one else could get by. Instead, I took the lifts, which are off to the right, and were surprisingly quick, getting me to the gates ahead of the throng.
I reached Gate C65 at 17:05, 40 minutes before our supposed departure time, only to find that nothing was happening. As is often the case, there weren’t enough seats for all the passengers, so I stood off to one side by the windows and waited. And waited. And waited. The good news was that a plane was on the stand and was even being loaded with cargo, but up at the gate, nothing was happening and there were no announcements. In fact, the only thing of note was that our departure time was pushed back to 18:00 on the app.
I appreciate that airlines don’t want passengers dispersed around the airport, with a mad rush to get to the gate when boarding starts, but there has to be a better way of managing delayed flights than this. What was particularly galling was the lack of information, which meant that all I could do was stand around. Before I had things like lounge access and priority boarding, I’d get to the gate early, find a quiet corner, and sit there with my laptop until boarding was almost complete before joining the back of the queue. However, I couldn’t even do that because there weren’t any free seats…
The announcement that boarding would commence came without any warning, so, of course, if you were sitting down somewhere with your laptop, you would have no chance of making it to the gate before the queues formed (which I why I would always wait until the very end before trying to board). On the other hand, I get why airlines do this, particularly when there’s priority boarding: if the gate staff had announced that boarding would start in 10 minutes, the whole gate area would have been blocked by people waiting for boarding to start, even if they were way down the priority list, making it that much harder for everyone else to board.
With that in mind (gold status gets me priority 1 for boarding even when flying in World Traveller, which is normally priority 5), I’d deliberately placed myself by the window near the front of the gate. When I saw that the cargo hold was closing on the plane, I sensed that something was up and, sure enough, almost immediately the boarding for priority groups 1 to 3 was announced. For once in my life, I was right at the front of the queue and, within a couple of minutes, I was on the plane, making my way through Club World and World Traveller Plus (my usual habitat for my recent flights) to the World Traveller cabin right at the back of the plane.
Unsurprisingly, there aren’t many people in World Traveller with priority boarding, so for a few blissful minutes I actually had the whole cabin to myself. It was another 10 minutes before it really started to fill up, by which time (18:00), I’d got all my things safely stowed away in the overhead locker and had settled into my seat, my usual aisle seat (26H) at the front of the cabin, right by the emergency exit.
The flight was very, very full (I couldn’t see the rest of the plane, but in World Traveller, almost every one of the 128 seats was occupied), prompting the usual squabbles for overhead locker space, particularly those in the front rows, like me, who couldn’t put small bags on the floor. Of course, British Airways hasn’t helped itself by cramming even more people into the same space at the back (more on this later), nor with the lax enforcement of the carry on rules which lets plenty of passengers on with a couple of (to my eye, at least) large carry-on bags, all of which have to go somewhere.
By 18:15 the pilot came on to announce that boarding complete. We’d been given no information at the gate about why the flight had been delayed and no-one onboard seemed to know either, other than the aircraft was late arriving on stand. You could sense the frustration in the pilot’s voice at the lack of information. At that point, the pilot was estimating a 6½ hours flight time, which would have got us into Boston at pretty much our scheduled arrival time of 19:45 local time, which meant, in theory, at least, I stood some chance of catching my bus to Portland, which was scheduled to leave around 20:25, although it would have been cutting it fine (I was very much relying on the flight arriving early!).
However, any hope I had of making it in time for the bus vanished when the pilot returned to the intercom a few minutes later to announce that although we were fully boarded, with the doors shut and ready to go, we couldn’t leave. Someone from the ground crew had left a cargo dolly behind the aircraft which had to be moved before the aircraft could push back. If you thought the pilot was frustrated the first time around, this was another level of frustration.
Normally this would have annoyed me, but in an odd way, I was very relaxed about it. Before, I’d been anxious (and would have been anxious through the flight) about whether I’d miss the bus. Now I knew for sure that I would, so I just sat back and relaxed, reasoning that for every minute I sat on the plane at Heathrow was a minute less I’d have to sit waiting for the next bus at Boston Logan, which was fine by me.
After a delay of about 20 minutes, the pilot came back on the intercom to announce that the cargo dolly had (finally) been moved and at 18:45 we pushed back and were on our way.
I was flying on a Boeing 777-200, although when I booked the flight a month earlier, it was scheduled to be on a 777-300. I’m not sure when the switch happened, but by the time I checked in the day before the flight, it was showing as a 777-200 and my original seat (37C) had become 26H, the dramatic change in row number due to the 777-300 being a fair bit longer than the 777-200. This allows British Airways to fit two World Traveller cabins into the 777-300, a relatively small one immediately behind World Traveller Plus, followed by a larger one right at the back, with a set of emergency exits separating the two. In contrast, the shorter 777-200 only has a single World Traveller cabin at the back of the plane, roughly the same size as the rear World Traveller cabin in the 777-300.
When booking the flight, I had selected the front row in the second World Traveller cabin, which is an emergency exit row (this has more legroom than the bulkhead row at the front of the first cabin, although I would have been happy with either). Despite the dramatic difference in row numbers, British Airways had found me (almost) the equivalent seat on the new plane, moving me to the first row in World Traveller on the 777-200, which is also an emergency exit row. The only difference was that my seat had swapped sides: having previously had the aisle seat on the left (37C), I was now in the aisle seat on the right (26H).
In theory, I’m very familiar with British Airways 777-200 fleet, having flown on them many times (often to/from Boston) in the last 25 years. I’m also an old hand at flying in World Traveller, which was all I did before work started paying to fly me around the world in 2016 and I moved up to Club World. However, British Airways recently started a major overhaul of its entire fleet, beginning with the 777-200s. This includes replacing the old Club World seats with individual suites (a major improvement by all accounts, although I’ve yet to experience them myself), updating the World Traveller Plus seats (something which I’ve enjoyed the last few times I’ve flown, since they’re a big step up on the old seats) and, finally, completely changing the seating in World Traveller.
Prior to the overhaul, the World Traveller cabins on the 777 fleet (both 777-200 and 777-300) had nine seats in each row, arranged in a 3-3-3 formation. However, in order to get more passengers on the plane, the seats in the new World Traveller cabins are in a 3-4-3 formation, with 10 seats per row, a configuration previously only seen on the really wide-bodied jets like the Airbus A380 and the now retired Boeing 747.
Of course, the 777s didn’t get any wider during the refit, so the only way that British Airways could get more seats per row was to make the seats narrower. And, of course, with more people in the same space, that just means more pressure on the overhead lockers (which I’ve touched on) and more people using the same number of toilets, none of which, on paper, makes flying in World Traveller more appealing. The opposite, in fact.
The new seat design is very similar to the old Word Traveller seats I’d become used to, as well as being quite similar to the new seats in the bulkhead rows of the World Traveller Plus cabin, with the usual features of lift-up monitor and fold-out table. There’s also at-seat AC and USB power as standard, which is something you couldn’t always rely on with the older seating, even in World Traveller Plus.
The main difference is scale: compared to World Traveller Plus, the seat, and everything about it, is smaller, while the new seats are narrower than those they replaced in World Traveller. I just about fitted into my seat, which was very narrow, but was glad that I’d taken everything out of my pockets at security (keys and wallet) and left them in my carry-on, which should give you an idea of how little spare width there was. Despite this, I found the seat to be very comfortable, and, for the 7½ hours I was on the plane, I didn’t have any problems
If you are worried about the narrow seats, you might want to avoid the exit/bulkhead rows. In the rest of World Traveller, the monitor and table are in the back of the seat in front, but in the exit/bulkhead rows, they’re in/under the armrests, which are fixed. In the rest of World Traveller, the armrests can lift up, so the seats are a little bit wider, although not by much. That said, not all of the seats in the exit/bulkhead rows are the same. The two seats in the middle of the set of four have a moveable armrest between them, while the window seat in the sets of three also has a moveable armrest by the “window”, so they’re all marginally wider (I say “window” because for the exit row seats, you’ll be sat next to the side of the fuselage with the window behind you).
If you do move back to avoid the exit/bulkhead rows, the trade-off is legroom, which is where the rest of the cabin is at a major disadvantage. World Traveller never had enough space between rows (and this hasn’t changed with the new seats). At 6’2”, I can’t sit comfortably anywhere other than the exit/bulkhead rows since I can’t get my knees behind the seat in front without contorting myself. What’s more, the lack of space (even without the person in front reclining the seat) would trigger my claustrophobia on a long-haul flight, which is why I always end up at the front of the cabin.
Looking at the seat in more detail, the AC power is on the stanchion between the seats (so there are fewer outlets than there are seats). In the other rows, this isn’t a bad design, but in the exit row, the outlet is blocked by the arm of the lift-up monitor. As a result, I could only plug my laptop in when my neighbour’s monitor was up, plus once it was plugged in, the monitor couldn’t be put away without my having to unplug my laptop.
The monitor was fairly standard, lifting up from under the armrest, although you have to press a button at the top of the arm to release it. The monitor then rotates out by 90°, while you can also adjust the tilt to get a better viewing angle. The main disadvantage is that the screen area is really small, a problem shared by the seat-back monitors in the other rows, although I found I didn’t really notice the size when using the moving map or watching a movie.
Finally, the table lifts out from the armrest before rotating down by 90° to form the usual half-width table which then folds out again for the full-width table. There’s limited movement back and forth, but I was able to get a decent typing position. It was just big enough for my (admittedly small) laptop and really stable when typing (although I wonder if that will be the case after five or 10 years of continuous use).
Overall, despite my initial misgivings, I didn’t have any significant problems with the new seats, ending the flight with a much more positive view (caveats notwithstanding).
After the cargo dolly was eventually moved, we pushed back at 18:45, spending the obligatory five minutes on the tarmac while we had the manual safety briefing. Then we were off, taxiing to the far (eastern) end of the airport so that we could take off heading west. I normally expect to spend around 20 minutes taxiing at Heathrow, but everything lined up for us, which took a little bit of the sting out of our delay.
We were using the south runway (I’m used to taking off on the north and landing on the south) and were already on a gate towards the southern end of the terminal. Even better, we were on the far side of the C gates, that little bit closer to the end of the runway. It might not sound like much, but before now it’s taken five minutes to get clear of Terminal 5, whereas we were gone almost immediately.
The pilot called seats for takeoff at 18:55 and by 19:00, just ten minutes after we’d started taxiing, we were thundering down the runway to take to the skies, not that I had much of a view. Normally I’d glance along the row to look out of the window, but we didn’t have one in our row. Instead, I had the tiny window in the emergency exit door, which mostly gave me a view of the wing, a patch of sky/land visible over the leading edge.
The cabin crew were quickly into action, pulling the curtains across between the various cabins, while the seat-belt signs came off at 19:05. With six hours in the air ahead of us, the meal service was relatively relaxed, starting in World Traveller Plus before working its way back to World Traveller. The traditional pre-meal drinks and mini-pretzels reached us, at the front of the cabin, at 19:00, by which time we were already most all the way across the Irish Sea.
My meal preference is set to vegetarian on my British Airways profile, so I get a pre-booked meal without having to ask each time. However, on my last flights to/from Boston at the start of the year, this information never made it onto the flight manifest. Fortunately, whatever was broken in the system had been fixed and my vegetarian meal was back!
A big advantage of a pre-booked meal is that these always come out before the main meal service in World Traveller/World Traveller Plus. The downside is that even though I mark myself as vegetarian, I typically get a vegan meal. While normally very good, they’re often let down by uninspiring desserts, leaving me to gaze enviously at my neighbour’s cheesecake or chocolate mousse. On this occasion, however, I had a genuine vegetarian meal, with a very fine vegetarian lasagne, plus a cous-cous starter and the same chocolate cherry crunch pot for dessert as everyone else.
Right on cue, my meal arrived at 20:00, not long after we’d crossed the west coast of Ireland somewhere between Loop Head and Kerry Head at the mouth of the Shannon. These days, getting my food early is a big advantage, since I can eat it while everyone else is waiting for their meals, and, in theory, still wearing their masks. Then, when everyone else is eating, with their masks off, I can put mine back on.
I say in theory because while masks are still mandatory (although I think this depends on the airline and the destination) and while the flight only had a handful of maskless passengers, a high proportion of them seemed to be in seats near me, including three of the four people in the middle of the front row. On the plus side, the person sitting right next to me wore a mask the entire flight.
I decided to watch a movie over dinner, briefly considering the latest Bond movie, “No Time to Die”, which was one of the latest releases. However, I wasn’t sure if the tiny screen and earbud headphones would do it justice. Rather than risk it, I took a chance on it still being on the schedule for my flight back at the start of May, going with the original Ghostbusters instead, having wanted to rewatch it for a while.
This got me halfway across the Atlantic, at which point I had a nap, waking up more than halfway through the flight at 22:30. However, with three hours still to go, I decided that it was time to get up, have a stroll and make some coffee. I wandered to the back of the World Traveller cabin, where I found the galley, tucked in under the tail. Compared to some galleys, which are wide, but not very deep, this one was narrow, but went a long way back. I can imagine that trying to get the meal service ready back there on a full flight like this one is a bit like playing Tetris!
I stocked up on snacks, something which British Airways withdrew from economy on long-haul flights a few years ago, but thankfully have since re-introduced, and also got the cabin crew to fill up my Frank Green Ceramic cup with hot water. I then disappeared into one of the toilets next to the galley to make myself some coffee using my Travel Press and some pre-weighed beans which I ground with my Aergrind hand grinder.
By the time I got back to my seat, it was just before 23:00 and (finally) starting to get dark outside. I settled down to write some of this Travel Spot, looking up again at 23:30, at which point it was really dark, so I switched on the overhead light. As an aside, these are adjustable, which I never realised before and probably wouldn’t have noticed, except that my light was shining down on the person at the other end of the row! Fortunately, he readjusted it for me, which was just as well since all three lights were above his seat and I could never have reached them.
Half an hour later, we crossed the Canadian coast, right at the northern tip of Newfoundland Island. Then it was on across the Gulf of St Lawrence, recrossing the Canadian coast near Moncton in New Brunswick at around 00:25. This is similar to the route my previous flight to Boston had taken at the start of January, whereas the return flights seem to take a more southerly route, typically overflying Nova Scotia and skirting the southern end of Newfoundland Island.
By this point, we’d already had our pre-landing snack (I’m never sure what to call it, but “meal” seems to generous), which consisted of a single cucumber and mint sandwich along with a KitKat. Once again, I’d been served and had eaten my sandwich by the time the trolley came through at 00:15 with everyone else’s food. We crossed the US border and flew over Maine, the pilot announcing that we had 40 minutes to go at 00:45 (19:45 local time). Just as I thought we might fly over Portland, my final destination, we took a more southerly course, flying out over the Gulf of Maine for the final approach to Boston.
The reason for the swing out over the Gulf of Maine was so that we could land from the southeast, a typical approach into Boston, which meant that we had to fly south of the city and come in over the harbour islands. The pilot announced seats for landing at 01:15 (20:15 local time) and by 20:25 we were on the ground. Although it’s a fairly short taxi from the northwest end of the runway to Terminal E, we seemed to make plenty of stops and turns along the way, and it wasn’t until 20:35 that we reached the gate, 55 minutes behind schedule.
In theory we were supposed to be disembarking by rows again, but despite an announcement from the pilot for everyone to stay seated until their row was called, as soon as the seat-belt signs were switched off, everyone stood up and started getting things from the overhead lockers. A decision must have been made to abandon the disembarking-by-rows plan since the crew made no attempt to stop anyone and it turned into a free-for-all.
I wasn’t in a particular hurry, so I stayed in my seat, but at the same time, I didn’t want to be right at the back of the queue for passport control, so as soon as things started moving, I got my bags and headed for the exit. I left the plane at 20:40 and by 20:45 was at the back of a fairly short queue for passport control, which took me another 10 minutes to get through, about 30 seconds of which was actually spent at the desk. The final hurdle was baggage reclaim, where I had another 10-minute wait before my bag came out. I picked it up and headed outside for my first fresh air in roughly 13 hours.
My original plan had been to catch the 20:30 bus to Portland, which, if we’d arrived on time, I’d have made with about ¼ hour to spare. As it was, the next bus wasn’t until 21:45, although in reality, that was its departure time from Terminal A, with Terminal E being five to 10 minutes later, depending on how many people want to get on at each stop. With about ½ hour to kill, I went back inside, got my laptop out and uploaded one of the earlier instalments of this Travel Spot before heading back outside at 21:45 to wait for the bus. Sure enough, it turned up a few minutes later and by 21:55, we were on our way.
I’ve written quite a bit about the Concord Coach Lines service between Portland and Boston Logan, including when I flew in at the start of the year, which was the last time I took it from Boston. This journey went pretty smoothly, with a stop at Boston South Station (where I’ve also caught the bus to Portland). You can, like me, buy tickets online ahead of time, although these days you don’t have to print it out and hand it over to the driver, since there’s an option to scan the QR Code that comes with your e-mail confirmation. Alternatively, if you don’t have a ticket, you are now required to get off at South Station, buy a ticket from the ticket desk, and reboard the bus (if you have the time, it might be easier to catch the Silver Line bus, which is free from the airport and takes you to South Station, where you can get your ticket and pick up the bus to Portland).
We left South Station at 22:15, following the familiar route along US 1 and I-95, with a scheduled arrival time of 00:10. However, there was no traffic, so we made to Portland 10 minutes ahead of schedule, arriving at midnight, where I found Amanda waiting for me.
That concludes this Travel Spot, all about my flight from London to Boston in World Traveller. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with it!
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