This was the closest I have come to missing a flight in a long time. I was tagging along with my dad for this short trip to the UK. He was on business and I was trying to meet some friends in Scotland. Our flight had a scheduled 6:10 departure time, and seeing how my dad is a seasoned business traveler he always gives himself just enough time to make the flight. It takes two hours to drive to Boston from Maine, and this is with normal traffic and delays. Those of you who have recently been to Logan Airport know that nothing is normal there anymore. I travel though Boston very frequently and every time there is a new tunnel that has been opened, some different route that you must take. It all makes for a very interesting trip.Click for large version
Today we had a double whammy. First, there were blizzard-like conditions in Maine. Secondly, there was a five-car accident on Route One in Saugus, which is how us northerners go to Logan. We left at two o’clock, and were completely checked in by 5:30. It was a pretty crazy ride, on top of that we had a rental car, so it had to be returned to Hertz and we had to take the shuttle bus to terminal C. It was a grand ‘ole time. Like many businessmen, my dad carries on his luggage. I told him that there is a one-piece limit on carry on luggage imposed by the FAA. He laughed and pointed to his over-stuffed laptop bag. “I know, this is my ‘personal item.’” We checked in at the first class counter in Boston. The terminal had a good crowd for a Monday night, more so than I had seen in my recent travels at O’Hare. The line for security stretched almost out the door, but we were able to go in the fast lane for sky miles members. One good thing about the Delta gates at Logan is that they are all close together. We walked through security and into the Crown Room where my dad made some phone calls. I couldn’t believe that we had enough time to stop off and do that.
While my dad was working I walked to the outer part of the crown room, where I could clearly see our plane, a 767-300ER sitting at the gate. The main forward luggage door was open and I couldn’t see a single bag inside. I walked back to the service counter and asked the ticket agent what the status of our flight was. Normally they announce international departures in the Crown Room club, but as it was approaching 5:45, and internationals tend to board early, I went and asked the agent what the status of the flight was. He informed me that it was going to start boarding soon, my dad came out of the work area, met me in the lobby of the crown room, and the gate agent said. “Empty flight tonight, only 63 passengers.” We came out of the crown room and got inline to board, I was searched by security. They patted me down and searched my backpack, but not my big carryon bag. Boston either has a completely new company, or a revamped old one. If any of you have seen these people. please tell me who they are. The new security workers wore blue pants and shirts that looked like military jumpsuits, they had black berets and a gold shoulder cord. They were very serious and professional in comparison to the other security companies like Globe and Argenbright. Once searched I boarded the plane with my father and we took our seats in 11 A and 11 B, which is the rear business elite cabin. A great F/A took my bag and put it in a closet, as it wouldn’t fit in any overhead bin.
Photo © Ryan Gaddis
After we had settled in a young F/A came back and told us that we should move to the forward business elite cabin as the flight was going to be rough, and they wouldn’t be able to serve us because we were so far away. Her story was obviously contrived but as there were only 3 other people in the forward cabin we obliged and took seats in row 8.
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Photo © Vasco Garcia
On pushback I saw an Air France A340, which is soon due to be replaced by the A330 on the BOS-CDG run. In front of us was a BA 777 with the Hong Kong tail. There was also a Swiss Air MD-11 at the end of the Delta terminal. We took off directly after the BA 777 and immediately entered the clouds. The rain changed to snow and the pilot left the wing floodlights on for about 20 minutes, giving me a great opportunity to see the changing weather as we climbed. I pulled the personal TV out of the armrest after take off and turned on the air show, which was the new and improved version with the nice looking maps. According to the screen we reached our cruising altitude of 33,000 feet at 17.5 minutes into the flight. The climb was accompanied by constant light chop, but nothing too bad. Meal service started with a bowl of warm nuts and a beverage, the traditional BizElite fare. Service was attentive needless to say, almost one F/A per person in BizElite. I then had an excellent salad with a great dressing. It is still really funny to have the meal served on fine china, and then have the F/A hand you a set of plastic utensils. My dad and I were being served by a Swiss F/A who was very nice, he had time to talk to us throughout the meal, as there were no other passengers for him to attend to. With the salad came the bread basket, I took a garlic roll which was not very impressive. For the main meal we both had chicken with a fried potato concoction. It was the worst meal I have had in BizElite, it was as bad as domestic coach food. Oh well, the ice cream sundae certainly made up for it. Before ice cream the F/A’s came around with a cheese course, which they present very nicely on a small plate with crackers and grapes.
An hour and a half into the flight dinner was cleared, but the seat belt sign was still on at this point as we were encountering light chop. The captain came over the PA and said that the ride was going to get worse before it got better, and that he wasn’t sure how long the turbulence was going to last. Turbulence doesn’t both me, but I can’t do anything whilst being bumped around, including sleep. BizElite is so comfortable that sleeping would have been easy, had the fight smoothed out. Since it looked like we were going to be in for a ride I got out my laptop and watched the Blues Brothers. When the movie finished two and a half hours later the seat belt sign was still on, and we were still in the clouds. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “We are going to go across the whole Atlantic with the seat belt sign on.” Indeed we did just that: six hours and eighteen minutes with the sign on the whole time.
In addition, the bizarre weather made the trip longer than normal, there were several points where airshow was reporting a slight headwind, as opposed to the tail winds that can get you across the pond in six hours or less. I wasted time for another hour or so, and then it was time for breakfast. I was the only one still awake, my dad had moved into his own row so he could sleep and I could move about. The head F/A came and talked to me for about half an hour. She asked if I was in school and what I was doing on my way to London. Once we finished our conversation I noticed that the air was the smoothest it had been all flight, so I made a dash for the lavatory. I went to the one between the first and second BizElite cabins and was able to see that the second BizElite cabin had become the crew lounge, and thus I had discovered the reason why they wanted us to move. It didn’t matter to me; I would have done the same thing if I were an F/A. When we made landfall at Ireland the captain throttled up and we ascended to FL37. I don’t know why he did, it wasn’t particularly rough at our current altitude, nor was it smooth at the higher altitude. It was probably just for UK ATC.
As with most flights, the last hour seemed the slowest. For breakfast we had the option of cereal or an omelet. I had the cereal, which came with fruit and orange juice. My dad had the omelet and both were very good. The F/A’s came around with a basket of croissants, bread and bagels. Breakfast was cleared and I started to pick up the huge mess that one generates when given the room to do so. Our approach was over the south and we actually stayed out over the ocean until turning north at Southampton. It was still very dark when the gear went out on final approach. About 5 minutes prior to landing the head F/A dropped a try in the BizElite galley that was holding ten of those little alcohol bottles. Three bottles of whisky broke on the floor. By the time we touched down the first class cabin reeked of hard alcohol. We landed to the east exactly on time. Gatwick had the typical population of BA, Virgin, and charter traffic strewn about the terminals. The only bad part of the trip is the walk from the Delta gates to civilization in Gatwick.
The return flight was full, as it was the Friday before Christmas. It was a beautiful, smooth flight that was very uneventful. One item of note, we were again seated in the rear business elite cabin, and when the F/A went to put a bag in the bin over our seat, the plastic frame around the latch came off. The whole contraption hit my dad and the F/A in the head; not a very good way to start the flight. Maintenance was called, but the rampers decided to let the people in Boston handle it, so they did a very professional job of wedging the plastic between a seat back and a closet. As always, flying Delta was a pleasure and everyone should get the chance to enjoy the amazing service and spaciousness of BizElite.