Mid June, and I’m travelling back to Boston for another visit to check-in on the team there.
Heathrow to Boston (140 Tier Points)
Heading to Heathrow by cab late on a Saturday afternoon, and the traffic is free flowing. Things are not quite so slick when I get to the First Wing at T5. Despite there being numerous staff, only one of the security lines is operational. There’s quite a long queue, and much to the chagrin of some of the waiting road warriors, there’s a family of four complete with two buggies and assorted baby and toddler paraphernalia inadvertently making things slower still. A few minutes later though I’m in the First Lounge. I manage to secure a spot on the terrace, but the lounge is pretty busy with a lot of business travellers for a Saturday evening.
They often have special drink promotions in this lounge and right now they’re promoting several types of Spanish Rioja. I’m more interested in trying the new “Speedbird 100” IPA that BA and Brewdog, a British craft brewer, have teamed up to create to celebrate BA’s centenary.
Verdict on the “Speedbird 100” is that it tastes overly of citrus. Maybe it genuinely tastes better at 38000 feet, but it won’t tempt me away from Brewdog Punk IPA on the basis of this taste test. However, whilst drinking it I end up in conversation with a fellow traveller sat opposite, who’s on a long connection here at Heathrow. He’s travelling to Dubai from Houston to meet up with his son, their line of business being arbitrage on the price of second-hand trucks and heavy construction machinery between middle-east and south-American markets!
On entering the lounge the agent had told me that my flight, BA239 to Boston, would probably depart from B terminal, but to check back later. When I confirm the gate as B33, I de-camp to the lounge there. It’s often a haven of solitude compared to the lounges in the main terminal and this evening is no different.
Gate B33 is in the south-east corner of the terminal, and at the end of the jetbridge is a Boeing 777-200ER, G-VIIS. At a little over 20 years old, it’s quite an old aeroplane, but feels reasonably fresh and has a recent WiFi fit.
The Club World cabin isn’t full, and I end up with a spare seat next to me as the initial occupant chooses to move elsewhere. The flight time tonight is 6h 30mins. After some food I manage to sleep most of the journey, awaking a little over an hour out of Boston.
When we land I’m thankful for Global Entry and being able to breeze straight through US CBP. A Virgin Atlantic plane has landed at the same time, and the previous BA flight from London was late taking off and landed just ahead of us. As a result there’s quite a large queue at immigration. But straight into a cab, and on to the Seaport Hotel.
Other than some time on Sunday, it’s a week of work and there’s little time for sightseeing. Trillium, one of Boston’s best craft brewers, has their beer garden open on the Greenway, but the rain on Sunday means no passing trade.
Later in the week thing brighten up a little.
Boston to Heathrow (210 Tier Points)
BA’s IT systems often seem flakey. For some reason they’re not letting me checkin online 24 hours before the flight. I try several times the next morning, but keep getting an error message. I spend half an hour on the phone to BA who think my passport details haven’t made it into the right system. They think they fix it, but I still can’t checkin and eventually they say there’s nothing else they can do and to see if they can fix it at the airport. Resigned to having to get to Logan early and miss team drinks, I try one last time mid afternoon and it suddenly works.
I’d checked the passenger load stats for this evenings Boston to London flights on expertflyer and the services all looked overbooked, so no surprise when I get to Logan airport and there’s a big queue for the BA ticketing desk. Heading to security and I’m directed down the the “TSA Pre” channel. One of the accompanying benefits of being a member of the global entry trusted traveller programme is TSA pre check, which makes airport security in the US a breeze. No need to remove belt or shoes from person, or laptops or liquids from bags. Quick and easy, straight through, and headed for my second ever visit to the BA lounge.
I’m flying home in first, having paid the fare difference myself to upgrade, as per company travel policy. This gives access to the Concorde Dining Area in the lounge, and both food and service are exceptionally good, proper fine dining. Boarding is called a few minutes behind schedule, and takes place directly from the lounge. Overall I really like what BA has done at this airport.
I manage to sleep most of the way across the Atlantic but the cabin crew member looking after me is exceptional, and I feel really well looked after. I carry a bunch of Costa Coffee gift cards when I’m travelling as a thankyou for really good service, and it’s gratefully received.
The aircraft comes to rest at C gates, and the cabin crew hold back the other passengers to make sure that everyone from First disembarks first. Escalators to the transit, off to A gates, straight through passport control (e-gates), through customs into the Arrivals hall and up the escalator to the Arrivals Lounge. For some reason there’s a 15+ minute wait for a shower, slightly surprising as there must be 100+ shower pods, but that allows time for some fruit, yoghurt and coffee in the Concorde Breakfast Room, a dedicated dining area for passengers arriving in First.
Having freshened up I’d normally be heading home or to the office, but today I drop my case and the bulk of my stuff at left luggage, grab my rucksack with gear for the weekend, jump in the elevator and hit the button for departures.