After a busy five days in Boston and New England it was time to return home. But before I get onto that, some were curious about what I thought of Boston, so some thoughts & a recap below!
This is a Trip Report from the Premium Economy cabin
Food & Drink
A stay in Boston
We stayed in a great AirBnb apartment in a block on Milk Street. It was within easy reach of breakfast places (I got breakfast in the same place every morning it was so convenient!), pubs and all the main attractions.
During our stay in the city, Dad and I had walked a great deal around Boston, we followed most of the Freedom Trail, ate in the Italian North End, went to the Sam Adams Brewery Tour, and for me personally, probably ate more food out of bread bowls than I have ever done in my life! I also managed to bag my tenth Hard Rock Cafe hurricane glass for my collection!
In typical fashion, whilst the UK was baking in a heatwave, we were treated to clouds and a lot of rain pretty much from the moment we arrived. The only saving grace was that it was not rainy and humid, so there was full justification in layering up a bit when the rain came.
I was really impressed with Boston as a city, and I think we timed the length of our stay there to perfection as I feel that we would have been struggling for things to do after two full days on the tourist trail. At least, things that matched our interests anyway! I think if I were to come back I would try and find somewhere to stay in the North End, as I love Italian food and would no doubt be in my element with the vast choice of excellent bakeries and restaurants in the area.
My cannoli and Dad's carrot cake from Mike's Pastry in the North End. Huge!
A shot from the Boston Common
Samuel Adam's Brewery Tour!
On the road!
As I mentioned in the outbound post, we opted to split our time between Boston and a Vermont roadtrip. On the Friday afternoon we headed over to the Alamo rental centre in downtown. I had made a booking through Virgin Holidays for a luxury category car, Dad had his fingers crossed for a Cadillac! The price difference between the luxury and standard class cars was surprisingly low, so we opted to push the boat out.
And a Cadillac it was! The Downtown pickup location was different to previous pickups whereby our car was already set aside for us. Previously I've had the chance to peruse the available cars and pick one out. Nonetheless we were very happy with what we had.
Our first day on the road took us toward Southern Vermont, specifically the Mount Snow Grand Summit Resort. We covered 120 miles or so in some 4-5 hours as we directed the satnav to keep us off the interstate, so we were treated to lots of town driving and 30-40mph roads. It made a nice change from the monotony of the interstates. The Resort was very nice. It would make a fantastic spot for a long skiing break.
The second day took us further North toward Burlington. This time we opted for the I-91, and were treated with some very serene views of the hills and mountains. You can certainly see why they call it the Green Mountain State (hence Ver-mont). On route we called in at a Cider press and sampled some of the local "hard" ciders which were very good, and unfortunately a failed visit to the Ben & Jerry's factory where the queue to get in was just prohibitively long. Alas!
Our final night's stay was in a simple Motel just outside of Burlington. We ventured into the town for our last night's meal. Burlington had been recommended to me before. It reminded me a little bit of Boulder in Colorado, a very hip and student-y town nestled in some very stunning natural beauty. Burlington's main street leads right down towards Lake Champlain, and on a clear day the sun sets behind the mountains and I imagine is quite breathtaking were you to be at the lakeside. Perhaps I'll come back again someday. Though I fear I may be neither hip nor cool enough to get by in my early 30s. Although in fairness, Dad - aged 60 - was complimented minutes into our stay about his Rolling Stones t-shirt by a passing student girl. Perhaps we are down with the kids after all!
The following day we slowly meandered our way back towards Boston. On route we called in at a service stop where I found a booklet with all sorts of Ice Cream shops. Wanting to make up for the Ben & Jerry's disappointment, we called in at Blake's in Manchester, NH and ate some absurd ice cream sundaes!
Yes, that's melted marshmellow as a topping!
Arriving at BOS
My SatNav kit really struggled to navigate downtown Boston, whether it was out of date or the roads were just too densely packed, it kept sending me down roads which either didn't exist, or were underneath me in a tunnel. It's a good thing we left Burlington at 8am otherwise we'd have been very pressed for time. Eventually after a quick refuelling stop, we made it back to Logan to drop off our Cadillac.
Our trusty steed! Sorry for the blurred shot, it was taken in a hurry.
We headed towards the airport shuttle where I was pleased to discover that they catered for wheelchair users quite thoroughly! We were dropped off in Terminal E at around 5pm, which turned out to be too early for us to check in.
This was my first visit to Terminal E (besides arriving) and I must say it looks quite smart. It looks to have been recently renovated.
Terminal E Check In
During the wait we pottered about the terminal and found the unmanned Virgin desks. There were already a handful of people waiting. At 5:45 the queues began to form so we decided to follow suit and join the Upper queue thanks to the Gold card. At 6pm we finally saw the checkin staff make their way to the desks. Frustratingly though, the lady manning the Upper desk was late and so the PE and Economy passengers began being processed. When she finally arrived, the only person in line ahead of us took an age to be processed, such that by the time we were called up, the PE and Economy lines were empty.
I'm not sure how much to have a moan about the check in process without sounding overly entitled. Besides, we had hours so there was no real rush! The same procedure followed with my Dad's wheelchair, they were able to check it in as luggage and have it brought onto the aircraft which was handy. We were also able to get ourselves shifted to the bulkhead seats, which was handy for Dad. Though in the process they swapped our window and aisle positions around, not to worry, we'd swap after takeoff as Dad wanted the aisle.
I did spy something curious though, on the desks they have printed the seat maps of each aircraft. It took me a moment or two to remember where I had seen them from. They were the V-Flyer seat maps from this website!
Even though I had TSA-Precheck on my boarding pass, I discovered that this was not in place at BOS, so shoes off for me! We made our way towards security and found that they had a wheelchair line, which helped us beat even the First/Business queue.
The security agents were, shall we say, thorough with my Dad given he could not go through either of the scanners. It took about ten minutes for the agents to conduct their checks, and whilst they were meticulous they did their jobs professionally and with courtesy and respect, which I thanked them for.
First trip the BOS Clubhouse
We didn't stay long airside as we made break for the Clubhouse. I think my Dad could have used a drink!! When we made it, I had to present my Flying Club card as it seems my number wasn't printed on the boarding pass. Turns out the lady had my name down on a piece of paper anyway and was expecting me! This was my first visit to the Boston Clubhouse, and we got a quick tour by the lady at the desk. It's certainly a different kettle of fish to LHR. My Dad described it as "small and bijou". I would agree with that!
Almost immediately we were seen to by one of the serving staff, and we took up residence at Table 1, right next to the deli counter.
The view from our table.
I did not realise before I arrived that this is where all food is ordered from, unlike the table service at LHR, JFK, etc. It was nice that the deli counter was manned rather than a self-service buffet, particularly as I learnt that the Turkey that was on offer had been made by one of the chefs/servers behind the counter. If I'm being exceptionally picky, their accents were quite strong, and one chap's English was not so great so it made communication a little hard. But besides that they were great and the food looked excellent. I was given another nudge towards the Turkey and so gave it a go with some salsa. It was really delicious, and as I was eating I could see the lady out of the corner of my eye seeing what I thought! So good in fact that I went back up for another round, which apparently made her day!
The deli and it's delightful staff
I was very impressed with the beer selections, particularly the Lil Heaven Session IPA. The lady serving us was happy to make other recommendations as well. All in all I probably had four cans within the space of a couple of hours. Whoops!
Dad tucked into a few glasses of champagne. Out of the blue, came a tray of freshly baked macadamia nut and white chocolate cookies! I took one after a little brash encouragement from the server as I'm not usually a fan of nuts, but it was very tasty.
I also had a brief encounter with a group that I met in LHR on our outbound trip, a member of which was crusty foot man from my last trip report! He was still wearing the same pink jumper
The hours passed very quickly and at 9pm, the lady at the desk came over to let us know that priority boarding was about to begin and that we should make our way to the gate, which we dutifully did. On the way out I thanked the staff for a great stay, particularly the lady who looked after us. I can't remember her name but she had a thick Boston accent and let her personality show. Robotic, she was not! I left with a hug and her boss' business card after she encouraged me to feed back to her.
After we arrived at Gate 9, we were snagged by a special assistance member of staff, who said that he was happy to take Dad the rest of the way as the gate could only be accessed by escalator. He took us into a secured lift which actually took us down to the immigration corridors where we originally arrived. The airport nerd in me loved this as usually arrivals and departures are kept militantly separated! Through another locked door where we then rejoined the departing passengers, and down the jetway.
Again, the same procedure followed as before, where Dad was helped out of his chair and it was stowed in the galley. Alas, we were turning right today towards Premium Economy on G-VOOH.
I took my place in 21C and a flight time of 5h 43m was announced. The PA was being used by quite a chipper member of staff, introducing himself to the "Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls", which was quite fun. Perhaps he's a veteran of the Orlando routes??
The cabin is very smart. Virgin PE continues to be an excellent product. My amenity kit was waiting on the seat, along with the U-shaped pillow for neck support. Given that this is a new iteration of the PE product I do wonder why they opted for the headrests to be not adjustable. Despite that the pillow was quite comfortable. A load of 221 on board and PE was full. Whilst we waited to taxi I sent an email of thanks to the Boston Clubhouse Manager to sing praises about her staff. They really were excellent. I hope she got it as she didn't reply back in the end.
Pushback came a few minutes early at 21:50 and we were airborne at 22:04. Unfortunately, someone forgot to latch up the Wander Wall fridge as it popped open and sent cans running all the way down the aisle. I managed to catch a Sprite for myself!! It looks like a few cartons of milk fell out as well as there was a bit of mopping up to do once we had leveled off.
Dad and I kept to our arrangement and we switched seats to give him the aisle. I was now in 21A!
Dinner service began very quickly, only thirty minutes into the flight. There was no first round of drinks. Presumably due to the very short length of the flight.
Unfortunately due to the wrong menus being loaded on the outbound, the food options were relayed verbally. But not to worry, I wrote them down!
Onion and Feta Salad
I asked a bit about the Miso Chicken, and was told that it was Teryaki style. Sounded good to me, so that's what I went for. Dad opted for the Beef Stew.
My main. I had wolfed down the salad before I took the picture. Whoops!
The salad was nice and crisp and the onion and feta worked well together. The Miso Chicken came with mushrooms, rice and a green vegetable I could never fully identify. It may have been some kind of Pak Choi or Kale. Either way, it was actually perfectly cooked, not too tough or too squishy. The rice was well cooked and the chicken was tender. The flavour was good too. I've honestly not had a bad meal in Premium Economy and that record remains intact. If I could make one small observation, it was that my bread arrived in a packet. I'm sure I remember bread being handed out from a bowl once upon a time. The Cheesecake was as interesting as plain cheesecake can be.
One gripe I have is that the tray needs to be an inch or two longer as it's a bit like a game of Tetris keeping everything on your tray!
The cabin crew were attentive in clearing away any empty trays, and I partook in some Amarula during the after dinner drinks. I really need to buy a bottle of that stuff to have at home!
After dinner I broke out the IFE and noticed they had Goodfellas available. Having never seen it I decided to give it a watch. Unfortunately though, I made it about ten minutes in before feeling incredibly tired. After all, it was pushing 11pm Boston time. There seems to be a theme of me settling down to watch TV on planes, only to fall asleep!!
Which I did - surprisingly easily thanks to my pillow and some music. I think it helped not having anyone reclining into my space. After an hour or two of sleep the sun was already rising up out of my window! At some point the windows had all been dimmed, and it was quite nice to look at the sun through a heavily dimmed window. I undimmed it slightly as I was awake. I really, really like this feature of the 787s, as I can still see out and don't need to be "that guy" who opens his blinds to let the full force of the sun in. By this point we were already approaching Ireland, and so not enough time to restart my Goodfellas movie! I'll have to catch it next time I'm on board if it's still available.
Breakfast was served at 2:15am Boston time (7:15 London time). It consisted of fruit, yoghurt, granola and a little pain au chocolat. I went with a cup of tea with mine.
It was perfectly adequate as far as airplane breakfasts go. The sight of a re-heated pre-packed cooked breakfast turns my stomach, so I was happy to have this instead of eggs, etc. The crew went round asking if anyone wanted a second pain au chocolat as they had a lot going spare! I helped myself to a another one as I hate seeing food go to waste.
With just under an hour to go we hit the Irish cost and began our descent at 8:10am London time. I spent the last bit of time just watching the airshow on the IFE and look out of the window at all the other planes about. It's not often I have a window seat that I can easily look out of as I'm usually in the aisles. It was a cloudy day over the UK and we were well into our final approach before we eventually breached the clouds.
We finally touched down at 8:44am, half an hour ahead of schedule. Thanks to this there was a short wait before Gate 16 was free, so during this time I put my phone on. I received a voicemail from our pre-booked taxi driver, who had said that there was some confusion as he couldn't find the flight VS12 on the Heathrow website, only VS4012 which was the Virgin-coded Delta flight that had landed two hours earlier!
In a bit of a panic I immediately gave him a call thinking he wouldn't be there. Fortunately this was quickly alleviated as they were able to find DL4379. Either the Heathrow website was acting up or they couldn't piece together that it was a codeshare. Regardless, the taxi would still be there so all was well.
We waited for everyone else to disembark before getting Dad's wheelchair out. Given the flight was over 80% full this took a little bit of time. Once we did though it was a short walk to immigration where there was a line for special assistance. This was very welcomed as the e-Gates line was heaving.
The taxi man was waiting for us in the arrivals area, and after a fairly hot and stuffy ride back to Huntingdon (via Milton Keynes to drop off Dad) I had to acclimate to the warmer, more humid British weather!
Overall a good flight back from Boston, this one takes the record as the shortest long-flight I've done. It was almost medium-haul. I tend to manage my expectations with overnight flights, but the service was good, the food tasty, the seat very comfortable and the few crew interactions I had were pleasant.
Thanks for reading!