Three new travel experiences

I flew out from Boston to San Francisco yesterday evening for a week of meetings. Travel has become pretty routine of late, so I’m glad to have three new experiences to relate.

First, I flew out of the new Terminal A at Boston Logan. This replaced the old Eastern Airlines terminal, which was used by Continental after Eastern’s demise. The new terminal is for the exclusive use of Delta. They only just finished this, and I was curious to see what it was like. Bright, cheery, nicely laid out… and relatively empty. Oops. And the newness extended to some of the facilities: for example, the Fuddrucker’s hamburger place was advertising beer and margaritas, but they haven’t got their liquor license yet. Overall it reminded me of some European terminals, and the density of upscale shopping outlets was reminiscent of Heathrow.

Second, I got puffed. That is to say, at the security checkpoint I was selected to go through one of the new devices that subjects you and your clothing to an intense puff of air, directed upwards to dislodge any particles in your garments or hair; the system then “sniffs” the air for any suspicious chemicals. The process takes about 10 seconds. High “geek interest” factor.

And third, and the reason I was using terminal A, was that I was flying on Song for the first time. This is Delta’s “airline within an airline”, a bit like United’s Ted. One type of aircraft (757-200), one class, and relentless fun. (Yes, they will mix martinis for you in flight – $7 each.) The competition is clearly jetBlue, but the style borrows from Virgin Atlantic. The seats are OK – leather (not necessarily a plus), limited lumbar support, decent pitch. The seat-back video is good, and includes the kind of flight map that you usually find on international flights.

As for the flight: the cabin crew issued dire warnings over the PA about it being a full flight, but there were only 155 seats filled (according to the display outside the gate), and I had the 27 D-E-F row all to myself. We pushed back 30 minutes late because of a minor maintenance issue. The flight was very bumpy: the pilot kept changing altitude between FL320 and FL360 trying to find smooth air. Nonetheless I was able to get plenty of sleep. The verdict: recommended; a good (and frugal) way to deal with the “bus ride” between BOS and SFO.