Calling All Bostonians: 9 non stops for less than $99 round trip

There was plenty of evidence in yesterday’s edition of Hump Day Fare Hacks that flights to Europe are staggeringly cheap right now. Equally exciting is that there are a (comparatively speaking) large number of Boston-originating domestic flights that are going for far less than usual. The craziest part of that is that – while low-cost carriers are present on this spontaneously-created list – they make up less than half of the options, meaning that legacy carriers (namely American) are offering flights for cheaper than ever before. If that’s any sign of what’s to come, that’s good news for us travelers!

Note 1: All of these fares were found through Google Flights. There are even more sub-$100 destinations if you are fine with layovers, including Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando.

Note 2: I hesitated listing Spirit Airlines flights, as – in addition to charging for pretty much everything except a seat and personal item – my plane has been delayed coming back both times I’ve flown them. However, they do offer some exceptional deals, and if you know what you’re getting into, the low price may well be worth it, although I will say that I consider jetBlue to have similarly low prices and far superior service.

 

Baltimore – Southwest Airlines – $82

Chicago (O’Hare) – American Airlines and United Airlines – $87

Cleveland – Spirit Airlines – $69

Dallas-Ft. Worth – American Airlines – $87

Detroit – Spirit Airlines – $79

New York JFK – American Airlines – $69

New York LaGuardia – American Airlines and jetBlue – $97

Washington (National) – American Airlines – $69

West Palm Beach – Spirit Airlines $89

 

Hump Day Fare Hacks: September 28, 2016

Norwegian Index for September 28, 2016 (measured in dollars): 294.2.

The changes seen in this past week have been pretty significant – in a good way (for travelers). In addition to the always-low Norwegian prices, American is selling – and I don’t believe this is a fare sale – sub-$600 British Airways round trips on BOS-LHR and JFK-LHR. That’s by far the lowest I’ve seen prices on those routes, period, and I haven’t looked at the prices of any other LHR-USA routes. Moreover, BOS-SNN (Aer Lingus), JFK-MUC (Lufthansa) and EWR-MUC (United) are all going for less than $500 round trip, and with a pretty exceptional selection of dates. All told, eight of 10 flights profiled this week are selling for less than $500, and all 10 are priced at less than $600. That is astounding.

Note: All routes profiled are based on a 7-day round trip (departing and arriving the same day a week apart), unless otherwise noted. That said, I strongly encourage you to play with a variety of dates and trip lengths and see what you can find.

 

BOSTON

 

Boston – Copenhagen

Leave on:

  • October 11, 18 (return October 20, 27)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $305

Thoughts: $1 over last week. Still time to break the $300 barrier.

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • November 30
  • December 4, 5, 7
  • January (2016) 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 6

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $335

Thoughts: The price increased $17 over last week, but the expansion of dates make this worth it. And given what we’ve seen from this route price-wise, I would expect it to stay relatively consistent – I’d be very surprised if it surpassed $350.

 

Boston – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • October 26-28, 31
  • November 1-17, 19, 21-25, 27-30
  • December 1-8, 11-13, 17, 18

Carrier: British Airways
Price: $509

Thoughts: If you read “Heathrow Hacks,” you’ll understand why British Airways/Delta/Virgin are more expensive than flying Norwegian to Gatwick. Regardless, this is an exceptional price – especially considering it’s BA and not an American-based carrier. (These fares still need to be booked through American, as they are alliance partners, but you would still fly on BA).

 

Boston – Oslo

Leave on: October 17 (return October 25)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $270

Thoughts: I wouldn’t be surprised to see this deal disappear for the season, but I don’t need to further explain that $270 for a transatlantic flight is an exceptional price.

 

Boston – Shannon

Leave on:

  • October 29-31
  • January (2017) 14, 16, 25, 28, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 12, 13

Carrier: Aer Lingus
Price: $496

Thoughts: There are similarly cheap flights on BOS-DUB, but this one takes the cake, no doubt. A pretty exceptional deal whatever way you look at it.

 

NEW YORK

 

New York JFK and Newark – Amsterdam

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11-31
  • Any date in February
  • Any date in March

Carriers: Delta Air Lines (JFK), KLM (JFK), United Airlines (EWR)
Price: $439

Thoughts: Same date range. Same price. Same great deal.

 

New York JFK – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • October 31
  • November 1-17, 19, 26
  • December 3, 17, 24, 31
  • January (2017) 14, 21, 28
  • February (2017) 4, 11, 18, 25
  • March (2017) 4, 11, 18, 25

Carriers: Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Price: $593

Thoughts: I’m surprised to see that BOS-LHR is beating out JFK-LHR in terms of which has the lower price. Either way, this is the lowest I can remember seeing this route going for – maybe this is signaling a change in the median price of the JFK-LHR (and perhaps U.S. to LHR) market(s)?

 

New York JFK and Newark – Munich

Leave on:

  • January 11-31
  • Any date in February
  • Any date in March

Carriers: Lufthansa (JFK), United Airlines (EWR)
Price: $491

Thoughts: I should also note that there are a few dates when the $491 fare applies on Lufthansa’s EWR-MUC route as well. And while I’m too lazy to go back and distinguish between carriers and dates, you definitely should if you’re interested – this is an excellent price for this route.

 

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 31
  • February (2017) 3, 5, 7, 16

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $283

Thoughts: $3 up on last week, but still well below $300. (For what it’s worth, SAS is offering EWR-OSL round trips for $478 several days this winter, as well).

 

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 18, 20, 25, 27
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 4, 6, 8

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $278

Thoughts: I’d be surprised if the range of dates at this price doesn’t expand soon – especially as winter approaches and demand for traveling to Sweden is affected by people becoming reacquainted with the cold.

Heathrow Hacks: Cheap British Airways flights from Boston to London

While perusing Google Flights the other day, I put in “BOS” and “LHR.” Though non stop flights between the two airports have dramatically decreased in price from the $952 round trip (that was the base fare: total cost of $1,034, as choosing window seats ahead of time was $41 each way) when I went to England in the Fall of 2014, they still run generally between $750 and $990.

With all that in mind, you can imagine my surprise when I saw a non stop flight from Boston to London Heathrow that was priced at $512 round trip. Yes, $512. And this wasn’t just one flight that was priced so low: I looked further and found a number of dates in November and December in which round trips of varying lengths – everything from a few days to a week and perhaps even more – are priced significantly lower than normal.

lhrhack1
First example of dates.

 

lhrhack2
Second example of dates.

You might’ve noticed that the links next to the buttons say “Book with American.” The reason for this is that these fares are being sold through American – British Airways’ price is significantly higher. The reason that AA can sell BA flights is because – given that both are members of the oneworld alliance – they have a codeshare, which allows them to sell each other’s flights. This is usually helpful when a neither a direct flight nor multiple flights on the same airline are available between a given origin and destination, so – instead of booking multiple tickets on multiple airlines – the customer only has to buy one ticket that will work on all segments of the route. Even so, that begs an interesting question: why can American sell the fare cheaper than BA?

Great question, and I wish I knew the exact answer. It’s possible that this is an example of a “mistake fare,” where the price is set incorrectly. However, I’m not sure that this is the case, as a mistake fare is often priced at significantly less than 50% of the normal fare (e.g. a $1,200 Emirates flight going for $150).

Moreover, these fares are being offered in a particularly slow time of year for international travel: the period between the end of fall and the Christmas holidays. For example – although I myself did – not many people travel to the U.K. for Thanksgiving, which perhaps drives the prices of flights between the U.S. and the U.K. down. Of course, this is an unconfirmed hypothesis – I’d have to check a number of other fares to see how prevalent it is – but I can very much see it being the case, and I’d be willing to guess that such is the case here.

But what about Norwegian?

If you’ve read Hump Day Fare Hacks, you’ll know that Norwegian Air Shuttle tends to offer super low ($300-$400) fares on the Boston to London Gatwick route. So why is this – at $100+ more expensive – such a good deal?

First off, BA is what is called a “full-service” airline. This means that – at the very least – you get a checked bag, a meal, drinks, and refreshments included with your fare. Meanwhile, as a low-cost carrier, Norwegian charges for each of those things. If you simply want to get from A to B, Norwegian is undoubtedly cheaper. However, should you want the same amenities on Norwegian that you’d get on BA, you’ll likely end up spending an amount comparable to the price of the BA ticket.

Second, BA has four daily flights each way between Boston and London. Going over, there’s a morning flight BA238, an early evening flight BA212, and two night flights, BA214 and BA202. Coming back, there’s a late-morning flight, BA213, two late afternoon flights, BA203 and BA215, and one night flight, BA239. Norwegian, meanwhile, has just one each way – DY7148 going over, DY7147 coming back – and it operates four times per week. Moreover – and this may only matter to avgeeks like myself – BA will operate three different types of aircraft on the route – the Boeing 787, 777, and 747 – each with its own layout and perks. Norwegian, meanwhile only flies the 787, although I must say that Norwegian’s 787s are extremely comfortable based on my trip to Oslo. All other things equal, BA gives travelers a significantly larger number of options than Norwegian does.

Third, Gatwick, located in the county of West Sussex, is a bit further from the heart of London than is Heathrow, which is located in London proper. However, this is negligible, as while a train from Heathrow is quicker, it’s not by much – the Gatwick express is almost as fast.

Finally, some prefer the fact that Gatwick is smaller and easier to get around than Heathrow. Think of Gatwick being like Newark compared to New York JFK being like Heathrow: Newark does have its own issues, and JFK will give you more options, but Newark is – in my opinion – much easier to get in and out of than JFK. The same could be said for Gatwick compared to Heathrow.

Bottom Line: Do what works for you!

Personally, I’m a BA loyalist, although Norwegian’s prices are certainly tempting. That said, I can definitely understand why many would prefer to fly for significantly cheaper on the latter, even if Norwegian doesn’t have as many flight options or amenities as BA boasts. I myself flew Norwegian from Boston to Oslo this past April, and I thought they did a fantastic job, especially for the price. And though I’ve likely firmed up my travel plans for the fall, leaving me with no room to plan a spontaneous trip to England, I encourage any Boston-based travelers thinking of a trip to the U.K. to consider this deal – although I don’t believe it will last!

Hump Day Fare Hacks: September 21, 2016

This week featured the unearthing of some new deals, the increasing of fares on other routes, and a number of notable events in between.

For starters, I was convinced that the Norwegian Index would increase dramatically, as we had to say goodbye to the BOS-OSL route (which, by the way, is still in the low-$300 range for October). However, while both of the routes that were previously listed at under $300 increased in price, the two that were listed at over $300 both decreased in price, resulting in a less dramatic change than I’d anticipated. As a result, we might even see routes such as BOS-CPH and – much more likely – BOS-LGW creep under the $300 mark.

Norwegian Index for September 7, 2016 (measured in dollars): 295.0.

Going back to that last sentence: why is BOS-LGW (at $318) more likely to break the $300 price floor than BOS-CPH, which is listed at $304? Well, BOS-CPH goes out of season at the end of October, and we’re getting close to the final dates. As you may know, the general rule in the airline world is that – all other things equal – the closer it is to the date of departure, the more the price increases. Now, of course, there are times when you’ll find a crazy low fare on a flight departing the following week that should be really expensive, but those are anomalies, and usually have to do with a special promotion, or the fact that the airline is desperate to sell seats. So even though BOS-CPH is significantly closer to $300 than BOS-LGW, it doesn’t have time on its side, whereas BOS-LGW will run throughout the winter.

Note: All routes profiled are based on a 7-day round trip (departing and arriving the same day a week apart), unless otherwise noted. That said, I strongly encourage you to play with a variety of dates and trip lengths and see what you can find.

 

BOSTON

 

Boston – Beijing

Leave on:

  • September 27

Carrier: Hainan Airlines
Price: $638

Thoughts: So what if it’s short notice? YOLO.

 

Boston – Copenhagen

Leave on:

  • October 11, 18 (return October 20, 27)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $304

Thoughts: The route goes out of season at the end of October, but I’d say it’s still possible that this goes through the $300 price floor.

 

Boston – Frankfurt

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11, 13-16, 18, 20-23, 25, 27-30
  • February (2017) 1, 3-6, 8, 10-13, 15-28
  • March (2017) 1-9, 11-23, 27-31

Carrier: Lufthansa
Price: $507

Thoughts: I know it’s the same price as last week, but trust me – this will not last.

 

Boston – Lisbon

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 9, 11-13, 15, 16, 18-20, 22, 23, 25-27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1-3, 5, 6, 8-10, 12, 13, 15, 20, 22-24, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 15-17, 19, 20, 22-24, 26-29

Carrier: TAP Portugal
Price: $580

Thoughts: I believe this is the lowest this fare has gone. For a winter getaway in Portugal, this is well worth the money.

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • October 26
  • November 13, 14, 27, 29
  • December 1-5, 7
  • January (2016) 16
  • February (2017) 21, 27, 28

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $318

Thoughts: Dare I say that this route goes under $300? I know it seems implausible, but I’ve learned that the only thing to expect with Norwegian is the unexpected.

 

 

 

NEW YORK

 

New York JFK and Newark – Amsterdam

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11-31
  • Any date in February
  • Any date in March

Carriers: Delta Air Lines (JFK), KLM (JFK), United Airlines (EWR)
Price: $439

Thoughts: So all of the December dates that were available have gone, leaving only 2017 dates available. Doesn’t change the fact that this is a steal.

 

New York JFK – Brussels

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 12-17, 19-24, 26-31
  • February (2017) 1-6, 8-28
  • March (2017) 1-23, 26, 28-31

Carriers: Brussels Airlines
Price: $443

Thoughts: The only Belgian thing I can think of that’s better than this deal is a stack of Belgian waffles. I’m sure there are others, of course, but this is definitely up there.

 

New York JFK – Dublin

Leave on:

  • November 15, 22, 30
  • December 1, 6-8, 12
  • January (2017) 9-12, 16-19, 23-26, 30, 31
  • February (2017) 1-3, 6-9, 13-16, 20, 22, 23, 26-28
  • March (2017) 1, 2, 6, 7, 10, 12-14

Carriers: Aer Lingus
Price: $497

Thoughts: Of all the legacy transatlantic carriers that fly between the U.S. and Europe, Aer Lingus is usually the cheapest. However, a flight to Dublin – not Shannon, Dublin – priced at less than $500 is exceptional.

 

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 19, 22, 24, 27, 31
  • February (2017) 2, 5, 7

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $280

Thoughts: This fare has hovered around the high-$200 mark, but I anticipate that it might plunge below $260 if capacity isn’t filled. I’m not saying “wait,” but waiting wouldn’t be bad, either.

 

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 22

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $278

Thoughts: It hasn’t set the low-water mark for Hump Day Fare Hacks by some distance, but don’t let that fool you – $278 for a transatlantic flight is not normal.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: September 14, 2016

Norwegian Index for September 14, 2016 (measured in dollars): 292.0.

As you can tell, the Norwegian Index (defined in last week’s post) fell by 2.0. What’s more, though, is that’s not even the most impressive development for this week. Instead, I think the craziest thing is the fact that there are three routes without low-cost carriers that are showing sub-$500 round trips between New York and Europe. If I had to pick one for myself, I’d choose JFK-MUC on Lufthansa for $490, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.

Note: All routes profiled are based on a 7-day round trip (departing and arriving the same day a week apart), unless otherwise noted. That said, I strongly encourage you to play with a variety of dates and trip lengths and see what you can find.

 

BOSTON

 

Boston – Copenhagen

Leave on:

  • September 27 (return October 6)
  • October 11, 18 (return October 20, 27)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $306

Thoughts: Just waiting for this one to go below $300 (it won’t, but that would be impressive).

 

Boston – Lisbon

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 9, 11-13, 15, 16, 18-20, 22, 23, 25-27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1-3, 5, 6, 8-10, 12, 13, 15, 19, 20, 22-24, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1-3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15-17, 19, 20, 22-24, 26-29

Carrier: TAP Portugal
Price: $585

Thoughts: Combined with Lufthsana’s increase to $597 for BOS-FRA, TAP and BOS-LIS come back into the picture for the exceptionally low price, variety of dates, and the fact that many of said dates fall during the coldest part of winter – an idea time to venture to Portugal.

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • December 5
  • January (2017) 9, 11, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 6, 13

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $338

Thoughts: Up $8 on last week but with new dates available. Really don’t know what to make of the fact that there are direct flights to London for less than $400 round trip.

 

Boston – Oslo

Leave on: October 14, 21 (return October 22, 29)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $286

Thoughts: Norway is cold, but this fare is hot. And with Norwegian going out-of-season at the end of October on the BOS-OSL route, now’s the time to book.

 

Boston – Tel Aviv

Leave on:

  • November 20, 24

Carrier: El Al
Price: $650

Thoughts: Have family in Israel? Want to visit them over Thanksgiving? Book this flight.

 

NEW YORK

 

New York JFK and Newark – Amsterdam

Leave on:

  • December 13-19
  • January (2017) 11-31
  • Any date in February (2017)
  • Any date in March (2017)

Carriers: Delta Air Lines (JFK), KLM (JFK), United Airlines (EWR)
Price: $439

Thoughts: Much like last week, my recommendation would be KLM and its Boeing 747 or 777 over the Delta 767 or United 757, but you can’t go wrong with this price and the extensive range of dates.

 

New York JFK – Brussels

Leave on: December 13, 14, 16

Carriers: Brussels Airlines
Price: $443

Thoughts: In addition to the fare listed, there are a number of different dates in 2017 where a sub-$500 fare is available, so your options may be far more extensive than I’ve listed here.

 

New York JFK – Munich

Leave on:

  • December 13

Carriers: Lufthansa
Price: $490

Thoughts: Just one departure date available, sure, but this is crazy stupid low. Never thought I’d see a Lufthansa long-haul flight going for less than $500.

 

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 27, 31
  • February (2017) 2, 3, 5, 7

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $261

Thoughts: A dollar off last week. Stockholm, eat your heart out.

 

 

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 15, 22

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $269

Thoughts: A very commendable second place in the unofficial Norwegian competition for lowest fare of the week on Hump Day Fare Hacks.

Sully Movie Review: A smooth take on the events of January 15, 2009

Note: Minor spoiler alert, although I would assume that many of you know the general events and aftermath of the Miracle on the Hudson.

Be honest: if you know me, you know that I was – in all likelihood – going to see Sully as soon as humanly possible. While an aviation gearhead in general, I took a particular interest in the events surrounding U.S. Airways flight 1549 (known as “Cactus 1549” over the radio), and read both Capt. Chesley Sullenberger’s autobiography Higher Duty as well as another book detailing the stories of the passengers on that fateful flight. So when I was sitting on my lunch break today and saw that the film, slated to open tomorrow, was actually premiering tonight at 7:00, I figured the timing was perfect to catch the premier at the Boston Common IMAX on my way home.

Background

For those of you who don’t know, flight 1549 was an Airbus A320 flying from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte Douglas International Airport on January 15, 2009. Following a bird strike shortly after takeoff, the plane lost thrust in both engines – a highly unlikely occurrence that, I don’t think, had ever happened before at such a low altitude – and didn’t have enough altitude or speed to return to LaGuardia or divert to New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport or Newark Liberty International Airport. Thus, Capt. Sullenberger, affectionately known as “Sully,” and First Officer Jeff Skiles successfully brought the plane down in the Hudson River. Miraculously, all 155 people on board survived, prompting Capt. Sullenberger to be labeled a hero and the event to be unofficially titled the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

This film was made to profile the crash, as well as the life of Capt. Sullenberger – played by Tom Hanks – following the incident. All things considered, I think it did an excellent job, and was objectively as good and accurate as any “based on a true story” movie I’ve ever seen – aviation or otherwise.

The NTSB: Pantomime villains

Upon seeing the previews months ago, the one thing that I wasn’t sold on was the characterization of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the body that investigates the majority of plane crashes within the United States. My gut reaction was that the film focused far too much on the hearings, and consequently I found the NTSB hearings to be dramatized in comparison to what I knew of the accident and the aftermath.

For example, the movie showed the simulator pilots successfully landing at both LaGuardia and Teterboro, and the NTSB board members looking condescendingly (in a “see? Told you so.” kind of way) at Sully and Skiles, and only performed the simulations with a 35-second delay that accounts for the human factor when prompted by Sully. In reality, 7 of the 15 attempts made by the simulator pilots without the 35 second delay were unsuccessful, and the single attempt that was made with said delay was unsuccessful (the film did show unsuccessful attempts being performed at both LaGuardia and Teterboro).

To be sure, I was not in any of those meeting rooms, and I have not seen a transcript of said meetings. Moreover, I cannot emphasize enough that I do not have all the facts. That said, it seemed that the premise of the movie was to make the NTSB out to be the bad guys, when I can’t say that I got that impression from Sully’s autobiography nor other documentations of the crash, including this excerpt from a press release concerning the NTSB’s final report which was about as praiseworthy as an impartial document could be.

The Physical and Mental Impacts

Even with how well the events of January 15, 2009 turned out, there’s no doubt that the events took a toll on Sully, Skiles, and others close to them. The film shows a number of scenes where Sully is speaking with his wife Lori on the phone, and Hanks and costar Laura Linney do extremely well at showing the stress that both underwent after the crash. (One minor goof: According to his autobiography, Sullenberger’s daughters were at school at the time of the crash, and were picked up by Lori after she received the call from Sully. In the film, they’re sitting at the kitchen table).

In addition to the strain that the crash puts on his relationship with his wife, Sully is shown to be stressed out and suffering from flashbacks, as well as bad dreams. And while Katie Couric (as herself) saying “are you a hero, Chesley Sullenberger? Or are you a fraud?” in a bad dream is perhaps a bit of a stretch, it is known that Sully questioned himself a lot following the incident. Hanks purveyed the gamut of emotions that Sully ran, and then some, and I think he did a fantastic job at recreating what I can only imagine was running through Sully’s head.

The Passengers

Two of the passengers that I remember reading about and seeing a lot of were father and son Rob and Jeff Kolodjay, who, along with four other men, were traveling on a golf trip and were rebooked on flight 1549 after a cancellation on another airline. Rob, at the front of the plane, was separated from his son, sitting at the back, and thought that Jeff had perished. There is quite a moving video clip of a tearful Rob – hours after the crash – making contact with his son for the first time via a cell phone. The movie does well to re-enact the scene, and I was glad that they profiled the Kolodjays among the many passengers – all of whom had unique stories to tell.

Realism

I was pleasantly surprised at how realistic the film was – although perhaps I shouldn’t have been, given that it is a Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks film. The aircraft shown in the movie was – much like the actual plane itself – a U.S. Airways Airbus A320, and the simulator cockpits appeared to be Airbus as well. Furthermore, it was clear that the annunciator (a voice in the cockpit that calls out “above-ground” altitudes below a certain point) was an Airbus annunciator, and not one on Boeing or other aircraft. Most humorously, the pre-flight conversation between the two pilots in which Skiles (in jest) calls Sully an “excellent BS-er” based on a Google search was the very chat recounted in Higher Duty. I had a good laugh at that, even though I knew it was coming.

The ATC communciations and CVR transcript were incredibly accurate – practically down to the word, although there were a couple of times where a different word here or a different phrase there was used. (Trust me, I’ve listened to the ATC audio clips probably 10+ times). Regardless, it wasn’t like Hanks was paraphrasing consistently, and I was impressed at his ability to accurately reenact the conversation that Sully had with New York TRACON controller Patrick Harten, who was played by Patch Darragh. For his part, Harten – both in real life and in the movie – did a fantastic job given the situation, and his calmness was comparable to that of Capt. Sullenberger’s.

Credits

Unless it’s a film with blooper reels, I usually don’t stick around for the credits. But I’m glad I did with this film, which featured film of a real-life reunion between the passengers and their families and Capt. Sullenberger, First Officer Skiles, and flight attendants Sheila Dail, Donna Dent, and Doreen Welsh. Certain passengers, including Barry Leonard, a likeable Charlotte business executive, stated their seat numbers on that day, and the footage also showed Sullenberger addressing the crowd, saying something to the effect of “when you think of 155, plus family and friends, the number of people is a pretty big number” and that he thought that it was a good outcome for everyone. I think most would tend to agree.

Overall Impressions

As I should’ve expected, Sully was well worth the $18.99 (yikes!) that I paid to see it in IMAX – and I’m not just saying that as an aviation buff. Sure, the pantomime villain status of the NTSB was perhaps a bit exaggerated, but that’s to be expected – it is a drama, after all. Regardless, the accuracy of the reenactment, the quality of the acting, and the special effects were phenomenal, and I would highly recommend it to all, as it was an incredibly well-done film that lived up to billing.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: September 7, 2016

This week, I’m introducing a new measurement called the “Norwegian Index.” Before you accuse me of turning a user-friendly blog into pure airline jargon, I should say that the Norwegian Index is simply the average of all Norwegian Air Shuttle flights profiled by Hump Day Fare Hacks in a given week. I think this is a solid way of seeing what an average “low-cost” (e.g. non-legacy carrier) transatlantic fare is at a given time, and, as such, will provide a basis of comparison for the cost progression or regression, depending on how the market behaves. And while a more comprehensive version would perhaps be weighted by the number of available days for each route, I simply don’t have the time or interest to take that on. If you’d like to undertake that task, be my guest – I’ll be sure that you get the appropriate recognition.

Norwegian Index for September 7, 2016 (measured in dollars): 294.0.

Just to be clear – this does not mean that I’ll be profiling more or less Norwegian flights in order to generate a more favorable Index. The average will be computed after I choose the deals to be profiled in a given week, ensuring that the Index is calculated objectively.

Moving on – Lufthansa is the airline to watch this week, offering a range of flights for less than $510 on BOS-FRA, JFK-MUC, and EWR-MUC. The German flag carrier usually charges significantly more on transatlantic flights, so this is something to take advantage of if you have the desire to travel to Bavaria or Hesse. Additionally, Hainan is offering exceptionally low fares on BOS-PEK for a number of September dates – prices which seem unthinkable at first glance given that the closest one is just six days away.  Two different countries; two carriers synonymous with quality; four great deals. Can’t beat it. (Maybe they can, but I don’t see it happening).

Note: All routes profiled are based on a 7-day round trip (departing and arriving the same day a week apart), unless otherwise noted. That said, I strongly encourage you to play with a variety of dates and trip lengths and see what you can find.

 

BOSTON

 

Boston – Beijing

Leave on:

  • September 13, 14, 21, 26, 27

Carrier: Hainan Airlines
Price: $638

Thoughts: It may well be too short of notice to plan a trip to China, but if you’ve got a week and $638 to burn, I can’t think of a better investment. I’m kidding, of course – however, the fact that this fare is available for a transpacific flight less than a week away is almost unthinkable.

 

Boston – Copenhagen

Leave on:

  • October 11 (return October 20)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $305

Thoughts: Just one date left. Either way, an exceptional deal, even if not as cheap as BOS-OSL.

 

Boston – Frankfurt

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11, 13-16, 18, 20-23, 25, 27-30
  • February (2017) 1, 3-6, 8, 10-13, 15, 16, 18-28
  • March (2017) 1-23, 27-31

Carrier: Lufthansa
Price: $507

Thoughts: If a $1 decrease wasn’t enough, the fact that the number of available dates drastically increased makes this deal a very attractive proposition. Anything transatlantic trip for less than $600 on Lufthansa is an exceptional fare.

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 30
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $330

Thoughts: A $3 increase with 2 more days of availability. Business as usual for Norwegian.

 

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • September 30 (return October 8)
  • October 17, 21 (return October 25, 20)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $269

Thoughts: This is the second week that this fare and these dates are available. If you haven’t bought your ticket already and you have even the slightest of desire to do so, you probably should.

 

NEW YORK

 

New York JFK and Newark – Amsterdam

Leave on:

  • December 6-20
  • January (2017) 11-31
  • Any date in February (2017)
  • Any date in March (2017)

Carriers: Delta Air Lines (JFK), KLM (JFK), United Airlines (EWR)
Price: $439

Thoughts: This smells of an over saturation of capacity in the market – one that could well be rectified in the coming months. Either way, this is a fantastic deal to take advantage of – personally, I’d recommend KLM and its Boeing 747 or 777 over the Delta 767 or United 757, but you can’t go wrong with this price and the extensive range of dates.

 

New York JFK and Newark – Munich

Leave on:

  • December 6, 7, 12, 13

Carriers: Lufthansa, United Airlines
Price: $505

Thoughts: A pretty exceptional fare for Munich, and made even better by the fact that you have the option between two airports and two carriers. I personally would choose Lufthansa over United, but that’s just me – you can’t go wrong with this price.

 

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 31
  • February (2017) 2, 3, 5, 7, 21, 23
  • March (2017) 2

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $262

Thoughts: Don’t know how Norway in the winter is – I imagine it’s probably cold. What I do know, however, is that this is an exceptional price.

 

New York JFK – Paris

Leave on:

  • December 8
  • January (2017) 19, 24, 26, 31
  • February (2017) 28

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $328

Thoughts: $1 more than last week. Guess this isn’t a good deal anymore (sarcasm).

 

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28
  • February (2017) 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 15, 22, 27

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $270

Thoughts: I’d be curious to see what flights between New York and Miami are going for during the winter. I bet this price would be competitive with those fares.