Touchdown: First Scheduled British Airways A380 Arrives in Boston

Anticipation of the Airbus

Soaring over a crowd of around 30 people on Castle Island, the first scheduled British Airways Airbus A380 arrived at Boston Logan this afternoon. Incidentally, it touched down on Runway 4R – which was the same runway that the Boeing 747 I was on landed on in 2014 – at around 1:30 p.m.

Speedbird 213 super soaring towards Runway 4R.

Last July, when the news first broke that BA would be flying its A380s from Boston to London Heathrow in 2017, I was hesitant to put much stock in it. Things change in the aviation world all the time, and so while that didn’t stop me from writing a post on it, I think it’s worth pointing out that there’s a difference between reporting the news and buying into it.

Initially, my skepticism seemed to be well-founded: in August, BA mysteriously pulled its scheduled deployment of the aircraft, with the apparent culprit being the delayed renovation of Terminal E. At that point, I thought that the delay was due to “typical Massachusetts construction,” as we often see construction projects cost more and take longer than anticipated (e.g. the Big Dig).

However, September saw BA reinstate its plans to launch A380 service to Logan, with the new start date scheduled for a month after the original planned introduction. And while the new schedule has the aircraft visiting only three days per week (Sunday, Monday, and Friday) as opposed to the original schedule which had it lined up to come four times per week (Thursday through Sunday), it appeared that the new timeline took into account the construction of the A380-capable gates and new Terminal E lounge.

March 26, 2017

Even though Emirates holds the distinction of having flown the first scheduled A380 to Boston – a one-off flight exactly two months before this one – BA is the first carrier to land a regularly-scheduled A380 in Boston.

On multiple occasions, I have said that I prefer the 747– and particularly BA’s 747s – to the A380. While that still holds true, I have developed a newfound admiration for the A380, particularly after traveling on it in China and experiencing how modern and efficient it is, and so I went to see the maiden arrival – operated by G-XLEE as BA213 – this afternoon (the aircraft will return to London tonight as BA212).

I arrived around 20 minutes before the aircraft was scheduled to land, and was surprised to find that there were a number of onlookers waiting with their cameras, phones, and scanners. I got out my phone to open Flightradar24, and saw that the aircraft was beginning its downwind leg.

 

IMG_1060
Visible, but not much detail here.

We continued to track G-XLEE, both visually and with FR24. Soon enough, it was starting its final approach.

IMG_1065
On final.

As it got closer, the sense went from ‘this is going to happen’ to ‘this is really happening.’ Correspondingly, the plane went from being a faraway object that was barely visible to an approaching aircraft that revealed more and more detail by the second.

Having disappeared from our vision over the shipyard, the aircraft touched down on 4R, arriving at the gate 10 minutes after the tires hit the tarmac. As such, the long-anticipated event was completed.

Looking Forward

With this arrival, Boston has seen a scheduled BA A380 before New York JFK. And while this is somewhat surprising given that JFK-LHR is the busiest transatlantic route in the world and that BA is the dominant carrier on that route, there are actually a few explanations for this seemingly counterintuitive circumstance.

Moreover, the arrival of the A380 does not mean that BA will stop sending 747s to Boston. Unlike some other U.S. destinations (such as San Francisco and Washington D.C.) where BA used to send 747s but now mostly sends A380s and 777s, BA will likely continue to fly the 747 to Boston alongside the A380 for quite some time. Today is a perfect example: while BA213 and BA212 are operated by an A380, BA203 and BA202 are being flown by a 747.

Why is this?

Well, in addition to boasting good load factors on its BOS-LHR route, which means that it can fill a large number of seats, BA recently retrofitted a portion of its 747 fleet with a modernized cabin and more business class seats. Given that BOS-LHR is a route with high “premium” demand (e.g. a large number of first and business class travelers), the retrofitted aircraft still have a decent amount of life left in them, and that more than 790,000 people traveled between Logan and London Heathrow last year, it makes sense that Boston as a destination can support two four-engine, double-decker planes in the same day.

Most of all, I’m curious to know which of Logan’s runways the A380 uses. While the “main” runways – 4R/22L and 15R/33L – are obviously capable of handling an A380, I am curious to see if the two “supporting” runways – 4L/22R and 9/27 – will see any A380 action. Performance-wise, I think it’s possible, as the A380 has superior takeoff performance to the 747 and I have observed a number of 747s use 4L/22R and 9/27, but I can’t say for sure.

Despite a cloudy day, the sight of the Superjumbo was a bright spot on this particular Sunday. With any luck, there will be many more to come.

What’s Interesting About Aviation?

I’ve been asked a lot of times “why do [I] like airplanes?” Often times, my first reaction is to correct the person asking the question by telling them that “I’m interested in aviation (and not airplanes).” This may be unnecessary – in fact it probably is – but I think that simply saying that I “like airplanes” is vastly oversimplified, and makes me sound like a child easily fascinated by moving objects. Of course,  I’m never going to be able to control others’ perceptions of my interest, and I am a person who over-analyzes things in general, so I definitely understand the perception, even if I disagree with its label. Regardless, it certainly is an interesting question, and one whose answer I have contemplated time and time again over the years.

The honest answer is that there is no one particular area that catches my interest. With that in mind, I’ve divided it up into a variety of different areas. Some are able to be explained in a few sentences. Some require a number of different bullets. Some I can’t even begin to fully explain. Either way, I thought it would be interesting to share some insight into just what it is that I find intriguing.

The “Inner-Five-Year-Old” Factor

Face it, flying is something that (most of us) don’t do every day. As such, it’s understandable that one might be fascinated with the fundamentals of being in the air, even if one has flown on a particular aircraft or particular route before.

  1. Sitting inside a plane and hearing the fans go quiet, followed by the gradual grind of a jet engine starting.
  2. The noise of engines spooling up from idle to takeoff thrust (TOGA), whether sitting in front of or behind the fan.
  3. Hearing the thuds of the wheels going down the runway as a plane embarks on its takeoff roll.
  4. Feeling gravity “push down” as the plane takes off.
  5. The feeling of empowerment as the plane climbs out of the airport with takeoff power set.
  6. Visual differences between parts of the world that are moving quickly (flying over highway interchanges) versus standing still (flying over farms).
  7. Hearing (and feeling) the landing gear “bump” as it comes out prior to landing.
  8. Flying low over urban areas, getting slower and slower, while coming into land.
  9. Seeing the airport’s landscape suddenly appear under the plane.
  10. The moment of touchdown, signaling the completion of the time in air.
The Competitive Factor

Even considering the incredible breakthroughs that we as humans have had over time, flying is arguably up there with the best – it’s the fastest mode of transportation we’ve devised thus far. And I don’t care how strong you think you are – a jet engine is more powerful. Moreover, as I explained in my report chronicling my first Boeing 747 trip, I find the idea of an airport having transatlantic service as, in a way, a successful competitive triumph. Airlines don’t just take a plunge on starting long-haul service anywhere, and “making it” as far as being able to sustain those flights is certainly notable.

Admiration by the General Population

I enjoy seeing people who aren’t airplane fanatics (e.g. the general population) take a moment out of their day to look up at a jumbo and comment on its sheer power – power that can not be matched by any human. Of course, we humans are not designed to generate the same power as a GE90, and thus a shouldn’t be expected to compare ourselves to the power of a jet engine, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be impressed by them.

Unique (and Unknown) Narrations

One of the more interesting things that I’ve found is when I’m flying home late in the day – particularly after sunset. Passing over a variety of metropolitan areas, all one can really see is the extensive range of lights – most of which are houses – present on the ground. As cliche as it sounds, each light has its own story. One may be the home of a young family, with parents trying to get their kids ready for school tomorrow. Another may be the home of a retired couple relaxing in their living room, watching the evening news. Yet another might be a studio apartment, with a single urban dweller hanging out on Facebook. I often find myself wondering what the story is behind each of those lights – and though I’ll never know, it is interesting to imagine.

Another in-flight observation that I find fascinating happens mostly during descent. Following takeoff, an aircraft gains altitude and speed at extremely high rates, so it’s difficult to observe much in depth. Leading up to landing, however, the aircraft is – generally speaking – much “lower and slower,” giving passengers an excellent view of cars driving up and down roads and highways. Much like the houses, each car has its own story. A row of cars may feature someone heading home from work, another person venturing to the grocery store, and yet another person heading out to meet a friend. There’s absolutely no way to know the true story behind all of these cars, and perhaps that’s what makes it intriguing.

The Unparalleled Complexities
  1. Think about how many steps/logistics/etc. go into a single flight. (I don’t have an actual number, since it is variable, but just imagine.)
  2. Know that approximately 100,000 commercial flights take off and land every day around the world.
  3. With those two pieces of knowledge, think about how every flight – each with its own set of steps, requirements, etc. – has to fit into the massive global puzzle comprised of approximately 100,000 flights per day.
  4. Realize how safe commercial aviation is, despite the sheer amount of logistics that every flight crew (on their own flight) and every controller (in keeping airports and air spaces efficient and safe) must deal with. Pretty impressive.
The Factor of the Unknown

Even though I’ve gained a significant amount of aviation knowledge over the years, there is still a significant amount of information I don’t know or experiences I haven’t had. This, ultimately, is what keeps me interested.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: November 16, 2017

Norwegian Index for November 16, 2016: 289.0

After a brief hiatus last week (read the China trip report if you haven’t already!), Hump Day Fare Hacks is back.

A new low-water mark for the Norwegian Index is exceptional. All 10 fares – more than half of them from legacy carriers – under $500 round trip is an even more notable accomplishment.

Perhaps the most surprising was BOS-MAD for $382. This is a seasonal route, one that’s been known to be expensive, and usually cheap fares originate from routes with one or more of the following:

  1. Low-cost carriers
  2. A significant number of flights (supply)
  3. High competition between carriers

As basic economics would indicate, if demand outweighs supply, then the price goes up. However, if the inverse is true, then the price goes down. What’s peculiar about this example, though, is that none of these factors are true for BOS-MAD: Iberia is a legacy carrier, it flies once daily (at maximum), and it has no competition on the dates listed: Air Europa is slated to start flying on that route, but that won’t happen until June 2017.

This could well be a one-off, or perhaps Iberia is trying to increase customer loyalty in Boston in anticipation of more competition? Who knows. Either way, it’s an interesting development, and one I certainly didn’t expect.

Bottom line: With JFK-BCN and JFK-MAD similarly cheap, it seems that next spring is the time to visit Spain!

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:

  • April (2017) 4, 11, 25 (return April 13, 2017, April 20, 2017, and May 4, 2017)
  • May 2, 2017 (return May 11, 2017)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $312

Thoughts: Down $5 from the last edition of Hump Day Fare Hacks.

Boston – Lisbon

Leave on:

  • March 6, 2017

Carrier: TAP Portugal
Price: $479

Thoughts: Too lazy to sift through the archives and check, but I believe this is the lowest this route has ever been.

Boston – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • December 14, 15, 30, 31
  • January (2017) 7, 9-31
  • February (2017) 1, 2, 4-16, 19-28
  • March (2017) 1-24

Carrier: British Airways
Price: $464

Thoughts: Still way below $500 – far longer than I would have imagined.

Boston – Madrid

Leave on:

  • March (2017) 2, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 16, 19, 23, 30
  • April (2017) 3, 4, 6

Carrier: Iberia
Price: $382

Thoughts: Certainly unexpected, but all I’ll say is “we’ll see if it lasts.”

Boston – Oslo

Leave on:

  • March 27, 2017 (return April 4, 2017)
  • April 24, 2017 (return May 2, 2017)
  • May 22, 2017 (return May 30, 2017)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $289

Thoughts: Like its BOS-CPH counterpart, Norwegian’s BOS-OSL route went down by $5 from two weeks ago.

NEW YORK

New York JFK – Barcelona

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 16, 22, 23, 28, 30
  • February (2017) 5, 20, 28
  • May 2, 2017

Carrier: Delta Air Lines
Price: $405

Thoughts: The first of two Spanish destinations from New York JFK this week, travelers can fly on Delta’s Boeing 767 or Airbus A330. Having flown on the former, I can vouch for its comfort.

New York JFK– Madrid

Leave on:

  • November 21-23, 29, 30
  • December 1, 6
  • March (2017) 15, 17-20, 22, 24-29

Carriers: Air Europa
Price: $462

Thoughts: Haven’t seen anything from Air Europa up to this point, but this is a very good price.

New York JFK – Moscow

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 23-27, 29-31
  • February (2017) 1-15, 17-28
  • March (2017) 1-9, 12-16, 20-30
  • April (2017) 11, 17

Carrier: Aeroflot
Price: $483

Thoughts: Aeroflot has been known to offer low fares, and this is no exception. A four-star airline, I believe the Russian flag carrier would offer a comfortable ride, although not sure how much people are looking to go to Russia in the winter, so perhaps the April dates are optimal.

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • January 17, 2017

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $277

Thoughts: $5 down, and the low-water mark for Norwegian flights this week.

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • December 7
  • January (2017) 16, 20, 25, 27
  • February (2017) 1, 6, 8
  • March (2017) 6, 13, 26
  • May (2017) 5, 7

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $278

Thoughts: $4 down from the last edition. Curious to see whether this this holds around the $280 mark, or drops even more.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: October 12, 2016

Norwegian Index for October 12, 2016: 300.0

The Norwegian Index fell 6.8 points from last week, which is quite surprising given that 25% of the calculation is derived from BOS-OSL, whose last remaining departure dates of the season are extremely close (and, thus, are more expensive). However, with Norwegian scheduled to restart BOS-CPH and BOS-OSL services again next spring after a successful first year, I’m curious to see what kind of prices will be offered for those routes.

British Airways lowered the price on its BOS-LHR route to $503, which is barely believable as – in the past year – BOS-LHR has hovered anywhere between $800 and $1,000. Though I’m sure that low fuel prices have something to do with it, I would also imagine that the pound falling 18% against the dollar since Britain’s vote to leave the European Union probably has something to do with it. I had expected flights to LHR to cheapen following Brexit, and while prices stayed consistently high for a month or two, it seems that they are falling now. Perhaps the effects of Brexit on airfares took longer to set in than we thought. I can’t say I agree with Britain’s decision, but I’m certainly not complaining as an American traveler!

Even so, I think there was something even more noteworthy that happened  this week: American Airlines’ willingness to sell JFK-CDG for $433 round trip. Of course, Norwegian Air Shuttle has sold flights on that route for less than $400, but the fact that a legacy carrier is putting forth such a price on a traditionally expensive and competitive route is unbelievable. Again, I think it’s still too early to tell if this is an aberration or the start of a new trend, but maybe the collateral impacts of Brexit have been more than anticipated.

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 – Lisbon

Leave on:

  • January 26, 2017
  • February 2, 2017
  • March 16, 2017

Carrier: TAP Portugal
Price: $576

Thoughts: While only available on a narrow range of dates, this is the lowest that I’ve seen TAP’s BOS-LIS flights go for.

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

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

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $324

Thoughts: Even with the lowering of fares on British Airways’ BOS-LHR route, Norwegian is still going to fight for the Boston to London marketshare. And while Norwegian and its BOS-LGW route – in all likelihood – won’t have the same demand or resources as its BOS-LHR counterparts, it’ll certainly attract people with its low fares.

Boston – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • November 9-16, 21-26, 28-30
  • December 1-9, 12, 13, 18, 19, 27, 31
  • January (2017) 1, 2, 5-31
  • February (2017) 1, 2, 6-28
  • March (2017) 1-24

Carrier: British Airways
Price: $503

Thoughts: Could it break the $500 mark? I personally would bet against it, as I could never have fathomed BOS-LHR flights going that low, but I hope I’m wrong!

Boston – Munich

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11-31
  • February (2017) 1, 2, 4-15, 21-24, 26-28
  • March (2017) 1-3, 6-9, 13-18, 24, 25, 31

Carrier: Lufthansa
Price: $490

Thoughts: Good deal? Absolutely. New normal? Probably not.

Boston – Oslo

Leave on: October 21 (return October 29)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $321

Thoughts: This is a great use of your money (if you’ve got nothing to do for a week starting next Friday).

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: Now the entire month of March is available for $439. Still don’t get it.

New York JFK – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • April (2017) 1-12, 14, 15, 17-30
  • May (2017) 1-10

Carriers: Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Price: $519

Thoughts: No big deal – DL and VS just went ahead and took $73 off of last week’s fare.

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • February (2017) 5, 7

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $281

Thoughts: It’s a small range of dates, and it might not be the preferable time of year given the destination, but it’s also cheaper than you’d probably find a flight to the West Coast for.

New York JFK – Paris

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11-28, 30, 31
  • February (2017) 1-3, 5-17, 20-28
  • March (2017) 5, 6, 8, 9, 14-16, 22, 29

Carrier: American Airlines
Price: $433

Thoughts: Norwegian has put forth some impressive prices on JFK-CDG, but the fact that American is selling a direct transatlantic flight for $433 round trip is insane. Maybe the increased level of competition is finally starting to show?

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • February (2017) 1, 3, 6, 8

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $274

Thoughts: The statement immediately preceding this one applies here as well.

Hump Day Fare Hacks: October 5, 2016

Norwegian Index for October 5, 2016: 306.8

If you read Hump Day Fare Hacks last week, you’ll notice that the Norwegian Index jumped by more than 12 points. Though there was certainly an uptick in Norwegian fares overall, that number was perhaps disproportionately affected by the $37 increase on the BOS-CPH route, which is understandable given that the departure date is less than two weeks away. Still, the price itself is very good, especially considering how soon you’d be leaving.

Elsewhere, British Airways’ BOS-LHR flights remained uncharacteristically low, dropping by $1, and the fares offered by Delta Air Lines and codeshare partner Virgin Atlantic Airways’ JFK-LHR route did the same. And while the fact that prices for the New York area’s Amsterdam and Munich flights remain low is surprising, undoubtedly the biggest surprise was seeing how low Air France (and codeshare partner Delta) are offering BOS-CDG for. After all, Paris De Gaulle is known for  being even more expensive to fly into than London Heathrow, so I’m curious to see if this is a one-time thing or the start of a more stable trend.

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 18 (return October 27)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $342

Thoughts: A large increase over last week, but that’s to be expected with the departure date being less than two weeks away. Even so, a sub-$400 transatlantic round trip would’ve been unthinkable before Norwegian.

 

Boston – London Gatwick

Leave on:

  • December 5, 7, 12
  • January (2017) 18, 22, 25, 29
  • February (2017) 15, 20, 22, 26, 27
  • March (2017) 1, 6, 8, 13, 19, 20

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $325

Thoughts: An excellent price on a decent range of dates. Still a great value even with legacy carrier British Airways – whose fares are far lower than usual – getting the attention.

 

Boston – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • November 2-30
  • December 1-8, 12, 13, 29, 30
  • January (2017) 8-31
  • February (2017) 1-3, 5-28
  • March (2017) 1-24

Carrier: British Airways
Price: $508

Thoughts: Down $1 from last week. Better yet, beyond just the dates listed above, there are a number of 2017 dates on which similarly cheap ($511) fares are available – all the way through August 22!

 

Boston – Oslo

Leave on: October 17 (return October 25)

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $304

Thoughts: It broke the $300 mark, and probably won’t come back down this year. Much like the Copenhagen flight, however, this is still a fantastic deal.

 

Boston – Paris

Leave on:

  • November 2-14, 16, 17, 20-23, 25-30
  • December 1-13, 25, 28-30
  • January (2017) 1, 2, 4-6, 8-17, 19-24, 26-31
  • February (2017) 2-7, 9-14, 16, 17, 19-21, 23-28
  • March (2017) 1-10, 12-14, 16-31
  • April (2017) 1-6

Carrier: Air France, Delta Air Lines
Price: $585

Thoughts: Not quite this week’s low-water mark of legacy carrier flights to Europe (that goes to BA and Heathrow), but $585 for Paris is far lower than normal. Very good value for your money.

 

NEW YORK

 

New York JFK and Newark – Amsterdam

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11-31
  • Any date in February
  • March (2017) 1-24, 27-31

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

Thoughts: Slight reduction in March dates. Still the same price.

 

New York JFK – London Heathrow

Leave on:

  • November 2-30
  • December 1-8, 11-18, 24, 28-31
  • January (2017) 5-31
  • Any date in February
  • March (2017) 1-24

Carriers: Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Price: $592

Thoughts: Down $1 from last week and with a bunch more November dates. A bit surprised to see that BA isn’t offering this same fare – then again, they themselves weren’t from Boston, either (BA’s $508 BOS-LHR fare is sold through its American Airlines codeshare).

 

New York JFK and Newark – Munich

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 11-31
  • February (2017) 1-16, 19-31
  • March (2017) 1-24, 26-30

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

Thoughts: Genuinely beginning to wonder if this is the new normal. Well, maybe for these fuel prices?

 

New York JFK – Oslo

Leave on:

  • January (2017) 27, 31
  • February (2017) 3, 5, 7

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $285

Thoughts: This will help this week’s Norwegian Index.

 

New York JFK – Stockholm

Leave on:

  • February (2017) 1, 3, 4, 6, 8

Carrier: Norwegian Air Shuttle
Price: $278

Thoughts: The January dates are gone, but I’m still bullish that the number of dates will expand.

Delta Announces Boston to Dublin Flights: What’s the incentive?

Last week, Delta Air Lines broke the news that it’s slated to begin service between Boston Logan and Dublin. These seasonal flights will be operated by the carrier’s Boeing 757-200 aircraft.

This addition is the latest in a long line of intercontinental coups that Logan has bagged in recent years. Prior to 2012, the airport was primarily known as simply being an access point to other continents, as it only possessed nine destinations in Europe*. Since then, however, Boston has transformed into a true international gateway in the last four years with a number of new European and Asian routes. Here’s a brief recap of the destinations added, along with the airlines that serve those destinations:

2012

  • Tokyo – Japan Airlines

2014

  • Beijing – Hainan Airlines
  • Dubai – Emirates
  • Istanbul – Turkish Airlines

2015

  • Hong Kong – Cathay Pacific
  • Shanghai – Hainan Airlines
  • Tel Aviv – El Al

2016

  • Copenhagen – Norwegian Air Shuttle, Scandinavian Airlines
  • Doha – Qatar Airways
  • Dusseldorf – airberlin
  • Lisbon – TAP Portugal
  • London Gatwick – Norwegian Air Shuttle
  • Manchester, UK – Thomas Cook Airlines
  • Oslo – Norwegian Air Shuttle

That’s 13 new intercontinental destinations, a figure which is even more staggering considering Logan had nine European destinations prior to 2012 – so a 250% increase in destinations.* It should be noted that the five largest European markets – London, Paris, Dublin, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam – all had non stop flights before 2012, so it wasn’t like Logan had a dearth of intercontinental options. However, it is impressive that Massport has been able to bring in so many new carries and establish an AsiaPac presence that – cameos from Korean and El Al aside – didn’t exist.

If you read the various aviation forums, you’ll know that most people don’t really consider Boston to be a Delta “hub.” Their skepticism isn’t off-base, either, as Delta isn’t even the major carrier at the airport (that honor belongs to jetBlue). Moreover, as a major U.S. airline, Delta has an interest in acquiring traffic between Boston and its major transatlantic O+D markets: London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Dublin. And while it has a significant presence in the first three cities listed, BOS-DUB is dominated by Aer Lingus, which has two daily flights between the U.S. and Ireland.

Is this a power move by Delta? Yes and no.

It certainly helps the carrier augment its position as a hub in Boston, and it also solidifies its position as the dominant U.S.-based carrier between Boston and Europe. And while such a designation isn’t really under threat, as the only other U.S. airline to fly between Boston and Europe is American and its seasonal 757 to Paris, Delta will now serve four European destinations from Boston.

That said, even with Delta entering this market, Aer Lingus will still have the majority of market share, both due to brand loyalty and capacity as Aer Lingus operates the Airbus A330, which is significantly larger than the Boeing 757s that Delta will fly on the route. Additionally, BOS-DUB doesn’t have the same number of passengers as BOS-LHR or BOS-CDG. Yet by establishing seasonal service on a smaller aircraft than the Boeing 767s it flies to London and Paris or the Airbus A330 it flies to Amsterdam**, Delta has a low-risk “in” to a market that has traditionally posted very good load factors. So why not give it a shot?

Of course, there are a number of elements that factor into an airline’s decision to launch a route. Even so, this one seems like a no-brainer.

* Including countries in continental Europe, as well as the British Isles. This does not include remote European locations such as Iceland and Portugal’s Azores.

** Yes, the featured image is a Delta Airbus A330, but that was the only free stock image I could find.

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.