Two Records: The 29-minute flight and $96.20 jetBlue Round Trip

As someone who enjoys flying (and traveling in general), I’m always poking around looking for deals. I didn’t travel much as a kid, and I figure that — given that I’m in my early 20s — now is the ideal time to do it. Mind you, I’m not flying every weekend or anything; I don’t think that I could handle such a lifestyle energy-wise, let alone financially. However, if the right offer comes along, I’m inclined to try and make it work.

As such, I was looking through Google flights one day to try to see what I could get. After a bit of plug-and-play with some various dates, I found a BOS-EWR round trip flown by jetBlue for $96.20. Granted, this would be a “fly out Saturday AM, fly back Sunday AM” sort of deal, but I figured that I could go visit a friend in New Jersey to make it worth my while. As it was, everything worked out logistically to meet up — so I decided to take the plunge.

What made this trip worth it? As a kid, I always had this conception of airline flights being many hundreds of dollars. And while part of that might have had to do with the fact that my recollections are based on the days where the Portland Jetport didn’t have a single low-cost carrier in its ranks, I still have always associated flights with dollar amounts greater than 100. So when I found a flight that was less than $100 round trip, I figured that I had to take it.

December 12, 2015

The trip down was pretty routine. I left my front door at exactly 5:00 a.m., and was at Logan and through security within 27 minutes. We started boarding around 6:05, and taxied off to Runway 22R a short while later. Around 6:42, after an uneventful rotation, we were airborne.

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Flying out of Boston on the PATSS4 departure. (FlightAware.com)

We flew the PATSS4 departure, making a left turn shortly after departure, flying around the South Shore, before coming back over land around Cohasset. Sitting on the right side of the aircraft, I was able to see I-90 running parallel to us, as well as the Quabbin Reservoir near Amherst. Interestingly, I was quite familiar with the QUABN3 arrival into Boston, as well as waypoint QUABN near Concord, but I never knew where the actual reservoir was located, nor how big it was. We then flew pretty much right over Hartford, CT, and into New York State a little bit, before banking to the left to start our arrival into EWR.

After a long, gradual descent, and a touch of irony given the runway used for takeoff in Boston, we landed on Runway 22R at 7:29 a.m. 47 minutes in the air — not bad!

December 13, 2015

Much like the previous day’s flight, I arrived at the airport about 90 minutes before the flights — so around 7 a.m. While Newark is slightly more congested than Logan, it wasn’t that bad for a Sunday morning, and so I was through security in a reasonable amount of time. Boarding happened a short while later, and I settled in my seat, again on the right of the aircraft.

We were in a small line holding short of Runway 4R; certainly a longer wait than I’d had the day before at Logan. Then again, that was likely something to do with the fact that we were scheduled to take off before 7 a.m., as opposed to the more “sane” time of 8:36 a.m. As it was, we waited for about 10 minutes, before lining up, setting TOGA power, and rotating.

The E190 is an intriguing aircraft. Despite being a regional jet for all intents and purposes, it is deceptively powerful, at least in terms of the volume of its engine during takeoff. What’s also interesting about the aircraft is that it has 100 seats — a lot for a regional jet — in a 2-2 configuration, yet somehow retains a feeling of roominess and comfort not usually synonymous with regional aircraft, even if the E190 is a larger regional jet. It could have just been my perception; I suppose that’s what sitting in leather seats does to you.

Regardless, we seemed to gain altitude pretty quickly, and I could see a passenger train entering the North River Tunnels on its way to Penn Station. At that point, I turned my attention to the Aston Villa vs. Arsenal Premier League match that was on jetBlue’s seatback TV. That’s another thing that I’ve always enjoyed about jetBlue — great IFE and good amenities, to boot.

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Aston Villa vs. Arsenal on the seatback TV.

Like many flights involving both the New York and Boston areas, we didn’t reach a particularly high altitude. Before I knew it, we were beginning our descent into Logan, and from looking at the map on the seatback TV I could tell that we would be arriving from the south.

As we descended over Hingham, I realized that we would be coming in for a Runway 33L landing. Unless I’m mistaken, the last time I’d landed on that runway was back when my father and I came back from England in 2004. Either way, our descent was short and uneventful, and we hit the ground at 9:14 a.m. — precisely 29 minutes after we had left the ground.

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Arriving from Newark on Runway 33L. (FlightAware.com)

While the fact that we spent less than a half-hour in the air was impressive, it also meant that our gate was still occupied. As it was, we spent about 15 minutes waiting on the tarmac for it to open up — which was perfect for me, as I was able to watch the remainder of the first half of the match. Like clockwork, the half ended about a minute before we parked at the gate.

All in all, this wasn’t an exceptional flight in terms of the size of the aircraft, the novelty of the route, or any other obvious superlatives. However, it was pretty cool to be able to book a round-trip flight for less than $100, and spending less than a half-hour in the air was definitely noteworthy. For those reasons, I’d say it was definitely a trip worth taking.