Above: Boston, by South Station.
I wrote a week or so ago that I had decided to fly to New York via Boston – I had snagged an astonishingly inexpensive ticket using my some of my accumulated Virgin Atlantic airmiles, costing just £130 on a Delta codeshare flight. The plan was that I would then transfer to Boston’s South Station to catch the 4.5hr Amtrak Regional Service to New York Penn Station for $62 one way. (I could have booked the faster and shinier by 30 minutes Acela Service for $125 but I wasn’t in a rush.)
Even bearing in mind that for my travel dates an economy return ticket was knocking £1000 from Heathrow to JFK, up until my arrival at Boston’s Logan airport, I still wasn’t sure if this was a genius idea, or a frankly terrible one.
Turns out it was genius.
Not only was my Delta flight thirty minutes early, there was no queue at all at Immigration. Because I was travelling on my I Visa (journalist), as opposed to an ESTA waiver, I was concerned I’d get stuck in a massive line.
(Top tip for anyone flying into the US – always try to get a seat as far front as possible so you can get off the plane with maximum celerity, and do not dawdle or, heaven forbid, stop for a wee, en route to Immigration. Not only do you want to be as near to the front of your plane-load of passengers at Immigration as possible, to be first in the line, you want to minimise the chances of being stuck behind an A380-load of non-American/international passengers arriving simultaneously with you. San Francisco and JFK are absolutely the worst for this BTW.)
Immigration done, I exited into the baggage hall to find my case already spinning around the luggage carousel. From there it was just a few hundred yards to the Silverline bus stop to wait for my free 15 minute bus transfer to Boston South Station.
I was then at the railway station just fifty minutes after my scheduled arrival in Boston – and over two hours before the train ticket I had booked to New York. Happily it cost a whole $11 to change to a train in forty minutes’ time. Props to Amtrak for their fully computerised booking service, which meant that the lovely cheery counter staff were able to pull up my named ticket details and change the reservation in minutes. Never in my wildest imaginings could I have imagined being seated on a train just 1hr and fifteen minutes after landing.
All in all this routing via Boston was an excellent plan. (The train cost almost exactly the price of a cab into Manhattan from JFK so even that balanced out.) I’ve often been stuck at JFK for two hours – or more -in Immigration lines so I don’t think it took more than an extra two hours journey time to fly to NYC via Boston. The airmiles ticket was also cheaper than the airmiles ones into New York by $100 AND I didn’t have to take a flight that got me into JFK at 2300hrs, thereby ensuring a horrid arrival at my accommodation around 2am – or later.
I was at the front of the line to get on the train – do bear in mind that the train opens up about fifteen minutes before departure and it leaves exactly on time so if you want a good seat then you need to be there early. I had the choice of loads of legroom in the first seat at the end of the carriage but having to crane my neck to see out, or less leg room and an excellent view out of the window. I took the leg room, and then changed half an hour later when I realised I wanted to gaze at the beautiful New England scenery.
Sneakers: Nike Air Max 1 Women’s Shoe
Backpack: Made in Global (gifted)
Blue Funnel Neck Cashmere Sweater: Princess of Scotland via BrandAlley
(Originally £325, on BA £106)
Black Leggings: James Perse Stretch Pima Cotton
Above: the train travelling through Boston
Above: Heading through Queens to the tunnel under the East River to cross onto Manhattan
I stayed in a cheap and cheerful Airbnb in Chelsea, a few blocks south of Penn, for the first night as I knew that all I would want to do was pass out, and I knew jetlag would have me awake at 5am. Anything more expensive would have been utterly wasted on me, and I didn’t want to arrive at Rachel’s and promptly crash out.
As predicted, I was awake super early so I headed out to a nearby 24hr diner for breakfast. I do love an American diner breakfast.
Full of eggs and avocado, buzzing gently on drip coffee, I walked a few blocks north to Hudson Yards to pick up the keys from the concierge of Rach’s building.
Since I was last in New York, the Hudson Yards development has changed beyond recognition, from holes in the ground to a forest of skyscrapers, pierced at low level by the extension of the Highline (pic bel0w). It’s quite the sight and, if you are fascinated by modern architecture then it’s worth a visit. (There’s a new station on the 7 line – Hudson Yards.)