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#935764 by SlimpyJones
05 Jun 2017, 21:02
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Preamble

The concept of this trip started many moons ago. I'd been meaning to do a trip with my Dad for some time and came up with the idea of going to Boston. The flight is not too far, it's very walkable (my Dad is in a wheelchair so this certainly helped), and it was a new city for me!
Originally the plan was to stay for 5 nights in the downtown area. Dad floated the idea of splitting the trip between a downtown stay and a roadtrip. Which was a great idea. To keep the costs down for both of us I decided to make my first ever reward redemption. In doing so this seemed like a good opportunity to make use of my Economy->Premium upgrade voucher from my Virgin Credit Card.
And thus it was! Upper Class secured on the way out, and redeeming the voucher was nice and easy to get Premium Economy back in exchange for the Economy cost. Although is this really a decent reward given the difference in miles? Not really. I think Premium->Upper would be a better reward. But that's a discussion for another time...
With the flights booked in October '16 for a May departure, over the next few months we sorted an AirBnb, car hire, car transfers, and worked around a few schedule changes. Originally due to depart from LHR around 1pm, the flight was pushed all the way forward to 17:35. Which actually in the long run worked out to be a better arrangement.

Another (very) early start

I had redeemed some miles to give us the car transfer to LHR. For some this may seem like a lousy use of miles but given it saved me over £100 in taxi fees, I have no complaints! Given that the car would only pick up from one location, we concocted an idea whereby Dad would pick me up from Huntingdon early in the morning, and drive me to his house in Milton Keynes and have the Tristar chauffeur pick us up from there.
This worked swimmingly, originally we were worried about the impact of rush hour traffic but this didn't really hamper us at all in the end. The car was scheduled for a 10:30am pickup from MK, and we arrived around an hour before. This gave us time for some last minute packing and some sprucing up.
The car actually arrived early at 10:15 and caught us a little off guard, but we were ready nonetheless. The driver was really helpful with my Dad's wheelchair which was great. And off we set down the M1 to LHR. Traffic was generous to us and we didn't experience any delays at all. On route I attempted to check us in on my phone. Successfully checked Dad in, but the app kept skipping me. We wondered if I had been selected for SSSS...

Clubhouse time

We arrived at the Drivethru Checkin area at around 12, five hours or so ahead of departure. The Upper Class wing was very quiet, with my Dad and I the only guests there. A couple more cars pulled up whilst we were waiting for our bags and my Dad's chair to be checked in. Although we had originally requested assistance we were pleased to be able to take my Dad's chair all the way to the aircraft, rather than risk it being checked into the hold.
Bags checked, boarded passes issued and lo and behold our suspicions were correct. For the first time I had been hit with Secondary Screening. Oh no...!

After worming our way through the Duty Free mire (neither of us interested in any "bargains") we were finally absconded in the Clubhouse. This was my first visit since Christmas Eve the year before, and my Dad's first ever visit. I gave him a quick tour of the main floor, then up to the loft and finally the terrace. I'm glad they have the elevator for folks who can't use the stairs, even though it beeped rather obnoxiously when the door was opened. Dad very impressed!
We decided to rest up at some tables next to the lift, at the area where the pool table used to be. Quickly seen to by staff nearby. I noticed these tables didn't have menus to hand. We had to request them from the serving staff to actually have a look.

I decided on a couple of Tapas dishes, followed by the Lamb Kofta kebab to "start" and then the cod with butterbeans as a main. All of which were delicious. I'm not sure if the food quality has jumped recently but it was restaurant standard. Dad ordered the Ratatouille which was brilliantly presented. We were both very impressed.

ImageDad and his Ratatouille! For the concerned, he was happy to have his picture posted!

Dad had some wine, while I tucked into some Lyan Lager.

I then had a much needed haircut appointment. I'd been waiting two months for this! I sadly was never able to convince Dad to join me for one, he seemed to abhor the idea of a haircut followed by a flight. Very understandable! One of my usual two barbers was looking after me again. She had a chance to talk me through the recent changes to the Clubhouse. At the time, the area around the old concierge desk was boarded off. They were expecting it to open that day with more seats and a new media centre, but unfortunately was delayed to the following, so I missed it by one day! Oh well.

Image
After the haircut Dad and I switched up to a different set of seats, and decided to try some Lanson. I have to be honest here - I've never been much of a champagne person. But given the occasion we decided to give it a go. We were served by a brilliant chap who had only worked at the Clubhouse for a couple of weeks. He had recently joined from Emirates Cabin Crew. We talked a bit about his aspirations to become Virgin Cabin Crew and how they recruited from within, and his best "in", so to speak, was to work in the Clubhouse first. You could tell he came from a Cabin Crew background as he was on top form.

Which reminds me to send some good feedback about him.

After making light work of a few glasses of Lanson (I can see why you folks like it), VS9 to JFK and VS23 to LAX were called and things became a little quieter. Given the assistance Dad needed and my SSSS to deal with, we left a short while before boarding at around 4pm and headed to Gate 21.

Boarding

The gate was deserted when we arrived, so wandered up and down the terminal for a bit and did some plane spotting while we waited. The gate next to us was boarding for Tehran, and had a few flustered gate agents eagerly looking down the terminal, presumably for latecomers. Through the window of Gate 21 we managed to spot G-VZIG which would be taking us to New England today.

When the gate did eventually open, my SSSS adventure was pretty painless. It was approaching 5pm, and boarding was just about to begin when one of the gate agents approach us and offered to take us through to the aircraft along with the other special assistance passengers. Only one jetway in use today, so we boarded through gate L2. We were very pleased to hear that the 787-9s have a special cupboard in the galley specifically for wheelchair storage, so we were able to stash Dad's chair on board without it being gate checked.

Time to go

I had been shifting our seats around in the months before, but after reading Sealink's recent Trip Report (also to Boston) I decided to copy him and opt for 10K for myself, and 11K for my Dad! Both offered good views of the cabin.

ImageThe view from 10K

This was my second time on a 787 in Upper, and the cabin looks very smart indeed. I have my usual gripes about lack of storage. Dad found some things tricky to find, such as the headphone port and how to work the seat. This is another reason why I think the personal introductions are so important, not just because it's good service, but gives the passenger a chance to ask about the seat. Unfortunately, there were no introductions done today.
Nonetheless the seat itself was very comfortable, and the partition walls were low enough that I could still talk to Dad next to me. The Herschel's amenity kit and menu were sat on the ottoman. The amenity kit actually remained unopened, and the menu was the same as the one posted in David's review here, so I won't repeat it, except that the Light Bites menu was slightly smaller.

The chap opposite in 9G wasted no time in removing his shoes and socks to place his crusty and flaky feet on the ottoman. Good thing I wasn't eating at the time.
Flight time announced of 6h 44m, and a load of 173 on board. Upper was full, even though earlier in the day the seat map showed the middle seats wide open! On my wanderings there were 2 or 3 empty seats in Premium, and Economy was roughly half full.

The doors were closed at 17:24, right on time, and pushback a few minutes later, followed by the safety video. Dad loved it! Much better than BA's video, were his thoughts :P

We taxied along for a short while towards 27L and took off at 17:49. After a few minutes the seatbelt sign was turned off, the cabin came to life and service began with the crew taking orders for drinks. I was in the mood for something refreshing so started with a Classic Mojito!

Dinner time

Food orders were taken and I decided to start with the Chicken Kebabs. I was torn between the Beef or Veggie option. In the end the pasta dish won out and ordered the Tortellini.

ImageTortellini Main

I would describe them as "good". The kebabs were a little dry, I think they could have used warming up to soften them a bit. The main was a little disappointing, it just wasn't very exciting. Just to be clear - it wasn't bad - it tasted nice, but it was just a bit boring. It's perfectly possible though that I didn't savour it as much as I could have (as much as you can with dulled tastebuds at thirty-something thousand feet) as I did wolf it down somewhat.
Dad opted for the Salmon for his main which looked very nice, and was equally tasty according to him!
After already having one helping of chocolate & salted caramel in the Clubhouse, dessert was the Key Lime Pie just to mix it up a bit! It was excellent. The Cheese course was not skipped either!

And Relax...

After the meals were cleared away, the cabin turned orange and I reclined back a bit. I caught up with an episode of Better Call Saul that I downloaded to my phone, and once that was out of the way started watching Season 3 of Peaky Blinders on the IFE. Sadly I got ten minutes in when I started feeling very sleepy. I feel it worth mentioning that for some reason my body decided that 3:30am was a great time to wake up in the morning so by this point, I was shattered. I decided to turn the seat into bed mode to get a couple of hour's kip, which didn't take long to materialise, although I needed headphones and music to help me nod off as there was a fairly noisy group at the bar doing a quiz!

As a pretty tall, wide shouldered guy I was pleasantly surprised by the bed - it was actually quite spacious. Although I haven't tried the 787 Upper Class on a night flight yet, I have a feeling I'll be quite comfortable, so +1 for the seat in that regard.

After a couple of hours of on-off dozing, there was only two hours left to go of the flight.

With around an hour or so to go, the cabin crew working our side came round to ask passengers if they were interested in anything else to eat from the Light Bites menu. I went for a round of cakes and a cup of tea. Followed by another round of cakes.... :D It was nice to see them proactively offering the extra food, rather than waiting for folks to ask for it. Perhaps there was too much going uneaten previously?

With only a short while left to go I got up to stretch my legs and walk down towards the back. I haven't been in 787 Economy so decided to take a seat in an empty row. It was actually quite comfortable, although whether I could last 7 hours in one remains to be seen.

As we begun our descent, we were treated to some lovely views of Logan and downtown Boston as we turned around towards the NE runway.

ImageLogan Airport and Downtown Boston

A smooth touchdown followed and then taxied to gate E9 where we parked up at 19:42, a few minutes behind schedule. We waited for the UC cabin to disembark before the crew fished out Dad's wheelchair from the cupboard. It was nice not to have to wait for the entire plane to empty first.
Headed to immigration we were also pleasantly surprised that there was a disabled/handicap/accessible queue at the far end of the immigration hall next to the Global Entry machines, with only a handful of folks in front of us. In the end we had maybe a ten minute wait to be processed.
The bags were already waiting on the carousel by the time we arrived, and then it was off to book an Uber.
My first time using Uber - a super easy process. After we arrived at the Airbnb I realised I had left my rucksack in the car, which prompted some frantic phone calls to the driver, which was also a very easy process! Two thumbs up for Uber then!

Overall, a great but very short flight. This was the shortest long haul flight I've taken so it felt rather uneventful. Ironic given the essay I've just written.
The crew themselves were perfectly nice, friendly and functional and the chap on our side of the cabin worked hard. They were also very helpful and accommodating with Dad's wheelchair which was always a bit of a worry and so they did a great job in making that part of the trip very smooth.
Dad very happy with his first Virgin flight in some 25 years or so!

Thanks for reading. Return trip in PE to follow soon. :)

Image
#935766 by pjh
05 Jun 2017, 21:32
Great TR and pictures. Persuade your dad to have the haircut the next time. I've never had problems after, but then again I have little hair and my treatment in less of a cut and more of a mow.

Let us know what you thought of Boston in your return TR.
#935768 by ScoobySu
05 Jun 2017, 22:04
Thanks Slimpy for a great report - wonderful pictures and so glad your dad enjoyed his first taste of the Clubhouse!

I too am interested to hear what you think of Boston - it's being considered for next year!
#935769 by hiljil
06 Jun 2017, 06:59
Thank you for your interesting TR . So pleased your father enjoyed it all ! Lovely photos too. Hope the return flight was as good.
#935787 by Sealink
06 Jun 2017, 15:09
Great report and glad you had a good time.
I absolutely loved Boston, and the Heathrow Clubhouse.
Hopefully you'll get a chance to sample the Boston one. No windows, but somehow it doesn't matter!
#935836 by tomthumb
07 Jun 2017, 21:09
Fantastic trip report and Boston is a great city
#935841 by DocRo
07 Jun 2017, 23:51
Thanks - great detail in the reports
I always like Boston - hope you had a great time
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