BOS IPT the long way

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by violist, Apr 2, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    BOS-IAD-SFO-ORD-PHL-IPT cost not so much more than
    BOS-IPT alone, and by routing through Dulles I got a
    bunch more miles and the chance to fly on the three-cabin
    triple. All I lost was a day of my life, but I got a fair
    amount of enjoyment out of it.

    UA 282 BOS IAD 0545 0728 752 2F Ch9^^ Empower:td:

    A line of thirty at security. Reasonably quick. I timed
    things right - got to the gate 10 minutes ahead at which
    time the new multistage boarding was being minutely
    described to the assembled multitude. The procedure itself
    was a cluster as expected, with Visa card holders and those
    horrid lowly Premier Executives or whatever they call
    themselves clogging up the still-red carpet and having to
    give way to the 24 overentitled F passengers and assorted
    Global Services and 1Ks and Platinums of various kinds. A
    slightly threadbare but familiarly comfortable plane.

    The captain enthusiastically recommended that we listen in
    to air traffic control on Channel 9. As this is one of my
    favorite things to do on the airplane, I gleefully complied.

    I remembered the jolly but ditzy FA from a previous flight;
    she had to come back to recheck after I requested orange
    juice ... this sort of thing happened on the previous
    encounter as well. Very agreeable; I mentioned to my bud KK
    on that first trip that she reminded me of her but of course
    nowhere near as on the ball. I don't know if there was any
    onboard service, as I slept through the flight, with the
    comforting sounds of Channel 9 in my ears.

    UA 846 IAD SFO 0825 1121 777 9K Ch9^^ Empower^^

    They had switched out to the new configuration 777,
    generally a source of great rejoicement, as one gets a
    (gasp) bed to snooze away one's day in; unfortunately I
    prefer the old version seats. This aircraft does have
    regular 110V outlets rather than the weird Empower ports,
    which is many points in its favor.

    Though this was a newly refurnished aircraft, my seat had
    been worn into a deep bucket, or perhaps the business-class
    buttocks that they were designed for are larger than mine by
    a fair margin. Anyhow, the sitting was rather uncomfortable,
    but the lying down was much better (but I had not intended
    to do so).

    Again, Channel 9 was announced from the cockpit.

    After a bumpy start, a most overcooked breakfast, probably
    the result of the flight attendants having to stay seated
    longer then normal.

    The usual egg puck, not bad tasting, was more resilient than
    usual; on the side was this utterly horrid sausage made out
    of what seem to be mechanically separated meat, undersalted,
    and nuked to an especially unappetizing shade of gray - I
    wouldn't be surprised if it came out that it was woodchuck
    or human or spotted owl flesh.

    The au gratin potato, which I usually find the best part
    of this meal, was ruined by being adulterated with ground-up
    broccoli but redeemed (double ruined for me) by a nice layer
    of deeply browned cheese on top.

    On the side, a reasonably flaky croissant that had been made
    with margarine, so the side packet of butter was necessary.

    Some kind of pink yogurt in a nice china dish (as opposed to
    the plastic carton of yore) - I ignored this of course.

    The fruit appetizer, which I usually eat last, because of
    its initial almost frozen coldness, was notable for superbly
    sweet and tasty grapes.

    One flight attendant with whom I have had issues (last time
    I left him cringing in the corner) was working this flight,
    and I noticed that he avoided my glare. Later on in the trip
    he put on sunglasses (!) before approaching and asking me if
    I would like something to drink. I said Courvoisier, and all
    was well. I don't think I'm making this up.

    We landed a few minutes early. It's generally the flights
    that I wouldn't mind staying on that land early.
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  2. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Eminent FTMMer goalie was by to fetch me. He owed me lunch for
    some reason, and after an initial suggestion of Max's, we
    decided, based on the niceness of the day, to go down past
    the Hilton to Kincaid's, whose main dining room has a great
    view over the bay (and incidentally, the landing patterns
    at the airport). The food was tertiary to the view and the
    company, and I completely forget what I had - it wasn't
    much, because there was dinner to come I think I got an
    appetizer (maybe not even that) and a big Sierra Nevada.
    goalie said his burger was good.

    We enjoyed the view for a while, but that eventually gets
    old. As I had a few hours before meeting my friends for
    dinner, he let me use his apartment for a shower and a
    nap - his place is up in the Panhandle so fairly convenient
    to Chinatown, where my dinner was to be.

    The Fish and Elisa had had their wedding rehearsal dinner
    at Oriental Pearl a few months ago, so we decided to meet
    up there, as no doubt they would be recognized by the
    management, and we would be treated extra specially. As
    it turns out, they weren't, but we were served well anyhow.

    I got to the restaurant plenty early, but tom911 was even
    earlier. We camped out on the sidewalk in front for a while,
    waiting for the ever-glamorous l'etoile, who was also a
    little early and was followed in short order by Elisa, who
    had said she'd be late but had gotten out of work early no
    problem and driven up from Silicon Valley with easy traffic.
    The Fish, who it was intimated would be early, was the last
    to arrive, and we trooped up for our reservation for a round
    table for six. magic111 was supposed to be there but had
    sent a vague e-mail excuse; I'd been looking forward to
    seeing him after many months. Especially sadly, it turns out
    a week or so later he was dead of a heart attack.

    l'etoile is a veggie who mourns for the pig on the plate but
    is perfectly happy to dine next to the pig who has the pig
    on his plate, if he's sufficiently entertaining, so we got
    a mixed but mostly non-vegetarian meal.

    Vegetarian egg rolls were crisp, done in hot, reasonably
    fresh oil, filled with cabbage. It's amazing that vegetarians
    can eat as much cabbage as they do without polluting the
    atmosphere in an exceedingly bovine way.

    Vegetarian steamed dumplings filled with mushroom, carrot,
    and of course cabbage were pretty good.

    Regular steamed dumplings had a blander pork mixture than I
    favor and needed sauce of some kind - I used hot oil, the
    others used mostly ginger-steeped soy or red ginger vinegar.

    Shanghai small soup dumplings - the specialty of the house;
    they were good but nothing special, the wrapper trying as
    with all of this ilk to skirt between chewy and fragile.
    These were both chewy and fragile.

    Fish and Elise wanted fried squid with spicy salt: rather
    heavy but quite tasty, a B- version.

    tom911, recently returned from Asia I believe, wanted to try
    the sliced pork with lotus root, the meat heavily coated
    with cornstarch guck, seasoned with soy and a bunch of MSG,
    and stir-fried slowly and greasily with thin slices of that
    peculiarly tender and crunchy vegetable. Oddly, the taste
    was superb, and this might have been the best of the dishes.

    Chinese broccoli with Chinese sausage and smoked pork belly
    was my choice. Again, the taste was excellent, but the
    texture this time had flaws, those being, in a nutshell,
    tough vegetable, tough sausage, and tough pork belly.
    A little effort hydrating things would have yielded big
    payout, including the opportunity for the restaurant to
    serve a smaller portion.

    The vegetarian offering was fried tofu puff with black
    mushrooms, comforting and pretty good.

    Beverages of the day were Heinekens for tom911 and me,
    umbrella drinks for the rest of them.

    The Fish required that we get sesame balls for dessert -
    these were the usual thing, chewy rice dough stuffed with
    bean paste, rolled in sesame, and fried. I too love 'em.

    As everyone had been prompt, even with leisurely service
    and a couple extra drinks we had plenty of chatting time,
    but as always, I had a plane to catch.
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  3. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    The Fish got me to the airport in jig time - it was not a
    long way out of his way, as he and Elise live somewhere
    around San Bruno anyway.

    UA 266 SFO ORD 2300 0503 752 2F Ch9:td: Empower:td:

    Security was pretty crowded. I didn't help things by
    forgetting I had two canlets of grapefruit juice leftover
    from breakfast. Could I chug the stuff right there? No: I
    was given the option of yielding the contraband or going
    outside to the back of the line. I did the former,
    consoling myself at the club with several glasses of
    extremely watered-down Pass-o-Guava. After a half
    hour of unaccustomed hydrating, I headed off to the gate.
    Boarding was a bit of a scrum, and I couldn't force my
    way forward until around zone 2 despite being right in
    the area at the beginning of boarding. There's something
    about this airport that brings out the worst in people.

    Upon settling into my place I vaguely heard claims that a
    snack in the form of pasta salad was going to be served, but
    I ignored that tantalization and went right to sleep.
    Midflight I woke with a certain sense of urgency - delayed
    Lasix effect perhaps, coupled with Pass-o-Guava - and had to
    parcour it over my seatmate, who had sprawled about (as was
    his right) and fallen snoringly asleep. On the way back I was
    unable to reverse my route so had to wake the guy after all.

    I had no idea what time it was when we landed, but someone
    out there was having a conversation the gist of which being
    that he couldn't meet for breakfast because he had a 0630
    flight. Panic time - mine was at 0600. As I was right near
    the club and couldn't find a working monitor, I rushed to
    the desk and was incoherent enough to cause a less than
    pleasant encounter ... all was okay, though, when it turned
    out it was only about 0530 and this guy I'd overheard was
    just blowing the other person off, and I apologized to
    the agent for being incoherent and rude.

    UA 376 ORD PHL 0600 0857 320 2F Ch9^^ Empower:td:

    A goodish flight (Courvoisier-aided), which I managed
    to sleep halfway through. The captain announced proudly
    that there was going to be air traffic control on Channel
    9, for which I was thankful, as it is about as nice a
    lullaby as I know.

    As I'd had enough booze I went to the big US Air Club for a
    lovely breakfast of Quaker baked apple flavored instant
    oatmeal and acrid coffee.

    US4118 PHL IPT 1115 1208 DH8 4F

    This flight is always dicey - the anticipated influx of
    business from the gas guys just hasn't happened - too many
    private jets perhaps; and the weather is often dubious. In
    this case it was another obvious beat the clock situation,
    so we loaded up in a hurry and were out of there in a hurry,
    which is good. The last time we had done this, the plane had
    turned around on the runway, snow having started, and that
    blew our chances (weird explanation also, that Williamsport
    had not got the appropriate kind of deicing equipment).
    Anyhow, this time we took off into spitting rain, and I
    breathed a second sigh of relief when we lurched into
    the air for our often problematic 129-mile flight.

    We landed in a moderate snowstorm, complete with shoetop slush.
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  4. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Annie was there to pick me up, and after a slightly adventurous
    ride, I was ready for adult beverages:

    Lao beer - from the first taste you can tell it's southeast
    Asian; hoppier than some. Like somewhat skunked Thai beer. Not
    worth any extra effort, but I'd not kick it out of my glass.
    Funny, though, to go to Williamsport PA for Lao beer.

    Yuengling bock - somewhat darker, sweeter, and quite a bit
    maltier than the regular version. Apparently a special that has
    worked its way onto the regular list.

    Hofbrau dunkel - after a tiny aroma of rotten egg, this turned
    out to be a pleasant unspecial Bavarian product, meant to be
    drunk in vast quantity, the second tasting better than the
    first, the third tasting better than the second.

    Sunkist diet orange soda - this did a pretty good impression of
    a nondiet soda, and I was impressed: it accomplishes this by
    using several sweeteners, including I believe a minuscule amount
    of somethingose. Unfortunately, as I discovered later, it
    is also shot full of caffeine, which puts it into the adult
    category, at least for me.

    After visiting for a while and the obligatory afternoon zone out,
    I was presented with inch-and-half thick ribeyes for dinner and
    managed to overcook mine and make everyone else's perfectly.
    Annie made very buttery hash browns to go with. No vegetable
    except for me.

    A few uneventful days catered with lots of beer, beef, and
    chocolate, and then it was back to the salt mines. This is the
    one chroniclable meal of the stay:

    Le Jeune Chef, the training facility of the culinary arts
    program of the local branch of Penn State, is one of the
    dining destinations of town. You go in to a facility that
    looks like a baby-boom-built high school, and once stepping
    across the threshold, you get the full faux French restaurant
    experience: mood lighting, overearnest young waiters, a
    sommelier who doesn't know what is on offer, and a dropped
    glass or two, all accompanied by tinkle pianist.

    We'd tried to get reservations for French night, but it was
    sold out, so we settled for the next occasion, New Orleans
    night, which had much less of a following. We met up with
    some of Annie's old friends, some of whom had had pull enough
    to have gotten a table for the previous night and who were
    sort of bowed back into the restaurant. We got seated at the
    most prominent table, a roundie for 8 to 10 that you can't
    miss when you come in the front door. Unfortunately, Billy
    was feeling under the weather and chose to punt the evening,
    and one of the other guests had a meeting that he'd forgotten
    about and so didn't show, and we were down to 7.

    The starters were rabbit strudel with housemade barbecue sauce
    or duck ham. Annie kicked up a fuss about having to choose
    between two cute animals to eat but eventually went for Donald
    the quack rather than Peter Cottontail: it was of a perfectly
    good standard. The strudel was not overcrisp, and the dish was
    sort of like a chicken pot pie though not so substantial. The
    bbq sauce was more tomatoey than out of a bottle. Fortunately,
    it was mostly on the side.

    Following at a decent interval was the soup course, gumbo, or
    cream of chicken soup for the really unadventurous. The gumbo
    consisted of one each oyster, shrimp, slice of andouille,
    shred of chicken, and okra slice in a pretty flavorful but
    slightly too salty and slightly too sweet fish and tomato broth.

    A salad course: jambalaya salad - crawfish (firm, fairly sweet,
    possibly USA) and sausage rice bound with a little mayo, served
    at room temp, not a tour de force but rather more of a stomach
    filler; or seafood Caesar, of which I saw none.


    Quail with crab stuffing - a split bird (1) done medium well
    but with no crisping on the outside; the stuffing was bready,
    peppery, salty, with shreds of what might have been crab but
    not tasting bad, and in fact rather crabby as if hydrated
    with crab broth.

    Chicken cordon bleu with Cajun seasoning - there were a couple
    of these over the other side of the table.

    Crawfish etouffee with dirty rice seemed to meet the approval
    of the ones of us who had it. I wasn't within stealing distance
    of any, as it was a big table and we were spread out.

    There was a fourth choice which none of us had.

    The vegetable of the day for everyone was collards cooked with
    pork, pretty decent.

    They offer wines by the glass in sets of one, two, or
    three. I got a two-glass flight. On the menu display these
    are described by varietal only, no origin, vintage, or other
    information, so a bit of a leap of faith. I ordered what
    was characterized on the menu as Chenin/Viognier. Who knows
    what it really was, so I called the guy over. He had no idea
    what I was talking about and denied they offered a
    Chenin/Viognier until I explained it in words of one syllable
    with the visual aid of the menu. It was off anyway, and I
    ended up with an alternative selection that tasted like
    perfumed water. Most of the others at table were smart and
    had various bottled beers. Pinot Noir was your usual slightly
    underconcentrated California participle noun stuff, going
    quite nicely with the quail. The pours were very short, which
    was not such a big deal given the quality of the wines, the
    best that the Pennsylvania state liquor store has to offer
    for less than ten bucks a bottle.

    The creme caramel was off, which made life easy for me, as
    it is both the most dairyful and poisonous and also my
    favorite of the offered desserts.

    Instead I had (a rather lackluster) chocolate soup with
    (good-tasting but slightly rubbery) coffee flan and fresh
    fruit; the fruit were strawberries and a blueberry or two.

    The other desserts were blueberry ice cream with lemon
    custard sauce and cherry cobbler with vanilla ice cream,
    both pronounced good, though the latter ice cream came as
    strawberry, which strikes me as not going well, but nobody

    The bill was modest by French restaurant standards but
    quite elevated by local ones.

    Funny thing - you go to the back right of the room past
    the bar for the restrooms, and at the very back is a door
    that is propped open; behind it is the real world and what
    looks like a high-school gym.
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  5. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    US4118 IPT PHL 1228 1323 DH8 3D

    I had planned on having half an hour for a beer with my
    friends Peter and Mike at the club bar, but that was not to
    be. The little propster we were to fly out on was there only
    a few minutes late, so we filed in to the tiny security area
    at the one gate at this airport, but as often happens on
    this airline, there was a maintenance issue and no mechanic
    within miles, so the call went out. To give the staff here
    credit, they were as on top of things as they could be, and
    every 15 minutes or so they updated us on where the mechanic
    was and came out with boarding passes for the next wave of
    inconvenienced passengers. We loaded up and took off about
    90 minutes late, enough so that I was in some danger of
    missing my rebooking. Luckily we made up some time on the
    way, easy to do when they schedule 65 minutes for a
    25 minute trip.

    US 723 PHL BOS 1515 1632 E90 8C
    was US1634 PHL BOS 1415 1535

    I have no idea how I ended up in this less than optimal
    seat. Must have something to do with my misconnecting
    off the previous flight. To be perfectly frank, though,
    the seat was just fine, and I'm just a tad spoiled by
    sitting in the front as much as I do (there's going to
    be less of this this year, as I dropped down to Gold
    from Platinum).
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  6. mht_flyer
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    mht_flyer Gold Member

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    What gate was the Red carpet at BOS? I flew out there 2 Sundays ago and the gates I was at had the grey Premier Access lines there.

    FWIW I thought the BOS-ORD flight (to be fair Sunday morning) boarded just fine.
  7. mht_flyer
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    mht_flyer Gold Member

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    By the way, BOS-IAD-SFO-ORD-PHL-IPT that's a awesome routing to get from Boston to Williamsport! :)
  8. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    This report was from February. Not sure about the gate, but at the
    end of the corridor, you turn right at the end. 21?

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