Boston Goes Global: From Logan to the World

From Little Old Logan, New Englanders Can Now Reach Hong Kong, Istanbul, Tel Aviv and Beyond.

UPDATE: December 1, 2017

The list of international destinations from Boston-Logan just keeps getting longer. Last spring, after Avianca launched Logan’s first-ever nonstop to South America (a daily service to Bogota), some of us wondered if more South American destinations might be on tap. “What’s still to come?” I asked, then promptly answered my own question: “A route to Brazil would be the obvious choice, considering the large Brazilian population in the metro area.” I hadn’t heard any rumblings of this. It just seemed like a good idea.

TAM, the Brazilian carrier, thought so too. The carrier will begin nonstops from Boston to Sao Paulo this coming summer. The daily route will kick off using a Boeing 767, switching to a larger 787 or Airbus A350, TAM says, if demand grows as expected.

That’d be LATAM, technically, as TAM has joined forces with the Chilean-based carrier LAN. LAN, or LAN-Chile as it was known for decades, is/was one of the oldest airlines in the world. The Brazilian side of the operation, TAM, began operations as an air taxi company in 1961. Together, the LATAM group operates 160 aircraft to 70 cities across the Americas and Europe.

So what’s next in my crystal ball? Now that Korean Air is partnered up with Delta, this Wise One sees Korean reintroducing its Boston-Incheon service.


April 6, 2017

IT HAS BEEN SAID that the real measure of a city’s greatness has nothing to do with its cultural or civic institutions, its establishments of higher learning, or the prominence of any businesses or industry. No, what really counts is how many foreign cities you can fly to from its airport.

Who said such a thing? I did. Is it true? Of course not. Not entirely, anyway, though air routes to far-flung places do lend a city a certain prestige. There’s something exciting, even a touch glamorous, that comes with being able to reach some distant foreign capital direct from your home town.

Which makes me proud to be a Bostonian, because over the past few years, the pace of international expansion out of Boston’s Logan International Airport has been nothing if not unprecedented, turning BOS into a truly global airport.

It all got going in 2012, when Japan Airlines inaugurated flights from Boston to Tokyo’s Narita Airport — the first-ever nonstop between Boston and Asia. Massport (the state agency that manages Logan), along with local city and business leaders, had been coveting an Asian route for some time. Carriers kept balking, afraid of committing a long-range aircraft to a route with questionable potential: The longer a flight is, the higher the operating costs, and the more seats an airline needs to fill (Boston-Tokyo is double the distance of Boston-London). Boston isn’t a terribly big city, and Logan isn’t much of a hub, with limited domestic feed. Understandably, airlines were nervous about such an endeavor. American Airlines had planned a Tokyo flight back in 2001, only to shelve it in the wake of the terror attacks.

Finally in 2012, JAL gave us a chance, launching BOS-NRT with its brand-new Boeing 787 (this was the first international service in the U.S. using the 787). The 787 is a medium-sized jet of modest capacity, but its outstanding per-seat fuel efficiency can make a flight like this profitable. The plane’s early technical troubles notwithstanding, flights are full and the route seems to be thriving. I took the JAL flight shortly after its launch, and wrote about it here.

The following summer, Panama’s Copa Airlines added Boston to its network with a daily flight to Panama City — our first nonstop to mainland Latin America. Most of you probably never heard of Copa, but it’s a well-respected carrier with a fleet of around 80 aircraft. Copa runs a busy hub out of PTY, with onward connections throughout Central and South America. (You’ll notice Copa’s blue and gold paint scheme bears a striking resemblance to that of United, due to an earlier arrangement between Copa and Continental Airlines, which merged with United in 2010.)

In the months that followed, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, and Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines joined the party. The latter now uses 787s on nonstop to Beijing and Shanghai. In 2015 came AeroMexico, Cathay Pacific and El Al. (Emirates had doubled its service with both evening and morning departures to Dubai, but has since cut back again to once-daily.)


On Emirates, now the world’s largest carrier in terms of international traffic, passengers can connect via Dubai to cities throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Australia. Similarly, On Turkish Airlines, New Englanders can fly nonstop to Istanbul, one of the most fascinating and historic cities on earth, or they can connect to any of dozens of destinations in the Middle East, Central and South Asia. Turkish is a fast-expanding airline that already flies to more countries than any other carrier (95 at last count), and its service and reliability are considered among the best.

On JAL, Cathay Pacific and Hainan Airlines, travelers can transfer to dozens of destinations across Asia. Cathay, based in Hong Kong, is one of the oldest and most prestigious airlines in Asia. Hainan Airlines isn’t as well-known, but it’s one of only eight airlines to garner “5-Star” status in the prestigious SkyTrax rankings.

It doesn’t stop there…

Qatar Airways began flying to Boston in March, 2016, using the brand-new Airbus A350 — the first A350 route anywhere in the United States. As with Emirates and Turkish, Qatar offers a huge network of connection options through its Doha hub.

TAP, the Portuguese carrier, is here now as well. I can remember TAP 707s pulling into terminal E when I was a kid. The airline withdrew from Boston in the 1990s, but has finally returned, with A330s to Lisbon.

In addition, last spring, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) launched a nonstop flight to Copenhagen. Er, well, sort of. The flight is actually operated on behalf of SAS by a Swiss company called PrivatAir. The airplane is the small-bodied, long-range “BBJ” (Boeing Business Jet) variant of the 737, configured for only 86 passengers, with 20 business class seats and a spacious, 66-seat economy cabin.

Boston is also one of only two U.S. cities served by Azores Airlines (also called SATA). You can fly from Logan to Ponta Delgada, on the island of Sao Miguel, and onward to several other spots in the Azores chain, or to Europe.

And let’s not forget WOW Air. Yeah, that’s a real thing, a low-cost outfit running flights to Reykjavik, Iceland, for ninety-nine bucks — and the latest entrant in the race-to-the-bottom trend of stupid airline names. (In the summer high season, Icelandair flies triple-daily from Boston, meaning there are four — four! — nonstops each day to windy Keflavik, the airport serving the Icelandic capital.)

Starting in June, 2017, Avianca, the oldest airline in the America’s, will launch nonstops to the Colombian capital of Bogota — the first-ever flight from Boston to South America.

All of this, not to mention a dozen or so more “traditional” routes into Europe, from Paris to Zurich to Munich. British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, Iberia, Swiss, et al — all of the major European players are here (save for KLM, which relies on codeshare service through its partner Delta).

Once upon a time, BOS was a second or third-tier international airport, with a handful of late-in-the-day departures to Western Europe. Nowadays, each afternoon and evening, the lineup of colorful tails at Terminal E looks more like JFK or LAX.

This is exciting stuff for air travel enthusiasts like me, and good news for consumers. Whether they’re headed to Turkey or Turkmenistan, Bali or Bangladesh, New Englanders now have a trove of connection options through some of the world’s most friendly and convenient transit hubs.

Less impressed, however, are the mainline American carriers, who find an increasing number of travelers, including many high-end first and business class flyers, migrating to their foreign competitors. The continuing expansion of state-supported airlines like Emirates and Qatar has generated a sometimes fierce resentment both from U.S. and European airlines, who argue that lavish government subsidies have permitted them to take a huge and unfair advantage over the legacy carriers. See here for more.

Meanwhile, last winter, a group called the Alliance for Workers Against Repression Everywhere (AWARE) was running full and half-page ads in the local papers, accusing Qatar Airways of exploiting its workforce — particularly its female employees. Such accusations are not new for the Persian Gulf carrier, and have dogged companies like Emirates as well.

Last summer, Norwegian Air, another controversial carrier, commenced flights from Boston to multiple cities in Europe and the Caribbean, using both Boeing 787 and 737 aircraft. The gripe with Norwegian is a complicated and ongoing battle, mainly involving “flag of convenience” labor issues. It remains to be seen which, and how many, destinations this airline will ultimately be permitted to serve from U.S. cities.

And is it true, as some have argued, that Massport has been subsidizing the new routes by granting allowances not available to U.S. airlines? Virtually all of the recent expansion has come from foreign carriers taking advantage of Massport’s International Air Service Incentive Program, which offers incentives such as landing fee rebates and marketing assistance to carriers that add flights to currently unserved destinations.

“Absolutely not,” says Matthew Brelis, Massport’s Media Relations Director. “Massport’s program is open to all scheduled air carriers,” explains Brelis. “We secured unanimous support from all of Logan’s carriers in advance of introducing the program in 2008, including our domestic carriers. The program is designed to attract nonstop service to new regions of the globe, not divert from our existing carriers, and by all accounts it has been quite successful.” Brelis says the new routes are generating more than a billion dollars in annual economic benefit to the region.

Brelis says that Massport has tried to get American carriers to open new international routes, but when it comes to thinner international routes, they prefer to fly from their hubs rather than from “focus cities” like Boston.

International flights into Logan arrive at Terminal E. In the old days this building was called the John A. Volpe International Terminal, named for a former Massachusetts governor. Then, as now, it is the only terminal at the airport with customs and immigration facilities, and it’s home to all of Logan’s overseas carriers. (The cluster of gates at the eastern tip were once the home of Braniff, Northwest, and until fairly recently, Southwest Airlines.)

Passing the TSA checkpoint one enters the building’s older section, which is more or less as I remember it from years ago, with lots of gray cladding and segmented windows staring towards Revere. The check-in hall, however, is entirely new. The spacious, wood-panel interior is softly lit and, unlike most U.S. terminals, blissfully quiet. This is Logan’s most impressive terminal, if not one of the handsomest in the country.

Things have become so busy at Terminal E that the building runs out of gate space each afternoon, requiring planes to be towed to and from remote stands. There’s currently a large expansion project going on at the terminal’s northern end that will add several sorely needed jetways. Two of those new jetways will allow upper-deck access to the Airbus A380.

Logan's Terminal E. Photo by the author.

Logan’s Terminal E. Photo by the author.

Granted, having a big, busy airport doesn’t automatically qualify your city as world-class (whatever that means exactly). Take poor Detroit, for example. Geography, as much as anything else, determines where carriers place their hubs. But in some ways that just makes Logan’s route map even more impressive, because BOS isn’t an international hub for anybody. Its traffic is self-generated, not funneled in from dozens of other cities. Little old Logan ought to feel proud.

I say “little old,” which I hope isn’t insulting. I’m just being friendly. My fondness for Logan goes back to my adolescence, when on weekends it became a sort of second home.

Size and sentimentality aside, it’s hard to argue, objectively, that BOS isn’t one of the better major airports in the country. It’s clean, attractive, well organized, and unlike most American airports it has reasonably efficient public transit connections to the city. It also has the world’s coolest-looking control tower.

For the record, Logan places 19th nationally and 33rd globally measured by the number of takeoffs and landings, and in terms of total passengers we’re out of the top 50. No, BOS will never be a global player the likes of JFK, Amsterdam, Heathrow or Bangkok, but all things considered, we’re doing pretty well.

Photo by the author.


Memories of Routes Past

On the downside, until recently BOS had been the sole U.S. destination for little-known TACV (Transportes Aereos Cabo Verde), the national airline of Cape Verde, with weekly nonstops between Logan and Praia, on the island of Santiago. That route has been moved to Providence, Rhode Island, of all places, catering to the large Cape Verdean diaspora there.

Similarly, TACA pulled out of Logan not long ago after its San Salvador flights didn’t prove profitable. Korean Air’s one-stop to Seoul-Incheon didn’t last long either.

In the early 1980s, shortly before its demise, Braniff International operated a transatlantic mini-hub at Logan. Braniff’s brightly colored 747s and DC-8s (Alexander Calder once hand-painted a Braniff DC-8) flew nightly to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels and Amsterdam. They called it the “Boston Gateway,” though by most accounts it was a financial disaster, and one of the final nails in Braniff’s coffin.

Northwest, which is today part of Delta, had a similar operation at BOS that lasted about ten years, beginning in the late 1980s, with 747s and DC-10s flying to Amsterdam, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Glasgow and Shannon. Today, Delta’s Amsterdam service is the only surviving vestige of this network (Delta’s London and Paris flights are recent additions; the Amsterdam service has been uninterrupted since its launch in 1989).

Poking elsewhere around the airline graveyard, we remember that Pan Am flew to London, and TWA to London, Paris and Rome. Swissair took us to Zurich (the new Swiss International does the same). Sabena had nonstops to Brussels, and Olympic Airways once connected Boston with Athens.

What’s still to come?

A route to Brazil would be the obvious choice, considering the large Brazilian population in the metro area. Easier said than done, however. The Brazilian government is picky when it comes to granting air rights to and from U.S. cities Even with such rights, a large ethnic base does not necessarily equate to a profitable service. There might be plenty of Brazilians looking to visit family in the old country, but economy class margins are tiny, and carriers want a guarantee of strong, business-oriented premium cabin traffic (first and business class) before they’ll open up a long-range route.

But who knows. Not all that long ago, places like Dubai, Tokyo and Istanbul would have seemed longshots at best.


(As of summer 2017. Excludes Canadian and Caribbean destinations. Winter frequencies may be different.)

Amsterdam    Delta (twice daily)
Beijing    Hainan Airlines
Bogota    Avianca
Copenhagen    SAS
Copenhagen    Norwegian
Doha    Qatar Airways
Dubai    Emirates
Dublin    Aer Lingus (twice daily)
Dublin    Delta
Dusseldorf    AirBerlin
Frankfurt    Lufthansa (twice daily)
Hong Kong    Cathay Pacific
Istanbul    Turkish Airlines
Lisbon    Air Portugal
London-Gatwick    Norwegian
London-Heathrow    British Airways (four daily)
London-Heathrow    Virgin Atlantic
London-Heathrow    Delta
Madrid    Air Europa
Madrid    Iberia
Manchester    Virgin Atlantic
Manchester    Thomas Cook
Mexico City    AeroMexico
Munich    Lufthansa
Oslo    Norwegian
Panama    Copa
Paris-Charles de Gaulle    Air France (twice daily)
Paris-Charles de Gaulle    Delta
Paris-Charles de Gaulle    American
Ponta Delgada    SATA/Air Azores
Reykjavik    Icelandair (three daily)
Reykjavik    WOW
Rome    Alitalia
Shanghai    Hainan Airlines
Shannon    Aer Lingus
Tel Aviv    El Al
Paris-Charles de Gaulle    Air France (twice daily)
Tokyo-Narita    Japan Airlines
Zurich    Swiss (twice daily)
LATAM (effective summer 2018)


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56 Responses to “Boston Goes Global: From Logan to the World”
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  1. Chris Kay says:

    Korean Airlines Has announced There return to Boston Logan On April 12th 2019

  2. Adam H says:

    Don’t forget Logan is getting European Low Cost Carrier Primera Air next year with flights to Birmingham UK, London Stansted, and Paris-CDG. Norwegian is also launching Paris-CDG and increasing London Gatwick to daily. Unfortunately the daily Gatwick service appears to be costing Logan Copenhagen and Oslo flights on Norwegian. Good thing SAS is using the bigger plane A330 to Copenhagen thought it will only be 4 weekly in summer.

  3. Jinxed_K says:

    Being local to Boston, JAL’s direct to Tokyo made it that much easier to visit my family in Japan. A little more expensive, but I think it’s worth the nonstop and the quality service and seats you get in their 787s.
    I’ve also rarely had to wait in security getting into Logan’s Terminal E.

    Only bad part of the trip IMO is actually getting to the airport.

  4. You are so right. We have a summer house in Sweden and are so happy that we have the direct flight to Copenhagen. It is sad that the food and beverage options in terminal E are so dismal. SRO and poor food to boot. Not world class in that department.

  5. SteveP says:

    Ah yes, Logan. Logan made me an American (,ore about that later).

    I’ve been flying through Logan for 25 years or so now. In the past, I flew mostly domestically. Living in Maine, I tired of the hassles flying “puddle-jumpers” from Portland PWM to some other “real” airport for connections and switched to taking the coach to Logan instead. Even today I only fly out of PWM on JetBlue to NYC (which is very convenient) – for pretty much any other travel, Logan is “my” airport.

    I just flew into BOS on BA’s new A380 service, into what was billed as a “new” terminal, but is of course an extension on the end.

    Explain this – departing TE, there is a total of one bar for thousands of travelers after Security. Mobbed.

    Arrivals are not great at Logan. There is finally a restroom before Immigration. The Kiosks are in exactly the wrong place (too far and behind the crowds). Immigration used to be so aggressive here (pre 9/11) compared to other US int’l airports that I became a citizen (had a green card) just to avoid the hassle. And the baggage carousels are always breaking.

  6. Douglas Bennett says:

    Patrick, you left out Vancouver on your April 2017 updated list. Air Canada service starts this summer!

    • Douglas Bennett says:

      Oops sorry. I see your list excludes Canada. But nevertheless, I think Boston to Vancouver has got to be one of the longer North American routes and pretty cool. I live in Boston and frequently visit Vancouver. With us customs at that airport, it will be a great perk to avoid the horrible border control experience in Boston. What’s next for Boston? I predict Barcelona (iberia), Seoul (Korean air), Geneva (Swiss), Vienna (Austrian) and São Paulo (tap). Would love to see a Boston-Sydney long haul world record on quantas! Regardless, it’s been truly amazing to witness the explosion of international visitors to Boston. You can’t walk down the street without hearing multiple languages!

  7. Anthony Cipoletta says:

    In the Early 1990’s Northwest had 4 DC-10 non-stops to Europe and 1 747. TWA Had 1 747 to Paris. ATA, 5 Star, Key Airlines, Independent Air all had international charters, Plus Northwest operated out of term E from gates 1-5

  8. Rob says:

    Didn’t Olympic Airway once fly Boston – Manchester (BOS-MAN) for a short while?

  9. paul says:

    What Alan said. Even when they don´t kill you, it certainly isn´t for lack of trying. Like the runway excursions in Nepal (2015) and Morocco (2010), or the beyond belief hard landing and go-around in Istanbul in 2015.
    And of course Amsterdam in 2009, where they turned a perfectly good airplane into a plow share.

    But like the ME airlines and their modern slavery and the Norwegian Airs and their social dumping practices, who cares as long as the hosties are cute and the fares are cheap.

  10. Alan Dahl says:

    With 5 crashes since 1999 causing the death of 90 passengers and crewmembers hardly think that Turkish Airlines service and reliability is among the best. Sure they probably have a pleasant inflight ambiance but statistically they are one of the least safe western airlines out there and I for one would never consider choosing them as a result.

  11. Ad absurdum per aspera says:

    Stayed there for a couple of weeks on business several years ago. My room was small, yes, but quite adequate in size (I’ve never quite understood the appeal of gigantism in hotel rooms unless you’re taking up long-term residence or hosting meetings), and the decor in general displayed class and taste to go with the almost palpable sense of history.

    They can cook, too. They had both Parker House rolls and Boston cream pie, and I ate ’em, diet be damned. The world is not under my control but my attitude about it is, right? So I think of my physique as 200 pounds of muscle and bone protected with another 20 or 30 of permanently installed winter operations kit.

  12. Mike B says:

    I know right? Because of my previous employer’s love affair with United, I’m sitting on half a million SA miles. Whenever I’m tempted to use any, I remember the hassle involved. What should be a relatively quick hop to London or Paris, becomes an extended hassle through one of their fakakta hubs. And I’m like, “maybe next year”.

  13. Mike B says:

    Of course, all of this happens right after I exit a job that mandated tons of international travel. During that time, I spent more time waiting around at O’Hare and Newark than Logan. I did manage a couple of direct Tokyo flights before that. Far and away the best long-haul economy flights I’ve ever taken.

    This makes sense as long as Boston has a vibrant, high-end economy, and a decent appeal as an international tourist destination. The latter I don’t quite get – in spite of Governor Baker’s insistence on the loudspeakers. When I see so many Japanese coming in on that JAL flight (this area has practically no Japanese expats outside of Showa), I’m thinking they’re doing a major, month-long trip to the US, and want to start in the northeast corner and wiggle their way to LA?

    Anyhow, another fantastic article!

  14. Tod Davis says:

    We’ve just got our first ever international flights coming into Canberra with Singapore airlines doing a 4 times a week service to Wellington via Canberra.
    The other day i saw the Singapore 777 in Canberra for the first time and boy did it look ridiculous taking off from a regional field

  15. Brian Geller says:

    Are SkyTrax rankings really prestigious? At best they seem arbitrary, why for example does Korean Air get only fours stars but Asiana Airlines gets five stars. They have been accused of being bias towards airlines that use their consulting services, which is their main product. I know SkyTrax rankings was not the point of this story but I was surprised that you called SkyTrax rankings prestigious.

  16. Lynne Shapiro says:

    Reading this article and the part about Logan and the amount of international traffic it does, the only thing I can think of is, with all these international flights and international passengers, and a BIG snowstorm like last year or the year before hits, thereby stopping all transportation (not just aircraft but buses and cars and stuff, oh my!)… WHAT THEN!!??? IMO, Chicago and Boston are two of the hardest hit for weather-related delays.
    Planes supposed to be coming in from out of the country, planes trying to fly out of the country, Masshysteria! (sorry, little pun there)

    • Patrick says:

      Domestic flights are often grounded, but it takes a pretty big storm for an international flight to get canceled. It might go out with empty seats, as a lot of passengers will misconnect, but it’ll go, usually. BOS is no more susceptible than the NYC airports, ORD, etc.

  17. Cliff Davis says:

    The Parker House Omni is a beautiful hotel that my wife and I had the pleasure of staying in about 10 years ago. True, the rooms there are tiny as well…but to step outside through their lobby and be at the top of the common is pretty special.

    I still remember a lobster and a (few) pint(s) we had around the corner at a pub who’s name I forget.

  18. With all these new international services from Boston, I find it very strange that there is (and has not been for a long time, if ever) no Star Alliance non-stop from there to London.

  19. Kozmo says:

    Yow! Yuugh!! That hotel makeover is even worse than The Pilot describes! What a disaster, and shame.

  20. Kenneth Duke Masters says:

    Hello: Which ATC tower is that? Gives me an idea for a contest or feature story: Which is the world coolest ATC tower? KDM

  21. Old Rockin' Dave says:

    Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things. – Russell Baker

  22. Diane says:

    Seriously off topic:
    Patrick, when you look at the seniority list, have you projected when you’ll be able to upgrade? Or are you staying in the seat for quality of life?

  23. wagga says:

    I live in Cairns, Australia, a city of around 150,000 on the coast on the pointy bit at the top. Our airport has 18 direct international flights and over 4 million passengers per year. The terminals are not at all plush – it doesn’t matter, because deplaning to home is less than 15 minutes.

  24. Martin says:


    Border control is a disaster.

    I came into Logan from Amsterdam at midday a few weeks ago, just about when two other European flights made their scheduled landings. That’s about 1000 people trying to get through immigration at the same predictable time.

    There were two agents on duty for the entire line of US passport holders. We all very efficiently used the kiosks to get slips of paper with our declarations and photos, and then stood in line for an hour to hand them to the overworked immigration agents. This was in no way amusing.

    When I got to the desk, the agent asked if I had anything to declare. I couldn’t resist: “Yes, your boss should be fired.” Fortunately, the guy had a sense of humor.

    I guess airline crew don’t experience this in-built shipwreck, but that was an hour lost in my life that would seriously make me reconsider the idea of an overseas flight into Boston.

    • Martin says:

      a bit more on immigration delays…

      We could swap stories all day about awful waits getting through the border, or experiences zipping through. I’m sure that there are times when long lines are unavoidable, e.g. a weather situation that causes a lot of planes to arrive long after the expected hour, when the border control staff have all gone home. However, on normal days, the speed that passengers get through immigration is a management issue that comes down to basic math. This is highly predictable, and each airport should be held accountable. Let’s crunch some round numbers:

      We know a plane coming to Logan from Europe will have, say, 300 passengers. Management will know the average time it takes to process each person, say 1 minute. If there is one agent doing the work, it will take 5 hours to get everyone through. If there are 300 agents, it will take 1 minute. In this hypothetical, ten agents would clear the flight in half an hour.

      This is the sort of math that a ten-year-old can master. For an border control administrator, it isn’t that much more complicated to add in a little more known information: scheduled flight arrival times for all incoming international flights, plus the known capacities of the aircraft that serve those routes, are both known entities that tell a highly predictable story: three planes will be landing from Europe at about 12:30pm one month from now, so plan the staffing schedule accordingly.

      But (… character limit…)

      • Martin says:

        Smart management could do better. Airlines know approximately how full their flights will be by about a week in advance. If they report those numbers to the airport, then it is perfectly possible to plan staffing at the border that will be ready for each plane that arrives roughly on time.

        Even smarter management could handle the inherent unpredictability of actual airline traffic. Once a plane takes off, airlines know exactly how many passengers are on board and when the flight is going to land. These numbers can be forwarded to the border agency, which could adjust its staff schedules (union rules permitting) around the known numbers for flights landing 6 to 12 hours hence. Want to clear each airplane within 15 minutes? # of passengers / # of agents/ average time per passenger, solve.

        At Logan when I arrived, the US citizens line funneled to a corner with two agents on duty. Two more agents showed up at about 10 minutes before the hour and started to get ready to get comfortable – they took over at precisely the top of the hour. A good manager would have studied the scene and somehow gotten more crew on the ground earlier, and given everyone a break once the load had cleared. That’s what they do at Trader Joe’s, so it should be pretty easy to do at airports, where the numbers can be estimated a month ahead and known for certain several hours beforehand.

        If Hong Kong takes a minute to pass through the border, that means that they’ve done exactly this planning…

  25. jms says:

    Last time I was at Logan, I unexpectedly had to pass through security during a tight connection because, bizarrely, there’s no airside connection between terminals.
    The connection was from gate C31 to gate C40. So not only did I have to pass through security to connect to the same airline, the connection was even in the same terminal.

    • Patrick says:

      That’s odd. I’ll have to stop by terminal C and check that out. Most U.S. airports have separate security checkpoints for each terminal. It sucks, but it’s common. However, I’m not sure that I’ve seen multiple checkpoints within the same a terminal, at least when it’s a domestic-to-domestic transfer.

      • Gene says:

        Though I haven’t been there in a few years Kansas City (KCI) has, or used to have, a separate TSA screen for every few gates in a cluster. There have been times when I had to go through TSA to transfer ONE gate.

      • jms says:

        Going by what Wikipedia says, it looks like the terminal was built before the age of intensive checkpoint security. I speculate they laid it out that way to reduce walking distance from the entrance to the gate, but now that JetBlue operates out of that terminal (and uses BOS as a connecting city), a fix is long overdue.

      • James says:

        SFO Terminal 1 was like that (it may still be,) You have a main terminal building with arms of gates — each arm has its own TSA checkpoint.

  26. A.I.L says:

    Nice article Patrick. And one more to add: Aeromexico starts non-stop service from BOS to MEX in a couple of weeks.

  27. Ed says:

    Patrick – a question about how you work your website: this article is several years old, and I’ve noticed that other articles that are quite old get pushed to the top rather frequently. Is there a way you could mark them as such? An article like this would seem to need significant updating – are the airlines noted still flying from Boston (I’d love to have them fly from Dayton…)? How does an article of this age come up to the top?

    • Patrick says:

      The current article is a thoroughly revised version of an older story. A few of the passages are pasted from the original but much of it is new. There have been a lot of changes at BOS since that first version ran, and an update was due. I’ll sometimes refresh stories and mark them with “UPDATE” in the dateline, but this one was substantially different and so I presented it as a new post, with a new URL.

  28. Tod Davis says:

    It is always going to be tough for a privately owned airline to compete with the state owned carriers, over here in Australia both Qantas and Virgin are battling the same issue with Emirates, Singapore etc

  29. Alex says:

    BOS-HKG…wow, quite a long haul!

    Great Circle Mapper shows 7,970 statute miles and a path almost directly over the North Pole. Do aircraft on routes like this normally fly directly over Santa’s workshop or do they take routes that keep them a little closer to civilization?

    What equipment are they using for this, A340? I assume ETOPS would rule out a twinjet.

  30. DMcCunney says:

    Re the BPPH renovations:

    Oh, dear.

    I spent years associated with a function that was held at the BPPH in mid-January, and have an intimate knowledge of the property. (I was a staffer on the function that dealt with the venue, and saw the parts the guests don’t see. I think I still have a set of floor plans.)

    It was a classy old lady of a certain age, with on old world style of elegance, and amenities like a proper high tea. The space and the bewildering variety of room types – everything from “airline singles” which were broom closets with beds to a Presidential Suite where POTUS *had* stayed presented interesting challenges for the event, but the event was there for a dozen years and the unique character of the hotel became a part of the event for the attendees.

    The hotel changed hands seven years ago when the family that owned it got out of the business, and the new owner decided he didn’t want the event back. We wondered what he thought he could get instead in mid-January that would fill his hotel, and as far as we could tell, the answer was “nothing”, since it was a ghost town that weekend when any of us looked in subsequent years.

    The renovation looks like more “I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m going to do it anyway!” activity by the owner. I showed the picture to my SO, who also worked on the event, and her reaction was “Ewww! It looks like a Canadian train station!” That would be fine if it *were* a Canadian train station. As it is, it’s awful.

  31. Bill says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the Park Plaza – just stayed there earlier this week, and it was unrecognizable.

    • JamesP says:

      I would have screamed had I walked in there. Literally, seriously, screamed. That would be like “modernizing” the Biltmore lobby here in Los Angeles. Unthinkable.

      And by the way, if you ever find yourself in Downtown LA, do treat yourself to a Biltmore visit. You don’t have to be guest to walk in and avail yourself of two very nice bars. One in the main lobby (Olive Street entrance across from Pershing Square), which is stunningly beautiful, and another in the upper lobby area off the Grand Ave. entrance. Kick back on one of the plush couches in the main lobby, order a Martini, and just let it all soak in.

  32. David B says:

    i was wondering what the route is from Boston to Hong Kong and was amused to see that….. you go straight north! Boston and Hong Kong are almost 180 degrees apart so it’s a perfect great circle route.

  33. Jack says:

    According to the Boston Globe, Masssport is working on El Al to return to Boston, and a colleague of mine read an interview with the president of Austrian Airlines who said that Boston was high on his list of new cities. Another tidbit out of Logan (I work for Southwest) is another middle eastern airline is purporting to fly to Logan (Etihad or Qatar). In my own opinion, I think Korean will be back with the 787 and Brussels Ailines could follow SABENA’s success out of Boston with a return to Brussels.

  34. Rod Miller says:

    “The longer a flight is, the higher the operating costs, and the more seats an airline needs to fill in order to break even. (Boston-Tokyo is double the distance of Boston-London.)”

    Why is this? Beyond a certain point, of course, you have to have an extra pilot and change crews to fly back, which means hotel costs and what-not. But surely all those hours at cruise levels make for a cost-per-mile saving that makes empty seats on Boston-Tokyo less expensive than on Boston-NY?

    • WildaBeast says:

      I know this comment is years old, but since this article is back on the front page and no one else had answered the question yet I’ll take a stab at it.

      Basically, longer flights require more fuel. That might seem obvious, but it doesn’t just increase linearly with the distance. Fuel is heavy, and planes burn more fuel the heavier they are. So for a very long flight you reach a point where you’re burning more fuel just to carry the weight of the extra fuel.

  35. Ari says:

    I would venture to bet that most people reading your blog have heard of Copa.

    Didn’t know about the Korean flight. Where did it stop on the way from Boston to Seoul?

  36. Vinny Noggin says:

    “Then, this past summer, Panama’s Copa Airlines added Boston to its network with a daily flight to Panama City — our only nonstop to mainland Latin America.”

    Incorrect. Jet Blue 771 Boston->Cancun


    Pack your Speedo.

  37. John Eustace says:

    I see the world’s longest haul non-stop route is being closed down – maybe BOS can step in?

  38. MWnyc says:

    No, what really counts is how many foreign cities you can fly to from its airport. … Here in Boston, Logan International Airport connects us nonstop to London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Zurich, Frankfurt and Reykjavik, among other cities.

    Patrick, didn’t you forget Dublin?

    Or is Dublin not considered a foreign city in Boston?

    • John Eustace says:

      With 20.4% of Boston’s population claiming Irish descent that gives an Irish population in the metro Boston area of nearly a million, compared with Dublin’s population of a little over half a million.
      So to your point that would make Dublin basically a suburb of Boston.

  39. Stephanie says:

    I’m pretty sure the flights to the Cape Verdes and the Azores are due to the large population of people from those countries who live in southern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Still pretty cool, though.

    • Rod Miller says:

      Not to mention mainland Portugal, which probably explains why TAP did fly that route for all those years. Boston still has the largest population of Portuguese origin in the US. And I believe that even if TAP dropped Boston, SATA still does offer Boston-Lisbon nonstop.

  40. Tod Davis says:

    you’re doing well. I live in the capital city of Australia which has a brand new airport and we can’t even attract one international flight.