My journey didn’t exactly get off to a great start when at Gatwick check in they asked me for my ESTA. “Sorry, you what?!” Having not travelled to or via the US for over 12 years, I had actually never heard of an ESTA! I’m still not exactly sure what it is. It’s described as a ‘non-visa’ but as far as I’m concerned it is a visa! Anyway, turns out you need one even if you are just transiting through the USA and it gives you permission to stay up to 90 days – sounds like a visa right?!!
Fortunately I could request one online which I did at a cost of $14 but imagine my horror when I get a message saying “Thank you for your application, we will let you know if you’ve been successful within 72 hours!” I actually remained surprisingly calm though there was that moment of “Oh god, what have I done?!” But it was all resolved just a few minutes later and I was off on my travels!
The first leg of my journey was with Norwegian airlines.
- Plenty leg room even I economy. Seats were comfy too!
- It was very clean
- The onboard entertainment wasn’t bad – there were films and games but no music options.
- There was a USB port to charge electrical items which came in very handy!
- There was no provided meal or drinks despite it being a transatlantic flight! Apparently this is getting more common in the last few years though I’ve spent that time exploring closer to home in Europe and only taking short flights so it came as quite a shock to me when I had to pay £10 for the worlds smallest toast and a bottle of water!
- The staff were a tad slow to respond.
All in all it was a pretty good flight even if I did spend most of it dehydrated, refusing to pay extortionate prices for a tiny bottle of water! I would book again with Norwegian airlines but next time I’d pack myself a yummy picnic!
Boston airport however was a completely different story and I’d like to avoid that experience again if I can! Firstly queuing for customs took over ONE HOUR AND A HALF!! And I thought it was the British that enjoyed queuing!! It was so chaotic and there were barely any staff. They were shouting instructions rather than having signs or even tannoys. You could tell how frustrated they were getting and the poor guys were sitting ducks for a case of laryngitis!
The problem was, even the staff seemed confused as to who should be in each line. I had the same people tell me to stay in one queue and then an hour later when we’d barely moved at all tell me I should be in a different queue after all, as it was my 2nd visit to the US. So off I trotted feeling smug to have escaped the long line only to go through a machine system and fail the fingerprint test (as my previous trip was 12 years ago pre- ESTA) and have to rejoin the same dreaded queue!
When I eventually got through customs, the baggage carousel had a few lonely abandoned suitcases but my backpack was nowhere to be seen! Ok, now I was panicking! I’d ignored the advice I would tell other people – to pack enough clothes to last a few days in your hand luggage – in favour for carrying my electrical items instead, loathe to part with them. So I was potentially facing a week in the Galapagos in just the clothes I was wearing and even worse – no swimming cossie! But at least I had my 2 cameras and laptop!
I made my way to lost baggage where the guy I spoke to spent ages faffing on his phone and not telling me what was going on until eventually I asked him again what he thought had happened. “Oh yeah we have the bag, but you have to wait.” Ok well thanks for letting me know so I could stop pacing the room! After a further 20 minutes wait, I was very relieved to be reunited with my bag though instantly less so when I swung it up onto my back. God that thing weighs a ton! I’m used to travelling light when I backpack but I’m learning how tricky that is when you are packing for hot AND cold climates and need to bring your own camping equipment! (Read my guide here for how to pack for travelling South America.)
So off I wobbled like a heavily pregnant woman or possibly a penguin, to my next check in and guess what? It was incredibly slow! Another 40 minutes despite being seemingly near the start of the queue from the offset! Anyway eventually I was through security (which was surprisingly quick in Boston’s defence) and had enough time to get some food before my next flight. I sat there counting my lucky stars that I had a long stopover of 5 hrs 30 mins otherwise I would most definitely have missed my connecting flight! I had planned to spend some of that time finding somewhere for a massage to relax and soothe my achey travel muscles – that did not quite pan out!
Hopefully the next section of my journey will be more smooth sailing. I have 2 more flights today then staying in Quito before my final flight to The Galapagos. From all I’ve heard, the mega long 4 flight journey will be completely worth it!
I’m sat here writing this on my 2nd flight with Avianca and guess what?! I just smelt breakfast! Hurrah, included airport food is still a ‘thing.’ Who knew I would miss flight food so much?!
Have you ever had a good or bad experience with Boston airport? I’d love to hear about it. As always I promise to tell you about the good, the bad and the ugly parts of travelling and give you my honest reviews! Travel is not always plain sailing but it is ALWAYS worth it!
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