Friday, 9 March 2012

The Only Way From Essex - Southend to Boston

When you're heading off on holiday, especially a family ski holiday with all the stuff you need to carry, looking for the most convenient flight route might be up there towards the top of your priority list when making travel plans. For most, this will be the direct route, a non-stop flight, no change of aircraft, just get from A to B in one go; to others, it may mean flying from the most convenient departure airport, invariably the one closest to home.

To get to the ski slopes of New Hampshire – the closest skiing in the USA for visitors from the UK & Ireland - there are a number of options for flying into Boston's Logan Airport, the main international gateway to the area. And for next winter, particularly for those who live in Essex and East London, there will be a new route which will get you Stateside more or less from your doorstep...

...How about flying from Southend on Sea?

Formerly known as Aer Arran, the Aer Lingus franchise carrier Aer Lingus Regional is starting 3 daily flights from Southend Airport to Dublin, with onward connections from the Irish capital to major US cities, including Boston. It might not be a direct flight in the non-stop sense, but for those living to the east of London, it may be an awful lot closer to home than heading all the away round the M25 to Heathrow?

Commencing on 10th May, the airline – and London Southend Airport – are promoting the Southend to Dublin service as offering easy access to the USA. One positive point to note is that passengers flying to America from Dublin actually clear US Immigration and Customs in Ireland before departure, thus avoiding any possible queues on arrival.

Having said that, on the frequent occasions I find myself landing in Boston I have always found immigration clearance a well-organised and indeed speedy affair. I don’t think it has ever taken me more than 60 minutes from the wheels of the plane touching tarmac to being behind the wheel of my rental car – and that of course includes collecting luggage, skis and ski boots and all, and the short shuttle ride to the car rental depot. This is a pleasurable start to a New Hampshire ski trip.

Nevertheless, to have completed all the formalities before even boarding your aircraft could well be a bonus.

If you are among those who prefer the non-stop option, however, Boston is now served on direct flights from London Heathrow airport by no less than 4 airlines: British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines and Delta Airlines all operate the route, whilst as mentioned above Aer Lingus operates a direct flight from Dublin .

But what about those who want to land as close as possible to their resort, minimising the transfer time to the slopes? The drive up from Boston is an easy 2 hours, following the sublimely quiet I93 all the way. But fly into Manchester, New Hampshire and your onward journey up to the resorts included on the New Hampshire Ski Group's multi-mountain lift pass is only just over an hour. Manchester is served by United Airlines with just one change of aircraft en-route from Heathrow as well as from a wide choice of regional airports (namely Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin and Shannon). These flights are via New York’s Newark airport and were previously operated by Continental Airlines but now come under the United banner since the two airlines merged in 2010.

Whichever route you choose for your ski flight to New Hampshire, its location in the heart of New England on America’s north-east coast means the transatlantic flights are the shortest possible into the US, and with easy transfers which are shorter than those to many European resorts, New Hampshire really is the closest US skiing to the UK and Ireland.

And the only way to get there from Essex just might be from Southend!

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