New York and Washington again

13 May 1988 Pan American 1 London Heathrow to New York JFK
13 May 1988 Pan American 779 New York JFK to Washington National

As we wanted to fly on these dates anyway, it was a very welcome announcement that Pan Am was introducing a discounted fare on their North American routes. It worked very simply. Whatever fare (be it APEX or full First Class) you paid, another passenger travelling with you for the whole itinerary, on the same reservation, went for half the price. This was too good to be ignored. We chose the date of the outward flight carefully. We supposed that few American passengers will choose to fly on Friday 13th. This turned out to be reasonably correct, and we hoped it meant that the outward flights would be less busy than usual.

We have learned from our previous mistakes. First, we will not travel to Dulles. Second, we will travel with on-line connections. This minimises the possibility of problems. Even though the flight is late, we will get to our destination in the end. As it turned out, the flight was only delayed by a few minutes. Probably this was because they didn't bother to clean it while it was in London.

I think that this is the flight on which the in-flight movie was Broadcast News, but I cannot be sure. Certainly it was on one of our long-haul flights, which was a pity, as we had seen it the previous weekend at a cinema, choosing it instead of The Last Emperor which we wanted to see too. We never saw The Last Emperor. Maybe we will see it on video, or as a rerun in years to come.

The service on the flight was reasonable, to a point, and the efficiency of immigration at Pan Am's New York terminal was quite striking. We caught our connecting flight with no problem, though there was more of a delay on this. Perhaps it is worth noting that when a flight or a series of flights runs well, it is much more difficult to find anything worthwhile to tell.

Our host had learned from his mistakes too, and stated that he would be out when we arrived, singing with a choir as it happened, and told us to ask for the key at reception. He came back shortly after we had got there, and was surprised to hear that we had only been there for a little while. He had expected us to have arrived hours earlier.

17 May 1988 Pan American 246 Washington National to New York LGA
17 May 1988 Pan American 267 New York LGA to Washington National

We had hoped to spend some time in Boston on this trip, taking two Shuttle journeys in each direction each day, thereby visiting a new city and clocking up an enormous number of miles in Pan Am's Worldpass scheme. Whenever travelling, you should try in advance to become a member of the airline's frequent traveller scheme, especially when this is free. By mid-1990, I belonged to Pan American's Worldpass, Air New Zealand's Club Pacific, British Airways' Blue Chip, as well as a couple of others belonging to airlines with whom I have never flown because at one point I thought there was a chance I might fly with them. By late 1992, none of those three schemes still existed. With Pan Am, each Shuttle journey counted for 2,000 miles, with extras for day trips, four or more journeys in a month and so forth.

However, the one-way Shuttle fare had now risen again, this time to USD 89. The prospect of each of us paying USD 356 for a day trip seemed rather daunting, so we made do with New York.

The journey to New York was as it had previously been, a short, prompt and straightforward flight. Morning flights on the East Coast are always straightforward: evening flights are not.

Perhaps I should mention that when we left Washington DC the weather had been warm and dry, and we were suitably dressed for this, in light summer wear. How different things were in New York. Very heavy rain fell there for most of the morning, resulting in us being soaked comprehensively throughout the day.

Even so, on arrival in New York, we decided to save money by catching the downtown Shuttle bus. For about USD 8 we were dropped at Grand Central Station. I am inclined to say that the only thing grand about it is the name, and the shopping mall associated with it.

We took refuge in a variety of places and art galleries, and decided that as we were already wet, we would investigate two of New York's more famous maritime sites. There was, for once, no queue for the Statue of Liberty ferry, and we had an interesting but wet journey over and back. The cost of the journey was around USD 4. By contrast, the Staten Island ferry was a very large ship, charging just 25 cents for the return journey. It was interesting to travel on the Staten Island ferry; my only regret was that we didn't have any time to look at Staten Island itself.

Staten Island is one of the five boroughs of New York and from time to time threatens to secede from the rest of the city. The other four are Bronx, Brooklyn, Queen's and Manhattan.

We returned to La Guardia by subway and bus in good time to look around the terminal, check in and amble to the aeroplane, where we waited for an hour. The weather wasn't too bad, but there had been a storm earlier, and services were still trying to recover from it.

After an hour, the passengers for the next Shuttle joined us, and before long we were preparing for take-off. A final reminder, we were told, this is the Pan Am Shuttle for Washington National Airport. A passenger dressed smartly in a suit looked up sharply and then ran to the front of the aeroplane. He was hoping to go to Boston, and as both flights leave at the same time, he would need to hurry. He was helped off the flight and, presumably, onto the right one.

We, on the other hand, got home safely, though an hour later than we had hoped.

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