Boston's Logan International Airport, named for General Edward Lawrence Logan, a Spanish-American war hero from South Boston, carries airport code BOS. Technically, Boston was not designed as a hub airport, as a vast majority of its traffic is not transit traffic. In 2008 it was the nation's nineteenth busiest airport according to the FAA public data. Yet Boston enjoys direct flights to most major US cities and hubs, dozens and dozens of flights a day to Florida (see below*), and about a dozen flights to European destinations which is actually more than most airports of its size.
It has been dubbed a focus city for American, Delta and JetBlue, meaning that there are quite a few flights on these airline from Boston to cities which are not hubs for those airlines. Part of the reason for Logan's success is that it services a large metropolitan area which is affluent, educated, has tons of universities, hospitals and major corporations and is the closest major US airport to Europe itself. It is also far and away the busiest airport in New England, and thus serves many from afar for major flights, especially those abroad. For instance, someone living in Maine, NH, RI or VT who flies to Europe, is very likely to end up flying out of Logan, either by driving there or by taking a connecting flight. People from RI simply drive to Logan (an hour) and people from CT either drive to Logan or to NY. Generally speaking, those living in southern or western CT drive to New York's airports.
Good and bad, Boston's Logan International Airport is located within the city limits, virtually across the harbor from the city itself and was recently renovated. Nevertheless, it is one of the most unreliable and inefficient airside airports I have ever used. Luggage delivery takes forever, departures are rarely on time (though it improved a bit in late 2016), and arrivals which arrive on time still end up losing extra time through long taxi waits (negligible for Terminal E and interminable for Terminal A). Unfortunately, the airport is also land-locked and can never be truly expanded and this partially contributes to the lack of efficiency on the "air-side" of the airport. The land-side is a bit better, boosted by the excellent, if expensive overhauled Central Parking garage complete with wildlife sounds pumped into the elevators and moving walkways which whisk you to your terminal. Security lines are inefficient and poorly designed though, check-in is unpredictable and Terminal B remains cramped in spite of recent improvements which have cut down on wait times.
Nevertheless, Logan Airport is a well used airport both domestically as well as internationally to Europe and if you do happen to catch an on time flight, it doesn't feel half bad..
The airport is designed as a U shape, with five terminals (A-E). Terminals B and E have their own parking options, and then the entire airport is accessible to the center of the U which contains CENTRAL PARKING through a nicely upgraded interconnection of modern walkways and moving sidewalks. All International arrivals come to Terminal E, with the exception of Canadian origin flights which have pre-cleared in Canada.
For a list of which airlines fly to/from which terminal, please go to the Logan Airport Airlines Page as the terminals keep changing as airlines consolidate and realign.
Terminal A - Logan's newest terminal. Home of Delta and housing a few others. Some new shopping and a few uninteresting restaurants but with a Legal Test Kitchen hidden by the exit from the gate area. Beware that there is a very long (considering the relatively small physical size of the airport) underground walkway from most of the gates to the terminal, similar in length to the United walkway at O'Hare or the walkway at CVG to the satellite terminal. Also, Delta check-in, bag drop and security is often plagued by long lines so arrive early unless you have Medallion Status with Delta. Recently, Delta has improved the efficiency of the check in line but beware that you must check in at an electronic kiosk first before getting into the line.
Terminal B - Two buildings facing each other, with a parking lot in the center. Therefore, you really have two bus stops for this one terminal. American Airlines and US Airways were the major tenants but US Airways is now American. The old US Air side is renovated and roomy, with a Legal Seafood's bar in the gate area that is lively, if you can get a seat and a Fox Sports Bar. The American Airlines side now includes the gates for United Airlines, which continues to be Logan's smallest "big" tenant and has been squeezed out of Terminal C by Jetblue. The American/United side of the terminal was recently renovated inside with a number of typical fast restaurants such as Chinese, UFood Grill and Cosi. There is now a Bonfire inside as well. This side of the terminal is still a bit busy and cramped. However the security checkpoint was just upgraded and expanded, with a nice roomy atrium after the clearance point. Wait times can still be long, so non-elite travelers should still leave a little extra time. If going through the elite security line, watch for things moving faster in the regular line and be willing to jump over. Although they generally do a good job of getting last minute arrivals checked in before flights leave, you should arrive fairly early for most flights when you are checking bags on this airline in Boston. Security has improved at Terminal B, but you should still allow for extra time during busy periods.
Terminal C - An open air single building which now hosts primarily Jetblue. As Boston's largest airline by a large margin, Jetblue has thrice influenced enlargement and upgrading of the terminal. This has included continuing to renovate the two arms of the terminal past security with i-stores, a cramped but well used Legal Seafoods, and several sit down and take out place. The security area was vastly upgraded to more check stations with a roomy atrium as you are being screened. While this area generally works efficiently, watch for slower lines which can sometimes not move at all for several minutes. For the most part, you will get through in a reasonably 15-20 minutes and if you are TSA-pre or a premium traveler, you will fly through in under 10. The newest change is now in the check in hall, where the Au Bon Pain has disappeared and far more stations being built for bag drop, Mosaic check in, etc.
Do note that one thing that has barely changed is the outdoor drop off and waiting area (ie - for buses, taxis and airport rides) for Terminal C is short due to the original terminal design so it is virtually impossible to wait for anyone in a car. Either you have to grab your bags fast, or you are arriving by bus.
And as of this summer, the greatest expansion in recent years at Logan Airport includes an expansion tunnel into what was once Terminal D. This expanded area of Terminal C, home to JetBlue, our largest airline tenant is the nicest part of Logan Airport. Modern charge stations, roomy waiting areas, new fast casual restaurants, including the requisite Starbucks have created a vision of what Logan could become. Along the wall you will find a history of innovation in Boston, and the most interesting upgrade is a connection to Terminal E so that passengers going overseas can transfer off JetBlue flights (note that if you are arriving International, you will have to clear CBP and Immigration first, and then redo security at Terminal C)
Terminal D - No longer really its own entity, since it had no curbside access anyway. This is now part of the extended Terminal C.
Terminal E - The international terminal, housing immigration and US Customs and Border Patrol. Home of most non-US airlines such as Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, Iberia and Air Lingus. All international arrivals come here except pre-cleared Canadian flights. However, beware: If you are flying to Europe on a US based airline (such as American Airlines or Delta to London or Paris) you will depart out of that airlines domestic gate. In other words, American Airlines flights to London or Paris, depart from Terminal B even though they arrive at Terminal E. However if you are on a code share flight operated by a non-US airline (such as a Delta flight operated by Air France) you will depart out of Terminal E. Dine Boston, just before security, is actually quite good featuring menu items from several downtown restaurants. If you eat there, you get to cut the security line too. After security, there is a food court including a new wine bar. Like all International terminals, there is lots of shopping because they KNOW you will be waiting there for a while. One rather unique feature of Terminal E is the check in hall which is a bit roomier than some of the older terminals at Logan and, which more closely resembles a European Airport, where the lines are organized by FLIGHT instead of by airline. Unfortunately, once you pass security the terminal is poorly designed as basically one long hall with so many seats blocking the flow of traffic, that you may have trouble wheeling your bag past all of the other people who are looking for a way to pass the time before their flight.
Check in is generally efficient in terminal E but be aware that if you are arriving into Terminal E (which would mean all international arrivals which were not pre-cleared) and you have checked luggage, you are in for a shocking wait to get your bags. Terminal E baggage claim delivery is by far the slowest process that I have seen in any airport, other than perhaps in the Caribbean. On a recent flight, I waited one hour and 10 minutes, from the time the plane was gateside, until the time my bag arrived. Therefore if you are connecting at Logan to a domestic flight, you would want a 3 hour minimum layover to reliably make your next flight.
The far right corner of the terminal, looking planeside, houses the entrance to E1 (the former Terminal D) and then extends down and across to house Southwest and Airtran (soon to become a single airline).
Japan Airlines has inaugurated Boston's first direct service to Asia in more than a decade. Flying the Boeing dreamliner, JAL is offering direct service to Tokyo Narita airport. Hainan Airlines flights to China and Cathay Pacific flights to Hong Kong have further expanded Logan's ability to jet customers to Asia without stopping at JFK, DTW, ORD or SFO.
All airline lounges are downstairs, accessed by elevators at both ends of the main hall. Air France/Delta/KLM is a right turn after security. The rest are a left turn.
A somber visit to the 9/11 MEMORIAL at Boston's Logan Airport.
Getting to Logan became much easier with the expansion of I-90 (The Mass Turnpike) and the building of the Ted Williams Tunnel. Essentially, I-90 ends at the airport. There are several other ways to drive to the airport, most importantly by exiting the Southeast Expressway (I-93) coming SOUTHBOUND at the Callahan Tunnel. This exit is just after you descend into the expressway tunnels after the Zakim Bridge. There are no tolls entering the airport, but those exiting must pay a toll (and it is not cheap). There is no entrance to the Callahan Tunnel if you are coming NORTHBOUND on the Expressway.
While many do drive to the airport, those who live here often take other options including taxis, shuttle services (like Super Shuttle) and Logan Express. The latter of these is a quite useful way to get to the airport to avoid the nasty driving and to save money. However it takes ALOT of extra time. Logan Express has inexpensive parking at all four locations in Woburn (north), Peabody (north east), Braintree (south) and Framingham (west). They then run regular shuttle buses to the airport, which are quite inexpensive. The coaches are dependable and comfortable, but of course they must deal with traffic just as must any other automobile. They have added a fifth service from the Back Bay station (next to Copley Plaza), obviously without the option of inexpensive parking.
Another option for getting to the airport is the newly added SILVER LINE of the MBTA which runs from South Station to the airport and stops at each terminal. The advantage to the SILVER LINE is that it runs right from South Station which is central to many and that the "LINE" is actually an amphibious bus that will drive right to the terminal. The problem with the silver line is that the bus has to make a stop to transfer it's power from electric to fuel, adding another five minutes to the relatively slow ride. And the bus can get stuck in the Ted William tunnel traffic, so if there is a convention going on, be well aware of the risk for delays.
The second MBTA route to Logan Airport is the BLUE LINE which you can take from centrally located and newly renovated, Government Center (where you will find Quincy Market as well) right to the airport station in just four stops. The BLUE LINE is modern and efficient. However, when you arrive at the AIRPORT STATION, you will then need to take a shuttle to your terminal and Massport has made the ridiculous decision to have the buses stop at the rental car center first and wait another 5 minutes. This makes getting to the airport by MBTA a good fifteen minutes longer, adding a disincentive to use public transportation. Still, unless South Station is right outside your door, I recommend the BLUE LINE route over the SILVER LINE, particularly if you are changing from the GREEN LINE especially because the SILVER LINE bus does have to take the Ted Williams tunnel and could be subject to backups. Government Center to any airport terminal is about 30 minutes. The MBTA is by far the cheapest ride to the airport, at under $2.00
Finally, Massport operates water shuttles from Long Wharf, Quincy and Hull.
If you are looking for personal car service to Logan Airport, there are plenty of private companies such as Boston Coach or Transportation of New England which offer such service at higher cost but greater convenience to the passenger.
Costs from Fenway Park in Kenmore Square to Logan Airport are about $25 by taxi or $31 by Uber. When you add up all of the taxi fees and tip however, the taxi ends up being slightly cheaper than Uber.
There are three basic categories of parking options for Logan Airport:
Along with New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and to a lesser extent Baltimore and Washington, Boston hosts a dazzling quantity of daily flights to points all over Florida. It is rather simple to understand why: Boston is about 3 hours from any point in Florida and most of Florida sits within the only tropical zone in the eastern continental United States. The other tropical zone is in Southern Texas, home more to immigration problems and drugs, than to beautiful beaches, cities and theme parks. For this reason, Bostonians vacation in Florida and retire in Florida and that makes for a ripe market to fly people back and forth. From Boston alone you can fly to MIAMI (American Airlines), FT. LAUDERDALE (Delta and Jet Blue), WEST PALM BEACH (Delta and Jetblue), JACKSONVILLE (Jet Blue), ORLANDO (almost any airline you can name), TAMPA (Delta and Jetblue) AND FT. MYERS (Delta and Jet Blue), all daily and all non-stop.
Low cost carrier Southwest Airlines did not service Logan Airport until 2009. Instead, Southwest serviced the New England area through two smaller airports, Manchester NH (MHT) and Providence, RI (PVD). Southwest's delay entering Logan was steeped in politics, seconded only by the extraordinary Wright Amendment affecting Dallas Love Field (a fascinating read here for those who are interested in aviation law and history). Manchester airport grew substantially due to the presence of Southwest there, servicing fliers in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and Boston area residents right down to the city of Boston itself. Southwest was cheaper, parking was cheaper, flying was faster and flights more dependable and so residents routinely made the under-60-minute drive. Providence, itself being a small city, supported the presence of Southwest by itself but still drew a substantial volume of passengers from Greater Boston, particularly in the western and southern suburbs.
I am amazed at how difficult it is for American's to understand what Canada has done with its major airports with respect to US bound passengers. Understand first that all major Canadian cities are within 100 miles of the US border. These include Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver (being the three biggest by far). Understand as well that the majority of transit traffic and more than half of the destination traffic through these airports is all going to or coming from the United States.
For this reason, Canadian Customs and Immigration has partnered with US immigration and US Customs and Border Patrol to establish U.S. border points inside the major Canadian Airports. If you think about the border as being where your flight in the US lands (and the point that you have to cross to get 'into' the United States), they have simply moved the line back to the origin airport, in Canada. The logic is that once you clear US customs and Immigration (in Canada) you can get nowhere except on the plane to the US. If your flight is canceled or you decide not to go, you must reclear Canadian immigration and customs, even though technically you are on Canadian soil.
There are several really great benefits to this system:
1) Your flight can arrive at a domestic US terminal, whichever is most convenient for the airline. Because virtually all US airports have separate international terminals, this frees up the international terminals from having to service inbound Canadian flights. When you arrive, you simply walk off the plane and do not have to perform any further clearance (as if you had just arrived from New York or Los Angeles).
2) There is no uncertain waiting time when you arrive. Clearing US immigration and customs can be speedy or take forever, depending on the airport, the time of day, the number of flights or the security warning level of the day. In this scenario, you need to arrive a little earlier at the departure airport in Canada, but when you land, you are there.
3 This is BIG and in fact, it is a primary reason WHY Canada set up the system: If you are flying to the US from overseas, through a Canadian airport you are not forced to clear Canadian customs and then reclear US customs. In fact, given that any connecting flight has waiting time, you spend your waiting time for your final flight to the US clearing US customs in Canada. Even though you may have begun the day in Sweden or in Japan, your arrival in the US is at a domestic terminal and you simply step off the plane and get your luggage. This system has helped Canadian airports to become transit hubs for US passengers and it was a very smart move.