Firstly, you should check out Kayak before you buy a plane ticket elsewhere. I found a round-trip (w/ 1 stop) from Manchester to LAX on Delta with reasonable flight times for $199. Most comparable flights from Logan started at $320, so I looked into the cost of taking a shuttle. Since I don't listen to commercial radio, I didn't know it was free! I debated whether it was worth, but I decided to give it a try for $120.
On a snowy Monday afternoon when I stood hudddling in the tunnel outside of the Sullivan Sq T station, I began to doubt my decision as the clock moved 10 minutes past the scheduled time, but the bus arrived an we were off shortly. While listening to my iPod and reading a book, the ride was quick. Not as quick as my usual "Aquarium T to Logan" trip, but the view unfolded like rolling postcards of wintry New England landscapes (1:1 scale). Although we left late, the shuttle nearly arrived on time. I thank the driver for her steady steering at what must have been a recklesss speed...
At Manchester, the check-in line was short and I breezed through the empty security area (except TSA officers, of course). I made up the travel time here as the security area at Logan usually takes longer than a Soviet-era waiting line to purchase toilet paper.
There hardly any passengers waiting in the terminal -- or authorized personnel. There was only a deadhead at my gate who made a call on his cell phone to find out if the flight is on time. After getting a beer, that guy was still offering assistance and ine of the ground crew seemed to be mucking around the desk. it didn't bother me as long as there was a pilot on the plane.
Travel Tip (humor): When the agent tears your boarding pass and you pretend to scream in pain, no one else will find it amusing.I don't recall being on a plane while it was being de-iced before. At first they seemed to shoot a pink lavatory soap all over followed by a green dishwashing liquid. I watched with bemused attachment as we were doused wth peculiar goop, and I wondered if this was how a porn actress felt...
While we await take-off, a woman is making announcemens in a slightly Swedish/Jamaican gibberish. I can't understand a word, but it sounds friendly and oddly comforting. During beverage service, the stewardess gives me 2 bags of peanuts and a full can of cola. (I assme my rugged good looks paid dividends again.)
Travel Tip (cheap beverages): They won't say anything if you're discreet about using your own nip bottles. Say you brought them from another flight if asked...After an hour stop in Cleveland, I was back in the air. I even saw Jacobs Field and the winding Cuyahoga even though I hade the middle seat. C'est la vie.
Travel Tip (dining): Don't ever buy a burger at Max & Erma's in the Cleveland airport. Each person at my sides was served snoemthing I might hesitate to eat at a picnic (but I'd eat if it was free).My flight arrived 30 minutes early, and my baggage hit the carousel in minutes.
Verdict after first leg:
It may have been a charmed day, but the free Manchester Airport shuttle is worth $120 if you can get to Sullivan Sq easily.