Trip Report: Jetting on JetBlue

As my wedding quickly approaches, the trips up north to do wedding stuff seem to get more frequent. This time, we crammed a million different things into two days, and really, I’m exhausted. But, I have to commend JetBlue for an almost flawless performance. The flights were on time, the legroom was great, the flight attendants were excellent, and we had an welcome surprise on the return. For $139 roundtrip per person, I have no complaints. (And I wouldn’t have had any complaints at a higher fare either.) If this is why they say they no longer “fly” but rather “jet,” then I guess I much prefer “jetting.”

June 7, 2008
JetBlue #246 Lv Long Beach (LGB) 11a Arr Oakland (OAK) 1218p
LGB: Gate 3, Runway 30, Dept ~On Time
OAK: Gate 9, Runway 29, Arr ~On Time
Aircraft: N520JB, Airbus A320-232, “Blue Velvet”, ~90% Full
Seat: 13A
Flight Time: 55m

How often can you leave your house 1 hour before departure time and still have 10 minutes to sit at the gate and wait? JetBlue LegroomThat’s the beauty of Long Beach Airport for us. We left one hour prior to departure with our boarding passes already in hand. Security took 10 minutes (longest I’ve ever seen at LGB), and we were at the gate with plenty of time to spare. The terminal was a madhouse. I really can’t wait for them to build the new one.

We boarded early and took our seats just behind the exit row. Unfortunately, only 10 of the 37 channels actually worked on the TV on this flight, but hey, 10 channels is still plenty to keep me entertained for an hour. That being said, the map is NOT one of those channels. Useless MapEven with the upgrade to the new Google Map, it’s really pretty weak. You don’t get much info, there’s a ton of advertising on the channel, and the airplane is so big that it takes up half the state. See the picture at right to see the most useless map – the one that was zoomed way out. Fortunately, some were better than this but they still were lacking.

Our flight was a perfect example of how crowded LA airspace is. They held us at the end of the runway for a couple minutes so they could space us properly with LAX flights. Then we departed and headed slightly northwest, holding at 9,000 ft in what felt like slow motion until we turned north over Malibu. Once around Simi Valley, we finally throttled up and climbed on our way to Oakland.

The flight attendants came through with a choice of blue chips or chocolate chip cookies (which were proudly 70% organic – huh?). Then, it was time to descend. We touched down, made it to the gate, and got off the plane in less time than it took to take the bus to the new rental car center, which I believe is located in Berkeley. (Translation: It’s friggin’ far away.)

June 9, 2008
JetBlue #251 Lv Oakland (OAK) 320p Arr Long Beach (LGB) 443p
OAK: Gate 9A, Runway 29, Dept ~On Time
LGB: Gate 4A, Runway 30, Arr ~On Time
Aircraft: N646JB, Airbus A320-232, “Bravo Lima Uniform Echo”, ~99% Full
Seat: 20F
Flight Time: 1h5m

After a morning up in the Napa area, we headed back down to Oakland for our flight home. We dropped our car off at the rental car center and went to the terminal. (Note: Fox Rent a Car tells us that a PT Cruiser is anywhere from an Economy to a Mid Size, so don’t bother renting a Mid Size from these guys – you’ll pay more for the same car.)

The terminal was empty, and we walked all the way down to the JetBlue counters to print out our boarding passes from the kiosks. Then we walked all the way back to the entrance for security screening. (This is why I love common-use kiosks – they’re much more conveniently located.) Security was empty, and I sailed through. My fiancee, however, got stopped for some reason. They looked through her bag, found nothing, and she was on her way. Then we just waited in the terminal which seems to have every single eatery and shop under renovation right now.

I’m not sure why, but our flight didn’t board until 15 minutes before departure. It had been sitting there for awhile, so that wasn’t the reason. The nearly full flight (the seat next to us was the only empty seat I saw) boarded very quickly, and the flight attendants thanked us for helping them get back on schedule. We pushed just about on time, maybe a couple minutes late.

New Bay BridgeIt was a beautifully clear weekend in the Bay Area, and we shot up into the sky for one of my favorite departure views. Just a few seconds after getting airborne, the pilot came on and said while he usually didn’t speak this early in the flight, we had received a gift. The controllers had granted our request for an aerial tour of the Bay Area before we headed on our way. I had done this once on an America West flight out of SFO but never out of Oakland.

So, he leveled off at 3,000 ft and stayed around 220 kts (according to FlightAware) as we looped around the City. Unfortunately, I was on the right side so my views were primarily of the East Bay, Angel Island, and Marin. Up above you can see the view of the new Bay Bridge under construction. And below you can see Treasure Island. The old Pan Am flying boats used to come and go in the area at the bottom of the picture.

Treasure IslandOnce our tour was through, we were on our way. I watched tv and enjoyed watching the vast Pacific out the window as we headed south. After the drinks had been served, a flight attendant came on and asked that everyone who had a soda can take the pull tab off and hand it to her. She personally collects the pull tabs to donate to her local Ronald McDonald House, and they apparently get a penny for each one they turn in. That was a really nice gesture, and apparently she does this all on her own. Another flight attendant said JetBlue had given her an award for it.

We soon started descending. On my side, I could see glimpses of the Channel Islands and Catalina through the holes in the thin marine layer. We swung around and landed in LGB right on time, but only after touching down closer to the middle of the runway than the beginning. Glad they built that thing for long haul Douglas jets – there was plenty of room. Since we were in the back, we got off on the rear stairs and walked on the tarmac into the terminal and then straight to the curb.

It was a great trip, highlighted by the ease of flying out of LGB. As much as I like trying other airlines when I can, it’s hard to justify doing that when JetBlue can fly me up to the Bay Area out of LGB. I’ll be back again soon.

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