JetBlue to SFO (Trip Report)

I was home for less than a week before it was time to hit the road again. This time it was for my 5 year business school reunion. Fortunately, that meant just a quick hop up to the Bay Area. Though fares were cheaper out of LAX, I opted for JetBlue just so I could fly out of Long Beach. Total cost for the roundtrip: $149.20.

My flight was at 220p, but I didn’t bother having my friend pick me up from my house until 130p. Twenty minutes later, I was sitting patiently waiting to board. I love flying out of here, especially during the afternoon when the security lines are nonexistent.

April 30, 2009
JetBlue #1434 Lv Long Beach (LGB) 220p Arr San Francisco (SFO) 344p
LGB: Gate 2, Runway 30, Dept a Couple Minutes Early
SFO: Gate A2, Runway 28L, Arr ~15m Early
Aircraft: N580JB, Airbus A320-232, Named Mo’ Better Blue, Two Thirds Full
Seat: 11F
Flight Time: 58m

We boarded the not-very-full flight early and I was in row 12, right behind the exit row. As I sat down, I quickly realized two things. One, my TV wasn’t working. And two, the guy on the other side of my row was very loud and seemed to be trying to talk to anyone who was around him. Oh boy.

I mentioned to a flight attendant that my TV wasn’t working and she rushed by saying that they were going to do a “major reboot” of the system. That never happened, so a few minutes later, I flagged another flight attendant and asked if I could switch seats to where the TV worked. He said yes, I moved up to row 11 on the right side, an exit row where I had three seats all to myself.

Quickly after that, the third flight attendant came up and handed me a pamphlet saying loudly but very politely that next time I could pay for an upgrade to these seats if I wanted to. I thanked her and, not wanting her to think I just moved on my own, told her that the other flight attendant had allowed me to move up. She said she knew, and then she leaned in and said, “But other people in this area paid for these seats, and I don’t want them to be unhappy about that.” I thought she handled that very well. Excellent job of making sure that the people who paid more get value for it.

We took off and it was a routine flight up north except we had no blue chips today (just other snacks). Just as we started our descent, the loud guy decided to just sit himself in my row on the aisle. I had my earphones on and had just switched to the live map (which is awful – it’s about 75% ads and 25% crappy map) when he leaned over and said, “What are you watching?”

Oh hell no.

Then he leaned over and saw my screen, said, “Wow, we’re going 503 mph now. Awesome, we’ve sped up.” This guy needed to shut up.

Fortunately for me, the first flight attendant came by and said he had to move back. She said he hadn’t been briefed on the exit row operation so it was a violation of FAA rules for him to be there. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I didn’t care. He was gone.

We landed on the Bay runways and taxied over to the international terminal where JetBlue operates. I hopped on the AirTrain and took BART up to the City.

May 3, 2009
JetBlue #1433 Lv San Francisco (SFO) 100p Arr Long Beach (LGB) 229p
SFO: Gate A10, Runway 1L, Dept 30m Late
LGB: Gate 4A, Runway 30, Arr 15m Late
Aircraft: N563JB, Airbus A320-232, Named Blue Chip, ~99% Full
Seat: 13F
Flight Time: 57m

We showed up at SFO about 2 hours early so we could drop the rental car off that my wife had picked up when she flew in the day after me. It’s a real pain because they make you drop your car, walk all the way downstairs, and then come all the way back up to board the train. Once onboard, it was just a couple minutes before we arrived at the international terminal where we checked in at the kiosks.

I was a little nervous about being on time today since there was some fog and rain around. Being in the international terminal, I saw that Virgin America was seeing was 1 1/2 to 2 hour delays on many flights and another JetBlue flight to New York was 2 hours late. But ours wasn’t too bad. For the first time ever, the fact that our flight was coming from New York was actually a benefit. We were scheduled at 130p, only a half hour late.

It took a good 15 minutes or so to get through security, and then we trudged to the end of the hall to park ourselves for the wait. Thanks to the messy delays, both Virgin America and JetBlue were operating flights right on top of each other out of this gate. Kudos to Virgin America’s agents for being much more proactive than JetBlue’s about putting information out there.

JetBlue’s agents were slow to show up, but when they did, they said it would be 30 minutes late. We waited and our plane showed up at the gate as promised. They boarded us up quickly, and I believe that we made the Virgin America plane wait in the penalty box until we left the gate open for them.

We had a chatty captain who came out front to tell us our route. He said we would be taking off on the 10s which meant a long taxi around the airport. But we pushed back and they must have just turned the airport around. We took off on runway 1L, and that probably cut our taxi time by 10 minutes at least.

It was an incredible takeoff with an AirTran 737 on 1R at the same time. I could see him lifting up behind our wing and it provided a great view. I just wish I had whipped out my BlackBerry to take a picture.

We went into the clouds quickly and stayed there for more than half the flight. There were just a couple bumps, but the seatbelt sign went off quickly. My only complaint? When we boarded, maybe half the channels said “searching for signal.” As we took off, that jumped to about two thirds, and then quickly, no channels worked on the plane. This was true even when we broke out into blue skies as we headed south and didn’t let up until the last 10 minutes of the flight when some channels came back online.

A quick turn over Catalina and we were lined up for landing. I actually send a couple tweets about the flight including one about the TVs not working. JetBlue picked up on it, and soon enough I had a $15 credit tweeted back to me for a future flight. Great stuff.

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