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.


14 Responses to JetBlue to SFO (Trip Report)

  1. David SFeastbay says:

    So CF when they send you a $15 credit, what is it a code number you would use when buying a new ticket?

    Was the no TV due to the foggy/cloudy weather or just something wrong on the plane. I never thought about it before since I’ve not flown on a plane that had TV service, does the weather outside really made a difference.

  2. CF says:

    David SFeastbay – There is a voucher code and then an individual control number. They just sent it via Twitter, and I’ve actually already used it for a flight in June. Painless.

    I can’t imagine the TV thing was entirely due to cloudy weather. It seemed strange that we got at least some of the channels on the ground but not in the air. There were more clouds to penetrate coming from the ground. Also, we were out of the clouds and in the sun for at least 15 to 20 minutes with no signal. It was only during the last 10 minutes of the flight that some of the channels started to come back. It was weird.

  3. Neil S says:

    It’s not a cloud thing. I fly them all the time from JFK to ROC, always crap weather in the winter and the TVs work just fine. For the 38 minutes we’re in the air. Usually on an A320 with 12 people on it.

  4. Robert W. says:

    Neil S.is right it’s not a cloud thing. I was in the aviation busines (military and civil) for 31 years. I think it’s B.S. System the stews have. Tell the pax anything and maybe they will buy it.
    I tried explaining how we checked out some systems on the ground.to a stew. She wouldn’t believe it

  5. Dan says:

    Sometimes the Satellite dish just simply can’t find the satellites because of a rotation error (the automated dish sometimes just needs a reset to clear out its internal memory or whatever), or the internal receivers are just screwed up enough to just not wanna work without getting looked at.

    The rotation thing happens on our boat with our TracVision dish… Sometimes it just aimlessly searches for a signal, until the system reboots and it then locks on with no issues at all…

  6. dpb says:

    Wow, that is real customer service and amazing. I wonder if they do that for anyone, or the fact you are the CF?

    Either way gotta love technology.

  7. Artie says:

    Totally off subject: but can I just say, as a fellow avid user of the “Oh hell no” phrase, I was tickled to no end by your use of it. Absolutely correct context for its usage :) lol

    Glad you had a great trip. I must admit I have never flown JetBlue…they are always more expensive for the routes/times I look to fly. For example, a R/T from JFK to LAX for first weekend of June is $214 on Delta but over $100 more on Jetblue when I checked. They always seem to be at least $50-$100 more anytime I check. Weird, considering everybody else always seems to be able to find cheaper rates with them.

  8. Flight Wisdom Guru says:

    We put out a trip report on our full flights to/from Florida recently.

    http://blog.flightwisdom.com/2009/05/10/musings-jetblue/

    Honestly, they did not handle seats with malfunctioning TV well on our recent flights, in our opinion.

  9. Doug Swalen says:

    “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.”

    That sounds like a bunch of BS to me to make the guy move back. I’ve been exit row several times, most recently on Continental and I have never received a special briefing.

    “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.”

    Wow. I’ve staked out 1L/1R many times from across the pond and I’ve never seen takeoffs that close together. I’ve seen planes leave within a few seconds of each other but not as close as you described.

  10. CF says:

    dpb – It’s not just for me. The $15 voucher is something that’s in their customer promise, so everyone who has a broken TV should get it. If it’s recorded on the flight, then the vouchers are automatically emailed If not, then you can complain and ask for it. Also, anyone who sends them a tweet with a customer service issue will get a quick direct message response. You can see countless examples at twitter.com/JetBlue.

    Artie – JetBlue isn’t always the cheapest. We paid more to fly them on this trip b/c we could fly out of Long Beach. But that’s one of the reasons JetBlue is successful. They’re able to get a fare premium in many markets.

    Doug – Yeah, it sounded like BS, but I didn’t care. I just wanted him gone. FWIW, I think he may have actually been an employee. The way he was talking, it made him sound very knowledgeable about the airline and its operation. If that’s the case, then the flight attendant was probably being a lot more polite than she probably wanted to be with this guy.

    I’ve seen the parallel departures on the 1s before. I actually can’t believe they run them so close, but the aircraft on 1R make a quick right turn after takeoff so they gain separation quickly. It’s a stunning site, that’s for sure.

  11. JK says:

    CF, Amazing how things that ought to work, like a simple onboard TV, don’t, while things that do work, like Channel 9 on UA, are simply shut off by some misguided [my opinion] pilot.

    About SFO, for flightseeing junkies like myself, nothing better than experiencing a landing or takeoff there with another flight just off your wing.

  12. Dan says:

    Speaking of premiums, I scored a R/T BOS-LAX flight two weeks from today for $195 including taxes on Delta…It amazes me how its $150 for a 600 mile roundtrip itineary, and $195 for a 5,400 mile roundtrip itineary.

    Gotta love the airlines!

  13. Doug Swalen says:

    “I’ve seen the parallel departures on the 1s before. I actually can’t believe they run them so close, but the aircraft on 1R make a quick right turn after takeoff so they gain separation quickly.”

    True. Still it’s rather bizarre to see them do that. I’ve seen some wierd stuff at that airport. I saw a Lufthansa 747 taxi all the way down to 28R, hold for takeoff, and then go taxi back to the gate. I was on a United 777 that sat at the runway end between 28L and 28R for 10 minutes while the crew had to wait for Chicago to give them the proper weight data. They couldn’t take off without it so we just sat there while jumbo after jumbo turned on to 28L and took off.

    I even saw one of SFO’s infamous “go arounds” which have been in the news out here recently as the number of missed approaches skyrocketed last year. I was eating dinner at Kincaid’s, which is a great spot on the water to eat and watch the action (from a distance), and I was watching this jet on final continue to descend and then at the last second, with less than half a mile to go, start to slowly climb. The jet never gains a lot of altitude as it goes right over SFO. Too bad it was dark because I would have loved to see what forced the go around. My girlfriend was flying in to SFO the year before and her flight had to do a go around. She said the pilot was pissed.

    “CF, Amazing how things that ought to work, like a simple onboard TV, don’t, while things that do work, like Channel 9 on UA, are simply shut off by some misguided [my opinion] pilot.”

    JK, I agree. Our flight back from HNL last week had the pilot shut off Ch 9. We even requested it be turned on and we told that the channel is at the pilot’s discretion and the pilot had decided not to turn it on. My girlfriend commented that the pilot was probably worried about saying something wrong/bad over the air and it getting relayed on the internet somehow. I said, well since I was on board it would be a safe bet it WOULD have been relayed on the internet.

    I love listening to the cross talk. Particularly when its at SFO and it’s an asian flight. It can be rather humerous, especially when it’s a Chinese airline. It’s a wonder some of these pilots are allowed to fly overseas when they have so much trouble with English.

    “About SFO, for flightseeing junkies like myself, nothing better than experiencing a landing or takeoff there with another flight just off your wing.”

    I never have. But years ago at the old Denver International airport I was flying in on United and looked out the window and there was a Continental jet right next to us. I commented to the guy next to me, “Gee, I hope they have more than one runway…”

  14. CM says:

    The SFO Rental Car Center set-up is ridiculous for returns with the down-to-go-back-up that you described. As a National customer (4th floor – same level as the train) I always use the disembarkation doors. I stay out of the way of the eager flyer-come-drivers and I wait to see the doors on the opposite side open. It wouldn’t work if everyone did it, but if everyone did it they might realize how poorly designed it is and fix it.

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