This trip served a couple of purposes. First, I was meeting up with some airline friends in Chicago for a get together. Second, I was going to visit with a company who makes onboard meals (look for that past soon). And lastly, I was going down to Indianapolis to see my in-laws. It was a long and busy trip, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. I’ve been incredibly swamped with work and just wanted to stay home and catch up.
In fact, I woke up the morning of the trip not even sure if I was going to go. I ended up deciding that yes, it was worth taking the trip, so I dragged myself together and called a cab to pick me up an hour before the flight. Yes, that’s the beauty of flying out of Long Beach, and JetBlue’s perfectly-timed mid-morning flight to Chicago fit the bill, especially at $144 one way.
I arrived at the airport, snagged my boarding pass (I couldn’t check in online), and realized I was at the north gates. Ugh. See, JetBlue primarily uses the south gates, but there are a couple random flights that they need to stick up north. The security lines there aren’t really able to handle it, so I sat there for 15 minutes waiting to get through. After I was through, I took a seat for just couple minutes before boarding.
May 6, 2010
JetBlue 934 Lv Long Beach 1030a Arr Chicago/O’Hare 432p
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 24, Runway 30, Depart On Time
Chicago/O’Hare (ORD): Gate E8, Runway 28, Arrive 30m Early
N858JB, Airbus A320, Song Sung Blue, 100% Full
Flight Time 3h15m
Our plane was parked fairly far away, so we had a nice walk in the pleasant sunshine. The only problem? It was a little warm and I was dressed for chilly Chicago. We pushed back right on time and launched out toward the ocean. After flipping around in the still skies, we pointed east and stayed on a southerly track until we got toward Albuquerque to ride the wind.
I got myself a ginger ale and a meal. Wait, JetBlue doesn’t have meals? I beg to differ. They have a ton of different snacks and you can take as many as you want. I had cashews, plaintain chips, and chocolate chip cookies. It was a pretty good meal, and it was free. Then I sat back and remembered once again why I love LiveTV and don’t care about internet.
If I can go online, I’m going to do work. With LiveTV, I don’t have that choice and I watch things I wouldn’t otherwise watch. I saw a repeat of the previous night’s Stanford – Ohio St volleyball semifinals match. That was excellent.
There were a few cloud layers as we descended, and we headed out over the lake before looping around to land to the west where it was a very hectic week of work and play.
More than a week later, I was so excited to finally come home after being away for 15 of the last 22 nights, and man, was I tired. With such an early morning flight home, I tried to get about 5 hours of sleep, but even those hopes were dashed when the ash cloud rolled over London and I had to help a client out of a jam. (It was a success.)
We got to the airport at 545a for our $175 flight in the darkness with rain starting to fall. Having checked in, we went straight to security where we found a long, disorganized line. We got in the long “expert” line, but after 10 minutes, we were all redirected to the main line. Later, we found that it was still open on the other side so we were just frustrated. It took a whopping 30 minutes to get through security.
May 17, 2010
Frontier 847 Lv Indianapolis 645a Arr Denver 733p
Indianapolis (IND): Gate B15, Runway 5L, Depart 5m Late
Denver (DEN): Gate A39, Runway 16L, Arrive 5m Early
N904FR, Airbus A319, Grace the Trumpeter Swan, 100% Full
Flight Time 2h22m
There was a long line of people boarding, so we just got in it. When we were about halfway there (with very few people sitting down), they announced that they would now begin general boarding with rows 15 to 23. Huh? There’s no way all those people who had already boarded were preboarders. When the next rows were never called, the remaining few stragglers of us just walked on the plane and nobody said a word.
Once onboard, we had no trouble finding bin space and took our seats, one row behind Stretch seating. Hmm, does that mean we need to start calling the regular seats Squeeze seating? The legroom actually was perfectly fine and the dark green leather seats were quite comfortable.
We launched into the muck (I don’t remember the last time the weather was good flying out of Indiana) and went through several layers of clouds before finally peaking out just above the clouds at 30,000 feet or so. I love flying in the early morning light.
We had purchased Classic fares which meant pre-reserved seats and free TV. On Frontier, everyone gets free TV until you get in the air, so they give you a taste and hope you want to pay to continue your show. But since we were Classic, the flight attendant came by and swiped his card. He had a list of people who had Classic or Classic Plus fares so we didn’t have to show our boarding pass.
I had a glass of water in the air and then watched some TV. This time it was the Jetsons and Saved by the Bell. Of course, I alternated that with just staring out the window as the clouds fell away to reveal a beautiful early morning view.
We descended in blue skies as I drifted in an out of consciousness. We landed and taxied to the gate where we sat for awhile, waiting for the jet bridge operator to figure out how to make it work. No worries, we were still early and got off without any trouble.
We found our connecting gate and to my surprise, we were on a Midwest-liveried airplane. Despite having flown “Midwest” before, this was my first time on a plane that actually said Midwest on the side.
May 17, 2010
Frontier 1011 Lv Denver 840a Arr Long Beach 1015a
Denver (DEN): Gate A42, Runway 17R, Depart 15m Late
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 22, Runway 30, Arrive 13m Late
N171HQ, Embraer 190, Midwest color, 85% Full
Flight Time 2h20m
We entered the jet bridge to see a basket of earphones telling people their TV might be free. The people in front of us picked them up, clearly not knowing there were no TVs onboard the E-jet. I knew this was going to be a problem for the airline.
This airplane had the Midwest blue seats along with the old extra-wide Signature seating up front. This really is the closest I’m going to get to flying Midwest, and you know what? Those coach seats were really comfortable. If you’ve never been on an E-jet, the cabin is narrower but it doesn’t feel that way. Here’s a shot I took of both cabins from the same perspective:
We took our seats and it looked like we would be on time, but we weren’t. No explanation was given but I did see a flight attendant messing with the water in the lav.
I was so tired that after pushback, I closed my eyes and drifted in and out of sleep until about halfway through the flight when they came around with their only drink service. I had ginger ale. The flight was uneventful, though I was surprised to see some thick clouds masking a wintry landscape on the way in to Long Beach.
The flight attendant up front was very friendly and put up with some rather obnoxious passengers on board. She also provided some comic relief when every time she tried to make an announcement, the captain would interrupt. The whole plane was laughing.
Coming in to Long Beach was fun with lots of low clouds that broke just as we came in over the city. Here’s a 5 minute video if you’re interested: