Jetting to Smurf (Trip Report)

I love trips like this. Just as our cold June and early July gave way to sizzling 90 degree heat, it was time for me to head to the mountains. My brother and I joined 7 other guys for some Fishing in Tahoedrinking, hiking, and fishing up at Lake Tahoe.

What the heck does this have to do with Smurfs? Well, in the airline pricing world, you rarely say the name of a city. Instead, you just sound out the airport code. Even though there’s no “r” in SMF (the airport code for Sacramento), it somehow became known as Smurf.

I had the option of flying out of LAX to Reno and then driving an hour or flying from Long Beach to Sacramento on JetBlue and driving two hours. Needless to say, I chose Sacramento and the tickets were $179.40 roundtrip.

As usual, I left for the airport an hour before the flight and I was sitting around in the boarding lounge (read: double wide trailer) within 20 minutes. For midday flights when the lines are shorter, I may just start leaving home later.

July 15, 2010
JetBlue 262 Lv Long Beach 1119a Arr Sacramento 1237p
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2A, Runway 30, Depart 1m Early
Sacramento (SMF): Gate B25, Runway 16R, Arrive 6m Early
N589JB, Airbus A320, Blue Skies Ahead, ~75% Full
Seat 6F
Flight Time 1h2m

When we started boarding, the friendly gate agent was very careful to tell people where to go, especially since it was a long walk to the plane. He said something like “when you get out there, stay within the metal fences and you’ll get to the plane. It’s the only one out there and it’s called Blue Skies Ahead.” I started smirking, thinking about people wandering aimlessly looking for planes, getting lost, left to die. It’ll be nice when the ramp work is done here.

The flight was completely uneventful and enjoyable. I do have only a couple minor nits that JetBlue might want to think about.

I get that LiveTV is free, and I have no trouble with JetBlue putting ads up to make revenue off the product, but I hate the timing. They let you watch TV on the ground without any issues, but then when you take off, they run ads for a couple minutes. I was in the middle of watching the Daily Show at the time, and I missed the end because of the JetBlue ads.

The other issue is with this “express” service. Once again it was water, Coke, Diet Coke, or Sprite along with Doritos, Munchie Mix, and Animal Crackers. That was it. Since JetBlue has been promoting its new blueberry juice option, I thought I’d give it a try. Not on this flight. Same for my beloved ginger ale. And not even blue chips?

I asked the flight attendant what the cutoff was for a normal service. She said it was an hour, and then looked a bit sheepish after realizing the captain had just told us our flight would be an hour and two minutes. She then said, “Well, it’s really by route. We just don’t have enough time to do a full service on a full flight.”

That Sacramento Terminal Bexcuse was pretty lame since this flight wasn’t nearly full, and the flight attendants had plenty of time to sit in the back of the plane and chat. I know the flight attendants don’t decide if they run a full service or not, so something tells me management might want to look at this policy again.

Other than those minor annoyances, the flight was great. We landed a couple minutes early in the retro Sacramento Terminal B. I was on my way to meet my brother and friends to head up to Lake Tahoe.

It was a fantastic weekend, and after the nine of us caught 27 salmon in the lake, we had a great feast. Tired and a little hungover, we headed back down the mountain.Sacramento Restroom As you would expect, there was traffic on a Sunday afternoon, but we arrived at Sacramento Airport as planned at 430p. I dumped them off for their flight and then I went to return the car before mine.

The shuttle dropped me off again at Terminal B, which lies in the shadows of the massive new Sacramento terminal project. That’ll have to be the subject of another post. For now, I was stuck in a time warp. (Check out the restroom sign.) I sailed through security and popped on to free wifi to do some work before it was time to board.

July 18, 2010
JetBlue 265 Lv Sacramento 645p Arr Long Beach 807p
Sacramento (SMF): Gate B25, Runway 16R, Depart On Time
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2, Runway 30, Arrive 11m Early
N504JB, Airbus A320, Shades of Blue, ~100% Full
Seat 9A
Flight Time 1h0m

Although the plane came in on time from Long Beach, it was slow to deplane and we found ourselves pushing up against the departure time. Finally, we started boarding and it started with a bit of bad news.

I saw that we were on N504JB, the second airplane JetBlue took on back in 2000. It looked good for its age, but the insides weren’t keeping up today. They announced that LiveTV wasn’t working. Boo . . . ish. I love LiveTV, but I get a $15 credit (as does everyone else on the flight) since it didn’t work. I’ll take it.

The boarding process was nothing short of awesome. A woman whom I believed to be the station manager started walking the line, making sure everyone had their boarding passes out and even tore off pieces to make sure it would be easy for the gate agent to rip. We boarded very quickly and pushed almost right on time. Great work.

Once onboard, I found a packed flight, and of course, I was the one sitting next to the guy who just had to be farting his way through. On top of that, he was talkative. Without LiveTV to hide behind, I was in trouble.

Fortunately, he did let up as we made a mad dash toward the runway. We launched into the warm evening and headed out toward the Sierras. It was a beautiful ride down as we butted up against the foothills Sunset Coming in to LGBthe whole way. We had another express beverage service and I did some work.

We descended in over a smoggy LA. I had a great view of the beach on my left and enjoyed watching airplanes come out of LAX, climbing high as we dropped down.

We came through the thin marine layer before landing in a nice and cool Long Beach.

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