Midwestern Swing on JetBlue and Frontier (Trip Report)

Frontier, JetBlue, Midwest Airlines, Trip Reports

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, Long Walk to Our JetBlue Plane at LGBI 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
Seat 8A
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 My JetBlue Mealwas 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
Seat 5A
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 Morning Light Climbing out of INDrows 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 Frontier Midwest Embraer at LGBwith 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
Seat 8A
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:

Airbus Cabin vs Embraer Cabin

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:

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17 comments on “Midwestern Swing on JetBlue and Frontier (Trip Report)

  1. Maybe it’s just me, but there always seems to be issues with lav water on the E-jets. I’ve had 3 UAX and 1 Air Canada flight delayed because of lav water issues. Come to think of it, they all were DEN flights. Maybe we just have strange water here in Colorado.

  2. Not directly related to the post but it goes along with the “Republic” themed past couple days…Does it bother anyone else that a plane that just has inflight internet is still said to have “inflight entertainment”? I suppose you can make a case for calling it that, but I just don’t think of pay-for-use internet as the same thing as a true IFE system.

    1. I think we’re getting there. Eventually, I bet content will be delivered via the internet whether it’s to a seatback system or to a computer, iPad, phone, whatever. It’s just a matter of time.

  3. “””””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”””””

    That is very smart of them to do, it would be interesting to see how many people like it enough to pay after getting their ‘free’ sample.

    Those two pics do look like you could be on the same plane. How did the aisle width compare?

  4. I can understand shilling for airlines and knowing where ones bread is buttered but seriously, chips and cookies is not a meal. It’s a snack. I’m pretty sure the English language will back me up on that.

      1. I think he may have been saying that a little tounge-in-cheek…the fact that you can take as many snacks as you want constitutes a “meal” in today’s airline world…

    1. Oh please. The whole “shilling for the airlines” bit gets tired very quickly.

      I would disagree that the English language would back you up. Here’s what Merriam Webster says:

      Main Entry: 1meal
      Pronunciation: \?m?l\
      Function: noun
      Etymology: Middle English meel appointed time, meal, from Old English m?l; akin to Old High German m?l time, Latin metiri to measure — more at measure
      Date: before 12th century
      1 : an act or the time of eating a portion of food to satisfy appetite
      2 : the portion of food eaten at a meal

      I had my protein (cashews), my carbs (plantain chips), and my, um, other carbs (dessert). Considering it was free, I’ll call it a meal because my appetite was satisfied.

      1. The whole “shilling for airlines” thing is not a bit. It’s my impression as I have read every single one of your posts for at least the past 2 years. I really don’t have a problem with it. There are enough pro-consumer blogs out there, we need all voices represented and your blog (which is really good) tends to lean towards the airline. Don’t be defensive about it, it’s okay. However, it is what it is.

        1. I’m sorry if I get defensive but all I have is my reputation and calling me a shill certainly hurts that so I will react quickly. I have never taken anything from JetBlue so by definition, it’s not possible for me to be a shill.

        2. I don’t think Cranky “shills” for the airlines: go look at his Cranky Jackass awards, for God’s sake (won by several airlines). Go look at his VX posts- if that’s “shilling”, it’s praising with faint damns. ;) What he IS is a an airline insider by virtue of his history as an employee of several airlines, so his perspective is different than someone who is a consumer/frequent flyer.

  5. what is this love affair with republic? a cr*ppy little regional buys up two great carriers – midwest and frontier – fires the midwest pilots, surely to chop the pay of frontier pilots, puts pilots in those planes with much less hours than majors (excluding frontier guys) and you just drool all over them and bedford. I am very suspicious about you receiving incentive from republic to write all this.

    1. Love affair with Republic? Um, this is just a trip report. It was a good trip but it was hardly a gushing review. Clearly you have something against Republic, but there are a few important facts that you might be forgetting.

      1) Midwest pilots would have lost their jobs regardless of whether Republic took them over or not. The best shot they had at keeping their jobs was to get bought by AirTran and be integrated, but once Midwest’s boss selfishly passed up that opportunity, he doomed Midwest.

      2) Republic was Frontier’s only option to get out of bankruptcy, last I checked. Southwest wasn’t able to put together a bid.

      3) I have not seen anywhere that Frontier pilot pay will be cut. If you know something I don’t, please enlighten us.

      There is no drooling going on here, just interesting discussions

  6. I will defend Cranky here, cause I would rather have the airline perspective than the Kate Hanni perspective. We are the consumers, so we want to also know the other side.

    And yes, all you can eat snacks AND free TV AND first bag free on JetBlue is definitely something enjoyable. Let’s not get into a semantic debate.

  7. Perhaps a bit off subject but, as an experienced traveler, don’t you think it’s a bit inappropriate to post evidence of using an electronic device below 10,000′?

  8. I did a search for “electronic device” after I posted because I figured you may have done it before. Unfortunately, including this instance, I don’t see you explaining yourself. The time you did it in the cockpit, you claimed you had permission from the pilot but, let’s face it, it’s not his call. Primarily, it is a federal (FCC, really, with some FAA additions) regulation you are violating and, in this case (as a passenger), you are also disobeying the lighted signs, placards, and direct instructions of uniformed personnel (FA) which is another federal regulation.

    You make your choices but one of the main reasons such activity is prohibited is because most portable electronic devices become missiles in a crash (you just can’t hold on no matter what you think) which puts your fellow passengers at risk. For my sake, I hope you’ll stop doing it because, really, gray-cloud approaches aren’t that interesting; in my humble opinion.

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