Well, I was home for almost a week this time before hitting the road again. Fortunately, this time it didn’t involve a time change and it was a mere 1 hour flight up north.
I decided to take the trip in order to see the Swiss inaugural out of SFO. I was actually offered the opportunity to take the inaugural, but after such a busy travel month I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. But there was a lot to see, as I’ve written already on previous posts, so I snagged a roundtrip on JetBlue for a mere $119.40 and was on my way.
June 2, 2010
JetBlue 1432 Lv Long Beach 1255p Arr San Francisco 223p
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2A, Runway 30, Depart 2m Late
San Francisco (SFO): Gate A2, Runway 28L, Arrive 6m Early
N547JB, Airbus A320, Forever Blue, 100% Full
Flight Time 57m
I left home an hour and 10 minutes early because I had to park myself in the remote lot. That was dumb. The shuttle was waiting for me and there wasn’t a soul in the security line. I had time to kill.
The terminal itself was a madhouse, made even worse by the cancellation of a flight to Oakland. Lots of people were in line trying to figure out what to do.
We boarded on time and had a long walk to the airplane. I can’t wait until all this construction work is done. I followed a parade of high school girls on to the plane, armed with their trendy sweatpants and big carry-on pillows. It was a large group of some sort, but I didn’t ask what they were doing.
We took off, I watched TV, we got some drinks, and then we descended. It was an uneventful flight and we had a nice and easy landing.
Our gate was still occupied, but the international gates are common-use. So we waited a couple of minutes and then they just did a swap and moved us to another. Nice. We were still a few minutes early and I went off for the Swiss festivities.
A couple days later, it was time to come back home. I had a friend drop me off at the international terminal at SFO and I quickly made a beeline for the kiosk and printed out my boarding pass. The security line wasn’t too long, but it was slow. I had plenty of time, so I wasn’t concerned. After a few minutes at the gate, it was time to board.
June 4, 2010
JetBlue 1435 Lv San Francisco 1235p Arr Long Beach 203p
San Francisco (SFO): Gate A10, Runway 1L, Depart 6m Early
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2A, Runway 30, Arrive 15m Early
N651JB, Airbus A320, BetaBlue, ~50% Full
Flight Time 1h1m
The flight was about as empty as I’ve seen in a long time. It was probably little more than half full at most, and I had a row to myself. Nice.
As we boarded, I noticed that we were on BetaBlue, the one JetBlue airplane that had that narrowband wifi product which let you check email for free. I was told it was supposed to still be working, but I couldn’t even find the network on the ground.
Once in the air, we passed through some low clouds and had a nice view looking back at the airport. As usual, the second we took off, the TVs stopped working. These TVs, however, instead of simply showing that it was searching for the signal, just wouldn’t let you flip to channels with no reception. Consequently, we ended up just being able to see the four movie channels (pay per view) and the moving map.
The flight attendants came through with their express beverage service with snacks. I hate the express service because you can’t get ginger ale, but I did like the pack of animal crackers. After that, they reset the TV system but that took a good 10 minutes or so. When it came back on, it still didn’t work.
I tried out the wifi on my smartphone, and was able to connect to the server. Unfortunately, that’s where it stopped. I couldn’t get or send email or go to any websites. It just kept telling me that the website I’m trying to reach isn’t supported. I know that’s not true, because I was trying to go to Yahoo and there’s a huge Yahoo logo billboard painted on the plane. It would be nice to see a better error message, but this is going to be disabled soon anyway, so I’m sure they hardly care about it.
At one point, we made a soft right turn and I wondered if there was traffic ahead. Sure enough, an American bird was speeding by and I snapped it in this shot. Cool, huh?
The TVs came back to us when we were well into our descent. I thought that maybe the wifi would work at that point, but it still didn’t. So, I just watched the marine layer below as we drifted down. We landed early and I was at my car in just a few minutes, heading home.
Wasn’t the BetaBlue experiment discontinued? That may be why it didn’t work for you.
It is being discontinued, but I sent a tweet to JetBlue asking if it still worked. They said it should.
What is an express service? Is it like what you get flying within Hawaii, a prepackaged cup with either water or punch and that’s it? It would seem odd to have a service like that between the bay area and the LA basin. Is that something they now do all the time?
You see that a lot on short flights. They pour a bunch of coke, diet coke and water and then hand it out.
Southwest crews typically do a full beverage/bar service and frequently ask if you want “anything else” even on the short hops.
Good for them
I’ve been thinking about that express service since I first read it. I’ve flown many times between the bay area and southern California and over the years there was always a full beverage service. Even between the bay area and a much shorter flight to Reno there was always a full beverage service. So this express service makes me think that either the F/A’s were lazy on that flight or JetBlue is hurting and an express type service saves money by not having to pay for all those other beverages and the fuel to cover their weight.
Is this a test so see how it goes and they might roll it out on all their flights to save money?
I know that we used to do it at America West on the Phoenix-LA run. It’s not that uncommon and it’s certainly not a laziness issue. The flight attendants were up the entire flight running around.
I know flying SYR-JFK and ROC-JFK JetBlue typically will only do the express service. I don’t find it to be a lazy issue but more just that there are 100+ pax that need to be served in the short time period between reaching the cruising altitude and beginning your approach.
Southwest flight attendants do full beverage service on flights such as Orlando-Fort Myers, Norfolk-Baltimore and Houston-Austin for 137 passengers on a regular basis. Both of those flights have flight times of approximately 30 minutes and I don’t think they even level out at a “cruising altitude”.
I was on a JetBlue flight from O’hare to JFK and they did an “express service” on that flight which is almost 2 hours.
“The terminal itself was a madhouse, made even worse by the cancellation of a flight to Oakland. Lots of people were in line trying to figure out what to do.”
Should’ve handed out Cranky Concierge business cards. ;-)
Andrew, a great idea, but he’d also have to make sure that people didn’t expect to help him right then and there. Or maybe at least have his backup folks work on it….