After my last Scotland travelogue, this one is going to be pretty boring, but hey, it still involves a flight and it’s still worth writing. In yet another sign of just how quickly time passes, this year marked my 15th reunion from business school. That meant I’d need to head up to the Bay Area to see some old friends. I needed to be closer to SFO on the way up but was indifferent on the return since Stanford is right in between. Naturally, I just looked at schedules between Southwest and JetBlue so I could pick the one that fit best from Long Beach. On a trip like this, there was no way I was going to brave LAX.
I took JetBlue up for $88.30 (using an old credit) and then paid a mere $49 for a Southwest return from San Jose. (That must have been an intro fare since the flight had only started a few days earlier.) This was not only cheap but it would help avoid the dreaded SFO delays any time a cloud rolls by.
For the flight up, I checked in on my phone and left the office about an hour before departure. At the airport, I was surprised to see that the next phase of renovations well underway. The old baggage claim areas on the south side (where JetBlue was) are gone and walled off. That’s where they’re building the new ticketing building.
Security was completely empty to the point where I had to wait for the TSA agent to stop talking to someone else so she could run the bag through the belt. She was oblivious to anyone actually being there.
On the other side, I snapped a quick shot of Bluerica, a special livery that looks better up close than from afar. (This one honors Puerto Rico.) Then I walked further down to where my regular-liveried aircraft was waiting.
May 2, 2019
JetBlue 2136 Lv Long Beach 144p Arr San Francisco 314p
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 9, Runway 30, Depart 7m Early
San Francisco (SFO): Gate A11B, Runway 28L, Arrive 16m Early
N834JB, Airbus A320-232, “Keep Blue and Carry On” Blueberries tail, ~85% Full
Seat 8A, Coach
Flight Time 57m
I had found an uncommonly forward seat 8A when I booked, and that meant I was in group C. I boarded and was pleased to see the newer-old interior. You know what I mean if you’ve flown JetBlue. It’s not the one that looks ancient with squared-off seats and tiny screens, but it’s also not the new fancy one.
I pulled down my armrest to find it falling apart. After smacking it and pushing and pulling, I was able to get it locked back into place. I tried to plug in to watch TV but they weren’t letting that happen yet. So I just waited as we filled up and pushed back a little early.
After the safety briefing, they turned on the intro spiel for the TV where you have to sit through a bunch of ads. I found this latest iteration to be pure torture. They showed the Marriott Bonvoy ad twice and there was nothing I could do about it but rip my earbuds out of my ear and look away.
We took off and headed west as usual before pointing north. The flight attendants came through with drinks and I had water. I also had a bag of Pop Corners. I had turned on wifi and while it wasn’t as blazing fast as usual, it was plenty fast for me to get some work done. Just when I was hitting my stride, it was time to descend.
Fortunately it was a clear day at SFO so I had no delays to worry about. We came parallel to the peninsula and then touched down. We taxied around for awhile and then we sat, waiting for our gate to clear. It wasn’t all that long before we parked, a few minutes early.
On the way out, I noticed how far along they’re coming on that Terminal 1 redo. The hotel near the entrance to the airport is also coming up nicely. I hadn’t been to SFO for some time, and apparently I’ve missed a lot.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to return to SFO on this trip. My wife and kids and had flown up Saturday morning on a VERY empty flight on Southwest from Long Beach to San Jose (she didn’t think there were even 40 onboard). But we figured the return would be more full on a Sunday afternoon. It was, but not by all that much. I got my first hint of how empty it would be when I checked us in a day in advance. We had A29-32 with no EarlyBird purchased.
We left our friend’s house and drove down to San Jose. I was a little confused. Our gate said 13, which is in A, but Southwest is in Terminal B. I didn’t realize Southwest had stretched into A. (Apparently the new temporary gates which just opened at the end of B have solved that issue.)
Since we needed to print out boarding passes, we walked into B and did that. Then we went through security (took only about 5 minutes) and started the long walk over to A. If there’s one thing I don’t like about the San Jose Airport, it’s the long walks involved.
We made it to our gate. Even though there was limited seating, it wasn’t full. This was despite being next to a gate with a flight to Burbank.
Our former China Eastern aircraft was at the gate waiting for us. They weren’t in a big hurry, but when they called for boarding I ambled over to get in line. Then we boarded.
May 5, 2019
Southwest 6957 Lv San Jose 1p Arr Long Beach 215p
San Jose (SJC): Gate 13, Runway 30R, Depart 1m Early
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2, Runway 30, Arrive 7m Early
N7820L, Boeing 737-79P, Hot Dog on a Stick colors, ~60% Full
Seat 2B, Coach
Flight Time 56m
Flying into Long Beach means you can use the stairs in the back to get off, so I prefer to just stay away from the middle when I can. Our early boarding number meant we didn’t have to go to the back. We took 2AB and 3AB.
During boarding, the flight attendant kept telling people there was no reason to crowd. Just go to the back and there would be plenty of room. In the end, she mentioned that we were expecting 87 people onboard. For a prime time flight on Sunday afternoon, that is not good. (And the fares were really cheap.) Then again, this route just started, so it can take time to ramp up. I know this route has never done well for JetBlue, so it might just be a dog. I’ll enjoy it while I can.
We pushed back on time. The pilots said they had just come up from Long Beach and it was a nice ride, so they expected the same for the return trip. We taxied along and saw the new temp gates which had yet to open.
With nobody ahead of us, we took off toward the northwest and then climbed fast. In fact, the fast climb followed by the rapid leveling on a couple occasions made me feel a little airsick, something that almost never happens. But that feeling subsided quickly once we were in cruise way up at 37,000 feet.
It was a pretty day to fly, and the flight attendants came through with drinks and pretzels. After a short time up there, we started heading down. It was a spectacular sight as we came in over the ocean, west of Los Angeles and had a great view of LAX.
We then threw a lasso around Palos Verdes. The view of the port was impressive, with many tankers lined up.
We came in over Huntington Beach and then lined up for a greaser of a landing nice and early. From there, it was an easy trip home.