You could title this trip report "Sole searching in NYC". Yes, i'm well aware that I used "sole" instead of "soul" and the reason for that is this trip was to visit a product developer in footwear technology for my startup and despite the fact I ultimately choose a different developer I dare to say both meanings applied fully to this trip.
Like most B6 flights originating from the west my flight (flight 98 to be exact) departed at 11:58pm for an early morning arrival into JFK. We had printed off our boarding passes at home so no need to pay a visit to the check-in counter except for me to pick up my earned JetBlue bag tag as a memento. At this late hour expected security to be relatively light but I should have known better since the late night/early mornings are prime time for east bound departures so naturally terminal A was a beehive of activity with a potpourri of passengers families in particular heading out east to the vacation spots in south Florida.
Considering all I had to look forward to onboard catering wise was a bag of blue chips I decided to pick up a light meal. Unfortunately, at this hour despite the large number of passengers traveling the only options for food were McDonalds, the off-brand pizza bar or a sub-standard criminally overpriced deli sandwich. Since I enjoy eating real food and not pink slim, pizza it was and it appeared that dozens of others possessed the same mentality as the line was more than double than it was for the golden arches. Lady luck must have been on my side because I purchased the last slice of pepperoni pizza and no more were to be made that shift.
While waiting at the gate, JetBlue made it's legendary customer service known early on as the gate agent went around to offer bottled water to passengers, how nice! I like JetBlue already! Prior to boarding, an announcement was made that it would be a full flight and the airline offered to check passenger bags for free to save overhead space. I volunteered.
Boarding started at roughly 10:35pm and since I was seated in 7A and my mother in 23C I was in the last group to board. There was a bit of a queue in the jet-bridge so I managed to peek around the door to get a glimpse of the front cabin. A cool feature I noticed in the flight deck was that the throttle had Micky Mouse glove covers (how fun!). I reach my seat, settle in and immediately begin beta testing the inflight entertainment OS. Easy to navigate with enough heterogeneity to keep one occupied for a few hours to say the least but since it ran on local time cable that meant most of the shows were ether awful vulgar cartoons (think Robot Chicken or "shudder" Mike Tyson mysteries) or equally awful infomercials. At least CNN was on. CNN is always there for me. However, two crucial disappointments was the fact that nether the XM nor the LiveMap were working. In addition, as comfy as the leather seats were, the aircraft was definetly showing its age and in urgent need of a cabin revamp.
Joining me in my row was a middle aged man wearing glasses who largely kept to himself and between us a bubbly and friendly "hippy-ish" woman who just seemed happy to be here. IMG_1327 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Push back commenced with the FA's performing the demonstration manually completed with an amusing but somewhat cheesy "sit back, relax and enjoy the JetBlue experience". After a long taxi journey to the edge of the airfield our aircraft approaches the active runway. No need for a hold short as the v2500's spooled up producing their trademark buzzsaw sound and accelerated at a leisurely pace for a long, high altitude take-off roll.
Once airborne, I was still "erked" about the XM radio not functioning so much so I decided to utilize the free inflight wifi to download the XM app on my iphone and enroll for the free trial so I could "re-create" the experience.
Refreshments were served about 30 mins inflight. JetBlue uses a system similar to Southwest Airlines to where the FA's come around to take drink orders and return later with a tray of drinks. The dry edibles followed shortly with another FA holding a large basket with various goodies to distribute. I settle for JetBlue's famous blue chips accompanied with a side of cookies and a Sprite. Nothing particularly special about the chips aside from the color but I smugly received them as a rite of passage. I am now an official JetBlue passenger!
Once the snack service concluded the cabin went virtually dormant. Despite the flight being full it was one of the quietest rides i've flown on, very peaceful. Aside from the flight crew (and me) just about every passenger went to snooze town. I logged into JetBlue's wifi on my laptop and was able to access the moving map on their app. I didn't really do much aside from listening to music , BS around on the wifi, and passively checking up on the map. However, my neighbor's PTV constantly flicked on/off and eventually I decided to reach over her arm rest to shut off the PTV entirely (emphasis on the decaying cabin). The cool thing about night flights out east is you're able to take awesome shots of cities such as Chicago, Indianapolis, etc
Outer suburbs of NYC, were getting close and the v2500's are spoiling down. IMG_1340 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
During approach, the lead FA chimes in on the intercom with a soft and light hearted good morning to inform the passengers that we'll be landing soon while the cabin lights turn back on. Shortly after, the FA's come around to distribute hot towels and orange juice which I found highly impressive as I've never seen such service onboard domestic flights! The wake up service was cutting it close as the FA's were still collecting trash when the unmistakable "THUMP" sound of the landing gear occurred and the plane made one last rotation over the Hudson before final approach
JFK was relatively quiet at this early hour but the aircraft must have chosen the shortest runway because as soon as the rear gear kissed the asphalt the pilots immediately slammed on the brakes, used full thrust reverse and I nearly dropped my camera due to the shaking. But nonetheless, T5 was only a brief skip and within minutes we were parked at the gate thus concluding our 3 hr journey. It was a humorous sight to see the lagging and half-awake sleeping beauties regain consciousness.
Since it was only 5:45 am we weren't able to check-in into our AirBnb until 1pm so why not grab some breakfast and see the sights. Getting out of JFK was a winding and time-consuming process with endless corridors and long tram rides until we made it to the subway station. Even at 6:30am the station (whatever it was called) was bustling with activity as countless people young and old, rich and poor effortlessly glide through the turn-tables like second nature for work or school. Meanwhile, mom is fumbling around with the rail-map and I nearly trip over my own luggage trying to access the platform, ah the joys of being a tourist.
I have now gone a full 24hrs without sleep, nearly 5 hours without having a decent meal and i'm turning into one mean SOB. I need food, like now! Once reaching the city-center near the One World Trade Center we decided to have breakfast at some hole-in-the-wall diner that appears to be frequented by the working class (police officers, construction workers, etc) which is usually a good sign as it signifies that the food is cheap, served in large portions and generally tasty and my assumption was proven true.
Arrived at last, our home away from home…. followed by a much needed 4 hour nap :) IMG_1393 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Denver - DEN
New York - JFK
Another aviation milestone reached! My first flight on JetBlue was great and aside from the technical quirks B6 practically wipes the floor compared to other carriers with unlimited snacks, free wifi, PTV's and drinks to pre-arrival amenities such as a hot towel and an arrival drink to the latter of which i've only received on long-haul journeys. JetBlue will now become my default airline to the east. Why can't B6 be hubbed in Denver or at the very least fly to more places beyond JFK and BOS? And to think I almost booked with United to EWR. I'm glad I didn't make that mistake! But if JetBlue wants to remain at the top then a cabin retrofit is non-negotiable.
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