Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Virgin" experience with JetBlue

As mentioned last week, my trip to New York was on JetBlue, my first flight with them. Josh flies them frequently and really likes them. I did find the passengers at JFK vastly different from the passengers at SFO.

My initial experience was not exactly pleasant. While JetBlue flights are domestic, they are located in the International Terminal at SFO. When I got to the gate, they had 3 kiosks at the check-in gate, but only one was working, and sporadically at that. Whenever I now fly, I almost always have carry-on and don't check in luggage. But because I couldn't use the kiosk, I had to wait in line with the other passengers doing the standard, painstakingly slow process of checking in with an agent. This took 30 minutes.

Once I got the friggin' boarding pass, I then had to go up one escalator, walk across to the domestic terminal and then down another escalator to get to the actual gate. The good part is there's no first class, no frequent fliers that get called first for priority boarding. The people that get called first are those who need extra time, then it's all rows boarding. Because I had to wait so long for my boarding pass, everyone that was waiting had already boarded so I didn't have to stand in line.

Then to my seat. Ahhhh....considerable leg room. Got my headphones, plugged in and started watching TV. When we flew Virgin Atlantic non-stop to London in 2003, we got complimentary headphones and a huge selection of movies. I saw 3 movies on an 8 hour flight and it really helped pass the time.

With a 5+ hour flight to NYC, the same thing. I usually sleep at least half the time, but with the headsets, I spent most of the flight watching the Food Network and HGTV. Same thing on the way back, except I was blubbering (I blame it on recirculated air) through most of "Love, Actually" on USA, a 2003 British holiday film (wow, same year we were there) . The other great part about JetBlue was that they were very good with replenishing beverages. I got 2 snacks, which is a luxury in coach class these days.

Perhaps it is because I live in such a tech-savvy area, but when I was at SFO, at least 3 people had no problem trying the kiosk even after the screen said it was down. This morning at JFK, a group of 3 women had a printout with their kiosk check-in barcode, but was surprised they never used a kiosk before. I let them watch me and then offered to help them. They picked it up very quickly and thanked me.

After I made it through security, a woman was standing in front of me looking a bit lost. Her husband was wondering why she hadn't yet gathered her belongings. She said, "I'm too nervous. I'm afraid I'll lose everything!" I'm guessing she had valuables on her that she put in the trays and felt everyone around her was going too fast. But we've had this kind of security check since 9-11-2001 and I would have thought she'd know the drill by now.

I then proceeded to the food court to grab a quick breakfast. A woman kept staring at the warming trays and asked if they could make her an omelette with egg whites only. Sorry, sweetie, but this wasn't exactly a full service restaurant. I didn't see omelettes as a menu item. Another woman was with her son and he wanted the fruit cup. She asked the counterperson how much it cost. When told how much, she told her son it was too expensive. Granted, airport food is not cheap, but you couldn't splurge $1.95? I'd be grateful he wasn't begging for Cinnabon! It was apparent that none of these people fly much.

Oh, well. I've never traveled much on business, but I guess I do fly often enough to look like a seasoned traveler. And I will fly JetBlue again.

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