I’m what you would probably call a casual traveler. The Mister and I drive across the state once every couple of months to visit his family, I take the occasional road trip to neighboring Canada a few times a year, and I try to squeeze in at least a long weekend to somewhere interesting. I probably take an airplane once a year or every other year, not often enough to be a “frequent flyer” but often enough for it to not be a novel experience. I recently took a trip down to Florida to visit my grandparents, and I flew Jet Blue for the first time since right around when they first debuted as a budget airline. I have to tell you, it was the best air travel experience I have had in a very long time.
As a little bit of background, my most recent interactions with airlines have been with Southwest and Delta. I’ve flown Southwest several times because of their rock-bottom pricing, but I have never once not been made to feel like a fatty fat fat. Fortunately, I’ve managed to avoid ever having a Southwest staff member kick me off a plane, but I get a certain LOOK that makes me feel unendingly uncomfortable with Southwest. And Delta? Well, the short version is that I missed my friends’ wedding because of their incompetence and was treated pretty rudely when I tried to get my money back.
Needless to say, I was dreading another frustrating experience with air travel when I booked our flight to visit my grandparents, but an exhausting 25-hour drive each way was not feasible for just a few days off. But I managed to find a nonstop on the way down and a single layover on the way back for under $300 per person, round trip. We had initially considered taking a Great Train Adventure, which is how we started talking about the vacation in the first place, but it ended up being literally an eighth of the travel time at a cheaper rate to fly with Jet Blue.
One of the best things about Jet Blue is that, in this age of ever-increasing airline fees, they are pretty up front with what your costs will be. Each passenger is allowed one checked bag and two in-cabin bags (a carry on and a “personal item,” like a purse or briefcase) at no charge. With some airlines charging as much as $50 for a first bag, that’s a pretty good deal.
Upon boarding the plane, I was pleased to discover that the seats are actually quite comfortable. There was plenty of room for my sizeable ass and the Mister’s long legs, and we weren’t even in an emergency aisle. I’ve found that other airlines, especially Southwest, have tried to cram more and more seats into the same amount of space to try to keep ticket prices down. Even on the one flight where I ended up sitting next to a stranger, I did not feel squished or uncomfortably brushing up against her. And when the guy in front of me leaned his seat back, there was still room to keep my tray table down without it ramming into my chest.
The flight itself was pretty quiet, and I was able to enjoy the in-flight entertainment system. Each seat comes equipped with a small screen embedded in the seat in front of it with a headphone jack and controls on the armrest. You’re able to use your own headphones if you have them, although you can purchase a cheap pair for $2. They feature XM/Sirius radio, which was nice for when I wanted to rest my eyes (’60s on 6 forever!) and a number of television stations for free. Additionally, on flights longer than two hours and fifteen minutes, you can purchase movies for $5. (I watched Tangled on the way down and The King’s Speech on the way home.) One thing I liked about the monitor was the ability to adjust its position when the person in front of me reclined so the image wasn’t too over-contrasted because of the angle.
In terms of the rest of the in-flight experience, I was also pretty psyched to learn that they give you the WHOLE CAN of ginger ale! Now, this may seem like a stupid thing to get excited about. In the scheme of air travel, it is a minor detail. But on pretty much every other flight I’ve ever taken, the attendants fill up the little, tiny plastic cup with ice and whatever amount of drink manages to fit, and that’s it. The fact that I got to take the rest of my can of soda brightened the experience (and settled my nerves after Olivia’s post!) considerably. They also had a decent selection of snacks. You can choose from a number of salty or sweet complimentary snacks – not just a tiny packet of pretzels. On the two longer flights, our attendant even did a second pass through to see if we needed anything else. They also had a selection of boxed meals available for purchase at a reasonable price that we didn’t try (thanks for the sack lunch, Grandma!) but that seemed to occupy the kids across the aisle from us pretty well.
Our connecting flight out of JFK airport was admittedly delayed, but it was certainly one of the more bearable flight delays I’d experienced. (And that’s not just because of the Ben and Jerry’s in the Jet Blue terminal, either.) First and most importantly, the crew kept us informed about the situation from the very start. We were delayed because the plane we were supposed to get on was held up at its previous departure point – President Obama had been in that city, and Air Force One jumped the line and grounded all the planes while it was on the runway and in airspace. They announced the delay as soon as the information was available and gave us updates as the situation progressed. Just knowing what was going on made all the difference in the world. Once we were on the plane, the pilot then apologized for the delay and went on to make up some of the difference in the air! I don’t know how he did it, but despite a longer delay on the front end, we were only twenty minutes past our scheduled arrival time. In fact, the Jet Blue crews seemed exceptionally nice on all three flights we were on even though some of the other passengers around us were frustrating. I’m not quite sure how they kept it up! It may be that we were lucky with our particular crews, but to me, it certainly reflected on the airline as a whole.
All in all, I was very pleased with my Jet Blue experience. If you need to fly somewhere in their service network any time soon, I’d definitely recommend giving them a try. I know I certainly won’t be flying with anyone else in the future if I can avoid it.
Disclaimer: Though it might sound like it from my effusiveness, Jet Blue did not actually offer me any form of compensation for writing this post. Editors, can you get on that please? *g*