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I’ve had a leftover credit for JetBlue since before the pandemic. The credit was about to expire last January so I purchased a one-way ticket to San Francisco and another for later in the year to New York. What stinks about their credits, besides the fact that they expire, is that you can’t use any of the money towards seats with extra legroom. RELATED: JetBlue Pilot Gives Informative, Inspirational and Funny Announcement to LGA-PBI Passengers
That turned out to be a good thing for this flight because I saved $76 for the four of us (myself, my wife, six-year-old son and three-year-old daughter). That’s because I have elite status on American Airlines and when I bought the tickets, I entered my American Airlines (AA) frequent flier number. Back then, they were partners but as of a month ago, they’re not. However, JetBlue and AA are still honoring those benefits for those who purchased tickets and added their frequent flier number to their reservation. If you purchased the tickets a while ago but didn’t input your elite frequent flier number, then unfortunately, you’re out of luck.
JetBlue was only charging $19 extra for seats with five more inches of legroom but it’s a 52-minute flight up the coast so I decided to press my luck. One of the elite reciprocal benefits as an AA elite is priority check in, free checked bags and, most importantly, premium seats.
The problem is you can only get those premium seats 24 hours prior to departure at check-in. So I checked the seat map a few days before and noticed that the flight was full except for the premium seats. So I set multiple alarms to remind me to check in exactly 24 hours in advance so I could pounce on them. I did.
We took an Uber XL to the airport since my partnership with Blacklane has ended. I loved having access to Blacklane since they’re reliable, professional drivers and show up in very nice and clean cars. But they are quite expensive, depending on where you’re going. They charge $120 for the five-mile drive between my house and LAX, while Uber XL is a fifth of the price. And this time, we got a brand new black SUV. No wonder the driver had 5 stars.
There was no traffic to LAX until we entered the airport. There was a huge bottleneck and I wasn’t paying attention so I didn’t tell the driver to go downstairs to arrivals to drop us off, which would have saved us 20 minutes.
There was no line at check-in so we weren’t pressed for time.
However, there was a long line for security but thankfully we have CLEAR so we just had to wait a few minutes. I did make a rookie mistake, I think. I either forgot to put my family’s Known ID numbers into their account or we were randomly selected not to get TSA PreCheck. My wife and I had a good chuckle over this since I just wrote about this: How To Make Sure the TSA PreCheck Checkmark is On Your Boarding Pass
We were escorted to the front of the regular security line, which required us to take our electronics and liquids out. The worst part was taking our shoes off (thankfully the kids didn’t have to). I haven’t had to take my shoes off at security in years so I’d forgotten to put a pair of socks in my carry-on bag. I always have a pair for times like this or if my feet get cold on the plane. The floor at security is pretty nasty, especially for a germaphobe like me.
At LAX, JetBlue goes out of Terminal 5, which is getting tired and was packed. I mean packed. There was a long line for everything: the women’s bathroom, the water fountains and the concessions.
I must have been really off my game because I not only forgot to pack a pair of socks but also my reusable water bottle as last month, LAX joined SFO in being the only two airports to ban plastic water bottles.
While I fully support the ban of single-use plastic water bottles, I think it’s ridiculous that they still allow plastic bottles of soda and juices. Perhaps this is just the first step before banning the others.
SFO (pictured above) has banned all plastic and after visiting both airports, I’m all for it. One of the big reasons why, besides the obvious, that it’s better for the environment, is that water (and soda) taste better from aluminum cans or glass bottles. However, I’m not a fan of boxed water, which I wrote about in my trip report about my recent Alaska Airlines flight from Newark.
The line was so long to buy the water ($3.92) that I almost said forget it. Then, I heard one of the three cashiers say that there’s not one single line, there are three. So I jumped in another line.
JetBlue flight 2836 was scheduled to depart at 9:38 am from Los Angeles and arrive at 11:00 am in San Francisco. We boarded on time. First JetBlue boards passengers with disabilities or those who need extra time. Then they board Group A. We were in Group A thanks to my AA elite status.
To continue the theme of forgetting thing: It’s the first time I didn’t pack chocolates for the flight attendants and pilots. The kids were so disappointed as they love surprising them. I did have their log books, which I asked the flight attendants to have the pilots sign and they kindly did.
The flight attendants made a boarding announcement that rows one through five and the two exit rows (10 and 11) have extra legroom. They said if you did not pay for them, you can’t move to them “because they cost more money.”
Fortunately, I was sitting 4C while my family was behind me in row 5, seats A, B and C. I thought I had an empty middle seat and then a guy almost twice my size sat down beside me. I was so uncomfortable. My wife saw the situation from the row behind and asked if I wanted to switch seats with her but I couldn’t do that to her because the guy beside me seemed like he had a cold. RELATED: You Can Buy Your Own Seatbelt Extender on Amazon – But Should You?
However,I did notice that the row across from my wife, surprisingly, was open so I popped up to the galley and asked the flight attendant about moving there just before they closed the aircraft door. She double checked with the gate agent and she said it was open. Score.
I said to my seatmate, “It’s your lucky day,” but he just looked at me with a blank stare. He had earbuds i so perhaps he didn’t hear me. The weirdest thing is that he didn’t move over to my seat to give the poor woman next to him some space. She didn’t say anything and they weren’t together. I saw him at baggage claim alone; they were definitely not together. So I found it extremely surprising that he wouldn’t move from the cramped middle seat into the aisle seat. So strange.
The flight attendants also made an announcement saying that passengers have to wear earbuds or headphones when watching videos or playing music. It wasn’t as impactful as this American Airlines announcement (watch the video or read the transcript here) as the guy behind me ignored the instructions.
The pilot said we were going to be late because of a 20-minute ATC hold in SFO but a few minutes later, we were on our way. He announced once we were in the air that they had removed the hold.
As you can see from FlightAware.com‘s flight tracker, we left the gate five minutes early. It took 17 minutes to taxi to takeoff and we landed at 10:41am, arriving at the gate just three minutes later. Overall, we were 16 minutes early.
The flight attendants were great and so is JetBlue. Seriously. Their food, drinks and entertainment is head and shoulders above their competition.
For starters, the seatback entertainment systems have a personalized message on-screen when you sit down. You can connect your phone or earbuds to the in-flight entertainment system so you don’t have to touch the screen. They also have live TV.
On the food front, they offer great free snacks: pretzels, Cheeze-its, granola bars, and the best tasting plantain chips around.
For drinks, I chose something I’d never seen before. Starry. It’s like Sprite but made by a boutique company based in New York. Delicious.
They also have in-seat power ports with USB charging for everyone.I had a whole row to myself, except when my daughter and her baby thankfully decided to sit next to me for half the flight and keep me company. The flight was smooth and our luggage came out on time.
We landed at SFO’s new Harvey Milk Terminal, which is big, bright and beautiful.
Even the bathrooms are really nice, which is not something you ever really say about airport bathrooms. TIP: If you want a bathroom to yourself, wait until you get to baggage claim.
Overall, I give the flight a 10/10. A big part of it was thanks to my AA elite status so I’m bummed their partnership is ending.
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