A last minute meeting came up on Monday which required me to be in Buffalo on Wednesday morning. I looked at US and B6, and B6 was priced closely, if not a couple of bucks more than US, but the choice of a 320 over a Buzz Bucket made it a no brainer.

I went to the B6 web site, which was easy to use, and booked Flt 102 up at 7:55AM, returning on Flt 7 at 5:05PM. There were only 6 seats available on the outbound, and as such the web site couldn't give me a seat, but a phone call after booking found me speaking to a sympathetic agent who was able to grab exit rows (for $10 each). Ticketed and confirmed in about 4 minutes not counting the phone call, I made the rental reservation and moved on.

Tuesday afternoon I was able to print both boarding passes, and prepare for the meeting by printing the necessary documents. Knowing all was prepared, I got a good night's sleep and woke up right at 5AM to begin the drive to JFK.

Overnight construction had moved from westbound to eastbound a few weeks ago on the Southern State Parkway, but even at 5:30AM, there was little traffic all the way to JFK-I made the drive in about 38 minutes, which got me to Parking Lot 4 (the new B6 lot is not ready) just around 6:10AM. Boarding pass in hand, I walked through the outer terminal (Terminal 6 is 2 buildings-the ticketing lobby is separate from the rest of the terminal), and got on what looked like a pretty long security line (no expert lanes yet). Turns out it moved pretty quickly, and after about 15 minutes, I was through and on my way to Dunkin Donuts, for my chocolate frosted donuts and coffee.

Coffee and junk food in hand, I made my way to the shuttle bus which took me to gate 24 in the temporary terminal (I hate that hut by the way). I had plenty of time to stuff my face and drink the coffee, and at 7:22AM (boarding was 7:25), I noticed the jetway door open and people started coming OFF--I guess the inbound was slightly delayed.

In any case, around 7:35 they actually began boarding--and after preboards, they never called by row, and the free for all had begun. It didn't matter much to me since I had no carryons other than my briefcase, so overhead space was not a concern. I boarded in sequence and found the exit row (which by the way has 38 in pitch, MORE than US F). The flight attendants were on the ball, and did the "are you okay with exit row" speech, and made sure everyone was of age (more on that later). We DID actually push right on time, which was impressive!

They did announce that they no longer offer free headsets, and that to purchase one would be $1, but they do not accept cash--only credit cards. I had my Bose but chose not to use them. I did, however, choose the map channel which I found interesting.

Another surprise was the short taxi to the runway at 8AM! We took off on 22R, and through a series of slow left turns made our way to the northwest, the standard JFK west/northwest departure. It was a relatively clear day, with only one weather cell (seemed to be sitting over Poughkeepsie), which was plainly visible from the airplane, while everywhere else was clear.

Leveling off at 22000 feet, the flight attendants did a quick beverage service--juice, water, coffee only, followed by another round with the snacks- blue chips or chocolate chip cookie. I was good, only had the juice, and no more caffiene. After a small pause, they came through offering seconds (on a 50 minute flight!!!!) and cleared at the same time, followed by a final clearing round.

Before you know it, we were descending into Buffalo, and we were on the ground a few minutes ahead of schedule. A very short taxi to the gate had me off the airplane and down to Avis in a flash. I then opened my VZ Navigator and headed off to the meeting.

It was a shorter meeting than anticipated, and we were able to enjoy a nice lunch, after which I began a slow drive back to the airport. I was able to find a gas station where I put 3 gallons of gas (still cheaper than the $13.99 refueling fee), and went to return the car--around 2PM for a 5:05 flight! As luck would have it, the roving agent was unable to remove the refueling fee, so I had to go to the customer service counter, but they took care of it, and I went to the ticket counter to see about getting on the 3:15PM flight.

After watching one agent work with a passenger who was arguing about paying to check a second bag (didn't have the money he claimed), I got to the other agent, who was very pleasant, and told me I could stand by for free or pay $40 for a confirmed change. I took the confirmed change, which was good, because he told me that a good number of people from the 5PM were already standing by on this one, and it was iffy on standby already. He was able to get me a similar exit row seat, thanked me for flying Jet Blue and wished me a safe journey, and off I went through security again.

Buffalo has a very long line, stretched serpentine, back and forth, but again, like JFK it looked worse than it was. In this case, however, there should have been a rookie line, because there were significant delays on one line as people tried to go through with fluids, cellphones, etc.

Through security, to the gate, around 2:45 (boarding time), and no plane. It was coming from JFK so you knew it would be late. Finally around 3:05 the airplane arrived, and we began boarding less than 5 minutes after they finished deplaning. It was tight, but we were only about 10 minutes late off the gate.
Just before boarding however, a little excitement, as a NW DC-9 made what appeared to be an emergency landing with all the emergency equipment in place and following it down the runway--they then surrounded it off the gate, and as we began to push back, it finally taxied in to the gate.

On this flight a mother with a 4 year old and 10 year old had been assigned the exit row opposite me, and as an off duty Jet Blue FA sat next to me, she looked over to the row in question and shrugged her shoulders--and a moment later, the working FA told Mom they could not sit in that row.

Now here's where the crew was different from most other carriers--there was no arguing, no authoritative talk like "you HAVE to move", just a statement that children are not permitted in the exit row. BEFORE she finished talking to the mom, however, she had asked a few other people taking up full rows if they would switch, and while 2 declined, the 3rd said yes--so a solution was in place BEFORE there was a chance for a fight--Mom could stay with the kids, they'd just move a row forward and to the other side. Kudos to the crew member for thinking on her feet.

The return flight was actually a little longer, since the arrival at JFK had us extending the route far south of JFK prior to the approach. We headed from Kingston, NY south, paralleling the Hudson River, down past Sandy Hook, then over the Atlantic, before turning back to the north toward Long Island and JFK. I had thought we'd fly further north and turn back in to 22L, but we cut time off the approach by turning northwest and landing on 31R, which also put us right near the Jet Blue terminal once off the runway.

A quick taxi to the gate, of course back to the "temporary" gates, and onto the shuttle back to the main building, and I was in my car and on the way home in 10 minutes--for the 1 hour 25 minute ride home...

All in all, not a bad experience, and not even the "kettles" got in the way. By the way, I would say that fewer than 10% of the customers on each flight were business travelers--if that says anything about the B6 demographic--kind of what US aspires to....

Happy 4th all.