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View Full Version : Trip Report: JFK-CUN-JFK on jetBlue



Matt Molnar
06-22-2007, 02:15 PM
I headed down to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico for a much-too-brief extended weekend getaway with my girlfriend this past weekend. Playa Del Carmen is on the eastern shore of the Yucatan Peninsula about 40 miles down the coast from Cancun International Airport. Despite my being a consistent cheerleader for jetBlue, this was my first jetBlue flight in exactly six years...I first flew them in June 2001, when they were literally brand new.

Outbound
Date: Friday, June 15, 2007
Route: JFK-CUN
Flight: jetBlue 751
Aircraft Type: Airbus A320-232
Registration: N592JB "American Blue"
Scheduled departure time: 8:30am
Actual pushback time: 8:35am
Scheduled arrival time: 12:40pm
Actual arrival time: 12:55pm

So early last week my gf IM'd me a link about the President temporarily suspending passport requirements for Americans traveling to Mexico, Canada and other nearby countries. I was busy at work at the time and just read the headline without clicking.

You can see where this is heading. I told her I didn't have it while we were riding toward Jamaica on the LIRR, at which point she explained that the new rules state if you don't have one, you still need to show proof that you've applied for one. If I had to go home to get it there was no way we would catch our flight, and not knowing the load of the only remaining flight later that morning, I realized there was a possibility that I had royally effed up the whole trip. Thankfully it was still early and my good friend Chris hadn't left for work yet, so I called him from the AirTrain and asked him to pick it up from my house and drive it down, which he did.

We arrived at Terminal 6 around 7:05, a bit later than I had hoped, but there were only a couple of people on the international check-in line. When we got to the counter, the lady confirmed that I needed my passport, and said that the flight was closing in 5 minutes! There was no way my friend was going to make it that fast, so she said she could put us on the next flight at 10:10 without any problem. Not the end of the world, but still frustrating.

My friend arrived with my passport around 7:40, I ran back to the counter, and apparently because the flight was pretty empty and there was a baggage guy standing right there, she was able to put us on our original flight! We were very happy to say the least. She even told us not to tell anyone, because other late arriving pax who were standing right there were not being allowed on. Many props to jetBlue. She seemed to be a manager of some sort because she was not wearing a uniform or a name tag. Looking back I wish I had asked her name so I could have written a nice letter commending her efforts.

Security had no line and we sailed to gate 12, and about 5 mins later they began boarding. We had seats 21E and 21F, so I took the window. The flight was only about 1/2 full, and the aisle seat in our row was empty.

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Our plane was so huge it practically crushed all of Queens.

We pushed back about 5 mins late due to congestion. Sure enough, when we made it to the takeoff queue, we were number 19 for departure.

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The line ahead of us rolling slowly to 4L...

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And the line behind.

The line for takeoff went more quickly than expected, and we were wheels up around 9:00am. The captain After we were about 3000 feet off of 4L, we entered an awesomely sharp banking left turn, almost a U-turn which took us from a northeasterly heading to one parallel with the southbound Belt Parkway adjacent to Aqueduct.

The flight south was quiet and smooth. Drink and snack service was swift. I had blue potato chips and a Dunkin Donuts coffee, which, while not as good as on the ground, I have to say is by far the best airplane coffee I've ever had. I mostly watched the DirecTV, but once you're about 30 mins over the Gulf of Mexico it stops working, so for the rest of the flight I read my New York Post and looked out the window.

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First glimpse of the Yucatan coast.

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Almost there...

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Touchdown on runway 12!

As we taxied to the gate, I noticed there were many walk up gates without jetways. I hoped we would use one of those as I have never done that before, but sure enough we pulled up to a gate with a jetway.

I was hoping to see some exotic aircraft down there, but there were mostly American and Mexican birds taxiing around. I will post photos of my few notable catches in a separate thread...a couple of Magni Charters 732s, an Arkefly 763ER and a Champion Air 727.

Because I was not able to see it from the gate at JFK, as we exited I asked the FO what the name of the plane was. He had just looked at it, he said, but he forgot what it was exactly..."Blue Jean Baby or something, I think." I thanked him and walked out, and about a minute later as we were almost out of the jetway he yelled from behind us "IT'S AMERICAN BLUE." I yelled "THANKS!" again.

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Peeking up at our bird from the escalator to the immigration area.

There was a short line through immigration and then we went to the baggage area which was just past it. At the baggage carousel, a gentleman from Mexican Customs was walking around with a cute dog that sniffed people's bags for contraband.

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Return
Date: Monday, June 18, 2007
Route: CUN-JFK
Flight: jetBlue 752
Aircraft Type: Airbus A320-232
Registration: N528JB "Mi Corazon Azul"
Scheduled departure time: 12:30pm
Actual pushback time: 12:30pm
Scheduled arrival time: 5:40pm
Actual arrival time: 5:08pm

On the flight south there was an announcement that we should arrive at the airport 3 HOURS prior to departure for our return flight. That sounded a bit ridiculous, and sure enough it was. We left Playa Del Carmen at around 9:15am, got to the airport around 10am and we were fine. When we got out of our van we were immediately accosted by a guy in a Senor Frogs t-shirt asking us where we were going. I ignored him and he hung around anyway, but thankfully a legitimate uniformed skycap with a hand truck showed up immediately to help us with our luggage.

We checked in and were instructed to go to head to gate A8, where boarding would begin at 11:40, 20 minutes earlier than normal. Again no line at security, and no shoe removal requirement! We had plenty of time so we stocked up on tax-free booze in the duty free shop. Because of the ban on liquids, our purchases had to be delivered to the gate by duty free personnel.


The CUN terminal was modern and clean, but the shops (aside from the duty free) were ridiculously priced, even worse than U.S. airports. I felt a stuffy nose coming on so I went to a drugstore in the middle of the concourse where our gate was: 110 pesos ($11) for a box of Sudafed. At the newsstand a can of soda was 22 pesos ($2.20). A can of Pringles and a small sandwich at a coffee stand came to 125 pesos ($12.50).

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Preparing for departure.

Despite our plane being parked at the gate and the planned early boarding time, we didn't board until after 12pm. Mexican security officials did an extra screening at the gate, going through everyone's carry-ons.

The flight was about 80% full this time. I had selected an exit row when I booked, so we had plenty of room. Despite this plane being 3 years older than the first one (delivered 2001 vs. 2004), the interior of this one had apparently been upgraded. In a new partnership with Google which I read about a week earlier, the maps on this plane were provided by Google Maps, whereas our outbound flight still had Mapquest maps. The TV control buttons were nicer looking and had special DirecTV and XM Radio buttons, and instead of a blank wall separating the front row from the front door, there was a clear glass wall with jetBlue painted on it. A movie on the Fox InFlight movie channel that works even when out of the DirecTV viewing area killed two hours, and then we were over US airspace again and I watched a show on the Food Network that made me hungry.

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Bye, Mexico. :-(

The weather Monday afternoon was perfect, it looked like traffic was relatively light, and we flew nearly straight in to JFK. We landed on 13L and got to the gate about 30 mins ahead of schedule, so early that we had to wait 10 mins for a jetway driver to move the jetway into position. While we waited I took a great shot of a South African 343 at the gate with an Alitalia 767 blasting off in the background, but it needs some heavy editing so I will post it shortly.

There were lots of international heavies parked at Terminal 4, which made me fear a horrendous line for immigration. Thankfully there were passengers from only one other flight inside, a Virgin 346 had just arrived from London. We sailed through immigration, got our bags pretty quickly and soon we were back on the AirTrain.

Overall a great flying experience.

T-Bird76
06-22-2007, 02:26 PM
Great trip report Matt! The Direc TV really does make the flight go by quickly. When I went to Ohio this past weekend the E190 I was on had the new TV controls and Google Map. I like how Google made the plane look like the A320 even down the dome on the top.

Mellyrose
06-22-2007, 02:29 PM
Our plane was so huge it practically crushed all of Queens.

I nearly choked from laughing so hard at that!

AirtrafficController
06-22-2007, 02:38 PM
awesome trip report

nwafan20
06-22-2007, 05:24 PM
Good trip report. Sounds like you had a good time. What did you find you liked better about the Google version over the Mapquest version?

Alex T
06-25-2007, 05:47 PM
Loved the report. Great time in Mexico it seems!

I should head down there once....

I have so much to do haha...

Alex

Matt Molnar
06-26-2007, 09:41 AM
Good trip report. Sounds like you had a good time. What did you find you liked better about the Google version over the Mapquest version?
It isn't much different. In general, the look and feel of Google Maps is a bit cleaner than Mapquest IMO, but the info isn't any better. As Tom mentioned, the icon for your plane is higher res. Just like the old one, the screen toggles through a few different views of the map, along with ads for the on board drink selections and jetBlue Amex. A screen with a satellite view would be neat.

Ari707
06-26-2007, 02:44 PM
does the Google map have a larger coverage area, when i flew to Aruba last month, the map didn't go that far south, the last 100 miles or so you are off the map

Matt Molnar
06-26-2007, 04:02 PM
Both Mapquest and Google showed southern Mexico, not sure about Aruba, which is further south and east. Most likely it works.

PhilDernerJr
06-26-2007, 04:28 PM
Great report, Matt. I really enjoyed it and am glad you had a good experience.

USAF Pilot 07
06-26-2007, 06:19 PM
Great trip report! I just got done traveling throughout "western" Europe, and similar to Mexico, the prices in the airport are outrageous, and the best part was that we didn't have to take our shoes off anywhere! We did board/disembark just about everywhere except for Sevilla, Spain through the stairs, sometimes in both the back and front of the plane... Kinda cool, but after doing it a few times, I did miss the Jetway...