View Full Version : A Day trip to CLT--on B6!!!!!! (Kept my promise to US)

Art at ISP
12-05-2007, 05:07 PM
I had to go to CLT for the day yesterday. Keeping with my pledge to not give US Airways $1 of revenue, I investigated alternatives.

Since the trip did not firm up until Monday, I made a last minute purchase. In checking multiple airlines I found them all to be within pennies of each other, so I chose by schedule--excluding US naturally.

I wound up with Jet Blue, for a number of reasons. First, they had a morning departure out of JFK, which, while still meaning I had to get up WAY early, gave me an extra 30 minutes of sleep in the morning. Second, I was eager to try the EMB-190, and try the extra leg room they have been bragging about. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I chose to take Ron's advice :)

As luck had it, I was able to book a REASONABLE --$370 or so-- round trip last minute fare (as opposed to US which is usually around $900 last minute). Even better, I was able to procure exit row windows on both flights.

Tuesday morning came and I shook myself awake and into the shower at oh dark thirty, then into the car for the ride to JFK. I left just around 5AM, allowing myself time to get a parking space, and to deal with Kettle* type security. Turns out I didn't have to worry. I made it to JFK with no traffic problems, and went directly to the parking signs for terminal 4 (B6 is Term 6 but the lot in front is closed while they build another garage). While it is a slightly further walk, it is reasonable and well documented with signs.

I had checked in for both legs on line, so proceeded to security, which was light--about 10-12 people in total on my line, and although they were Kettles*, only one person had a do-over (not removing stuff from pockets). Through security, to Dunkin Donuts, which had a longer line than the TSA, although the donuts were stale, and down to a shuttle bus to the temporary terminal (gates 18-24), which is in front of the old term 5. A small bus without seats--driving on the tarmac, reminded me of US at PHL, with the one driver who always had a new pair of fancy gold glasses.

The temporary terminal is a portable building, which surprisingly enough was adequately heated, and pretty well done, with coffee and vendors inside. They called boarding at 6:30, on the nose, with specials first, followed by all passengers--this flight had been booked to 25. I found my seat, put my parka in the overhead, and settled into 12D. The disappointment on the 190 is that the windows are spaced pretty far apart, and they all do not line up with the seats, requiring you to lean pretty far to see out. There was, however, almost equal leg room to US in F in the exit row on the 190, and the airplane was S P O T L E S S ...

We were buttoned up and ready to go 12 min before schedule, and pushed back around 5 min ahead. With one engine started, they do the safety demo (recorded audio--live demo-I wonder why they don't just do a video, since they have the screens). There was no rush at JFK either, so we taxied out behind another B6 flight, and were number 2 at the runway. With 40 knot winds, one would expect a bumpy ride, and the captain had come on and told us as much but it was not as bad as expected on climb out--over Canarsie, toward RBV and joining the route to CLT--picks up the same routing over GVE as the LGA flights do after RBV.

I have to say I could get used to the TV--watching the morning news was pretty cool. The service was very friendly and efficient--beverage service followed by a snack tray roughly equivalent to what US gives in F-many kinds of chips, cookies, nuts, and other assorted items--maybe even a GREATER selection. Again, the captain is on the PA to let us know how we're doing, and the flight map is pretty neat too--although I don't find it very accurate. They did give us some S turns along the route for spacing into CLT-we arrived during the morning rush.

We made it into the CLT terminal area by about 8:20, for a scheduled 9:15 arrival. CLT was landing north, so we did the extended downwind, into SC before turning back in. We pulled up at the gate about 24 minutes ahead of schedule--I realize it's padded a bit, but it was excellent. I went off to the rental car counter, and picked up the land yacht they had for me (for some reason they think I actually LIKE Grand Marquis).

A successful day of business, and I headed back to the airport to meet my good friend from another board, Coachrowsey, who was gracious enough to spend his dinner hour with me in the terminal. I got to the airport around 4:35 for a 7:30 flight, but it was worth it to spend some time with Coach. We decided on gourmet dining, so off to Burger King we went, and had a nice relaxing meal together. Before you knew it, Coach had to head back to the baggage room, so left to my own devices (remembering I let my club expire), I headed over to the D concourse and found a seat near an outlet to get some work done (D is actually a little more quiet and secluded than the club!!). The inbound was running about 15 min late, and I did chat a little with a very nice FA who was deadheading back to JFK.

The gate agent made 2 announcements letting us know what was going on, as the crew had already arrived, and people were lining up to ask. I thought they handled things very well, considering it was a kettle crowd (there was maybe 1 other business person on this flight, and he sat next to me in the exit row--typical BofA type-maybe they are defecting too).

They service the airplane after arrival, and within 15 minutes we're boarding. Off the gate only 6 minutes late, we were quick to the runway, and into the air, expecting an arrival within 15 min of schedule-so we thought. Flow control at JFK had other ideas.

The beverage and snack service were same as the morning, although it's worth noting that Jet Blue no longer accepts cash for beverages or other items--all CC now. I was watching network TV on this leg, so thankful I had taken a headset-yes I was too lazy to reach into the brief case and grab the Bose QC3s. The captain came on and explained that we would be holding for about 10 minutes over Sea Isle, and perhaps another 20 minutes over CAMRN (arrival fix for JFK), since the winds had kicked up at the airport again. We wound up spending only 2 turns at CAMRN, and got cleared for the approach, landing 31R. I did notice that the airport was FULL of aircraft taxiing for departure--imagined the new guy off the gate having to announce they were number 57 for departure....it looked B U S Y.

The final approach was a bit bumpy due to the wind again, but a nice landing and off the runway to the gate, back to the temporary terminal, arriving around 28 minutes late. Off the plane, into the car, and home in about 45 minutes--not bad for a day trip.

In summary, it was a very pleasant experience--I knew what to expect, the service was efficient and C O N S I S T E N T, and I believed I got good value for the money, ESPECIALLY since it was a last minute trip.

The 190 is a nice airplane- a little noisier than the AB or other types, but except for the window issue, it was very nice.

Funny, the FA I was talking to in CLT said something about them having too many leisure travelers, and commented to me they don't get enough of "guys like you", meaning business travelers. I thought it was an interesting comment for a crew member.... makes you wonder if they are going to market to business travelers....?

Finally, got home and checked on line, and the flight credits for the days flights have already posted...technology at its best...

And I thought I would have to be in Seattle yesterday--lucky THAT trip cancelled......

* For those unfamiliar with the term, Kettles refer to inexperienced, itinerant once a year travelers, who usually gum up the works for frequent business travelers, and who make the biggest scenes when irregular ops happen. They are so named after Ma and Pa Kettle, a couple of hillbillies who made a series of movies in the late 40's and 50's--see I am showing my age.

12-05-2007, 07:13 PM
Great report Art! I have to say I flew B6 once - PBI - JFK and back, and I was very impressed! Have yet to try the E190 though..

12-05-2007, 08:18 PM
Very nice report. I haven't flown B6 since 3/2001. I enjoyed it. Of course it was an A320, not an E190 from MCO-JFK/JFK-MCO.

I would travel jetBlue, I think it is a nice airline. People have underestimated them since the Feb. Incident. They really have nice service. Do they still have that policy that if your flight is late by such and such, they give you refreshments? They did when I flew them. Very good impression of JetBlue.

stuart schechter
12-05-2007, 09:28 PM
I'm taking B6 on my flights to and from FLL later this month, 19 days in fact. Sounds like it should be fun.

12-05-2007, 10:41 PM
Thanks for the report, Art. I may have to try B6 one of these days.

for some reason they think I actually LIKE Grand Marquis
Like you said, maybe you are showing your age :wink:

12-05-2007, 10:45 PM
Art, another enjoyable TR and I am flattered you in part took my advice. While I have no idea exactly how late you would have been returning to LGA last night on Eagle or Comair our delays where pretty bad and LGA was up and down 31 up until early evening but we still had a GDP until late evening. It is safe to say your arrival delay would have been longer than the 28 mins you had, the closest US flights to your schedule, 1624 arrived 40 mins late at no fault to US, all ATC. The window thing on the 190 is stricly customer configuration generated. The US/Republic E-170's where fine at 72 seats, but after the reconfig to 76 seats they are not. The US E-175 windows line up perfectly with the seats in rows 1-8, after that they don't, and pretty much the entire cabin on the US E-190's are mis-aglined, a real shame as they are such large windows.



Matt Molnar
12-06-2007, 10:11 AM
(for some reason they think I actually LIKE Grand Marquis).
It probably used as much gas as your E190. :)

Art at ISP
12-06-2007, 01:21 PM
Close to it---but actually it got like 22 mpg which is better than my Infiniti M35 gets!

The Mercury just tries to park in handicapped parking spaces all the time.......I have to wrestle it into a normal spot...lol

Onward we go....

12-06-2007, 08:07 PM
I wish Jetblue would fly into DTW/FNT/LAN/GRR/TOL so I could give them a try... I'm surprised! Mid Michigan/Metro Detroit/Toledo is a large market!

Good trip report, I enjoyed reading it.

12-06-2007, 09:21 PM
Kettles refer to inexperienced, itinerant once a year travelers

Nice TR Art and thanks for explaining. :mrgreen:

Perhaps though you and Tom as well as other frequent travelers should opt for that new CLEAR security card :wink:

Art at ISP
12-06-2007, 09:32 PM

I am actually on the edge of getting Clear--the problem is it only works in a handful of airports, and it is only in Terminals 7 and 4 at JFK if I recall correctly. When it gets to LGA it may be worth it though.

Hope you are well---let's get together soon before your son starts school!!!


12-07-2007, 07:41 PM
I wish Jetblue would fly into DTW/FNT/LAN/GRR/TOL so I could give them a try... I'm surprised! Mid Michigan/Metro Detroit/Toledo is a large market!
You're right. I am surprised too, now that I think of it. That is a very large market that is untouched by jetBlue! If I had to point fingers on where they will most likely go to, it is DTW.

Why don't you go to http://www.jetblue.com and vote for one of those airports as a new jetBlue city? It is under Contact jetBlue or something.