It was time to leave Orlando after visiting Universal Orlando Resort. Our next stop would be Washington DC, Our Nation’s Capital (well, my nation’s capital – my travel companion is 100% Irish!). We were up early on the morning of Friday, 1st June and got a taxi from the Days Inn near Universal. It’s about a 20/30 minute drive to MCO but we weren’t in the mood for figuring out busses etc.
I liked Orlando, very open and spread out. Not like a sprawling metropolis or anything like that. I was sorry I didn’t get to Cape Canaveral though – that was my only regret.
We arrived at MCO about 09:00 for our 10:40 flight. We checked in using the kiosk and dropped our bags at the desk (you are allowed to check one bag free!), then proceeded upstairs to security. I wanted a picture or two of the Aer Lingus check-in desk but it was in a different terminal and out of the way from where I was headed.
TSA screening took a while to get through but about 20 minutes after getting in line we were through to the train station. We now needed to take a train to the departure gates.
JetBlue Airways has a sizable presence at MCO with flights to destinations primarily along the US east coast and Caribbean.
American Airlines flight AA1712 arriving from Dallas/Fort Worth
JetBlue would be terminating the MCO-IAD route just a few days after I took this flight. It also flies MCO-DCA.
Now of course it would be more convenient for us to fly into Reagan National Airport but the alternative flights offered by B6 were a lot more expensive so Dulles would have to do.
I sat down near Gate 4 where my flight would be boarding from and waited the arrival of my aircraft from Dulles. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I’d be flying on one of the logojets. This proved controversial with another passenger though – “I’m not flying on that piece of junk”. Clearly not a Jets fan.
The aircraft would remain on the ground for about 45 minutes before returning to IAD.
Boarding was announced more or less on-time and I was onboard at 10:20 EDT.
Date Friday, 1st June 2012 Airline JetBlue Airways Flight B6336 Aircraft Airbus A320-232 Tail No. N746JB Aircraft Name NY Jets Scheduled Departure 10:40 EDT Actual Departure 10:39 EDT Departure Terminal & Gate Terminal A, Gate 4 Departure Taxi Route B4, C, J, G, H1, RWY17R Weather at Departure Mostly cloudy, spotty drizzle Scheduled Arrival 12:52 EDT Actual Arrival 12:33 EDT Arrival Terminal & Gate Concourse B, Gate B70 Arrival Taxi Route RWY19C, Y, D Weather at Arrival Overcast, light fog Class - Seat No. 20A Captain Barry Cooper First Officer Jason Volmer Cabin Manager Radames Actual Flight Time 1 hour, 54 minutes
This would be my first B6 flight and I have to say the legroom, entertainment and complimentary drinks and snacks were very generous. The grey leather seats made the cabin seem bright with open spaces. Each passenger had access to live DirecTV on the screen in front (however unfortunately my buttons were not working – they were too worn ). Also headsets cost $2 but if you brought your own you could watch whatever you wanted for free.
On boarding I noticed a few uniformed B6 crew in their seats who were obviously positioning to another flight.
The door was closed at 10:36 and the crew announced that “no unauthorised personnel are allowed into the flight deck at this time”. I had never heard such an announcement before. The projected flight time to Washington was 1 hour and 35 minutes.
We were #3 for takeoff and were in the air at 10:52. An immediate turn to the left followed takeoff.
There was an all-male crew of five on-board today – two on the flightdeck and three in the cabin. The snack service commenced shortly after passing 10,000 feet. Snack Packs cost $5.99 and you could choose between Beef Up (salami, cheese, fruit, crackers, potato chips), Shape Up (hummus, olives, almonds, crackers, raisins, mint, cookie), Cheer Up (variety of cheeses, almonds, crackers) and Mix It Up (pretzels, grissini, Nutella, apple sauce, cheese, cranberries). I was too cheap to pay for something to eat so I waited for the complimentary service that followed.
I was offered a soft drink of my choice or water. I was surprised that they gave me the 330ml full can and a cup! I’ve never seen this on an airline before – usually they would just pour it into a cup and hand you the cup. I was also invited to choose a snack from a large basket that contained cookies, crackers, potato chips, nuts and multigrain bars.
Complimentary Dunkin’ Donuts tea and coffee was also offered to passengers that wanted it. If I wished, I could have opted for an alcoholic beverage for between $5.99 and $6.99.
At the top of the cabin, I noticed the cabin manager wave to another crew member to come forward to the top. I watched as one of the pilots emerged from the flight deck and went into the lavatory. The cabin crew member went in to take his place until he returned. The flight was quite full for a route that would be suspended in a few days.
The very steep descent began at 11:50. There was a lot of acceleration/deceleration as we got nearer to IAD. We approached by circling the airport for a west-facing landing.
Final approach was called at 12:27 and we were on the ground a minute later, touching down on Runway 19C. Coincidentally, today was the inaugural flight of Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-8, flying Frankfurt-Washington. It arrived just before us and I spotted it taxiing!
The inaugural flight of Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-8 taxiing after operating flight LH416 from FRA
We were on-stand at Gate B70 at 12:33, 19 minutes ahead of schedule.
The aircraft would turn back around to FLL
Arriving passengers needed to take a train from the gate area to baggage claim – much like MCO.
Now it was on to our B&B in the city’s Northeast Quadrant. IAD is a fairly nice journey out from DC itself and the bus journey that took us here lasted over 40 minutes. Busses run regularly from outside the airport terminals.
The bus dropped us off outside the Rosslyn Metro station where we needed to take a train to Brookland-CUA. This involved a change of line at some other Metro station.
We got to the B&B just before the rain came – they turned into severe thunderstorms with full-blown tornado warnings for the western DC suburbs. Needless to say we could not venture far that afternoon. We did manage to take the red line Metro back to the city’s main train station – Union Station but that’s about as far as we could get due to the storms. The night tours of Washington were cancelled. There was nothing to do but go back to our accommodation and leave the sightseeing until tomorrow.
We were up early the next morning and we headed directly to Union Station from where sightseeing open-top bus tours would depart from. Thankfully it was a beautiful day with temperatures in the low 70s (Fahrenheit)/low 20s (Celsius).
Great views of departures from Reagan-National Airport (DCA)
Three flags representing the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria outside Union Station – the first ships to land on what we know as modern-day America
The United States Capitol
John Boehner’s office
The interior of the Monument was still closed to the public following the 2011 earthquake
The White House as seen from the Washington Monument
President Obama wasn’t in town today, he was in Chicago
White House Garden
Shamrock growing on the lawn
Inside the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
Part of an ex-Northwest Airlines 747
It was undoubtedly a great day’s sightseeing in Washington. I discovered that, if I really wanted to, I could have walked to each landmark as they are all spaced near enough to each other. But the bus tour was perfect as it allowed us to get everything in on one day.
Back to the B&B then via the Metro for a good night’s sleep before taking the Megabus to New York early the next morning. The bus journey would take about 4 hours, 30 minutes.
The journey was pleasant with free Wi-Fi onboard and there was a rest stop in New Jersey.
Passing Newark Liberty International Airport on the way to New York City
From the top of the Empire State Building
The Waterford Crystal ball still in place since New Year’s
During our four days in New York, we met up with another friend and stayed with his relatives just outside the city in Teaneck, NJ.
The next morning we visited the 9/11 Memorial. You need to book this visit a few months in advance as demand is high and space is limited due to the ongoing construction around the site.
One World Trade Center
Taken in the gift shop on the way out; the museum had not yet opened
I took this because Limerick (my home city) is one of the places listed on the wood!
New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street
Off then to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
After a great few days in the Big Apple (even if the weather was cool and rainy at times), it was time to hit the road for Boston, using the old reliable Megabus once again. On leaving NYC we passed Yankee Stadium:
So that concludes the Washington DC/New York City part of my East Coast tour. My impression of JetBlue Airways was unbelievable – they definitely among my favourite airlines travelled to date. They are an excellent compliment to the longhaul flights of Aer Lingus and Lufthansa who sell onward connections with them.
My next report will focus on Boston and the flight home to Ireland with Aer Lingus. Thanks for reading.
767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1842 posts, RR: 25 Reply 1, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 7015 times:
Good report! I love your photos from DC. I visited almost all of the same places except for the capitol! It was too bad there was so much construction; it made the pictures from the Lincoln Memorial not so amazing!
Thanks Matthew. Washington and NY were my two favorite cities visited during my travels. Amazing places. As you mention though, it's a pity about all the construction on the Washington Mall, I guess you can never escape it - it will always be somewhere!