I took this trip as a diversion from the usual boredom that I go through on my visits to FLL
…I had been aching to take another “joyride” as I like to think of these trips as, and this itinerary seemed to offer a good variety. It enabled me to experience 2 new airlines (new in the sense that I had never flown on them before), 1 new airport, and have my first experience with PTV’s. Each fare was $80 including taxes, so the total trip cost $160, and was well worth every penny! This trip was planned about 3 weeks ago, which is why I did not mention it in my last TR
from 5 weeks ago….
Tuesday, June 24th, 2003
Scheduled Departure 11:00 AM
Scheduled Arrival 1:41 PM
Driving into FLL
from I-595 at around 9:50, I observed the mildly hideous lime colors of a Song 757 parked at the DL
terminal, marking the first time I had laid eyes on a Song aircraft. I could hardly believe that in an hour or so I would be onboard that aircraft, winging my way to JFK
for the sole purpose of flying on two new airlines and thus expanding my horizons.
My mom dropped me off in front of the DL
terminal, and I walked inside to the check-in area. There were many e-ticket machines present, each with its own separate queue, so I headed to one with a short line. Once it was my turn, I found it simple and easy to use, and it spit out a boarding pass in my name for Song 2532 to JFK
. Boarding was supposed to begin at 10:30, so I still had a little bit of time before I had to go to the gate.
I decided to go outside and take some pictures of the aircraft and any other traffic in the area, and get its registration. The airport was fairly quiet at this hour, and all that were visible from my vantage point was the Song 757, DL MD
-90, and 2 jB A320’s over at Terminal 1.
At 10:10 I went back inside and to security, where there was a brief wait. FLL
seems to have tighter and tougher security procedures than other US airports for some reason, and today was no exception as they made me take my sneakers off (something which never has happened to me at any other airport), and insisted that I take my watch off as well. Its never set off an airport metal detector before but it wasn’t really a big deal so I complied and made it through without any further problems.
Ambling over to the gate, D2, I observed large display screens hung over the gate area that showed various tidbits of information regarding the status of the flight. Of course, the only free seats in the area were oriented so that I could not see the displays, so I wasn’t really able to follow what else they may have been indicating. Not long after I sat down, the ground stuff began a thorough series of preflight announcements. First they introduced themselves by name, and then explained the boarding procedure. Boarding at Song is done in Zones, similar to AA
. My boarding pass, for seat 24A, showed that I was in Zone 3, so I would be in the third group to board, for instance. After that, they brought out one of the flight attendants, who at Song are called “In-flight talent”, and he explained the in-flight service offerings.
Once he was done, at about 10:20, the gate agent came back on and invited Zone 1 to board, and when that line had dissipated, Zone 2. Oddly enough, despite the flight being completely full, very few people came forward when the Zone 2 announcement was made. Thus, they went right to Zone 3, and a horde of people rushed to the jetway. I managed to get pretty close to the front, but 2 large families in front of me took forever to get through for some reason. Nonetheless, by 10:30 I found myself standing in the 2L doorway of the 757 and glimpsing into the cabin.
The seats were blue leather, and on their top and sides, they were in 3 colors of leather: lime green, orange, and purple. There probably was some pattern as to how those 3 were arranged in the overall scheme of the fuselage but I missed it if there was one. The cabin did have a very modern feel to it as well. Even the little thingies (for lack of a better term) that show the rows and seats were new and fit in with the rest of the Song image. I got to my seat 24A, stowed my bag, and sat down. Song’s pitch is 33” and I found it to be sufficient. However, the seats seemed just a little bit narrow, and I kept accidentally bumping into my seatmate in 24B throughout the flight as a consequence. The seat pocets were uncluttered as well, with only 4 items in there: Safety Card, Menu, “Budget Travel” magazine, and airsickness bag.
Another glance forward showed that the bulkheads in front of the 2L and 2R
doors were painted as well…the one by 2L was blue and 2R
was green. This aircraft was without a doubt the most colorful I had ever been on! Considering that there was 199 seats on this plane, the boarding process seemed to be pretty fast. However, it wasn’t until 10:58 AM
that we pushed back. I was extremely curious as to what the safety demo would be like, so I paid attention and it wasn’t the usual “blah-blah” speech that other airlines do. The talent tried to keep people’s attention with constant little jokes, which I thought was a pleasant change from the aforementioned “blah-blah”
Taxi started at 11:03 and we taxied out to runway 9L
. During the taxi the Captain came on briefly to welcome us. We taxied right past the infamous FLL
spotting area, and I was pleased to note that it was open and several cars were parked there (if anyone reading this was there and saw this flight depart, I have photos of the spotting area taken from the a/c) and at 11:10 we took off from 9L
after a 35 second roll, and within a minute or two, we had flown into a cloud layer. 6 minutes after takeoff, the 10,000 foot announcement came on, advising us that we could now use our portable electronic devices and that the service would begin as soon as the captain gave his consent. This was new to me…I wasn’t aware that the captain had involvement like that in what went on behind the cockpit.
29 minutes after takeoff the beverage carts appeared, and shortly after that the captain came on again to inform us that we were cruising at FL370, and our route would be would be out over the Atlantic until Wilmington, North Carolina, and then we would pretty much hug the coast from there until arrival at JFK
, which he estimated would be at around 1:30. The beverage cart in my section of the cabin was only manned by one talent, and despite starting only about 7 rows ahead of me, it took nearly 15 minutes to make it to my row, where I asked for a Coke, no ice. The whole can was not given, but the cup that it was served in was very large, probably 8 or 9 ounces, so it was nearly equivalent to the whole can.
A few minutes after that the food cart came by. I had previously scanned the menu, which offered a number of sandwiches and salads (if you want to check it out its available at http://www.flysong.com ), but being a picky eater, none of the main meals really appealed to me, so I passed. Trash collection came by a few minutes after that, and I observed that we were just coming within sight of land again. I put on my Discman, listening to RHCP, reclined my seat, noting that the recline was pretty generous and extremely comfortable, and watched the scenery outside.
When we were over Norfolk, Virginia, I could clearly see the large naval base there, and I saw a Delta (Express?) 737-200 whip by heading southbound. A few minutes after that, over the Delmarva Peninsula, I saw what looked like a Monarch A320 in the old colors come by close laterally but well below us. Now I don’t think it was a Monarch A320, but it sure bore a great resemblance to one. Anyone have any suggestions???
Anyway, 1 hour and 50 minutes after takeoff, the first set of prelanding announcements, indicating our “initial descent” were made, and a few moments later I finally felt the weightless sensation confirming descent. We were over Cape May, New Jersey at this point. The descent route hugged the New Jersey shoreline, and I was able to identify Belmar/ Monmouth Executive Airport, a large uncontrolled airport on the coast. Shortly after that we drifted over the ocean and further and further away from the Jersey Shore.
9 minutes before landing, the talent announced that we were on “final approach”, which was mildly amusing since no flaps or gear were down, and made sure that our seats, traytables, and carryons were ready for landing.
4 minutes before landing, the flaps came down through their full range of motion, followed by the landing gear 2 minutes later. We crossed over the Long Island shore, and banked left to establish ourselves on a true final approach for runway 31L. Landing was at 1:28 PM
, with a flight time of 2 hours and 18 minutes. The post-landing announcements were long and thorough, and they advertised Song’s future IFE system and future menu plans. The talent also made a very predictable joke that if we didn’t enjoy our flights then they didn’t operate this flight but another crew did. Gate arrival was at 1:33 PM
, and I did not notice the gate number (it was on the end of the terminal though), but I did not get off the plane until 10 minutes later, through the 2L door.
With my jetBlue flight not scheduled to depart until 5:25 PM
, I had several hours to kill. Having nothing better to do, I decided to go over to the terminal and check-in for the next flight. Since the terminals are fairly far apart, the simplest way to get there was the inter-terminal bus. The signage to get to the bus stop was lacking a little bit but I did manage to find it soon enough The wait for the bus was brief and I got onboard. 15-20 minutes later the bus pulled up to Terminal 6 and I got off and headed inside.
I entered through the furthest left entrance to the check-in area and the first thing that caught my eye was the line for express check-in, which was for passengers without bags to check. I entered the short queue, but as I reached the front, I realized that jetBlue was supposed to have e-ticket machines. Looking around, I spotted two of them tucked away on the sidewall of the terminal, so I left the line and headed over there to check in.
Once again, the machine was straightforward in use, and it spit out a receipt-like boarding pass (reminiscent of Airtran) for my flight. I went up towards security, where my boarding pass was checked by a jetBlue employee, and then through the security process…again, sneakers off, and I got the full treatment in the form of a wanding and bag inspection. Of course I passed with flying colors (no pun intended!), and my boarding pass was broadly stamped with “COMPLETED” in 2 spots.
The first thing that struck me was a large sign saying “get a free t-shirt” and a line of people. Curious, I got in line and found out that the airline was simply doing a study on weight. All that was required was to get weighed, get my bag weighed, and I would be the proud new owner of a spiffy jetBlue t-shirt. This is what happened, and I found myself with a jetBlue t-shirt featuring the “Dots” tail pattern…way cool!!!
I was also rather hungry, with it being nearly 2:15 and me having skipped breakfast in favor of a few minutes extra sleep in the morning, so I went over to the Central Park Café. They had a custom salad offer…4 toppings and dressing for $5 or so, so I had a salad made with double helpings of chicken and bacon bits and vinagrette dressing…delicious!
When I was done I went over to the newsstand and purchased a bag of mini-Crunch bars, pack of Juicy Fruit, Sports Illustrated, and the Tom Clancy book Executive Orders. I owned Executive Orders already but it was falling apart and I wanted to get a new compy since I had the urge to reread it. It was interesting to note that on the new edition there is a photo of an Asiana 744 on the cover, but you probably don’t care about that… Anyways, I still had plenty of time to kill so I moved to a seat in the central terminal area and began to read Executive Orders, while nursing my way through the bag of Crunch bars.
When I had finally finished them, at about 3:30, I moved over to Gate 4, where the flight was scheduled to depart from. The area was pretty much deserted so I took a seat by the window, which allowed me to keep an eye on Runway 31R, which was in use for arrivals. The aircraft spotting at JFK
was simply amazing…with this being my first visit to the fabled airport, I saw a variety of aircraft the likes of which Ive either never seen or rarely see before, all in the space of a few hours. Highlights included:
Virgin Atlantic A340-300
Alitalia 777-200 (2x)
Japan Airlines 747-400
Royal Jordanian A340-200
Aeromar 767-300 (?…only got a brief glance)
Air India 747-400
Aer Lingus A330-200 (2x)
Royal Air Maroc 767-300
Air France 777-200
Air France 747-400
North American 767-300
In between movements I read through the Sports Illustrated. I was mildly shocked to see my high school get a mention in a photo caption of a picture of a squirrel running on a track (page 29, June 23 issue). It was taken at my high school’s track, and I had the absurd thought that “Hey, I’ve run on a track whose picture was featured in Sports Illustrated! Wow!!!” Sorry for that last bit, it was completely random and I apologize for that. Moving on, as time progressed, the gate area became more and more crowded, but no aircraft was present at the gate…
Tuesday June 24th, 2003
A320-200 N558JB (Song Sung Blue)
Scheduled Departure 5:25 PM
Scheduled Arrival 8:15 PM
At 4:40 PM
the arriving aircraft pulled in after a flight from MCO
and although I could not see the registration, the aircraft’s name was “Song Sung Blue”, which translates into N558JB. I thoughtthis name is unbelievably ironic given my day’s events, and that B6
could not have possibly sent an a/c with a more fitting name.
Turnaround was fairly fast, and I noted the conventional style of announcements given at the gate regarding boarding processes. At 4:55 preboarding began, followed by rows 20-27. I got up and managed to get another decent spot in line, and after grabbing a headset in the jetway, found myself onboard the aircraft soon enough. I moved to seat 22F, and got settled in. Seats are dark grey leather, and they felt a little wider than Song’s, though legroom was discernibly less by a little bit. A small PTV was mounted at the top of the seat in front of me, along with a credit card swiper. I found this odd because N558JB was delievered to B6
in January ’03 and Im fairly sure B6
started making the DirectTV a free service well before that date (If Im mistaken please feel free to correct).
As it turned out, there was a man who took 22D but 22E remained empty, which was good as it allowed me a little bit extra room. While boarding continued, I kept my eyes on the outside as I had a good view of the last 2/3rds of 31R, and I was hoping to see a certain aircraft on this trip: the Concorde. I had never seen it in person beforehand and this trip to JFK
would be the only opportunity I would ever have to lay eyes on this plane in active service. Speedbird 1 was scheduled to arrive right about the time our flight was supposed to depart, and so I figured there would be a chance that I could catch it.
Boarding continued and I kept glued to the window, when I heard an unusual roar, and shortly after that, a magnificent delta-winged airliner rolled out on 31R. Concorde had arrived. For reference, the time was 5:20 PM
. I fumbled around for the camera and pointed it at the window as the sleek airplane turned off 31L and taxied towards us. I was taking pictures nonstop trying to savor the moment. Before it reached us, it turned into the ramp area of the BA
terminal, and I watched with regret as the aircraft, G-BOAE, slowly disappeared from view behind a UA
777, leaving only the tip of its tail visible. Farewell Concorde, we will miss you!!
With the trip’s secondary goal accomplished, I could relax a little bit more. Loading continued on schedule pretty much, and doors were closed on time, followed by a brief introduction by the captain regarding jetBlue and this particular aircraft. He took particular pride in announcing that B6
was the first airline to have reinforced cockpit doors as well as security cameras in the cabin. The safety demo was done at the gate, in a conventional fashion (as compared to Song). I found it interesting that jetBlue f/a’s are referred to as “in-flight crew members”. What is it with Song and jetBlue and alternative f/a titles???
Shortly after the safety demo, at 5:30, the DirectTV was turned on. I thought that they wouldn’t turn it on until after takeoff as it seemed that the headphones could be a potential safety issue in case of emergency to me. I tried to put on the provided blue headphones but they were somewhat awkward, with the wire going to each separate ear they were barely big enough. Luckily the jack was single-pronged and I was able to use my own set of headphones without a problem. The aircraft was still at the gate because bags weren’t quite fully loaded yet. I didn’t particularly care though. I had my PTV tuned to ESPN and “Pardon the Interruption”, one of my favorite shows, and this kept my attention for the most part.
Pushback was at 5:36, followed by the commencement of taxi at 5:40. It was a slow taxi over to 13R, but once we reached the takeoff point, there was almost no delay. At 5:56 flight 49 rocketed into the air after a 35 second roll in what was the most powerful takeoff I’ve experienced in recent memory. The rotation on the ground was short and abrupt and climbout was steep as we winged our way towards South Florida.
However, once we were off the ground, my attention returned to the TV
. PTI was ending and I decided to stick with ESPN and watch SportsCenter until 6:30. Besides having 24 channels of DirectTV, there also is an Airshow map, but I think this feature leaves much to be desired. First off the channel is about 2/3rds ads and 1/3rd map, and when the map comes up it comes in random scales (sometimes the map shows the entire east coast, other times it just covered a one or two state region). Compared to airshow systems on other airlines, jetBlue’s is fairly archaic and could definitely use some improvement.
6 minutes after takeoff, the 10,000 foot announcement, which also announced the service agenda for the flight: a bar service followed by a light snack. A few minutes after that, the captain came on to announce that we were at FL
270 and heading up to FL
350 as our final cruising altitude. 21 minutes after takeoff a crewmember came equipped with a pad and drinking implement and offered a drink. I asked for a Coke, no ice, and he repeated it back as a Diet Coke w/o ice. I corrected him with “regular Coke, no ice”, and he repeated back correctly. For some reason, when I am on a plane giving a drink order, it seems that at least 50-60% of the time the flight attendants hear me say “Diet Coke” for some reason even though I just say “Coke”. I have no idea why this happens and it is starting to be rather frustrating.
While I waited for my drink to come, since the service was in the same manner as Southwest (no carts), I took a glance around the cabin. There are no mid-cabin bulkheads on the A320’s and I think this gives off a feeling of roominess that just isn’t there on a 2-class A320. There were 4 in-flight crewmembers doing the drink orders, spaced evenly throughout the cabin. About 5 minutes after my order was taken, the crewmember returned with the drinks, and handed me…a can of Diet Coke. I handed it back and repeated again that I would like a regular Coke, to which he replied, “Ok, but it will be a few minutes”. Fine by me…Im a patient person and I don’t really like to impose either. I made note of this minor mishap on my TR
notesheet and I'm sure he saw me writing something because he returned momentarily with a can of regular Coke.
At 6:30 I switched over to GSN to watch “Match Game” and shortly after that the snack basket came around. There were several choices, including Blue Potato Chips, Animal Crackers, and Oreos, and although none of them appealed to me, I got a package of Oreos, thinking that my dad might want them when he picked me up. The f/a’s made the first of many trash sweeps about 10 minutes later. I was pleased to notice that on jetBlue, the f/a’s never really pulled a disappearing act. For most of the flight they were constantly patrolling the aisles or making trash sweeps. I noted that at one point on the flight, about 90 minutes after takeoff the captain came out of the cockpit for some reason (I thought the cockpit door was supposed to stay shut throughout the flight), and after conferring with the crewmembers about something, went back in.
After “Match Game” ended, I went back to ESPN to watch “Rome is Burning”, which I had never seen before. The show turned out to pretty funny and entertaining and so I stuck with it for most of its hour length, until I found a show on History Channel about bush flying, which I caught the conclusion of.
Right about the time I switched to History, around 7:45 PM
, the captain came on to announce that we were nearing the top of the descent. A quick check of the airshow map showed that we were just southeast of Jacksonville. I opened my window shade to see a remarkable view of the sun going behind some clouds, so I snapped a few pictures of that. The descent was pretty much a blur to me, to be honest. At 8:00 I went to ESPN2 to watch Lebron James: The Life, and I noticed that we were setting up for a runway 9L
We crossed over land near FXE
and headed west towards the Everglades, and over the town of Sunrise began the 180 degree turn to the left to establish the aircraft on a final approach for 9L
. Gear down, flaps down, and we swooped gracefully over I-95 and to a firm landing on 9L
at 8:15, 2 hours and 19 minutes after departure. Taxi was brief to a gate at Terminal 1, of which I forgot to notice which one The crewmembers then announced that anyone wishing to use reardoor departure was welcome to do so, but that it involved going down and up a set of stairs. Of course this was no issue with me, and I took advantage of this. On the tarmac I wanted desperately to take some pictures but I wasn’t sure if that was permitted or not so I erred on the side of caution and refrained from doing so.
Once in the terminal I went straight for the exit and both my parents were there to pick me up, thus ending a day of travel and flying that I surely will not forget for a while. I would really like to experience Song’s much hyped IFE system and new menu, so I will have to find an excuse to repeat this trip sometime in the future!!!
Thanks for reading this, and as always comments and questions are welcomed. My next TR
will come in August as I head out to college on ATA…PHL