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My First Airbus Flight

Sat May 08, 2004 10:34 am

This past weekend I was treated to a last minute vacation from school to New York City. This would be my first of a lot of things: first time flying on an Airbus, first time flying out of Long Beach, and first time on JetBlue.

Long Beach Airport was very convenient. As much as I like LAX, Long Beach was extremely easy to get to, and to park at. The shuttle attendant was nice enough to drive us around the large parking lot (by the Boeing building) to find my dad, who dropped us off with the luggage while he found a spot. The airport itself was beautiful ... and very interesting. The check-in area was rather small, but the first thing I noticed was that the JetBlue crew was *extremely* friendly! Never have I been treated so well at an airport!

This is where I thought the airport started to get interesting...
After check in, we had to walk outside by the street and into a makeshift hallway where the airline people checked our ID's. Then we walked up some stairs and into what seemed to be a "portable building" where we went thru security. This would be the first time I would go thru security since 9-11. I was surprised at how thorough they were. Apparently I had left a pair of scissors in my backpack and they found them. The funny thing is, I had been looking for them for over a month and they found them! I felt much safer after this  Smile/happy/getting dizzy. I had no clue what to do with my laptop and was holding up the line. Although the people behind me were all bent out of shape, the TSA personnel were extremely friendly as well, and were laughing with me as they helped me.

The flight to JFK was quite uneventful as it was a red-eye that left around 10pm and arrived at 6am. The flight attendants were surprisingly entertaining and they seemed to relate to passengers very well. One thing I felt about the whole JetBlue crew is that they are more "relaxed" than most airlines. Not that other airline crews are rigid or anything, but these folks made me feel like I was at home! On a jet! haha The only memorable thing was that I sweated the entire 5 hours as the AC was not working. Perhaps this was an attempt to save money to lower fares? The other interesting thing...I have not seen a "live safety briefing" since the 80s!

As we entered JFK on our trip back to CA, I got my camera out and started taking pictures of the remarkably huge airport. This was only my second time at JFK, the first being when my family and I went to Europe via TWA and connected there. Upon arrival to JetBlue's terminal 6 via the (new?) AirTrain, we were greeted by more smiling check-in attendants, and a beautiful terminal. I imagine it was renovated after United left. It was a Tuesday morning, and surprisingly JFK was practically a ghosttown. There was no wait to check-in or to go through security. I recall the last time we went thru security at JFK we had ALL of our bags searched, and even drug tested! But the security guy gave up when his supervisor started yelling at him...and this was back in 1999! Anyway, I digress.

As we entered the jet from Gate 1, I saw that the flight deck door was open. I looked briefly and said "wow" as I was walking into the aisle. The flight attendant pulled me aside and said "let me see if the captain will let you come take a look!" I chuckled at first because I thought she was kidding considering how strict security is. I went up to the flight deck and just looked around while I talked briefly with the captain. I mentioned how I though the engines on the Airbus seem quieter than the engines on a Boeing. When I got off our flight to JFK, my ears weren't deafened from the roar of the jet engines. He had a dry sense of humor and asked me, "you're not taking flight lessons are you?" I replied that I was interested in being an Air Traffic Controller, but not brave enough to be a pilot. Later I thought about what seemed like an odd question, and after mentioning it to my mom we think he was making some reference to hijackers being in flying lessons prior to the attack. I thought that she could be right considering how rare I imagine it is that they let someone onto the flight deck nowadays.

Surprisingly we were the only ones waiting to take off! I did not see a single aircraft taxiing to a runway or arriving. That is how deserted it was on a Tuesday morning. From another thread I learned that it is apparently routine for Tuesday mornings at JFK to be slow. The engines revved up, and...we all noticed that the left engine was making a rather frightening sound. It was a loud "grinding" sound...kind of like the type of sound you would hear when a prop flies overhead. It wasn't the normal roar of an engine. People started talking and looking out the window at the engine concerned. My mom even turned to me and said, "I don't like that sound." If this is normal, then I was definitely wrong about the Airbus having quieter engines! I got very nervous and sick to my stomach...I was hoping that this was because we were on the left side of the aircraft as my dad suggested (last time we were on the right), but I would imagine that the aircraft is symmetric in function. After we left the runway, the engine was still making that sound, now more prominent. I kept looking at the engine (what I could see of it) and saw nothing, except suburban New York  Smile/happy/getting dizzy After about 20-30 minutes passed, the strange sound dissipated and I felt better.

I spent most of the flight tracking our flight progress on the in-flight TV's. I thought it was interesting that during most of the flight, the A320 only traveled at 450mph. The only other time I had a measurement of a flight's velocity pre-JetBlue was the flight progress indicator on sites like Yahoo Travel which would report about 600mph for a Boeing, but maybe I am mistaken. For the majority of the flight we held a constant 35000 feet. Interestingly enough, about 2 hours before we landed, our altitude had climbed to 40,000 feet. I always knew this was possible, but I figured only long haul international flights would fly at this altitude. Our speed had also climbed to 500mph. And of course I was sweating the entire flight again...I figured this was just something to accept. The aircraft looked old, or just not maintained as well as some other airlines perhaps so maybe that was the problem. However, the flight attendant even commented on how hot it was. My dad then made a comical remark that maybe it was because we were flying over the desert and it was hot outside, to which the flight attendant and I chuckled. I explained that the air temperature was probably subzero, but he could have been correct in that I read that the aircraft skin could be very hot due to air friction.

Upon landing, we came to a very abrupt stop. It was a stop that caused one of those thrusting forward reactions. As we left the aircraft we bid farewell to the crew, and the captain still remembered my name. The convenience of the shuttle bus and the efficiency of the ground baggage crew got us out of the airport in about 30 minutes.

I would definitely fly JetBlue again as I felt that they were a great airline. It has some downsides (which I could be totally wrong about): aircraft seem somewhat old or not well maintained (due to the AC not working properly if that was the case, the sound the engine made if abnormal, and the fact that I had to hold the headphone prong into the jack to hear the TV). If JetBlue did these things intentionally to save money (I know they announced upon arrival to clean up our area as they do not clean the aircraft for the next flight to keep fares low), they did it correctly, because although some of the disadvantages were annoying, they did not at all alter my experience flying with them. I especially liked how they kept giving us drinks and snacks throughout the flight instead of giving us one large meal that I may not have enjoyed. I thought that was the smartest decision JetBlue could have made to save money if that is why they do it.

I took several photos of the aircraft, and the surrounding aircrafts at JFK's terminals 6 and 7. I also shot quite a few pictures of TWA's old Terminal 5. I got a great picture of our aircraft. This will be my first time uploading pictures to this site...so I know what to expect  Wink/being sarcastic I am hoping to get a better camera, and learn how to take better pictures. All in all, the trip was great. Both the flights and New York City...and it was a great learning experience!

Question: What do you suppose that awful noise was?? It must have not been a big deal since we still departed JFK. I am no mechanic by any means, but it sounded like something was stuck in the engine (probably not the case), or it needed serious oiling.
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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Sat May 08, 2004 10:53 am

RyanAirB737, enjoyed your trip report. Unfortunately I do not have answers to any of your questions. I have heard that jetblue is a well run and maintained airline and you probably just had bad luck to be on two flights with malfunctioning air conditioning. I guess you were not able to upload your pictures.
Topic Author
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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Sat May 08, 2004 11:03 am

I assumed that I could only upload pictures if they were approved by airliners.net!  Nuts I will size down some of my photos and edit this post for viewers' enjoyment  Smile/happy/getting dizzy since I see that other threads do the same.

I too have heard that JetBlue is very well run. Perhaps I was too critical. The flights were great although there was no AC. It has also been a long time since I last flew so perhaps I expected too much out of an aircraft cabin. Or perhaps there was nothing wrong with the airline's cabin configuration, and other airlines just simply have more luxurious unnecessary setups.  Big thumbs up
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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Sat May 08, 2004 11:55 am

Sorry, not to be rude, but you wouldn't want AC up at 35,000.' The outside temperature is roughly -50, so they in fact have the heater on at that altitude. Obviously, they had the temperature set quite high.  Smile
"it's kind of like an Airbus, it's an engineering marvel, but there's no sense of passion" -- J. Clarkson re: Coxster
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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Sat May 08, 2004 12:06 pm

RyanAirB737, how were the load factors on your flights, especially the red eye. I hear that JetBlue flights are usually very full.
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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Sat May 08, 2004 1:20 pm

Hey there

Glad to see you enjoyed the jetBlue experience. I would like to try and answer some of your questions

1- The sound. Very normal- it happens all the time on Airbus equipment... its the famous "buzzsaw" sound... you usually only hear it when your sitting towards the front of the aircraft. It can be unsettling, but you will find it on any aircraft in the A320 family.

2- The airconditioning. As already mentioned, it is not a sign of bad maintenence, it just probably wasnt set at the ideal temperature. The aircraft doesnt really have air conditioning per se, anyway. jetBlue did not alter any systems on the aircraft.

3- If the aircraft looked a little ratty inside, you were probably on one of jetBlue's older aircraft-- the leather seats can look a little tatty at times, and the overhead bins can sometimes look a little discolored. jetBlue typically doesnt allow these planes to fly around like that for too long, because they go in for maintenece checks fairly often-- many a time, some of these issues are corrected then. jetBlue's maintenence is top notch.

Once again, I'm glad you enjoyed the experience-- keep on flyin' the blue tails!

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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Sat May 08, 2004 7:49 pm

Well done RyanAirB737.
The Airbus buzz saw sound is a frequently discussed topic on a.net.

Look at http://www.airliners.net/discussions/general_aviation/read.main/1500020/4/

I'm not sure whether you heard this sound or something else, because the buzz saw sound is more typical for CFM engines. As far as I know jetBlue's Airbuses are equipped with IAE V2500 engines which aren't famous for this sound. But this is a topic for endless discussions with hundreds of different opinions...


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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Sun May 09, 2004 1:34 pm

Good trip report. To answer you question about the buzzsaw noise, JBLUA320 was right when he said that that noise is common. On my first flight on an A320 when I was 5, I thought the plane was going to blow. I have hear, correct me if I am wrong, that the engine fans are synchronizing themselves to be more efficient. Now as I said I don't know if that is true.
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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Sun May 09, 2004 2:10 pm

Good report. Regarding the cockpit visits...since 9/11 I've actually had more cockpit visits...and this is on United Airlines! Of course these were all before or after the flight.

I L U V 7 6 7
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About The Speed

Sun May 09, 2004 11:11 pm

Usually on westbound flights, such as JFK to LGB, there are heavy headwinds, so it is not unusual to see the plane traveling 450mph... indeed on my JFK-NRT flight, the head wind was pretty strong and we travelled at below 500mph during some portion of the flight.

I love Jetblue much, but if you find the cabin to be too warm, you can tell the F/A and they will set the temperature lower.

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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Tue May 11, 2004 12:18 pm

i think with regarding to the air conditioning problem, it use the engine to heat up the plane. i bet there will be no relation to cost-cutting on how warm or cool the air cond is set to? it will consume the same amount of energy, i guess?
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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Thu May 13, 2004 4:53 pm

That sound - you're hearing the buzz of the low pressure fan - can be quite strange if you're not used to it. In an aircraft cabin, the engine noise has very different character dependant on where you're sitting. Toward the rear you can really hear the exhaust roar on spool-up. Toward the front you can pick out some of the higher frequency noise, especially the fan.

Oddly enough I noticed the same thing on a 737-700 recently.
It takes a big man to admit they are wrong, and I am not a big man.
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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Thu May 13, 2004 6:37 pm

Good report my friend!!

I must admit to loving that roar from an A320/321's engines. I seem to notice it more on the 321 though.
Topic Author
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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Wed May 19, 2004 2:57 pm

Thank you for the responses!

I never thought that my position in the cabin can affect the sounds of the engines, but it makes sense! Perhaps that is why I found the A320 to be quieter than a Boeing. Usually on a Boeing I am seated either on or behind the wings or in the very back, and it is *very* loud, even somewhat deafening when the engines start on takeoff, and also when the thrust reversers (not sure if I am referring to the correct machinery) deploy upon landing.

Bsmalls35: I have heard the term "load factor," but I can't give you a number I'm afraid. You are correct, the flight was packed.
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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Sun May 30, 2004 2:17 pm

Nice report!

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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Mon May 31, 2004 3:21 pm

Great report!. To bad I don't care for A320s
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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Wed Jun 02, 2004 8:28 am

I prefer Boeing too, but let's not make this another A vs. B thread haha Big grin
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RE: My First Airbus Flight

Tue Jun 08, 2004 7:50 pm

I love those buzz-saw sounds! The thing that freaked me out the first time was the "Barking-dog" noise while the engines were starting up. I usually perfer Boeing but if I have the option, I try to get on an Airbus just lately just to hear the buzz-saw. I've been on 4 airbus flights before and loved every one of them!

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