The title is NOT an error. Read on...
Sunday morning during the record breaking NYC winter storm we get a phone call that my wife's grandmother has passed away in Florida. She had a long and happy life but this was unfortunately, expected.
I offered to arrange all the travel needs for 5 people flying down and 6 coming back. We all knew that all NYC airports were closed and Monday was going to be heavily backed up. I recommended that we try for Tuesday and everyone agreed. I started looking for flights immediately but seats were disappearing left and right. We needed PBI, FLL or MIA in that order. Nonstop options on Song were out because no flights had 5 seats available. AA was very expensive, CO from EWR was an option but EWR would have been the furthest drive. Jetblue had NOTHING to PBI or FLL, not a single seat. I gave up for the time being because we weren’t sure exactly when the funeral would be at that moment anyway.
Later Sunday when more details were determined I started looking again. Suddenly, a new flight on Jetblue appeared in their system, flight #4001 JFK-FLL at noon. It was wide open so I booked it. I assumed at the time it was an extra flight to makeup for the storm backlog.
On Monday I stated to get a little worried cause 4001 wasn’t showing up on the flight tracker as a real flight but I assumed it was just because it was an extra flight and the website hadn’t been updated.
Tuesday morning, while we were coordinating transportation for 5 people from different locations to JFK someone said the flight was delayed 3 hours so I called Jetblue to see what’s up. The representative said 4001 was cancelled but we were moved to 4800 still departing at noon. I asked why it wasn’t on the website and the rep said “oh, we borrowed a plane from American Airlines to help out stranded passengers.” Wow I thought, so we’d be flying on American medal to FLL. 757, 737, MD80, A300? Well it turns out the rep wasn’t exactly right….
Got to JFK and checked in using kiosk, the seat map was an A320 so I thought maybe they scrapped this wacky American Airlines plan after all.
Flight 4800 was leaving from Gate 9 (where you can’t see outside). I went to get some food and was standing on line next to a Jetblue pilot. I asked him about this American Airlines rumor and he had no idea and hadn’t heard anything about it. He said “They don’t have A320’s do they?” I said, “no they have A300’s.” He said we’ll there would be a safety issue with us flying it” I’m like I know, they would obviously be using AA crews. He was sure this would never happen anyway.
Well, when boarding begins, they announce the flight will be operated by NORTH AMERICAN AIRLINES and they hand out a memo saying so to every boarding passenger.
Jetblue #4800 JFK-FLL
Boeing 757 Operated by North American Airlines
Scheduled Departure 12:05pm
Actual Departure 12:35pm
Arrival: More or less on time.
Boarded using door 2L. During the usual jetway backup over heard the Jetblue staff working with the North American staff. They were trying to brief each other on operations. We found our seats and I knew it would be tight, and it was. I was seated in 20A right over the wing. This 757 didn’t have over wing exits but 4 regular doors on each side. The crew (all North American) were super friendly and welcoming. Boarding was delayed about 30 mins so they could pack every seat with stranded passengers. The 757 can certainly hold more people than the a320, especially a charter version.
While waiting and looking out the window, I noticed Jetblue and North American ground staff shaking hands and what I assumed was offering mutual thanks, it was nice to see.
The jetblue ground staff told us we were in good hands with North American and wished us a safe trip. They closed the door and there were no jetblue staff left on the plane. We pushed backed and watch the very low budget safety video. We taxied right out to 13L and took off.
Service consisted of a full can of soda and the full jetblue snack options. The flight attendants took it all in stride but you could tell they had a little difficulty being unfamiliar with all the snack options. North American two prong head sets were handed out for free and a movie was shown on the overhead old style CRT monitors.
We landed at FLL and parked at a Jetblue gate where the plane would be turned as #4801 back to JFK.
Overall the flight was fine, although with a tight seat pitch. I think it was great that Jetblue would charter a plane to get stranded people down to FLL. They really showed that they do “care.”
Jetblue 62 FLL-JFK
This time on a regular A320. N520JB. Flight was your bog-standard Jetblue flight from FLL. On time, TV worked fine, smooth flight. I think we landed via the Canarsie approach because we flight right over King’s Plaza Mall in Brooklyn.
Well that ends an unplanned land sad last minute trip to South Florida. Jetblue gets high marks from me for chartering a plane and enabling us to get to Florida in an emergency even with a big storm 2 days before.