Monday, July 20, 2009

JetBlue Misery

Tonight I have a short rant. Been flying back and forth to New York on JetBlue four times, now. Three flights were great, but they were normal-sized airplanes--A380s I think. Today, coming back from New York, we were on an Embraer 190, narrow, cigar-shaped airplane, and we were back of the middle. Bad, bad, bad.

Forget the fact that my reading light had burned out. I was probably one of only three people on the flight who wanted to read...but like I said, never mind that.

The main difficulty was the temperature. I always carry a light jacket in expectation of cooler temperatures aloft. The plane flies at 30,000 plus feet, so one might expect cool air, don't you think? But no. Not only was it hot, but there was no air circulation without using those nasty little individual air jets which blow germs from all over the airplane right into your face.

I asked the female attendant, Dodi, if it were normal for the plane to be so warm. (I was not the only uncomfortable person by any means.) She said rather curtly: "I'll adjust it."

But no adjustment was forthcoming. I thought I might ask her about it again, but by then the attendants had erected their barrier against terrorists, or whatever, sealing off the front facilities and their service area from the rest of the cabin. I think it's so the captain can come out and use the restroom. At any rate, I decided to wait and hope for improvement.

So, an hour and a half later--after the barrier had been removed--I went up front to the restroom and, since I was feeling like I was being slowly deprived of sufficient oxygen, I asked her a couple more questions about how the AC worked. She said the AC system is supposed to balance the flow of air between the front of the plane and the back. She tried, she said, to increase the air flow to the back (which obviously meant reducing it to the front where she was sitting--and to be fair where the pilot and co-pilot were, as well--) but the control was very temperamental and any bump could dislodge it.

I am inclined to accept explanations from staff on airplanes. I want you to know that. I have my doubts about this, but we don't want the people flying the plane to have insufficient air and fall asleep, do we?

In the end, after considerable turbulence, we landed safely. The pilot and co-pilot did a great job. But the sense of insufficient air didn't go away until we walked out into the terminal where, fortunately, there was no problem with air or airconditioning, at all.

I'm not sure whether JetBlue is trying to save money by raising the temp on its planes and restricting the ingress of oxygen to the absolute limit. Or whether the Embraer 190 is just a crummy aircraft. Or whether we would have noticed a problem if we'd been sitting up front, where we usually sit.

It has made me thoughtful, though, about flying that airline again.

Today I would give JetBlue a big thumbs down.


Ralph W said...

What plane did you fly to NYC? Assuming it was Jet Blue, did you have the same problem going up? I have flown on virtually every commercial Boeing aircraft made after 1960 plus some MD and Lockheed planes. I've also been on a lot of Embracer planes (usually turbo props), Bombadiere, FWs, Saabs, and Airbus planes. Boeing is hands down my favorite with Airbus second.
I hate those long delays (8 hours once on a full plane with boys 12, 7 & a baby) when the plane is stuffy and hot. Even worse, was a flight to San Francisco. The airforce was in control of a huge cube of airspace over the Sierra Nevada mts. The pilot announced that we had just broken the altitude record for a commercial flight. The hot air was blasting down full blast. I (and everyone aboard) felt like my brain was being fried and was getting frostbite in my feet.

jinksy said...

After reading this, I'm glad my only flying around goes on in my mind :)

Bdogs said...

You said it, Jinksy!
Ralph, we were flying at 38,000 feet, so could that have made us hot in and of itself?

Ralph W. said...

No. You were at a common altitude. I think the problem came from a malfunction or, the most likely situation, a crew member that is cold whenever it gets below 80. Throughout my life I have found that if 100 people are in a room and 99 are hot but 1 is cold, the cold person will throw such a fit that that they get their way or reset the thermostat on their own.

PJ's talking... said...

Enjoying the photos of New York. Loved the sad state of them having a month of rain. Poor souls. Whatever would we do with that much rain... or 81 degrees.

I totally agree about the cold people. They always win, even if the rest of us have sweat running down our faces. Next time, I vote we sit on them.

Bdog said...

I second that motion, PJ.

I almost offered to switch seats with Dodi, who was on a jump seat up front!

sizzie said...

I've been away from blogging for a while, and am glad I stopped back by yours. I am not flying, and did appreciate seeing the few from your mid-plane seat. It makes home seem that much better. Thanks for giving me something good to read.

Anil P said...

Up in the air the situation can get helpless, often with no option other than to sit it out. Not a happy feeling surely.

Walt said...

Hey, Babette, I sure like your writing and am glad I have found your blog. Since I have never been on a blog before, I do not know what is appropriate for a "Comments" section, so I'll just leave it at that except to say, our best to Hale.