I flew JetBlue from San Francisco to New York a while back.
I have to tell you, for the first couple of hours, it was one of the best domestic economy-class flying experiences I have ever had.
Alas, the dream ended when the aircraft hit 10,000 feet.
(NOTE: Frequent readers will be be dismayed or thrilled to hear that I forgot to take pictures of every moment of my JetBlue flying experience. So this story will only have a few photos. My apologies! If you want more flight photos, check back soon to learn what it’s like on British Airways. Or read this American Airlines adventure…)
I got to the airport way ahead of time.
The JetBlue terminal in San Francisco is glassy and airy and filled with light, and it has beautiful views of mountains and aeroplanes.
I got a ham sandwich near the gate. It wasn’t horrible. I got some tea, too. That wasn’t horrible, either.
I found a table next to an electrical outlet. Yes, I had to stalk the table, and, yes, I had to pounce the moment the prior patron appeared to be disconnecting, but how else are you going to get juiced up before a 5-hour flight aboard which you’re planning to spend every minute working?
While I recharged, I ate and drank, wrote an article announcing that I was switching from Google’s email app to Apple’s email app (I’ve since had to switch back), and looked at the mountains and planes. And then, at the appropriate time, I made my way to the gate.
The flight boarded on time. (Hooray!)
No one grabbed my bag and checked it at the last second (Hooray!)
And when I got to my seat, I discovered my seat was an Exit Row seat! (HOORAY!)
BOATLOADS of leg room.
I also discovered that JetBlue has a clever name for these seats. They call them “EVEN MORE SPACE” seats.
Why is that clever?
Because it implies that the other seats in the plane, which presumably come with about as much space as the one-foot-by-one-foot cube that the average corporate-grown chicken spends its whole life in, also have lots of space, just not quite as much.
In any event, the JetBlue EVEN MORE SPACE seats had a veritable ocean of leg room.
I settled into my massive seat and, while the rest of the passengers filed in, thought about all the work I was going to get done now that I was not going to have to spend the whole flight with my keyboard in my sternum, hunting and pecking while trying to avoid elbowing my neighbour in the jaw.
The flight left the gate on time.
It took off nicely without crashing
And it climbed smoothly out over the Bay without having to do any sudden acrobatics on the climb-out.
So everything really was going swimmingly.
And then, finally, as we floated toward the Sierras, we passed 10,000 feet and got the all-clear to start using our electronic devices.
I had amassed a full charge at the outlet I had stalked in the terminal, so I figured that, once connected to the plane’s WiFi, if I turned the screen down super low and shut everything else down, I could squeeze maybe three or four hours of work in.
So I flipped open my Air and went for it.
But what was this?
My Air couldn’t find the plane’s WiFi connection?
How could that be?
Was there something wrong with my Air? (Turn off WiFi. Turn on WiFi. Turn off WiFi. Turn on WiFi. No joy).
Was there something special about how you connected to WiFi on JetBlue? (Search seatback pocket for in-flight magazine, scan it, learn nothing.)
Was there, gasp, something wrong with THIS PLANE’s WiFi? (Would it soon be fixed??)
It was a few minutes before I discovered the the full horror of my reality.
My laptop wasn’t broken. The plane’s WiFi wasn’t broken. There wasn’t something special about how you connected to JetBlue’s WiFi.
The reality was… JetBlue doesn’t have WiFi.
What is that about?
Who made THAT decision?
What does JetBlue expect you to do for five hours while you float across the country if you don’t have WiFi?
Eat blue potato chips?
After I landed, I Googled “JetBlue WiFi” and discovered that I’m not the only JetBlue customer who has been dismayed to learn that JetBlue doesn’t have WiFi. I also learned that JetBlue is now promising everyone that WiFi will be arriving this summer. (Not surprisingly, the announcement is worded as though it’s a fantastic new customer-service innovation, as opposed to something that any self-respecting airline offers on long flights these days).
Now, I don’t want to overplay this. I am, of course, still happy that my cheap JetBlue flight took off and landed on time and, most importantly, arrived safely. If you get those things right as an airline, you automatically get a “B” from me.
And then, when you throw in freebies like blue potato chips, TV, and EVEN MORE SPACE, that grade ticks up to a “B+.”
But no WiFi on a cross-country flight from San Francisco to New York?
Come on, JetBlue! It’s 2013!
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