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Skies: friendly and not

What a pleasure it was to avoid this

Sherry and I spent the last few days in Florida, visiting my family members and checking out places where she and I might spend winters after I retire at the end of the upcoming school year.

We flew Jet Blue from Buffalo to Orlando nonstop, then flew home on United out of Orlando with a stop in Newark on the way. Some comparisons:

• Jet Blue: no baggage check fee.
• United: I was carrying one bag to check at Orlando. Fee: $25.

• Jet Blue: complimentary drinks. Sherry and I were drinking double Bloody Marys by 8:45 a.m.
• United: Charge for drinks: $7.50 each. Doubles were, of course, double the price. Exorbitant for sure, but I need alcohol help when I fly. (We did not drink from Newark to Buffalo.)

• Jet Blue: complimentary snacks. Granted, they were the typical baby-sized airline snacks.
• United: bigger-sized snacks, but not complimentary.

• Leg room: I'm six-two but had plenty of knee room on Jet Blue. On the United flight I had less room, and when the passenger in front of me tilted his seat back, I did not have the room I needed. A few strategic knee thumps to the back of his seat remedied the situation.

Miscellaneous notes:
• The United cabin had a faint, urinal-like odor upon boarding.
• We were delayed an hour by a maintenance problem departing from both Orlando and Newark. The Orlando delay would have resulted in a missed connection in Newark, but they held the plane to Buffalo because of our flight's late arrival.
• While we sat in the plane in Orlando for 80 minutes, a faint but unmistakeable odor of jet fuel made its way into the cabin during a couple of occasions.
• The Orlando delay meant we had to wait an extra hour for our drinks.

One plus:
We were TSA pre-approved for boarding both ways, which meant we didn't have to stand in the long line to go through security. It took us less than two minutes in Buffalo. In Orlando the pre-approved line was longer and more like a maze, so it took us about five minutes to get through security. We didn't know why we were pre-approved, but we didn't complain.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 21st, 2015 01:15 am (UTC)
Interesting how wildly different carriers can be between destinations. Did you also price Southwest? We fly Alaska quite often - sometimes it is just worth the money, especially if you want to reach your destination at a certain time. We just flew them to Chicago this week. Good both ways. Brendan flew in from Grand Forks, ND on Delta - his experience was about 50/50 like yours. Sorry that flying requires a double Bloody Mary... must be a rotten experience for you.
Jul. 21st, 2015 01:52 am (UTC)
I've flown Southwest before but chose Jet Blue for the trip to Florida because it was a nonstop and also would get us there shortly after noon. Departure time from Orlando and arrival time back in Buffalo were the two factors in booking the United flights. I used to fly without drinking but have discovered alcohol takes the edge off, nicely. My next post will be about the rental car fiasco.
Jul. 21st, 2015 01:44 am (UTC)
Our tickets to Seattle for the trip just completed were a gift. I just asked the givers to please avoid United. Your comments just reinforce that preference.
Jul. 21st, 2015 01:54 am (UTC)
Smart choice. I kept referring to United as "flying the hostile skies" while waiting for our plane in Newark. That made some of the people sitting nearby nervous.
Jul. 21st, 2015 10:22 pm (UTC)
Baggage check fee? Wow ... I guess it really has been a while since I've flown. No surprise really, because since the installation of the TSA I've tried not to fly out of or within the U.S. if I can help it. I know that sounds kooky. But I like trains anyway, and they do the job for regional travel.

On another note, I imagined you were no more than 5'9. So ... I guess you don't sound 6'2 in your posts.
Jul. 22nd, 2015 01:59 am (UTC)
How much do I sound like I weigh?
Jul. 22nd, 2015 02:05 pm (UTC)
Ahaha! Well, I imagined 5'9 with a small paunch, the professorial variety. I don't know how much that adds up to be.
Jul. 23rd, 2015 06:01 am (UTC)
I have flown on numerous airlines in the last 30+ years and have decided that some things are worth seeking out, and some worth avoiding. United Airlines (and American) are two of the must-avoids. The outrageous charges, the decrepit state of the passenger part of the aircraft (God only knows what the rest looks like), and the WHUMP when you land... I am done with what used to be fairly distinguished domestic airlines.
Jul. 24th, 2015 01:29 pm (UTC)
I don't travel that often and book flights according to arrival and departure times—but I'll never fly on United again and, because of your non-endorsement, on American. As for Jet Blue, complimentary double bloody marys—at 8:45 a.m., no less—is a great way to earn repeat business!
Jul. 25th, 2015 06:02 pm (UTC)
How was the visit?

I recently flew with my mom up to Maine, to visit my dad's 3 sisters and my cousins who live there. I tried finding bargains via all the bargain routes like travelocity, priceline, etc. Turns out, they don't offer Southwest, but going directly to the Southwest website gave me the best flight options AND the cheapest prices.
Jul. 26th, 2015 12:14 am (UTC)
I didn't check Southwest. Duh! But my No. 1 criterion now is free booze. We had a good trip. Thanks for asking. Did a lot of driving around, checking places where we might start spending winters and eventually move. It was good to see my mom again, of course, and my brother, sisters, nieces and nephews. We're toying with the idea of going again during the break between semesters. We didn't get to see St. Pete and want to check out a couple of places further down the coast.
Jul. 29th, 2015 12:36 am (UTC)
We flew on Jet Blue to and from Ireland and loved it. Sorry about your United experience!
Jul. 29th, 2015 12:38 am (UTC)
Ireland? Wow. If you feel like it, shoot me an email about your trip and your new gig and whatever else is pertinent.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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