01. Introduction: Road trip hotels between San Diego and Washington DC
02. Comfort Inn & Suites, Deming, NM
03. Holiday Inn Express, South Amarillo, TX
04. Holiday Inn Express, Maumelle, AR
05. Hilton Knoxville Airport, TN
06. Comfort Suites, Salem, VA
07. Marriott Hotel, Washington Dulles Airport
08. Quick summary: Washington DC to San Diego (via Boston) on jetBlue
It’s funny how this trip report ended up playing out. Because I’m such a die-hard aviation fan, my trip reports are usually slanted more towards the air-travel side of things as opposed to the hotel stays. I do the hotel reviews just as an aside most of the time, as I’m not really a big fan about writing about that kind of stuff.
But it helps to make my trip reports more complete. Anyway, this cross-country road trip did a number on me both physically and mentally, and the truth is that I didn’t have an ounce of energy (or desire) to document my travels back to San Diego once I had arrived in DC. I simply had enough of trying to document every little thing, and I needed a break.
So – I decided not to do a full report for the ride home on jetBlue. And you know what? I don’t regret that decision at all. It felt really good just to let go and simply enjoy the fun of travel without trying to document every little thing!
But now that some time has passed (and I’m feeling better), I thought I’d write up a quick summary of these flights just for personal archival purposes. I don’t imagine what I write here will to be all that interesting to anyone seeking a full review of jetBlue, but making the trip report complete as possible is important for my own personal needs. So with that, here we go:
Washington DC (IAD) – Boston, MA (BOS)
Friday April 17 2015
After a quick 10-minute walk over to the main terminal from the Dulles Airport Marriott, I headed directly to the security queue since I checked in online and was using a mobile boarding pass. I love mobile boarding passes!! No standing in line, no need to check in at a kiosk, and no paper boarding passes to lose track of. These things have really made travel so much easier for me in ways I can’t even describe.
Anyway, once past security I hopped onto the train over to concourse B and was really surprised to see how much Dulles airport had grown up since I had last visited (which, according to my flight log, was 16 years ago). It was a beautifully large and bright terminal with the perfect mix of open seating areas and shops/restaurants. Since it was still technically morning (10am by now), I purchased a toasted sesame bagel and a mango smoothie before heading over to the Korean Air gate just to do a little plane spotting. Already I felt like I was at “home” compared to being out on the open road in the car – air travel has always been my primary method of long-distance travel, and it felt good to be back in an airport again.
Boarding for jetBlue flight 456 up to BOS started shortly after 12pm, and I was on the plane and in my seat in no time. This was my first time on an Embraer 190, and I’ve got to say that I was surprised by the spacious interior – at least compared to smaller regional jets such as the CRJ-200 and -700. It felt like a mainline aircraft.
I immediately took note of the personal in-seat LCD screen that jetBlue was famous for (live TV at every seat), and it appeared to be low-quality if you ask me. It wasn’t a high-res screen at all and it was a lot smaller than what you’d find on other airlines. I figured it was just because this was just a smaller airplane, and assumed my connecting flight to SAN on an A320 would feature a much better display.
We departed right on time under partly cloudy skies, and I completely resisted the urge to pull out my camera and take pics. It was high mid-day sun anyway, so there wasn’t all that much to see.
But one thing I noticed right away was the speed in which we were traveling. Lol! After a week of driving at speeds averaging 70mph, it felt weird to be in an airplane again covering ground at speeds I could have only dreamt of traveling during my road trip. Isn’t technology amazing?
We approached a gloomy and overcast BOS from the east (over the water) and were parked at the gate a few minutes ahead of schedule.
Boston, MA (BOS) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Friday April 17 2015
I’m going to come right out and say it: the C concourse at Boston Logan (where jetBlue resides) is a dump. I had a 3 hour layover before my connecting flight to San Diego, so believe me – I had plenty of time to come to that conclusion. To be honest, it wasn’t all that bad. Some parts of it are fairly new, but most of it simply small, dark, and cramped. It was difficult to find a quiet spot to sit and relax, and I found myself walking from end to end countless times trying to kill time.
To make matters worse, I purchased a honey-mustard chicken bowl with brown rice and broccoli for lunch that was massively disappointing. The rice and veggies were fine, but the chicken ended up being some sort of processed “meat” that had a really weird loose and watery texture. The worst part? I paid $13 for it. I was totally ready to get on that plane home to San Diego.
Boarding was a few minutes late, and I chose not to board early despite my Even More Space Seat up front. This flight to SAN was scheduled to be nearly 6 hours and I didn’t feel like making it any longer than it needed to be.
Once onboard, I was surprised in two ways. First, these premium seats were just standard coach seats with more leg room (and not much more at that). Compare that with Spirit Airlines, who actually use larger first-class style seats for their premium product. Anyway, surprise number two came from the fact that the LCD screen was exactly like the one I just experienced on the Embraer 190. Tiny. Small. Really low resolution.
I didn’t expect that at all, considering how strongly jetBlue touts their live TV product in advertising. To make matters worse, the audio wasn’t working on mine. I couldn’t get anything more than just cracking static from my ear buds. Oh well – I planned on sleeping for most of the flight anyway.
We departed BOS to the east, then made the big gradual turn west pointed towards southern California. I took a few pics as we climbed out:
From there it was a straight shot across the country, my mind still blown that this airplane would cover more ground in 6 hours than I did all last week in the car. Something to think about as I dozed off to sleep…
I napped on and off for the entire flight, passing on the for-purchase in-flight meal boxes. I did have a bag of pretzels, but that was it. I was happy just to sit and do nothing for once this week.
We crossed the country uneventfully, and I was even able to identify and follow along some of the roads I have driven in the past (but not on this trip). It was light out for most of the flight, but the sun was just dropping below the horizon once we reached SAN and I was really happy to see that the skies were clear and the fog/marine layer had held off. Thick fog is a problem in the evenings this time of year at SAN, and I was not in the mood to divert to LAX or ONT tonight.
Once off the plane, I decided to give in and grab a barbecue chicken dinner at Phil’s Barbecue in terminal 2 west before grabbing a taxi and heading home.
It’s always nice to return to San Diego. Another trip complete!