I have notoriously bad flight experiences. A few years ago, I traveled a decent amount for my job in esports, with my primary trip being from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport. There have been nearly non-existent instances where I managed to fly without problems. Very often, my gate was moved around, sometimes multiple times per flight, before they finally decided on one through which we would board. I’ve had some absurd instances where my flights were delayed because of things like a broken toilet, and once even because they somehow ran out of planes and had to send one from Mexico to come pick us up in Los Angeles. On flights where everything else seemed to work out, there have still been little nuisances, such as online check-in not working, having to check in at the kiosk, and ending up in the final boarding group so I was forced to check my carry-on luggage; all the way to having pre-purchased a wifi pass and having the wifi break on my flight. Even on a flight where I flew first class, everything seemed to be going perfectly until I got to my final destination… first class is supposed to have priority baggage where your luggage is supposed to be the first to come out at baggage claim, but my luggage somehow ended up being the last. The one time I clearly recall that I flew with zero problems is a minuscule less-than-one-hour first class flight from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, which I imagine was problem-free only because I literally got off the plane and out of the airport before anything could even happen. But interestingly enough, we nearly had a car collision on my way from the airport back home because my driver wasn’t paying attention to the road and nearly rear-ended someone. However, through all of that, there had not been a single time that my flight was canceled. The longest my flight has ever been delayed was just a few hours, and eventually, American Airlines always found a way to get me to my final destination before the day was over. And then JetBlue proceeded to cancel my second ever flight with them (first, if you calculate it by round-trip bookings).
Although I might have a slight bias because JetBlue introduced me to my very first canceled flight experience, I still think I’m taking a relatively neutral approach to analyzing my JetBlue vs. American Airlines breakdown – at least when it comes to my individual perspective in my personal situation.
- JetBlue’s unlimited snacks is no different than what is already served with economy fares anyway. When JetBlue really marketed their unlimited snacks, I thought it would be similar to my first class experience with American Airlines from LAS to LAX. Because the flight was so short, there was no meal served, but the flight attendant literally came around 4 times with a tray of snacks with such great variety that every single bag of chips, crackers, and cookies was different. I literally ate four different items that day. JetBlue goes around with complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and a limited choice between cookies and Cheez-Its (the rest of the supposed available snacks were not available). Nowadays, free non-alcoholic beverages and a choice from two basic snacks is standard (as long as you’re not flying with an ultra budget airline like Spirit), so I’m not exactly sure why JetBlue is borderline bragging about their snacks.
- The leg room is nice, but irrelevant for me. On my JetBlue flight from LGB to SJC, I upgraded to an Even More Space seat, while on the way back from SJC to LGB, I sat in a normal seat. Although the extra leg room on the outbound flight was nice, to me personally, it was next to pointless. Even though I’m somewhat tall at 5’10” (178 cm), I’m extremely lean at approximately 142 lbs (65 kg). I’m also pretty flexible, so I end up getting settled in pretty comfortably in small spaces. A lot of people use the space in front of them to stretch out their legs, but I generally am able to nimbly use vertical space to swing my legs around into different positions (and even sometimes cross my legs into the other) to keep the blood flowing. I’m also pretty intense and am able to sit still in the same position for hours at a time without fatiguing. The only reason I would imagine the extra space would be helpful is if I needed to pull out my laptop and work on the plane, but I generally cannot do that due to my air sickness. Although I would love to take advantage of that extra time, all I’m able to do without getting sick is occasionally look at my phone and just sleep. Although, sometimes working on my laptop isn’t even entirely possible because of the wifi, which brings us to the next point:
- The wifi is nowhere near as advertised, and didn’t even work on my return flight. On my outbound flight, the free wifi on JetBlue, which is supposedly supposed to be somewhere around 12 Mbps, is nowhere near as advertised. It’s pretty much as slow as any other plane’s wifi, and it took a good few minutes to post photos on Twitter. On my inbound flight, the wifi just didn’t work at all. This personally isn’t really much of an issue for me because I’m a T-Mobile One Plus customer, and they provide unlimited free Gogo Inflight wifi to all their clients, so I can stay connected on American Airlines flights for free anyway. Although this is obviously not applicable to everyone, it ends up being a non-factor for me personally (mainly because my only potential benefit over Gogo – the supposed 12 Mbps of JetBlue wifi – seems to not be true).
- Mosiac, JetBlue’s elite status program, is underwhelming. Again, this assessment heavily relies on my own personal situation, and may not apply to others, but I personally don’t care at all about rewards travel. The only reason I work towards an airline loyalty program, such as oneworld Alliance, is for the chance to get free cabin upgrades. I hate travel and try to avoid leisurely flights at all costs; the only time I fly is if my employer or a different company pays for the flight, which in that case, my points for award flights don’t matter. Either way, the value of literally one bump in cabin on a decently long domestic flight is generally far higher than any award flight that you struggle to book with your miles in basic economy. Mosiac does not offer cabin upgrades at all (I don’t really consider complimentary Even More Space seats to count because just having more leg room in the same exact seat doesn’t matter to me), and if I’m not mistaken, you cannot even redeem your airline points for cabin upgrades. Thus, I feel like I’m collecting all these points with JetBlue to possibly redeem them for a single free flight maybe once a year that has a microscopic retail price of like $60.
- The aircraft feels a bit on the dated side. I’m not sure if I just got unlucky, but the plane I rode looked nothing like the JetBlue photos. The cabin looked old, the seats were a faded gray color and felt a bit tattered, and even the screens are just small TVs that don’t provide interactive show or movie selection. There’s a map “channel” that shows your GPS location, but that also isn’t interactive and cycles through so many advertisements that you only get to see the actual map for about 10 seconds out of every minute.
So, what’s my verdict after all of this? I plan on sticking with American Airlines unless its prices are 20%+ more expensive than JetBlue, or in cases where American Airlines does not offer any non-stop flights but JetBlue does. At this point, I would literally prefer to pay up to 20% more because of AAdvantage and oneworld Alliance’s loyalty program for elite and Million Miler status. In the case that JetBlue does provide significantly cheaper and more convenient options for a particular flight, I’m not entirely against using them. I think I probably just got unlucky with the canceled flight, and they are still a decent secondary alternative.