Fort Lauderdale to Washington DC – JetBlue Airlines – What a Drama

13 October 2010

Having decided to stay in America and continue with my original plan of travelling the United States and Canada I’d booked a flight up to Washington DC.  I tried to check in early for my flight just to be alarmed when the assistant at the JetBlue desk notified me that Homeland Security had started turning people away who had booked tickets under their ‘nickname’ – I’ve never really considered ‘Sam’ my nickname, but I suppose it is short for Samuel. The attendant  advised that he couldn’t change my name on the ticket as I hadn’t booked it through JetBlue, despite the fact I was flying with them. Fortunately I got through the gate with no issues – it would appear America still has a tiny bit of sanity left.

Finally on the plane, we taxied down the run way, but then we stopped. Our captain came over the loudspeaker and said that he was not happy with the feel of the front suspension and he wanted to have it checked.

Now presumably we were supposed to feel happy about our captains concern for our welfare, but aren’t these things supposed to be checked out and found before we all get on the plane to take off?

Initially the captain thought we could all stay on the plane while the engineers had a look, but after their initial assessment it was announced that they wanted all the passengers to disembark with their bags so that the suspension fluids could be replaced. Airplanes are not the fastest things to get out of, a long aluminium cabin with heaps of people packed in and only one small alley to walk up and one small door to get out of. Two hours later we’re all back on the plane and heading down the runway. We were in the air for about 40 minutes before the captain again announced on the loud speaker that he was not happy with something, this time he was feeling odd vibrations from the tail!

I was starting to really wonder about the safety of JetBlue’s planes, did they check them at all, or was testing just done with passengers aboard to save time and money? Or was this all some sort of protest from our pilot stemming from job dissatisfaction, could he be making this all up?

So we’ve been flying for almost an hour and now we have a vibrating tail, what does the captain decide to do, he decides to turn back to Fort Lauderdale. People were starting to huff and puff, everyone was a little pissed off, you have to wonder why we couldn’t just continue on to our destination or land in another airport? No doubt we didn’t land in another, no doubt closer airport because it would have cost JetBlue additional money – the cheap bastards. Back at Fort Lauderdale we all disembarked again, waited in the lobby again, and then finally boarded again, fortunately a different aircraft this time.

Perhaps when I was safely back on land I should have chosen not to get back on a JetBlue plane, after all I’ve never encountered mechanical issues on other aircraft, let alone twice in one flight.

With a different plane we were set to take off but we were boarding at the time we should have been disembarking in Washington DC! This was a problem for me because I was now going to be arriving in a new city in the dark, and trying to turn up at someone’s house that I didn’t know at an unreasonably late time.

I call my couch surfing host Jake who I had already notified of my issues and let him know that I’ve arrived and will make my way over; it was still going to take me probably an hour and a half to reach his place. First I need to catch the Washington Flyer coach to a metro station and then take the metro to Jake’s. After being dropped off at the Metro stop by the Flyer coach I call Jake again to give him an update, but after getting off the phone I sense something is wrong.

Shit something is very wrong, what the hell is it?

There I am standing in the empty city outskirts metro station without my backpack. As I rush back down the stairs to see if the Washington Flyer Coach is still there I wonder how I could have been so stupid, I curse JetBlue for their shitty planes, I curse myself. The coach isn’t there, a few shady looking people are milling around bus stops. Would the Flyer have unloaded my bag and left it, could someone else have picked it up? No doubt this could be very bad, not to mention I’m now going to be turning up to Jake’s house even later. My heads spinning as I go into overdrive phone call mode, I eventually manage to get hold of someone at the airport but I struggle to get hold of a person with the Washington Flyer. While I’m making frantic phone calls to no avail another Flyer coach turns up and the driver is able to track down my bag. Thank God. It will get delivered to the stop in about half an hour – a pretty good outcome although I now need to get back on the phone to Jake and explain why I’ve been delayed again. It was 11.30pm by the time I get off at the right metro station, Jake kindly met me half way, he was really cool about it all.

I met Jake’s flatmates and got some sleep, what a day.

* Photos from



    But how did you manage to take the pics staying in plain? I was just wondering about this