The first day of All You Can Jet 2010 is here and I’m flying. Not really any way things could have gone much better. Well, maybe a little bit, but not enough that I’m complaining. I woke up this morning in Guyana so that meant a bit of a later start on the AYCJ adventure for me. I actually didn’t make it back to JFK until around 1:40pm but I was through immigration and customs and inside T5, boarding pass in hand and hanging out with some old and new AYCJ friends about 45 minutes later.
I knew that I’d miss the kick-off party because of the arrival time from Guyana. Still, I held out hope that there would be a few freebies around to pick up even after the main party had dissipated. The first AYCJ item I spotted was actually outside security in the ticket counter area. One of the crewmembers had an AYCJ 2010 pin on her lanyard. I was somewhat racing past to get inside to meet people but I stopped short upon seeing the button. A bit of chatting later and we agreed to a trade: one of the extra bag tags I had (thanks, Morgan!) for her pin. A no-brainer in my mind. Deal done, I attached the pin and headed in to the terminal.
Inside I immediately went to my usual seat. In the food court there are two raised platforms. The higher one has a plethora of power outlets to go with the great views of folks coming and going in the terminal. The very first day the terminal opened I sat up there for hours soaking up the experience; I haven’t left since. Just my luck as I got up there – I spotted AYCJ legend 30DaysOnJetBlue hanging out with a few other folks. Introductions and handshakes quickly devolved into conversations of itineraries, tips and destination debates. The AYCJ community truly is one, even if very much an ad hoc one that ebbs and flows depending on who’s around at the time. The common bond – a love of travel – is a great way to meet and engage with completely random strangers.
Speaking of completely random strangers, returning from the service counter where I was trying to get my return boarding pass printed I saw an AYCJ luggage tag hanging off a red backpack attached to a tall guy walking through the food court. Community needs fresh blood to grow. Before I knew it Adam was explaining the itinerary he and his wife had mapped out. They live in Toronto and drove down to Buffalo to start their adventures. A week in California followed by Bogotá and then maybe Bermuda. I invited them to join us for more travel talk which they did eventually once they realized we knew where the power outlets were.
JetBlue has gone all-out in the marketing for AYCJ this year. Last year it was something of a surprise to them just how much the community rallied around the event. This year they came prepared. Luggage tags were handed out in advance and they had other stuff ready to go early on. The party this morning included free T-shirts and apparently Boston was giving out zip-up sweatshirts. The biggest surprise (which stopped being a surprise last night when the internal communications release went out) was that the airline actually named one of their airplanes after the promotion. The Airbus A320 – All Blue Can Jet – was unveiled at the party this morning. It also includes a new tail design with a bit of orange in it. I’m a huge fan. They also had a decent presence in JFK’s T5. Some of it was left over from the party Tuesday morning but other bits were out for the whole month, including signs like the one above.
Before I knew it my two hour layover had evaporated and it was time to head off to the gate for my first AYCJ flight of the year. Just a quick turn for me tonight – JFK-Syracuse-JFK. I wandered over to the boarding gate and thoroughly confused the Gate Agent by asking him to confirm that seats 10 rows behind my assigned seat were still empty. If there are open pairs on the Embraer E90 there’s no reason to have a seat-mate. But I needed to keep my seat assignment to ensure that I get the credit for the $5 spend on EML seats. I then boarded “Come Fly With Blue” and made the quick trip up to Syracuse. Tim and James provided great service in the cabin, including getting me my favorite snack (Animal Crackers) even though they weren’t officially on the menu for the express service options on the 45 minute flight.
I have to be in town for the next couple days but come Friday the real travel begins. I’ve got Florida (twice), Las Vegas (twice) and California (three different airports) on the schedule for the first seven days. A dozen or so flights and over 10,000 miles on the agenda. Plus I get to fly at least nine routes I’ve never flown before and through two cities that are new to me. It’s gonna be a blast!
Here are a few more photos from AYCJ Day 1.
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