It all began with me arriving at BOS (Logan airport) about 2 hours early to catch a flight to ORD (O’hare). Upon seeing the massive check-in line I quickly jumped to the kiosk which usually gets you in and off to TSA quite quickly. Except when half the kiosks are offline and then the one I do use says I need to see a Front Desk Attendant. Alright, off to a great start. I go back to the line, plead with the ticket checker to let me skip ahead as I have now wasted 20 minutes at the kiosk and I get the best response ever “Sorry, I can’t help you.. have you tried the kiosk?” .. ummm, yah.. came from there. Okay, anyways I wait in line once again.

Finally about 40 minutes before my flight leaves (not boards, but leaves) I arrive at the longest TSA line ever. I quickly realize AA’s system is slow as dirt today and a few other travelers are stuck in line for the same departure time. We try to flag down a few attendants, but that is pointless as they only tell you they can’t help. After about 15 minutes of slow line moving I ask the other travelers to hold my place in line and i’ll go up to the front and ask around for assistance. Luckily one TSA agent is helpful and tells me to go back and get the others for expedited screening (read: mandatory body scanner) but we are a little closer to the plane at least. After 2 hours of hell, waiting and unhelpful AA staff, I arrive at my plane 5 minutes after it was supposed to leave the gate.. phew, horrible experience with American Airlines is over, or is it?

In something similar to an episode of the twilight zone I arrive to ORD in hopes of quickly getting through check-in, TSA and get some food while I wait for my plane.. and if I flew jetBlue I probably could have. However since AA is destined to make my life hell they once again tell me the ticket is un-linked and in one case, not paid. How is this even possible? Its not like this is Joe’s Airline from the midwest. Well thankfully after trying the kiosk (yes, they made me) and getting a manager I was able to get some quicker assistance. This time it was a bit less eventful, the desk attendant just called corporate, got some override, typed in a bunch of numbers (all the while telling me what it is she’s doing) and I got a ticket. Oh but thanks to all these delays I have 40 minutes to get through TSA onto my flight. Luckily for me this attendant walks me to TSA and gets my priority placement (front of the line) to get through and get some food!

One of the worst flight check-in experiences i’ve ever faced and unlucky for them its the first and last time i’ll fly American Airlines.

Now, how would this have unfolded if it were jetBlue? Well first the kiosk would recognize me, but on the off chance it didn’t, I would find an attendant in blue, explain the issue and they would walk me to the front of the line or close (if others are in the same process) and quickly get me to the plane. Doubt it? Well a while back I had a client book a flight and they misspelled my name, so of course the validation failed upon check-in. After two forms of ID and a couple key presses later I have a boarding pass in hand, no convoluted trouble-codes (VCR, wtf is that?) and unhelpful attendants.

Of course your mileage and experiences may vary, but this traveler will be sticking with jetBlue whenever possible.

So, in closing:

Why jetBlue runs circles around the competition

  • Free drinks (okay, AA had this)
  • Free snacks (not on AA, I got a free cookie since they couldn’t find it in the system)
  • In-flight TV, at your seat and even includes XM radio
  • First bag free

 
What jetBlue could add to be near-perfect

  • In-flight WIFI. AA did have this (for a fee) and it was very useful
  • Offer Passbook support in their mobile app
  • Bring back Munchies mix

 

Update: From jetBlue on my horrible experience.