jetBlue, Jet Age and the Jetsons

Last Wednesday was the first time I flew on jetBlue Airways. This by itself is hard to believe. I fly between 50,000 and 100,000 miles a year, on average at least one trip every other week. I have gone all the way from California to New York for an overnight and a single meeting, and after all these years I have never flown on jetBlue?

I enjoyed the flight. I liked the extra leg room. I turned off the TV on the seatback in front of me. I find constant television drivel annoying. The seats were large and comfortable. The service okay. I didn’t care for the lackadaisical attitude of the gate agents, but they were not bad, just neutral. I was in New York City, after all.

The jetBlue terminal in New York is Number 6. They are building a new one, Number 5, and will move into it later in 2008. Number 6 is a very old terminal. The layout is the circular pods that were popular in the 1950s and 1960s. I hallway leads into a round pod, with eight gates in eight directions, a number of seats and a service counter placed in front of every gate. In the middle there is either a coffeeshop or a bar, sometimes bathrooms. When the Jetsons were on television, these airline terminals looked space age, futuristic and definitely cool. When we traveled then, we were priviledged. Planes were smaller, and you didn’t need a lot of seats in the waiting areas. Walking in a circle around the pod would sometimes be disorienting. Other cities built terminals just like this one. There are several round pods in Terminal 1 in San Diego. There are others around the nation.

Today, in the real jet age, Jetsons jaded and hokey, these round pod terminals are inadequate. There are not enough seats to accommodate the planes we now use. There is no place for power outlets for people to work on computers or charge their phones. There isn’t enough room for the services that we expect at airports. One bar,  one newstand or one coffee shop is not enough for eight gates. And where are the bathrooms? At JFK they are downstairs. You get to walk down a spiral staircase around the center hub, which holds an elevator. Again, space age in the fifties, but awkward today.

What was futuristic 30 or 40 years ago is strange today. We don’t have flying taxis. We don’t have commercial space travel, even though  we were sure that by 2000 we’d be flying to Frankfurt in two hours, starting in the JFK pods. We can’t call Scotty to beam us up.

Nothing much changed, except the buildings wore out.

And I can store 80 gigabytes of data, probably the storage capacity of the entire globe in 1950, on a single iPod that fits into my breast pocket. Nobody predicted that when the Jetsons were around.

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