Carmageddon: Festive JetBlue flight departs from Burbank
Energy was high at Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport shortly after noon Saturday, when JetBlue’s "Carmageddon" fly-over flight bound for Long Beach was set to depart.
Passengers on the sold-out, 150-seat flight were greeted at the airport with balloons and a Carmageddon cake, complete with skyscrapers, planes and toy cars. Passengers chatted and told jokes at the terminal, and snapped lots of pictures with their cellphones.
Advertised as JetBlue’s shortest commercial flight, Flight 405 was set to depart at 12:20 p.m. Most travelers said they booked the $4 ticket out of curiosity.
Alfred Pierfax, 36, of West Palmdale, said he "jumped on [the flight] real quick" and doesn’t plan to spend any time in Long Beach before taking the return flight back to Burbank. A frequent traveler, Pierfax said his main motivation was to check out JetBlue and experience the flight — not traffic concerns.
"I'm going to call it 'Carmadud,'" he said.
Aaron Perez, 29, of Hollywood won free tickets to the Long Beach Aquarium. When he found out about the flight, he said he thought it would be a great "microvacation" and texted his friend, 19-year-old John Marsh, also of Hollywood, about flying down to the aquarium.
Marsh said he didn't believe Perez's offer to fly from Burbank to Long Beach.
"I thought there was something wrong with him," Marsh said.
"It's effectively a flying bus," Perez added.
A self-professed "airplane geek," UCLA engineering professor Eric Bescher, 45, of Hollywood said the flight was certainly unusual.
"This is really an outstanding airplane event. I think it's a landmark flight," Bescher said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Not all passengers were there for fun, however. Justin Paquette, 28, of Burbank said he had to travel down to the Orange County Fair this weekend after agreeing to help a friend work. He made the commitment before he knew about the weekend’s freeway closure, but said the flight made his travel easier.
Two other passengers were also traveling via plane on business of another sort. Joe Anthony and Ezra Horne are taking part in the race between the JetBlue flight and biking group Wolfpack Hustle, which are competing to see who will reach Long Beach from Burbank first.
Anthony and Horne agreed they had an advantage over the cyclists, however. They were able to enjoy the competition by stopping at the airport bar to have a beer before takeoff.
“It’s legal to drink beer and fly, whereas the cyclists have to follow all the rules,” Anthony said.
Anthony said he’s lived without a car for three years, and he thought the competition might bring more attention to cycling options in L.A. Many Angelenos and cyclists are following news of the race on Twitter.
"This ride for me highlights the awesome power of the Internet and also the ease of biking in Los Angeles," he said. "Two of my favorite things."
As passengers boarded the flight they found goodie bags filled with chips, water and a white sugar cookie — decorated, of course, with a blue 405 freeway sign. JetBlue CEO Dave Barger was also on the flight and welcomed passengers aboard the plane.
JetBlue is offering a total of four flights Saturday, two from Burbank to Long Beach and two from Long Beach to Burbank. Each is set to take 20 minutes.
-- Nicole Santa Cruz on JetBlue Flight 405
Photo: The cake aboard JetBlue's flight from Burbank to Long Beach. Credit: Nicole Santa Cruz / Los Angeles Times