I’m sorry, sir, we only help people that don’t know better

See if you can make sense of this: JetBlue won’t advance-book the last pet slot on its flights—because it has to leave the space open for people who don’t book in advance.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the policy. Here’s how it works. JetBlue permits three pets to travel in-cabin on any one flight. We called today to put our pet on a return leg from Florida on New Year’s day, only to be told that two pets were booked on our flight, and the third pet slot could not be given to us on the phone.

Why? Because that third slot is for use by airport personnel only.

And what do airport personnel do with that slot? They use it to aid owners who show up with animals unannounced and unreserved.

As a result, even though I followed protocol, and called a week in advance to bring my pet on a flight with space available for pet travel, JetBlue won’t book the pet travel because they need to see if a less prepared customer shows up and circumvents the policy.

On one level, this makes some sense. If I forgot to book my dog for a trip home, I too would want to slip on the flight with him. But JetBlue has taken this to an absurd extreme: yes, there is room on the flight; yes, you could conceivably fly with the pet; but no, you can’t determine this in advance. However, if I show up unannounced with my dog on New Year’s Day, and I’m the first person to do so on the flight, bingo! I can take him.

I can understand reserving theater seats for walk-up sales, but we’re talking about the transport of a live animal, one who will be in Florida and needs to get home to New York with its owners. JetBlue needs to either permit the advance booking of my dog or stop advertising a three-pets-per-flight policy that is a misnomer at best.

The message from JetBlue to me is simple: don’t bother following protocol. Just show up and demand to get on the plane. Yeah, because that will be fun on New Year’s. Looks like my dog is staying home—and I’m flying American next time.

Update, January 2: After seven phone calls—more than one to JetBlue corporate headquarters—the pooch flew happily home. I still have yet to receive a decent policy explanation from anyone, though. And we will be thinking twice whenever booking JetBlue flights to Florida.

Ask Metafilter

After a good year-plus away from its main site, I have become addicted to Ask Metafilter. The one-stop, no-parameters Q&A is terrific; I have contributed already to discussions on cell phones, minivans and room partitions. The questions are generally thought-provoking or useful. And, of course, once in a while someone posts a real humdinger.

Tidbit of the day

“[New York Yankees owner George] Steinbrenner so despises the Red Sox, whose president, Larry Lucchino, called the Yankees ‘the evil empire’ last winter, that he groused loudly last season when New England clam chowder was on the menu in the Yankee Stadium club restaurant.”

Bottoms up

Almost missed this one: New York City’s water is as healthy and safe as bottled water. It also tastes pretty good.

“There really is no reason to go out and buy bottled water in New York City,” said Jim Tierney, the state inspector general for the city’s water supply. “It doesn’t make economic sense. It’s 1,000 times the cost of tap water, and tap water is clean and healthful.”

Me, I keep a jug in the fridge only because it’s cold.

There is such thing as a free breakfast

I started 9-to-5 freelancing on Monday (well, 9:30 to 6:30, really, but who’s counting?). As a result, I’m getting back in the habit of buying breakfast on the way to work.

When it comes to the morning meal, I’m something of a spendthrift. At lunchtime, where one can find differences in quantity and quality, I’m not as miserly. But breakfast—a buttered roll and a 16-oz. carton of Tropicana orange juice—is basically commoditized. I know how little each item can cost, and I refuse to overpay. Why spend two bucks on OJ when I can pay $1.50?

Nickel-and-diming myself at 9 a.m. has direct results. Compare the cost of my basic breakfast at Speedy’s, a handsome takeout place on the south side of Herald Square, with a breakfast cart and a bagel shop a block down Sixth Avenue.

Speedy's OJ      $1.90   OJ, corner deli    $1.50

 " Buttered roll   .75   Roll, 15th St cart   .50

 " Tax             .17   No tax

                 -----                      -----

Total/morning     2.82                       2.00

Over one week    x   5                      x   5

                 -----                      -----

Grand total      14.10                      10.00

By going the inexpensive route, I save enough money in four days ($8.00 vs $11.28) that the fifth day pays for itself, with a dollar to spare. Do this over a 47-week work year and I save—ready?—$192.70. For two hundred bucks, I’ll walk 50 feet for that Tropicana.

Now, if only I could find a good deli around here with $3.99 turkey sandwiches.

You sound familiar

I began work as a freelancer at FCB yesterday. The welcoming folks at FCBi treat my joining as they would any full-time staff member, giving me a cubicle, computer, and corporate email.

Most FCB employees’ addresses are first initial, last name, at fcb.com. I, however, am dawertheimer instead. The dwertheimer address apparently belongs to Davina Wertheimer, a True North employee in South Africa. Small world.

Flashback in song

Got some email today about my In Sweet Harmony music show that I did for dack.com a few years back. Been a while since I’ve discovered much new music—and by the way, after the “oh goody” aspect wore off, wasn’t that new Fountains of Wayne album disappointing?—but I’m proud to note that the In Sweet Harmony mix holds up nicely. A good hook is timeless.

Sadly, the link to the audio file of the show doesn’t seem to work anymore. Feel free to email me if you want to hear, say, Thin Lizard Dawn for yourself. Always good to find new tunes. I have to get back into the business of finding more Beatles-influenced artists, and soon.

Dack, meanwhile, has moved onto angrier things.