September 06, 2007

JetBlue: Book a Flight, We'll Give You $50

JetBlue wants to give you some money.  Sort of.

What they really want to do is to get you to fly during the slow September and October season, so they're giving $50 vouchers when you buy a roundtrip ticket between now and September 18th for travel through October 14th.  You can use the vouchers for travel between December 1st and February 13th, except for Christmas and New Year's.  Can't complain about $50.

September 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 28, 2007

Free JetBlue Ticket with Pittsburgh Flight

JetBlue is desperately trying to fill its Pittsburgh - JFK flights.  How desperately?  Fly a round trip from PIT to JFK (NOT the other way around), and you'll get a free ticket anywhere JetBlue flies.  Simple!  Register by June 30th and fly before November 15.  R/T tickets start at just $98. 

June 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

June 25, 2007

What Happens When JetBlue Enters a Market?

(Thanks to reader Tom for the heads up):

Interesting story about JetBlue entering the JFK/BOS - Pittsburgh markets.  Average fares were cut nearly in half which, you'd think, would drive people to fly JetBlue.  But in the end, US Airways, which had been ripping people off for years, lowered prices and ended up carrying 125 additional passengers each day on the routes than they had before JetBlue came along.  A really good read about how lowfare carriers actually affect the market.

June 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 14, 2007

JetBlue to Review Strategy

JetBlue is undertaking a rigorous strategic review of the airline, that could lead to the carrier selling additional aircraft and slowing down deliveries of airplanes they've ordered.  The impending launch of Virgin America is also lurking on the horizon, and JetBlue is wise to actually get their ship in order before this happens (which is the opposite of how airlines typically deal with new entrants).  Despite rumors, executives say there are no plans to add first class to the planes.  Don't be surprised, though, when you start getting charged for some things that are currently free...

June 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 29, 2007

JetBlue Now Available on Expedia

Good news if you use Expedia to book your tickets:  JetBlue's flights are now available on Expedia and Hotwire.  Last year (or so) JetBlue added their flights to Travelocity after 6 years (or so) of trying to sell on their own.  Southwest Airlines also recently announced a broadened approach to selling its tickets, adding the Galileo GDS to its distribution partners after more than 30 years of just using Sabre.  I know, most of you don't care about this stuff.  But the broader implication is that airlines have realized that at the right price (ie, if GDSs lower their fees enough), it's worth using a third party to sell your tickets.  We still may see GDSs charging travel agencies a fee (whereas now, for the most part, travel agents receive a payment for using a GDS), which means passing that fee on to you, the customer.  Not yet -- but soon.  Maybe.

May 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 15, 2007

$50 Coupon on JetBlue

Quick JetBlue promotion for you:  Book a roundtrip ticket on them and fly before June 15, and you'll get a $50 voucher good for flights between September 5 and October 31.  Not too shabby...

May 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 10, 2007

Neeleman Ousted as JetBlue CEO

Back on February 19th, after JetBlue's operational disaster, I wrote, "If Neeleman weren't the founder, I would expect a board to oust him over this.  But they won't..."

I was wrong.  The board fired JetBlue's CEO and founder David Neeleman today, replacing him with former COO Dave Barger.  Who knows why it took 3 months (and why they did it once JetBlue had improved its operations), but it goes to show, you can launch a successful airline and still get fired. 

Neeleman will remain as non-executive chairman of the board.

May 10, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 16, 2007

JetBlue's Continued Weather Woes

JetBlue is cancelling more than 200 flights because of a storm in the northeast, but that doesn't mean its passengers know if their flight is cancelled. I rarely bring up personal gripes here, but I will:  My grandfather, who is 90, is travelling (alone) from Florida (of course) to New Jersey on JetBlue this morning.  After an hour on the phone with them to find out whether his flight was cancelled (no one ever answered), my father went online to check the status of his flight.  The flight status tool on the website isn't working.  Sometimes an airline can't catch a break.  So while it's good that JetBlue has been far more proactive in cancelling flights, the rest of the customer service operation will take a while to get to where it needs to be.

March 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 20, 2007

JetBlue Will Reimburse Delayed Pasengers, Sort Of

JetBlue announced the full details of its delay reimbursement program (DRP, though I just made that up), offering passengers payments that vary from $25 flight vouchers to free round trips based on the length of the delay you face and whether you're already on a plane or not.  Most of the payments only kick in if the delay is not caused by weather or air traffic control holds.

This is reminiscent of a similar scheme from long-gone Biztravel.com (a division of also long-gone Rosenbluth International) where if a flight you booked on their site was delayed, they would pay you ($100 for a 30 minute delay, up to full reimbursement for a 2-hour delay). 

In any case, this should mark the last of my posts on the JetBlue matter.  Carry on...

UPDATE:  The full details of the JetBlue passenger bill of rights say that they will make "take the necessary action" to deplane customers if a plane is on the ground for five (five!) hours.  Even then, there's an out:  "JetBlue Captains have discretion if the aircraft is positioned and almost ready for take-off."  The financial payouts are nice or whatever, but 5 hours?  That's news?  We won't hold you hostage for more than five hours, unless the captain decides he wants to?  That's the big news?  (Well, no, the payments are the big news.  It's a nice gesture.  But 5 hours?)

February 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 19, 2007

JetBlue Cancels 25% of Its Monday Flights

JetBlue's nightmare week is continuing, as the airline has announced it will cancel 25% of its Monday flights, 5 days after an East Coast storm wiped out its operations.  JetBlue has cancelled about 1,000 flights in 5 days, and has seen 7 years of goodwill flushed down the 2 lavatories located in coach.  Police were called in to calm frustrated travelers in Boston and New York.  Incredible that the situation got so out of hand in multiple cities, but the comments a couple of OTR readers have posted about their own horror stories suggests that it was amazing customers kept it together at all.

Also incredibly, CEO David Neeleman told the NY Times that airline management was unprepared for the way the events unfolded.  He blamed airline operations for not being able to stay in touch with pilots & flight attendants, blamed customer service reps who work out of their homes, blamed the airline's reservations system, and blamed the airline's emergency control center.  Though while he said he was "humiliated and mortified," he didn't take the blame himself.  And from what it sounds like, the airline was simply ill-prepared and, worse, took several days to realize the extent that it was unprepared.  If Neeleman weren't the founder, I would expect a board to oust him over this.  But they won't. 

I was about to write that on the plus side, we can assume this will never happen again.  But it's happened over and over again (from the Northwest 20+ hour ordeal several years ago, to the American mess in Texas last year, to JetBlue).  It will happen again.  Profits come first, you come second.  It's great when that benefits passengers, but it stings a bit when it doesn't.  As soon as we stop fooling ourselves that airlines care about anything other than profitability (and, to be fair, safety), we'll gladly accept the next 3-hour wait on the tarmac. 

February 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 16, 2007

Follow Up to the JetBlue JFK Snowstorm Mess

Just a quick follow-up to the JetBlue JFK snowstorm disaster:

Turns out JetBlue waited 5 hours to call airport authorities for help offloading passengers.  Oops. 

And my father brought up a good point:  Will 1 snowstorm undo 7 years of goodwill and great stories about the airline?  Did Wednesday mark the day that JetBlue became just another airline that everyone hates?

And CEO David Neeleman's response: "We should've done better" is completely inadequate, considering these people were held hostage for 9, 10 or 11 hours. 

On the plus side, apparently American Airlines was still charging $3 for cookies on its 5 hour delayed flight to Miami. 

February 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 15, 2007

JetBlue Code Share and 11 Hours on Tarmac

Some JetBlue passengers were stranded for as along as 11 hours on the tarmac at JFK as they waited out a winter storm.  Yes, 11 hours.  In their defense, well, uh, there is no in-their-defense (you can read the official statement here.)  The airline said that they'll give a refund and an additional free flight to any passengers stranded more than 3 hours (there were about 10 flights delayed that long).

In unrelated JetBlue news, the airline announced summer service to Nantucket, which is interesting primarily because during non-summer months they will have a code share with Cape Air, to offer customers connecting service to Cape Cod and nearby islands.  Airine watchers (?) have oft-discussed JetBlue's codeshare plans, and I can assure you nobody thought Cape Air would be the first.

February 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4)

February 07, 2007

JetBlue Alliance with Aer Lingus?

You may read stories today about an "alliance" between JetBlue and Ireland's Aer Lingus.  Read the details.  This is not a typical alliance -- there's no code sharing, for example.  Rather, each airline will put a link to the other on their website.  That appears to be it.  For whatever reason, people are very excited about the idea of an airline setting up an alliance with JetBlue.  That's fine.  But this isn't that.

February 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 01, 2007

JetBlue May Reserve Good Seats for High Paying Passengers

You may remember that JetBlue is in the process of removing seats from its planes to give the first 11 rows of seats 36" of pitch.   As said before, well done.  But they are also considering holding some of those seats for higher paying passengers, effectively creating a first class area.  It's not a done deal (nor is it a bad idea) but if you're flying JetBlue after mid-February, grab those seats up front now.

February 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Woman Sues JetBlue Because She Had to Vomit

Just another run-of-the-mill lawsuit:  A woman is suing JetBlue because it refused to let her board after she asked a flight attendant for a plastic bag to vomit into (yes, I know, dangling preposition.  Sue me too.)  I'm sure there's more to the story than that, but the NY Post isn't bothering to report it.

February 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 14, 2006

JetBlue and American to Improve Cabin Interiors

JetBlue and American Airlines have (separately, of course) announced that they are updating some of the interiors of their aircraft.  American will spend $20 million to update the business and first class cabins on their 767-200s (the planes they use for transcon flights), to put in new seats and video-on-demand.  Good stuff.

JetBlue, meanwhile, will add a whopping 4 inches of pitch to the first 11 rows of their A320s, giving you 36 inches of legroom (more than United Economy Plus) in those rows (and 34 inches in the other rows).  They're taking out a row of seats, which you think would be a financial issue, except that with fewer seats they can use 1 less flight attendant, saving a signficiant amount.  You'll now have 5 more inches of legroom on JetBlue than you will on Continental.  And, even more ridiculous, Continental's first class on their transcon 737s only has 2 more inches than that.  Makes me re-think my choice of carrier to the west coast...

December 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2)

December 05, 2006

JetBlue Will Slow Their Growth, Put Off Embraer Deliveries

You may remember a couple of years ago when JetBlue announced that they would be taking delivery of a whole bunch of Embraer 190s, observers said that they were growing too fast.  Turns out the observers were correct.  JetBlue announced that they would take 10 190s next year instead of the previously announced 18.  They also added that they plan to grow capacity 14 to 17 percent, rather than 18 to 20 percent.  This is a good thing -- measured growth leads to success.

December 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

November 07, 2006

JetBlue to, uh, Offer, um, Trans-Fat Free Snacks

It is a slooooooow news day in the ol' airline industry.  How slow?  Here's the big story from what I can tell:  JetBlue will be offering all trans-fat free snacks on their planes.  That's all the news.  Oh, that and that the A350 might not get built.  Maybe that's a bigger story than JetBlue offering Chocobilly (tm) cookies.  I'm not sure.

November 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 25, 2006

A Bad Day for JetBlue

Not one of JetBlue's best days:

First, they announce that they had a loss (a slight loss, to be honest, but a loss nonetheless) in a quarter when other airlines were reporting profits.  They also said they were scaling back growth plans, which sounds like a bad thing but is actually a good thing, as they weren't able to grow as quickly as they wanted to profitably. 

Then (or perhaps before), the FAA reprimanded the carrier for performing its own little study (without the FAA's permission) where they allowed pilots to fly 11 hours in a day -- instead of the normal 8 -- to study how alert they were when they flew the additional hours.  You probably didn't want to know that.

October 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 26, 2006

Girl Fight Diverts JetBlue Flight

A red-eye JetBlue flight from Newark to San Juan was diverted on Saturday after a woman got into a fight with two other passengers immediately after takeoff.  No word on what the women were fighting about (unfortunately), but the plane was diverted to JFK where, as you'd assume, the offending passengers were removed.

June 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 21, 2006

Save $30 to Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Raleigh-Durham

JetBlue has a promotion where you can save $30 round trip on flights between JFK and Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Raleigh-Durham.  Go to this page and enter the code JETBLUE15 and you'll save $15 on each leg ($30 round trip).  Book by July 26th and fly through October 31.

June 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 07, 2006

$99 Fares to Aruba from New York

JetBlue is launching service from JFK to Aruba with a $99 fare good for travel between September 15 and November 14.  Book by June 30 for this great deal.  Regular fares will start at $129, though JetBlue's fares have crept up over the past 6-12 months or so (good for them, bad for consumers), so book early for the cheapest fares.

June 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 25, 2006

JetBlue Posts Loss, Will Sell Aircraft

After posting an expected loss for the quarter, JetBlue announced that it will defer delivery of 12 airplanes and sell between 2 and 5 of their current aircraft.  This is a huge change for the once-high-flying company that took the bold step of ordering a large number of planes just a couple of years ago.  I do have to admire them for making changes quickly.  Larger carriers have tended to spiral downward for quite a while before bothering to make drastic changes.  In addition to these capacity reductions, JetBlue is raising fares and cutting costs to stem the tide of red ink.  The fare increases have been siginficant -- something you've probably noticed if you've tried to book a flight with them from the east coast to Florida or California.  Those $59 fares to Fort Lauderdale are gone, as are the $99 fares to LA.  Good for them, bad for us.

April 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3)

April 19, 2006

US Airways to JetBlue: You Suck

US Airways and JetBlue are in a bit of a pissing match after JetBlue's CEO said that passengers in Charlotte have "overpaid for substandard service," a likely reference to US Airways.  In response, US Airways' CEO sent a letter to employees that can be viewed here.  In it, he says that JetBlue's problems are "serious and structural" while adding that JetBlue's on-time record is far worse than that of US Airways: "To characterize arriving late in JFK with a TV in front of you as better service than being on-time in LGA...suggests that JetBlue may be looking at the wrong service standards."

It's worth a read...

April 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4)

March 09, 2006

JetBlue Considers Slowing Aircraft Deliveries

If you were wondering whether JetBlue has been able to avoid the trap of growing too quickly, wonder no longer.  The airline is considering whether to defer some of the  airplanes it has on order for the next few years.  JetBlue is scheduled to take delivery of 17 A320s this year and in 2007, and 18 Embraer 190s this year and in 2007.  Yes, that's a lot of planes.  And as they've watched virtually every other upstart airline do, they've probably begun to grow faster than they could manage.  On the positive side, they recognize this pretty early, and they should have no trouble finding owners for these popular aircraft types.  But still, all is not rosy in JetBlueville.

March 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 01, 2006

JetBlue to Try to Raise Fares...and Delta's not Leaving

The NY Times takes a look at the state of JetBlue and finds that the carrier is struggling to raise fares in its highly competitive northeast-to-Florida markets.  JetBlue has blamed the low fares on irrational competition from Delta (and Continental, to an extent).  The article notes that JetBlue has been able to fill its planes to a higher capacity at a higher average fare than Delta, which is impressive.  But the fares are not high enough.

And while JetBlue had 2 days to celebrate a report that Delta was significantly reducing capacity on northeast-to-Florida routes, it turns out that report was not true.  A data error caused Delta to report schedule changes incorrectly, leading one airline analyst to assume that it was cutting back routes.  Oops.  Let the irrational competition continue.  On a plus note, consumers will continue to benefit from the ridiculously low fares from New York to Florida.

March 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 23, 2006

JetBlue to Portland, Maine

Good news for travelers in Portland, Maine:  With Independence Air going the way of the dodo bird, you've been left without low fare service.  Those days are numbered.  JetBlue announced 4 times daily service to JFK beginning in May.  The good news?  Fares start at $59 each way, rather than the current $149 each way, with top fares only hitting $149.   

February 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3)

February 09, 2006

JetBlue's Solution for Delayed Flights

JetBlue is considering revising parts of its operations after having the worst ontime record for US airlines in December.  The carrier blames much of the tardiness on the congestion at JFK, which it hopes to circumvent by turning aircraft around faster.  But they also are looking at adding 10-15 minutes to the arrival times of its 10 most delayed flights.  Is that cheating?  Is that really a solution?  Maybe it is, but doesn't it sorta feel wrong?

February 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 02, 2006

JetBlue Posts Loss

JetBlue posted its first quarterly loss since going public, putting it in the red for 2005.  The carrier also said that it expects to lose money in 2006 as well.  This is a stunning turnaround for an airline that for several years could do no wrong.  Unlike virtually every other airline that has announced a loss, JetBlue's CEO placed the blame squarely on them (rather than on finding a million reasons why it wasn't management's fault), saying, "a lot of this is our own doing."  High fuel prices without fuel hedges and the difficulties of taking on additional aircraft and routes certainly contributed to the loss.  In addition, competitors have gotten smarter about competing with JetBlue. 

Average fares were about $109, but the airline says it needs to be up near $115-$120, a significant jump considering how difficiult it has been to increase fares in JetBlue's highly competitive northeast-to-Florida markets. 

I'm not saying I saw this coming (because I didn't), but looking back it certainly should have caused some alarm that JetBlue was starting to expand pretty quickly during a time when costs were increasingly rapidly.  Countless upstart airlines have hit a death spiral when expanding too fast while facing heavy competition and growing costs.  We've seen this many times before, and it generally doesn't end well.  There's a reason Southwest only serves about 60 cities after 35 years in business.  JetBlue's strong product will only take them so far if they cannot manage the massive growth they have planned for the next 5 years.  This last quarter shows that they may have figured out the brand for a growing airline, but they have not figured out how to avoid the growth trap faced by every new airline.

February 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3)

January 30, 2006

JetBlue: New Aircraft Rollout Not So Smooth

David Neeleman, JetBlue's CEO, said recently that the rollout of its new Embraer 190 jets has not gone as smoothly as he had hoped.  The aircraft have experienced greater delays than expected, due partly to technical issues with the planes and partly to what Neeleman says are problems "of their own doing." (that's sorta awkward as I re-read that---he meant that there were aircraft-specific issues and JetBlue-specific issues.  I want to be as clear as possible, lest Oprah bring me on her show and yell at me).

He concluded saying that the launch of the 190 "hasn’t been up to what we thought we could do."

January 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)