I flew on JetBlue founder’s David Neeleman’s new airline and saw how it’s nothing like his old one – but it isn’t supposed to be

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

  • Breeze Airways is the latest brainchild of JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman.
  • The two airlines couldn’t be any more different, however, despite having the same founder.
  • Breeze’s strategy is completely diffeent from JetBlue but still works even though it offers a different product.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
JetBlue Airways revolutionized air travel in the US when it launched in 2000, at the turn of the century.

JetBlue Airways
JetBlue Airways planes.

Read More: JetBlue revolutionized low-cost travel when it first flew 20 years ago — here’s how it beat the odds to become a major US airline

 

Seat-back television screens, complimentary snacks, and low fares were the airline’s norm, and customers loved it.

JetBlue Airways
JetBlue Airways is known for in-flight entertainment.

Behind the now 21-year-old company was David Neeleman, a serial aviation entrepreneur with successful airline startups in three countries.

David Neeleman JetBlue
JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman.

Four airlines later, Neeleman’s latest endeavor is Breeze Airways, an ultra-low-cost carrier looking to fill the gaps left by the nation’s largest airlines. Breeze launched its first flights in May and has been steadily expanding up and down the East Coast and inland as far as San Antonio, Texas.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight David Neeleman
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

Read More: How JetBlue’s founder plans to offer low prices without a low-end experience on his newest airline, Breeze

Despite Neeleman at the wheel, Breeze is nothing like JetBlue. You won’t find seat-back screens or the famous Terra Blues chips on Breeze’s shiny blue planes, but that’s not the point of the airline.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

I took a flight on Breeze Airways and found out why it’s not supposed to be JetBlue 2.0.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

Breeze Airways launched in late May with an opening salvo of 39 initial routes from bases in Tampa, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Norfolk, Virginia.

The Breeze Airways route map.
The Breeze Airways route map.

Unlike JetBlue, Breeze’s strategy targets underserved cities and primarily creates new air routes where none currently exist.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

The very first Breeze flight flew from Tampa to Charleston, for example, on a route that sees limited service by only one other airline. Flying between these two cities solely on JetBlue would require a stop in New York or Boston.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

Breeze’s bread and butter, at the moment, are routes that are less than two hours in duration. Convenience is the name of the game and connecting flights are non-existent.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

In terms of pricing, Breeze’s introductory fares start at $39 for a basic fare that only includes a ticket to ride and a personal item to carry onboard the plane. It’s comparable to JetBlue’s basic economy fare.

Breeze Airways fare structure
An overview of Breeze Airways’ fare structure.

While not all tickets will be sold for $39, the idea is to keep fares low to stimulate demand.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

But Breeze’s low prices come with trade-offs, primarily in the onboard and customer service experience.

Breeze Airways
Breeze Airways pilots.

Breeze, most notably, doesn’t have a phone number. Customers are encouraged to send a message or email the airline but calling isn’t really an option.

Breeze Airways app

The strategy helps keep costs low by reducing Breeze’s overall infrastructure and staffing, which is typical for an ultra-low-cost airline.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

Technology also plays a large role with nearly everything able to be done from the airline’s mobile application. Neeleman initially described Breeze as a “high-tech company that just happens to fly airplanes” and this is one way of scaling back on staff levels.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

The tech-focused strategy does help keep costs down, which are passed on to the consumer in low airfares, but experts say it might not jive well with less tech-focused customers.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

JetBlue, alternatively, does have a phone number in addition to a messaging feature on its mobile application.

JetBlue Airways baggage
JetBlue passengers checking in luggage.

In another ultra-low-cost trade-off, in-flight entertainment on Breeze is currently only available through mobile device streaming, and the service isn’t yet offered on the Embraer E195 fleet.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

In-flight WiFi, another JetBlue staple, also isn’t available on Breeze’s Embraer fleet. That will come when the Airbus A220s arrive but it likely won’t be free, as JetBlue’s is.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

But again, that’s part and parcel of flying an ultra-low-cost airline. You get what you pay for.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

Breeze is offering snacks for the time being but the airline will move to a buy-on-board program where all snacks and drinks will require a purchase. The current offering includes Utz chips and a Kind bar.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

One thing that was surprisingly similar between the two airlines was Breeze’s choice of aircraft for its first flights. The Embraer E190/E195 family of aircraft was tapped to initially power Breeze’s fleet, with second-hand models coming from Air Canada and Neeleman’s Azul Brazilian Airlines.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

Frequent JetBlue flyers will surely recognize the aircraft as the E190 variant powers JetBlue’s short-haul network. The E195 is near identical, albeit slightly longer.

JetBlue Embraer E190
A JetBlue Embraer E190 aircraft.

Breeze will soon fly the Airbus A220-300, an aircraft type that just joined the JetBlue fleet in December.

JetBlue Airways Airbus A220-300 Flight
Flying on a JetBlue Airways Airbus A220-300.

Read More: I flew on JetBlue’s brand-new Airbus A220 and saw why it’s the perfect plane to lead the airline into its next era

On the inside of the E195, it was hard to tell the difference from JetBlue’s interiors on the aircraft.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

Standard legroom seats had nearly the same look as those found on JetBlue. There was one glaring omission, however, in the form of seat-back entertainment screens.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

Legroom varies from aircraft to aircraft on Breeze and standard economy seats on the E195 aircraft do match JetBlue’s 32 inches of pitch in economy. That may soon change, however, as Breeze standardizes its seat product.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

E190 aircraft offer 29 inches of pitch in a standard offering for an ultra-low-cost airline.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

The seats also had the same feel as a JetBlue Embraer E190 seat. I’ve spent a lot of time flying on that aircraft and if it weren’t for the lack of televisions, I probably couldn’t tell the difference.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

But perhaps the most important difference between the two airlines is that Breeze and JetBlue don’t compete on the same routes. Breeze primarily flies to underserved cities and routes such as Oklahoma City-San Antonio; Norfolk-Columbus, Ohio; and Hartford, Connecticut-Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

JetBlue, for its part, primarily operates a hub-and-spoke network with bases in East Coast cities like New York, Boston, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Most Breeze customers don’t even have JetBlue as a choice for those routes without connecting somewhere.

JetBlue Airways Long Beach
JetBlue aircraft in Long Beach.

So while the offering might be bare-bones, customers in underserved markets are getting cheap access to non-stop flights, something that JetBlue isn’t currently offering at a widespread level.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

And for many, trading high-tech planes for convenience is a compromise worth making, especially when the price is right.

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight David Neeleman
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

Read the original article on Business Insider

An airline pilot says she was forced to sleep in an airplane overnight after her flight diverted to a remote Colorado town due to severe weather

United Airlines Embraer E175
A United Express Embraer E170 regional jet aircraft.

  • A SkyWest Airlines flight crew that diverted to Hayden, Colorado on July 17 was forced to sleep on their plane overnight.
  • Jessica Taylor, the flight’s captain, reported that it was a first in her 15-year career.
  • SkyWest said no hotels were available in Hayden and apologized for the inconvenience to passengers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A flight crew’s routine trip from Denver to Raleigh, North Carolina and back ended in an overnight stay onboard their plane after diverting to Hayden, Colorado due to “severe weather.”

SkyWest Airlines was operating flight 5332 from Raleigh to Denver on behalf of United Express, the regional brand for United Airlines, on July 17 when the diversion occurred. Flight tracking data from Flightradar 24shows the aircraft making a series of turns and flying in a holding pattern before eventually heading to Hayden by way of Nebraska and Wyoming.

Jessica Taylor, the flight’s captain, described the ordeal on a LinkedIn following the flight.

“This has been a challenging week of flying,” Taylor wrote in a LinkedIn post. “After flying 8+ hours from Den-Rdu-Den (well Hayden after diverting) my crew and had to sleep on the airplane overnight …. Yes that’s right we slept on the floor of the airplane in Hayden.”

SkyWest Airlines flight 5332's route on July 17
SkyWest Airlines flight 5332’s route on July 17.

SkyWest didn’t confirm Taylor’s account but told Insider that hotel accommodations were not available in Hayden.

“Though we worked to make arrangements to get our customers to their destinations that evening, unfortunately the nearby area did not have hotel accommodations available under the circumstances,” SkyWest said in a statement to Insider. “We, along with our partners at United, apologized and United has reached out to customers to provide compensation for the inconvenience.”

Taylor’s aircraft, an Embraer E170 regional jet registered as N613UX, eventually departed for Denver the next afternoon and landed nearly 24 hours after it left Raleigh, according to Flightradar 24 data. Its next scheduled flight from Denver to Idaho Falls, Idaho was also canceled.

The round-trip journey between Denver and Raleigh is scheduled at just over eight hours from takeoff to landing back in Denver, including the layover in Raleigh. In Taylor’s case, the same crew operated both legs of the trip.

For Taylor, the incident was the first time that she had been forced to spend the night on board an airplane due to a lack of accommodations.

“This is a first for me in 15+ years of professionally flying,” Taylor wrote on LinkedIn. “I personally never thought I’d find myself sleeping on the floor of a plane as 38 year old airline captain.”

The Embraer E170 does have a first class cabin with recliner seats but the aircraft isn’t meant for overnight sleeping. United says that first class seats on the aircraft are 24 inches wide with 38 inches of pitch and six inches of recline.

Read More: Airline workers have lower rates of COVID-19 than the general population – and airline CEOs say it’s proof that flying is safe

Despite the ordeal, Taylor remained in high spirits about her profession and the unique perspective it offers.

“But it still leaves me speechless how freaking beautiful this world is from 36,000 ft,” Taylor wrote. “Always find thankfulness.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Tension and violence onboard airplanes is soaring, but the CDC still wants flyers to wear masks because the unvaccinated are ‘extremely vulnerable’

Delta Air Lines New JFK Airport Experience
Travelers have been required to wear masks on airplanes for more than one year.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is against lifting the mask mandate on airplanes.
  • The Transportation Security Administration’s current mask mandate expires on September 13 but may be extended.
  • Thousands of travelers have been banned from airlines for not wearing masks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Wearing masks onboard airplanes is here to stay.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has come out against lifting the federal mask mandate that requires travelers to don face coverings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus when using transportation modes including air, rail, and bus.

“The truth is that the unvaccinated portion that’s out there is extremely vulnerable,” Marty Cetron, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of global migration and quarantine, told Reuters on Thursday.

President Joe Biden first directed agencies to create mask mandates for transportation in January and CDC soon followed up with an order that codified mask mandates on commercial and public transportation into federal law.

The Transportation Security Administration, tasked with protecting the nation’s transportation networks, complemented CDC’s order with its own mandate that covers airports and commercial aircraft, as well as surface transportation networks. Before then, mask mandates were solely a matter of airline policy, and the first airline to require masks for passengers, JetBlue Airways, didn’t do so until late April.

TSA’s mandate took effect on February 2 and has already been extended past its original expiration date of May 11. September 13 is the new scheduled end date but the order can be extended again if the federal government deems it necessary, and Cetron’s comments hint that it might be.

“I get we’re all just over this emotionally but I do think we will succeed together if we realize the virus is the enemy and it’s not your fellow citizen or the person sitting next to you on a plane or a piece of cloth that you have to wear over your face,” Cetron told Reuters, adding that federal agencies are expected to follow CDC’s lead on this issue.

Read More: Airline workers have lower rates of COVID-19 than the general population – and airline CEOs say it’s proof that flying is safe

“It is currently unknown as to whether the mask mandate will be extended or kept in place,” Lisa Farbstein, TSA’s spokesperson, told Insider. “What we do know is that the mandate is currently in place until September 13. That gets us through the traditional summer travel season, just past the Labor Day holiday.”

New variants of the coronavirus may encourage the CDC to keep the order in place past September 13. Dominant in the US is now the delta variant that is highly transmissible and proven to infect vaccinated individuals, though data suggests symptoms are mild among those vaccinated.

CDC is forecasting cases to rise in the next four weeks with Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, expecting a delta variant peak in late September, after the September 13 end date of TSA’s current mask policy.

Defiance to the mask mandate has heightened tensions onboard commercial flights as flight crews have been enforcing the policy. Passengers have hurled verbal abuse at flight attendants and interactions have even turned violent, as Insider’s Allana Akhtar reported.

“I’m sure there are some executives and many employees who personally wish the mask mandate would end today, were it not for the threat of the delta variant of the virus, simply to reduce the tensions that exist on aircraft,” Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and cofounder of Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider.

Thousands of flyers have also been banned by individual airlines for not abiding by mask mandates.

More travelers are flying this summer more than at any point during the pandemic. US airports are regularly seeing more than two million daily passengers, according to TSA statistics.

Do you have a story to share about aviation or mask-related incidents on airplanes chain? Email this reporter at tpallini@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I went on JetBlue’s newest aircraft, the Airbus A321neoLR, that’s taking flyers to Europe next month and now I’m ready to book a ticket

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

  • JetBlue Airways is launching its first flights to London next month and using a new plane to do it.
  • Only 138 seats are offered with a sizeable business class cabin to draw in premium passengers.
  • In-flight entertainment, in-flight WiFi, and hot meals will be complimentary for all flyers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
JetBlue is going to London, UK next month, and powering its transatlantic debut will be a brand-new aircraft to its fleet, the Airbus A321neoLR.

JetBlue Airways taking delivery of its first Airbus A321neoLR
JetBlue Airways’ first Airbus A321neoLR.

Read More: JetBlue is promising London-bound passengers free meals, wider seats, and more when service finally starts this summer — take a look

The next-generation and “long-range” version of Airbus’ largest single-aisle jet offers JetBlue a 4,000-nautical mile range while also burning less fuel on the overseas journey.

JetBlue Airways taking delivery of its first Airbus A321neoLR
JetBlue Airways’ first Airbus A321neoLR.

Passengers accustomed to flying the New York-London route will note that it’s the smallest aircraft to service the busy transatlantic corridor that’s generated billions in revenue for some airlines. But JetBlue is giving the plane a fresh new look compared to its other jets to help bring more travelers across the pond.

Mint business class on JetBlue Airways' Airbus A321neoLR
Inside JetBlue Airways’ Airbus A321neoLR.

Take a look inside the jet that will take JetBlue passengers to London starting in August.

Boarding JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

From the outside, JetBlue’s newest plane looks like any other in the leisure carrier’s fleet. On the inside, however, is a technological marvel jam-packed with passenger-friendly amenities.

Inside JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Only 138 seats are offered on an aircraft that can normally seat around 200.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Mint business class is also making its transatlantic debut with brand-new seats to boot.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

A total of 24 business class seats are angled towards the aisle in what’s known as a herringbone pattern.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

There’s one seat on each side of the aisle in a 1-1 configuration, as opposed to the alternating 2-2, 1-1 configuration on JetBlue’s first-generation Mint planes.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

The arrangement is ideal for solo travelers as they offer complete privacy from the rest of the aircraft. JetBlue told Insider that privacy was the greatest request that it received from Mint flyers.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

And to that effect, each seat will have fully closeable doors that block passengers off from the rest of the plane.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

JetBlue is traditionally a leisure airline but is enticing premium customers the most business class seats it has ever offered on a single plane. And it shows, the cabin is so deep that it stretches all the way to the aircraft’s wings.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Each seat offers an abundance of privacy since flyers don’t have to share the row and high walls create a feeling of exclusivity. This seat is referred to as the “Mint Suite.”

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Wireless charging pads are also available in yet another unique touch.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Lighting in the suites is offered through a personal reading lamp and a larger lamp with customizable mood lighting.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

A pillow and comforter kit is left on each seat before boarding. JetBlue tasked Tuft & Needle with designing a new comforter complete with a “foot nook” to keep feet warm during the flight.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Vegan leather material was used to create the seat, which is actually a mattress also crafted by Tuft & Needle. Flyers seeking maximum sleeping time can also flick on the “do not disturb” light and flight attendants will know not to bother them or serve them meals.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Standard at each business class seat is a 17-inch entertainment system. One of the features unique to JetBlue is that the screens can be extended during taxi, takeoff, and landing.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

The in-flight entertainment system can be controlled by touch or by using one of the tethered remotes that also act as game controllers. Device-pairing is also an option so flyers can use their phones as a remote.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

In-seat power is offered with 110V AC power outlets and USB charging ports, as well as a hook on which to wrap cords.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Each business class flyer will receive an amenity kit from Wanderfuel with the essentials to survive a long flight.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

The other type of seat in Mint is the “Mint Studio,” located in the first row of the cabin.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

There are only two of these seats, both in row one, and JetBlue is selling them at a premium because of the extra space they offer.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

The Mint Studio is ideal for those wanting more space or traveling with a companion. There’s more living space and even a cushioned bench for a companion to use.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

JetBlue ran with this idea and even installed another tray table so flyers can work side by side or share a meal.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

There’s even an additional power outlet in the seat.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Other perks of the Mint Studio include a larger 22-inch in-flight entertainment screen.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

There’s also more storage space in the Mint Studio with additional compartments throughout.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

A personal storage closet, ideal for a handbag or other small items, is yet another perk of booking the Mint Studio.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

The remaining 114 seats house the economy section in a standard 3-3 configuration.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Seats are split between 24 extra-legroom “even more space” seats and 90 “core” seats with standard legroom.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Even more space seats, denoted by their orange headrests, offer 35 inches of legroom.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Seat width in the section is the standard 18.4 for inches that every economy seat has.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

These seats are also among the closest to the front so flyers can get off of the plane sooner than most, while also enjoying early boarding privileges compared to the rest of economy.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Beyond extra legroom and being closer to the front, there’s not much more that these seats offer.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Even more space seats are nearly identical to standard core seats, with both offering adjustable headrests, in-seat power, and seat-back entertainment screens.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

But the extra legroom may make a bigger difference to some on the longer eastbound transatlantic crossings.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

The first row in economy is actually an exit row seat that isn’t listed as part of JetBlue’s “even more space” product because it doesn’t recline. The legroom, however, is quite generous.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

And with only four rows of seats for the entire plane, there are not many to be had.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

The remaining 90 seats are the domain of JetBlue’s core product.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Each seat in this cabin offers 32 inches of pitch and the standard 18.4 inches of width.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Each seat in economy will offer 10.1-inch seat-back screens with JetBlue’s latest entertainment product.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

A selection of movies, television shows, games, and a moving map will be available during the flight.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Armrest remotes aren’t being offered by the screens can be controlled by touch or by pairing a device.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

In-seat power in economy is available both through 110v AC power outlets and USB charging ports underneath the screens.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Complimentary in-flight WiFi will also be available for all passengers throughout the entire flight, with JetBlue the only carrier on the route to offer it.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Hot meals will be offered in economy, with JetBlue tapping Dig to provide the service. Examples of some main courses are charred chicken and brown rice, meatballs and tomato farro, and spiced eggplant and quinoa.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

In the back of the plane, available for economy flyers, is the “pantry.” The self-serve station will have drinks and snacks for passengers to take at their leisure.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

All flyers in economy will receive a blanket but no pillow as part of the initial launch offering.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

All the armrests go up in economy rows so flyers can use the row as a bed if one is entirely free.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

There are some economy seats to be avoided, however, and those are the ones in rows 22 and 23 as the windows are misaligned.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

London’s Heathrow Airport is famous for its approaches that fly right over iconic sites as Canary Warf, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the Palace of Westminster. But flyers in those rows won’t get to see them.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Otherwise, there are no truly bad seats in the cabin. One of the last rows in economy is also reserved for the flight crew to rest so fewer flyers will be relegated to what is often regarded as the worst place to sit in economy.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

One Mint seat is also blocked for flight attendants to rest.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Above the cabin, mood lighting will help shape the ambiance in the cabin with a variety of settings depending on the phase of flight.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

At night, for example, relaxing colors will ease flyers to sleep and then gently wake them up.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Flights to London begin on August 11.

JetBlue advertising inside Terminal 5 - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways’ new Airbus A321neoLR.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Flight attendants describe how passengers have hurled rage at them in the air, and some say it’s become an ’emotionally abusive’ environment

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

  • Insider interviewed more than a dozen flight attendants about the rise in passenger violence.
  • Flight attendants said they have been called expletives when reminding people to wear masks onboard.
  • Many flight attendants said the increase in verbal harassment has hurt their mental health.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The fourth time Monica, a flight attendant, asked a group of men to put their masks on aboard her flight, one of the passengers called her “the mask bitch.”

Monica, who is based in Houston and requested to speak under a pseudonym to protect her job, told Insider she has faced verbal abuse and been called expletives when asking passengers to wear their masks.

Flight attendants like Monica across the country are facing a wave of verbal and physical abuse on airlines as US travel surged this spring and summer. Since January 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration has received 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, most of which involve travelers refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate.

Monica said the verbal harassment has negatively impacted her mental health and that she now feels wary before every flight.

“At that point, it’s just like, you know what, I’m really just trying to get through this day,” she said in an interview with Insider. “I didn’t come to work for this.”

Over the last three months Insider has interviewed more than a dozen flight attendants, some of whom shared stories of harassment they’ve encountered. All workers requested anonymity, and Insider confirmed their identities and employment prior to publishing.

One Chicago-based flight attendant recalled an encounter on recent 6 a.m. flight.

After other passengers complained of a man refusing to wear a mask, the flight attendant gently asked him to wear one. She said the man stood up before cussing and flipping off the flight attendants. His shouts woke up sleeping passengers and disturbed children on the plane, the flight attendant said.

Read more: These aviation startups are taking off by moving cargo – not people – across the sky

“It’s disturbing because you’re like, ‘Is this guy going to hit us?’ the flight attendant said. “You don’t know what he’s going to do next.”

Some altercations between passengers and flight attendants have become physically violent. A video recently circulated depicting a passenger punching a Southwest flight attendant so hard two of her teeth fell out. In mid-May, the FAA issued its largest fine ever – $52,000 – against a passenger who physically assaulted a flight attendant.

A Los Angeles-based flight attendant told Insider a passenger told her she “better watch her back” while swearing at her for telling him to put on a mask.

She said the passenger resisted and claimed being told to wear a mask infringed on his freedom. She added mask wearing has become politicized, and several passengers believe flight attendants enforcing the Biden administration’s mask policy for airlines are infringing on their rights.

Nas Lewis, another flight attendant based out of Chicago, said she had been told, “If I had a Black Lives Matter shirt on, this wouldn’t be a problem,” by an intoxicated passenger when she cut him off from drinking more alcohol.

Lewis, who founded the non-profit th|AIR|apy to help flight attendants address mental health, said passengers are bringing angst from the heated political climate and the stress of the pandemic aboard aircrafts.

“We’re just expected to just roll with it, but it becomes abusive,” Lewis said. She told Insider she’s seen a rise in activity in th|AIR|apy support groups over the last three months, including instances of flight attendants sharing photos of themselves crying.

“There’s sometimes a lack of respect for our profession,” Lewis said. “And because they see a bunch of women a lot of times, they feel like they can speak to us in any kind of way. It becomes very emotionally abusive.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

I used an obscure credit card perk to pay for $127 worth of travel expenses when American Airlines canceled 2 of my flights – see how

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card comes with built-in trip insurance for when things go wrong.
  • Trip delays, trip cancellations, and baggage delays are covered under certain circumstances.
  • I was delayed by 12 hours after two American Airlines flight cancellations and could spend up to $500 on expenses.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Flight delays and cancellations can be costly. Hours and even days can be wasted that could lead to unplanned expenses through no fault of a traveler’s.

An airport departures board showing canceled flights.

I was left high and dry by American Airlines in June when flying home from Bogota, Colombia in June. Two back-to-back flight cancellations extended my trip and left me with no clear way to get home.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

Read More: I was stranded in Bogotá airport for 10 hours and it taught me the true value of credit card perks and not taking no for an answer

At first, I was faced with an eight-hour delay that quickly turned into an overnight stay. American was going to pay for a hotel but I’d be largely on my own for meals, plus any other expenses I might incur thanks to the extended trip.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

In total, I incurred $127.39 extra expenses incurred from the delay but because of the credit card I used to book the trip, I was reimbursed for all of it. Here’s how my credit card ended up saving my bank account.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium travel credit card that costs $550 per year but comes with perks like a free $300 in travel credits, complimentary Lyft Pink membership for a year, and built-in travel insurance.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Read More: Chase Sapphire Reserve card review: One of the best premium travel cards, with unbeatable bonus rewards

While many credit cards offer some form of travel insurance, not all are equal and some only kick in if the cardholder dies in a plane crash. But the Sapphire Reserve offers three types: trip cancellation/interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, and travel delay reimbursement.

credit cards

As its name suggests, trip cancellation/interruption insurance covers expenses when a trip is “cut short or canceled” due to instances like sickness, severe weather, injury, loss of life, terrorist action, hijacking, and unpostponable jury duty or court subpoena. Chase will cover up to $10,000 per trip, if eligible.

Flight canceled

Baggage delay insurance covers “essential purchases” in the event luggage is lost by an airline, bus company, cruise ship operator, or train company for more than six hours.

travel airport luggage baggage

And finally, trip delay insurance covers travelers if a trip is delayed for more than six hours or requires an overnight stay. This is the insurance for which I qualified when American canceled my flight and rescheduled me for a later flight to New York.

A screenshot of an email from American Airlines.
Using credit card trip insurance.

This insurance is pretty comprehensive and will cover meals, lodging, transportation, and additional unreimbursed expenses up to $500. Coverage only applies if the flight was booked using the Sapphire Reserve and I make sure I book every trip using the card for that reason.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

The perk will also apply to mileage award tickets, even if only the taxes are paid using the card. If travelers are booking flights with a travel credit, they can also get the coverage by paying as little as $.01 using the card.

A screenshot from American Airlines' website
Booking an award ticket using a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.

I called up Chase while stranded in Colombia to confirm I could use the credit and they gave me the green light. I didn’t need to call Chase but this was my first time using the perk so I wanted to be sure I was using it correctly.

Calling Chase customer service
Calling Chase customer service.

I was ecstatic to have $500 at my disposal because that goes really far in Colombia. But I wasn’t trying to extend my vacation, I wanted out.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

My first plan was to take the 12:15 a.m. flight to New York and so I began my long wait in the airport. I took a walk and started plotting how I could spend $500.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

American, for its part, gave all the passengers on my first canceled flight a meal voucher for around $12. I decided to use that for my first meal and save Chase’s travel insurer some money.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

But beyond that, I was hesitant to spend any money because I didn’t want to get into a situation where something wasn’t covered. Again, this was my first time using the perk.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

So, I left Colombia using exactly $0 of the $500 and didn’t spend anything until landing back in the US. After my second flight to New York was canceled, I was routed to Phoenix via Dallas leaving the same night because I was starting a trip to Phoenix and American couldn’t get me home in time for my flight to get there.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

After I landed in Dallas, American had given me a hotel voucher, at my request, so I could have a shower during my four-hour layover. I took a hotel shuttle to the hotel, around five miles from the airport itself, and only planned to shower in the room, then head back to the airport.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

The shuttle, however, was hourly, and I only had 20 minutes from the time I got to the hotel to the time it was leaving again. That didn’t include checking in and getting to the room.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

So, I figured, what better time to use the $500. I took my time in the shower and then ordered a Lyft for $19.27, including tip, to get me back to the airport.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

Transportation, after all, is covered under the rules of the perk. Of course, I wouldn’t know for sure until I submitted the claim.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

I got to the airport and American, once more, had given me another $12 meal voucher. But it was too early to eat so I only used around $6 of it to buy two water bottles for the flight to Phoenix.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

I landed in Phoenix after a nightmare of a travel experience and asked American if they’d arrange a taxi for me to get to my family’s home. I thought it was a reasonable request being as I arrived a day early and my family members couldn’t pick me up.

Trapped in Airport Terminal
Flying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.

But the airline didn’t think so and I was on my own to arrange an Uber, at peak time, for a total of $107.65 with a tip. Time to file my claim.

A screenshot from the trip insurance website.
Using credit card trip insurance.

First, I needed proof of the delay being greater than six hours. That was easy as American sent an email telling me that I was rebooked on a later flight after the first flight cancellation.

A screenshot of an email from American Airlines.
Using credit card trip insurance.

Next, I needed my expenses. All of my Uber and Lyft receipts were digital, so getting them was just a matter of taking screenshots from their mobile applications.

Uber Grocery stressfree In App
Uber Grocery app

Then, I needed a verification letter from American confirming that my flight was delayed due to a covered reason. In my case, a mechanical delay.

A screenshot of an email from American Airlines.
Using credit card trip insurance.

Even that was surprisingly easy. American has a request form just for “delay verification requests.”

A screenshot of an email from American Airlines.
Using credit card trip insurance.

That letter came three days later and I was then able to submit the claim.

A screenshot from the trip insurance website.
Using credit card trip insurance.

To my surprise, it was approved with no questions asked three days later.

A screenshot from the trip insurance website.
Using credit card trip insurance.

The check did take a while to arrive but I took it straight to the bank.

Receiving a mailed check from a travel insurance company.
Using credit card trip insurance.

And with that, my escape from Colombia was complete. I even got credit card points from the two purchases.

Depositing a check at a Chase ATM
Depositing a check at a Chase ATM.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A private aviation firm is giving travelers a taste of the high life by offering private jet flights for as low as $450: Meet Set Jet

Set Jet
Set Jet.

  • Set Jet is a private airline offering private jet flights for similar prices as domestic first class.
  • A monthly membership costs $99.95 and flights on wide-cabin Bombardier jets start at $449.95 one-way.
  • A total of 11 year-round routes are offered with a New York-Los Angeles route coming in the next year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

One company is bridging the price gap between flying first class and flying private and opening up the glitzy side of aviation to those that were traditionally priced out of it.

Set Jet is a membership-based private airline offering seats on a true private jet for as low as $449.95 one-way. Members pay a monthly fee of $99.95 and are given access to flights on 11 year-round routes throughout the American West.

The Scottsdale, Arizona-based company isn’t the first to sell seats on shared private aircraft but its founders say they’ve found a way to make the business model sustainable, and open up private flying to a larger audience. Having the monthly fee also discourages those that truly aren’t able to fly private from signing up, for which companies like JetSmarter were infamous.

How it works

Only Set Jet members can fly on Set Jet aircraft and a limited number of memberships are available in each market so flyers can get a seat when they want. Anyone can sign up for a membership and the only initiation fee is a one-time “security fee” of $99.95.

Members can then initiate or buy seats on flights throughout Set Jet’s network, which covers four states and Mexico. Flyers can book a seat up to 30 minutes before a flight’s scheduled departure time.

Not are routes are operated daily, though, and some as offered as little as twice-weekly. Once a flight is initiated, Set Jet will perform it even if there’s just one person onboard paying that’s paying $449.95.

Set Jet’s flagship jet is the Bombardier Challenger 850 that rivals in size to wide-cabin Gulfstream or Dassault aircraft. The cabin is tall enough for most to stand up in and as many as 19 people can be seated comfortably.

Set Jet
Set Jet.

It’s open seating onboard the plane but there are no bad seats, as Insider found on a demonstration flight from Scottsdale to San Diego, California. A cabin attendant welcomes passengers onboard the aircraft and offers complimentary snacks and drinks, with in-flight WiFi also available.

Private terminals are used at all destinations to complete the private jet experience. Security checkpoints are non-existent and flyers can arrive just minutes before the flight’s scheduled departure.

How Set Jet makes money

Set Jet has the heart of a low-cost airline that’s offering an incredibly luxurious product, and its choice of aircraft is the perfect example. Buying parts for Challenger 850s is cheaper because of the aircraft’s second life as an airliner known as the CRJ200.

“If you go to buy a set of brakes for a Challenger 604 and you tell them you’re buying them for a Challenger 604, it’s going to be a $55,000 set of brakes,” Trey Smith, Set Jet’s chief operating officer, told Insider. “You go to buy a set of brakes for a CRJ200 – same brakes, same part, different part number – it’s $5,000.”

Set Jet Bombardier Challenger 850 Private Jet Flight
Flying on private jet firm Set Jet.

Thousands of memberships offset the cost per passenger and memberships have skyrocketed during the pandemic. “We did see a lot of new memberships that were from people who normally would never have flown with us but they were looking for alternatives to commercial travel because of COVID,” Smith said.

Read More: Private jet industry CEOs say business will boom as the wealthy abandon airlines and reveal what they’re doing now to take advantage

Smith says that it’s easy for wealthier clients to purchase one and forget about it, attributing to a low attrition rate during the pandemic.

Set Jet is eyeing new markets like the Texas triangle and the Northeast. One route launching in the next year will be between New York and Los Angeles.

A higher membership tier will be required, costing $1,000 per month, and the price of a one-way fare will be $3,500. The Embraer Lineage 1000, the private jet version of the Embraer E190, will fly that route.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon and cargo airlines are scouring the Arizona desert for old and cheap passenger jets to fly packages

A stored Boeing 767-300 aircraft - Pinal Air Park Aircraft Storage Facility Visit
A stored Boeing 767-300 aircraft.

  • Cargo carriers such as Amazon’s Prime Air are searching the American Southwest for former airliners stored in the desert.
  • Arizona is home to Pinal Air Park, where between 40 and 50 jets have been bought by cargo carriers.
  • Older passenger planes were bought at a discount during the pandemic and converted to freighters.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When consumers turned to Amazon to buy more goods during the pandemic, Amazon turned to aircraft storage facilities in the desert to buy more cargo planes.

The rise of pandemic online shopping and e-commerce caused a cargo industry boom in the past year. While passenger airlines found themselves with too many airplanes, cargo airlines had too little and went shopping for planes being stored in the American Southwest.

“80% of all the stored aircraft worldwide are stored basically in the Southwest,” Scott Butler, chief commercial officer for Marana, Arizona-based Ascent Aviation Services, told Insider. Ascent is responsible for storing most of the aircraft at Pinal Air Park in Marana on behalf of airlines and aircraft leasing companies.

While some might know these facilities as the places where aircraft go to die, they’ve been keeping airliners alive by preserving them through the pandemic. More than 400 aircraft from airlines around the world were stored in Marana alone during the worst of the crisis.

They’ve also been veritable shopping malls for cargo carriers and startup airlines looking to purchase planes on the cheap.

A stored Boeing 767-300 aircraft - Pinal Air Park Aircraft Storage Facility Visit
A stored Boeing 767-300 aircraft.

Between 40 and 50 aircraft left Marana bound for cargo airlines since the start of the pandemic, with Boeing’s 737-800 and 767-300ER being the most popular. Aircraft sales didn’t occur straightaway after March as airlines contemplated whether to hold on to the planes until aircraft values recovered from the nosedive they took in the pandemic’s early days.

“[Airlines] didn’t want to sell an aircraft that had multiple years of use left,” Butler said, “but as pandemic dragged on, the need to convert assets into cash became necessary.”

Airlines were losing billions each quarter and shedding aircraft was one way of stopping the bleeding. Amazon was a major customer and bought 11 Boeing 767-300ER aircraft from Delta Air Lines and Canada’s WestJet to power its Prime Air fleet.

Read More: Amazon Air’s plane-buying spree could put 95% of Americans in 1-day shipping range, a new report says

Once purchased, the former passenger jets still need to be converted into freighters, a process that’s only performed in a handful of facilities around the world. And there is a backlog of aircraft waiting to be converted.

Israel Aerospace Industries is one of Amazon’s conversion partners of choice. The Middle Eastern firm is a long-time player in the conversion realm with experience on Boeing jets and is also working on converting the world’s largest twin-engine passenger plane into the world’s largest twin-engine cargo plane.

Boeing 767-300ER cargo conversion
Converting a Boeing 767-300ER to a cargo plane.

Conversions take between 90 and 120 days, depending on the aircraft, and can cost between $13 and $14 million for a Boeing 767-300ER, almost the cost of a second-hand 767 itself. There is a wait, though, and Israel Aerospace Industries’ Yossi Melamed told Insider in February that the firm is booked through 2022.

Some cargo carriers that had planes stored in Marana were quick to get them flying again. Atlas Air was one that reactivated four Boeing 747-400F cargo planes to handle the increase in demand, Air Cargo News reported.

“We had three 747-400s on-site for National Airlines for an extended period of time and when cargo picked up last year, they put them back into service,” Butler said, adding that it wasn’t a cheap endeavor to restore the planes to flying service but the airline likely saw more value in having the planes flying than sitting on the ground.

The modern-day gold rush in the Arizona desert, however, has largely dried up as Marana’s best aircraft have been bought off. But that doesn’t stop airlines from trying.

“I get calls, still, from people looking for cargo aircraft in the desert and they just don’t exist right now,” Butler said. “Anything that has storage capacity, has some good engines on it, and has some time on it left, [cargo operators] are utilizing the aircraft far more than passenger operators were.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

I flew on Breeze, the ‘tech company that happens to fly airplanes’ from JetBlue founder David Neeleman, and found it surprisingly low-tech

Standing in front of Breeze Airways' ticket counter - Breeze Airways Flight
Breeze Airways launched its first flights in May.

  • Breeze Airways founder David Neeleman billed his airline as a “tech company” but I found the opposite.
  • In-flight entertainment was touted but not offered on the first flights, and will come with new planes.
  • Breeze also doesn’t have a phone number and requires customers to send a text message or email.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Breeze Airways is America’s newest airline and is taking the US by storm with 39 new low-cost leisure routes across 16 cities. It’s the brainchild of iconic aviation entrepreneur David Neeleman of JetBlue Airways fame, as well as four other airlines in the US, Canada, and Brazil.

Leisure flying is Breeze’s bread and butter, and it just happens to be all the rage as pandemic-weary travelers seek to finally take a vacation or visit family and family.

Ultra-low-cost airlines are trying to capture the market with low fares, as a result, and Breeze is no different. Introductory fares are still being sold for as little as $39, and for that price, an airline would be forgiven for not offering as many amenities as say, well, JetBlue.

Read More: How JetBlue’s founder plans to offer low prices without a low-end experience on his newest airline, Breeze

But David Neeleman, in his initial promotion of the airline back in 2020, told media outlets that he was starting a new type of low-cost airline.

“I prefer to say that we are a high-tech company that just happens to fly airplanes,” Neeleman told AFAR. Breeze’s first flight successfully flew in late May, with Insider onboard but the tech aspect of the airline, however, left a lot to be desired.

Here’s why I wasn’t impressed with the so-called tech company that’s doubling as an airline after just two flights.

No in-flight entertainment nor in-flight WiFi

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

Breeze, in its launch announcement, touted that its Embraer aircraft would have streaming in-flight entertainment through Global Eagle. Movies, television shows, games, and even a map would be available for flyers to enjoy.

But on launch day, the inaugural aircraft was deprived of any entertainment whatsoever. The airline’s Embraer E195 fleet, specifically, will not yet feature in-flight entertainment while the Embraer E190s that are scheduled to enter the fleet this summer will.

In-flight WiFi also won’t be available on any Breeze flights until the Airbus A220 arrives at the airline this fall and that’s the only aircraft on which the service will be available. Offering different products on different aircraft types can also confuse customers, according to travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt.

“There are a growing number of consumers who expect WiFi to be available everywhere they go, including airplanes,” Harteveldt said in a prior interview with Insider. “And if Breeze is hoping to attract millennial and Gen Z consumers as its customers, they’re going to be disappointed that there’s no WiFi on board the plane”

“The core component of a brand promise is consistency,” Harteveldt said in a prior interview with Insider.

Breeze believes that the flights are short enough where flyers won’t notice the difference but more ultra-low-cost carriers are moving towards offering in-flight entertainment on all flights. Spirit Airlines has finally unveiled in-flight WiFi on some of its planes while Sun Country Airlines offers a streaming service.

Breeze’s Airbus A220 fleet will also come standard with in-flight entertainment.

No digital wallet functionality

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

Mobile boarding passes have largely made paper boarding passes obsolete when flying domestically. Most airlines, including Breeze, offer mobile boarding passes through their mobile applications when checking in for a flight.

Breeze, however, does not yet offer Apple Wallet, Samsung Pay, or Google Wallet functionality, meaning flyers have to go into the Breeze app each time to pull up their wallet. While normally not an inconvenience, I found that the Breeze app would sometimes log me out and I’d have to log back in to access the boarding pass.

It slowed down my time going through the security checkpoint and during boarding because I had to log back into my Breeze account. The solution also isn’t as simple as getting a boarding pass from the check-in counter as the airline charges $3 for a boarding pass, and self-serve kiosks weren’t available on the first day.

Once that functionality is available, however, it will be a huge time-saver for flyers and it is on the way. Flyers can also currently print their own boarding passes for free if they have access to a printer.

No in-app messaging feature

Breeze Airways app
Breeze Airways’ mobile website.

Breeze might be the first airline not to have a phone number for customers to call. Flyers can only contact the airline through text communications, whether it be through Facebook Messenger, email, or a phone number that doesn’t accept phone calls.

If customers try calling, a recorded message will direct them to Breeze’s messaging platforms and even send the caller a text message to shift the conversation there.

But one feature that Breeze doesn’t have is in-app messaging, a staple of major airlines like JetBlue Airways, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines.

I tried messaging Breeze to add my known traveler number to my reservation and found the agents, known as the “guest empowerment team,” were helpful. The issue took about 20 minutes from start to finish but it wasn’t like I was waiting on hold so time was not a factor.

However, the problem could come when older individuals or flyers with disabilities try to use the texting service. Breeze does allow the latter to leave a message and request for an agent to get back to them but it’s unclear how long that takes.

Breeze is also targeting a certain segment of Americans with its low fares that might not be as technologically savvy, which could alienate them.

“A concern that I have is that the target Breeze customer may be less likely to own a smartphone, they may be less likely to own tablets, they may be less likely to use technology in their personal and work lives,” Harteveldt said.

Another problem may arise when delays and cancellations strike. Flyers want immediate assistance and reassurance but will be at the whim of a messaging service instead of being able to speak directly to another human.

No self-serve kiosks

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

Self-serve check-in kiosks have become standard in the airline industry and all major US airlines use them to expedite check-in and avoid long lines. However, Breeze self-serve kiosks were not available at Tampa International Airport, one of the airline’s four bases, on the day of the inaugural flight.

Most of the functions of a check-in kiosk could be done on the app, admittedly, but flyers wanting a paper boarding pass would have to go to the counter to get one. Breeze didn’t charge for boarding passes on the first flight but having an agent print a boarding pass normally costs $3.

Printing a boarding pass at a self-serve kiosk would also solve the problem of the app not working always properly or not having digital wallet functionality.

Breeze didn’t respond to a request for comment when asked about the estimated arrival date for self-serve kiosks at all of its airports.

No buy-on-board service

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

Ultra-low-cost airlines thrive on selling extras to flyers, and two big sellers are snacks and drinks. Some airlines, like Spirit Airlines, won’t even give flyers cups of water.

Breeze plans to sell snacks and drinks but the service has not yet been rolled at, and that’s actually a good thing for flyers looking to save money. The in-flight service currently consists of complimentary bottles of water, Utz chips, and miniature Kind bars.

A more robust offering will come later this year as the pandemic wanes further.

What Breeze got right in tech

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

For all of its faults, the Breeze app is incredibly easy to use whether it be to book a flight or assign a seat. The only issue that I had is that I wasn’t able to check in on the app, an experience echoed by other flyers, but it worked perfectly other than that.

Another plus for Breeze was that it had TSA PreCheck ready to go on day one, allowing flyers in the program to skip the lines at security while keeping their shoes and belts on. Rival Avelo Airlines wasn’t able to have TSA PreCheck available for passengers on day one, as Insider found on the first flight.

What to look forward to

Breeze Airways Inaugural Flight David Neeleman
The inaugural flight of David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways.

The real tech company that happens to fly airplanes will come this fall when the Airbus A220 enters the fleet. It’s one of the newest aircraft flying anywhere in the world complete with technological advancements that make it cheap to operate, fuel-efficient, and quiet.

Breeze will fly the aircraft on longer domestic routes and plans to open up destinations in Hawaii and even Europe with the A220 in the coming years. A premium cabin is also being planned for the aircraft to offer another type of experience for passengers willing to pay up.

Hopefully, Breeze will have its other tech issues sorted by the time of its arrival.

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Cargo plane makes emergency landing in ocean near Honolulu

The silhouette of a Boeing 737 cargo jet
The silhouette of a Boeing 737 cargo jet. A cargo jet reportedly landed in the water near Honolulu, Hawaii.

  • A Boeing 737-200 cargo plane with two people on board made an emergency landing in the ocean off the coast of Honolulu, Hawaii, early Friday.
  • The aircraft went into the water at around 2:30 a.m. local time about two miles from Kalaeloa Airport.
  • Both pilots aboard the jet have been rescued by the US Coast Guard.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Boeing 737-200 cargo plane with just two pilots on board made an emergency landing in the ocean off the coast of Honolulu, Hawaii early Friday morning, officials said.

Transair Flight 810 – operated by Rhoades Aviation, Inc – was forced to land in the water at around 2:30 a.m. local time, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed in a statement to Insider, after having trouble with both of its engines.

The emergency landing took place two miles from Kalaeloa Airport.

“The pilots had reported engine trouble and were attempting to return to Honolulu when they were forced to land the aircraft in the water,” the FAA said.

Both pilots have been rescued by the US Coast Guard.

“The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate,” the agency added.

Air traffic control had cleared the Boeing 737-200, operating as”Rhodes Express 810,” for takeoff from Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Runway 8R minutes before the incident occurred. Flightradar 24 data then shows the aircraft making an immediate right turn from the runway, climbing to an altitude of 2,000 feet.

The flight map of Transair flight 810.
The flight map of Transair flight 810.

Confusion ensued as air traffic control appeared to miss multiple calls from the aircraft attempting to declare an emergency after experiencing engine issues, according to air traffic control recordings reviewed by Insider.

“Rhodes 810, radio check, how do you read?” pilots asked Honolulu Tower after not hearing a response to their emergency call. Air traffic control had also been communicating and servicing other aircraft throughout the emergency, the recordings show.

Another Rhodes Aviation aircraft sharing a similar callsign was on approach to land, further complicating the airwaves. Pilots didn’t immediately return to the airport and kept flying away from Honolulu, stating that they needed to “run a checklist” and would stay around 15 miles from the airport.

“When you get a chance, can I get a nature of the emergency, I know you said an engine out, – which one? – how many souls on board and fuel?” air traffic control asked the aircraft as part of standard protocol.

Twin-engine jet aircraft can fly on a single engine in the event that one is lost. A United Airlines flight in February was able to land safely at Denver International Airport after losing an engine shortly after takeoff.

But by the time the aircraft requested to head back to Honolulu airport, they had lost sight of the airport and needed air traffic control to provide vectors. Pilots anticipated losing both engines after the operating engine showed signs of overheating, which would’ve decimated the aircraft’s ability to maintain viable altitude and speed to land safely at Honolulu or any airport if too far from shore.

“Proceed direct to the airport and you are cleared to land any runway,” air traffic advised.

“Will you let the Coast Guard know, we can’t maintain altitude,” one pilot told air traffic control.

“Rhodes Express 810, the Coast Guard is on their way,” air traffic control said and then suggested a diversion to nearby Kalaeloa Airport, only three miles away. Pilots turned the aircraft in a likely attempted to land at Kalaeloa Airport but couldn’t maintain altitude and was forced to land in the water.

The entire flight, from takeoff to the emergency water landing, lasted less than 15 minutes.

The Boeing 737-200 involved was 46 years old and had started its life flying for Pacific Western Airlines in Canada, according to Planespotters.net. After numerous stints in Canada and Malaysia, it found its way to Hawaii flying for Transair in July 2014.

Read the original article on Business Insider