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

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.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I flew on JetBlue founder David Neeleman’s new Breeze Airways for $39 and found it was cheap and friendly but surprisingly basic

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

  • Breeze Airways officially launched its first flight on Thursday from Tampa, Florida to Charleston, South Carolina.
  • It’s the fifth airline from aviation entrepreneur David Neeleman, who started JetBlue Airways, with a focus on hub-skipping leisure flights.
  • Fares are as low as $39 with 39 new routes starting between May 27 and July 29.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
David Neeleman has done it again.

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

Breeze Airways made its long-awaited debut on Thursday, flying two of its 39 planned routes that will launch between May 27 and July 29.

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

It’s the fifth airline launched by Neeleman, a serial aviation entrepreneur that was the man behind JetBlue Airways and Morris Air in the US, WestJet in Canada, and Azul Brazilian Airlines in Brazil, as well as a stint with TAP Air Portugal.

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

Just in time for the summer travel season, consumers from the East Coast to as far as San Antonio, Texas will soon have Breeze as another option for air travel. Fares start at just $39 and routes are mostly leisure-focused, taking flyers while bypassing busy airline hubs.

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

Read More: The founder of JetBlue is finally launching his new airline this month with 39 routes and $39 fares — but it won’t be JetBlue 2.0

Convenience is a key selling point for the airline, in addition to its low fares. Flights are point-to-point and don’t require routing through airport hubs.

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

“Connecting flights,” for example, isn’t a phrase in Breeze’s vocabulary, as part of the airline’s strategy to be “seriously nice.”

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

I flew on the very first flight of Breeze Airways from Tampa, Florida to Charleston, South Carolina. Here’s what it was like.

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

Breeze chose Tampa, Florida as its main from which to start flights. A total of 10 routes are planned for the city to destinations like Charleston, South Carolina; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Louisville, Kentucky.

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

I arrived at the airport the night before Breeze’s inaugural flight and caught a look at the airline’s check-in counter. It was very bare-bones and the airline didn’t have any check-in kiosks.

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

But that’s all part of Breeze’s tech-focused strategy to have flyers use its mobile application instead of relying on airline employees. It helps keep costs down by hiring fewer airport staff.

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

The Breeze app itself is very intuitive but there were some glitches. Users, including myself, reported not being able to book flights or check-in via the app.

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

Breeze doesn’t have a phone number so flyers will have to text or message the airline, which also isn’t yet available on the app. Clicking “support” will redirect flyers to the airline’s mobile website.

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

But I was able to get my mobile boarding pass eventually and was all set to jet.

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

I arrived back at the airport the next morning for the first flight, Breeze Airways flight 1 with service from Tampa to Charleston, and went up to the counter to get a paper copy of the boarding pass.

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

Breeze agents were “nice” and didn’t charge the $3 fee to print a boarding pass but I assumed that was because this was the first flight. A boarding pass fee is common among ultra-low-cost carriers but very few actually charge the fee in practice.

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

And in a nice treat, Breeze had already been accepted into the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program.

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

Before the flight, Neeleman popped open a bottle of champagne and christened the aircraft. Breeze Airways was officially ready for takeoff.

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

Boarding then began for the historic flight, with the airline boarding in zones. The Breeze app also doesn’t interface with Apple Wallet or other digital wallets, so flyers can’t yet save their boarding passes to their devices for easy access.

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

I walked onto the plane and was truly shocked at how basic it was. Breeze’s aircraft are incredibly flashy on the outside, in perhaps the most colorful airline livery in the skies, but the interior was mostly devoid of color.

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

There was not a hint of blue on the plane except for the safety cards, flight attendant uniforms, and the Breeze placards on the beverage carts.

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

The seats were plush and comfortable, however, and that was the most important part.

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

The Embraer E195 -which most JetBlue flyers will recognize since its smaller sibling, the E190, currently flies for the New York-based airline -is arranged in a 2-2 configuration.

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

It’s all aisles and window seats with no middle seats in sight.

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

The first five rows of the aircraft, as well as the exit row, feature between 34 and 39 inches of pitch, depending on the row. Breeze calls these seats “nicer” seats.

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

Standard seats on the E195 offer 31 inches of pitch. Breeze calls them “nice” seats.

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

When booking a ticket, there are two choices: “nice” and “nicer.” Nice fares only come with a ticket to ride and a personal item while a “Nicer” fare comes with a free extra legroom seat, one free checked bag, free carry-on bag, and priority boarding.

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

I was on a nice fare in a nice seat with 31 inches of pitch and it was quite comfortable with lots of cushioning. Seats also recline but there are no adjustable headrests.

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

These seats, unfortunately, will not stay. New, slimmer seats will replace the comfortable and plush ones that we experienced on the inaugural flight.

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

Once those seats installed, the Embraer E195’s capacity will jump from 118 seats to 122 seats.

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

Flight attendants warmly welcomed us aboard and they, too, had to be nice. Once again, Neeleman had billed this airline to be seriously nice and the cabin crew would play a large role in that.

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

After all were settled, the boarding door was closed and we pushed back for an on-time departure. Tampa International Airport gave Breeze a water cannon salute to send the first flight off, and then it was on to Charleston.

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

Takeoff was smooth and we quickly turned north over Tampa Bay towards South Carolina. The flight time was only 57 minutes.

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

Flight attendants came around with wooden baskets to start the in-flight meal service. On offer were Utz potato chips and Kind bars, as well as small bottles of water.

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

There was nothing overly exciting about the snacks. No local flair or blue chips, but anything is better than nothing, especially when the ticket is so cheap.

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

The complementary offering will only be temporary, however, and a buy-on-board program will be rolled out over the summer.

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

Once the service ended, there was nothing else to keep a passenger entertained besides the view out of the window.

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

In-flight entertainment was supposed to be available through a streaming service, but it won’t be ready until later in the summer.

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

The flight attendants and pilots, however, were spectacularly kind. They were the breath of fresh air on this airline.

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

Before we knew it, we had touched down in Charleston, and a new airline was officially brought into the world.

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

All in all, flying Breeze was not anything truly special. The flight and cabin crew were impeccably nice but the rest was of the experience was average considering the lack of the tech that was promised.

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

There’s not much people can’t put up with on a flight that’s less than two hours for $39, even more so for a flight between, say, Tampa and Charleston that’s only 57 minutes. But David Neeleman promised a “high-tech company that just happens to fly airplanes.,” as well as extras like in-flight entertainment, and that’s not what the first flyers received.

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

Breeze’s biggest issue, from a passenger perspective, may be the fact that it is still a work-in-progress. The app isn’t all the way there, aircraft aren’t fitted with the final seat products, and in-flight entertainment isn’t available.

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

And repeat customers will ultimately notice. “The core component of a brand promise is consistency,” industry analyst Henry Harteveldt told Insider in a prior interview.

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

In its current state, I would absolutely pick Breeze over other ultra-low-cost carriers and even some full-service airlines if the price was right. Though, that might change if the airline’s product changes for the worse.

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

Read the original article on Business Insider

JetBlue founder David Neeleman’s new airline is ready for takeoff. Here’s are 7 issues with Breeze, according an expert.

A Breeze Airways plane.
A Breeze Airways plane.

  • Breeze Airways is finally launching flights but not all are sold on its business model.
  • Analyst Henry Harteveldt is concerned about the airline’s route network, high fee structure, and tech-focused model.
  • Breeze seeks to create demand with low-cost leisure routes to underserved cities across the US.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Breeze Airways is finally making its debut on May 27 just in time for Memorial Day weekend and the start of what will likely be a busy summer season.

An initial slate of 39 routes across 16 cities will launch between May 27 and July 29, boasting fares are as low as $39. The hub-skipping routes allow passengers to fly directly to and from leisure destinations without having to change planes.

Most of the routes also don’t feature direct competition, giving Breeze a leg up in drawing passengers and stimulating demand. But not all industry experts were sold on the airline after its launch announcement last week.

Henry Harteveldt, an industry analyst and the cofounder of Atmosphere Research Group, has been “disappointed” with what he’s seen so far.

Harteveldt has worked for some of the US’ leading airlines, both current and former, like American Airlines and Trans World Airlines, and also served as the marketing director for Donald Trump’s startup airline, Trump Shuttle.

Here’s why he’s not impressed with Breeze.

Breeze’s route network opens itself up to competition

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

“The primary concern I have about Breeze is the airports it’s serving,” Harteveldt said. “The cities are all good cities, but the airports have no protection around them.”

Breeze chose the cities of Tampa, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia, and New Orleans as its four main bases, which all see existing service from many of the country’s largest airlines. Harteveldt says that there’s nothing stopping a major player like American or Southwest Airlines from matching some of Breeze’s routes or lowering fares to those cities in order to compete.

“No airline is going to give up a micro point of market share to a competitor, whether it’s an established airline or a startup, without a fight,” Harteveldt said.

Harteveldt compared Breeze’s initial route network to fellow startup Avelo Airlines, which relies on smaller alternative airports as the backbone of its route network. Hollywood Burbank Airport and Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport, for example, are Avelo’s main bases and offer some protection from carriers since there’s a limit to how many flights and airlines the airports can handle.

Breeze spokesperson Gareth Edmonson-Jones says that competing with the airline might be more difficult for the major players. Smaller Embraer E190 and E195 fleet of aircraft are being used initially, with no more than 118 seats on the larger model, allowing Breeze to be more competitive on routes with traditionally low demand.

Breeze wants to be a “seriously nice” airline, but is there such thing?

Breeze Airways
Breeze Airways pilots.

Ultra-low-cost airlines like Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines have gained negative reputations for customer service, despite efforts to remedy, and both Breeze and Avelo have worked to promote niceness and friendliness in response. But Harteveldt isn’t convinced that an airline can be “seriously nice,” as Breeze puts it.

“‘Seriously nice’ is a corporate attribute, but it’s not a marketing position,” Harteveldt said. “It’s not something you can hang a brand on.”

Harteveldt points to Breeze’s tech-focused approach that does away with call centers and requires passengers to use a mobile application or computer to communicate with the airline. Companies like Uber and Lyft rely on device-based communications but it’s never been tried before in airlines.

“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. “A nice airline doesn’t push people to technology.”

One incident involving a Breeze employee can also threaten a “nice” airline’s reputation, Harteveldt says.

“Nonstop routes and low fares are way nicer than flying through hubs at high fares,” Edmondson-Jones said.

A higher fee structure than competitors

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Another reason Harteveldt isn’t sold on Breeze’s seriously nice attitude is because of the airline’s high fee structure.

While baggage fees are lower than most competitors at only $20 for either checked or carry-on luggage, there are caveats. It will cost $50 to pay to check a bag at the airport instead of doing so online, for example, and another $50 if a Breeze airport staff does it.

Printing a boarding pass will also incur a $3 fee that goes up to $9 if an agent has to assist. Seat assignments also start at $10, although families with children under 12 can choose their seats for free.

“Breeze has basically outlined a list of ways where customers are going to think they’re not a very nice airline,” Harteveldt said. “Charge me $3 to print a boarding pass, charge me $50 to check a bag in with an agent. What’s nice about any of that?”

Rival Avelo’s fee structure is more lenient, says Harteveldt, although the two don’t directly compete yet.

Rushing to start before Memorial Day

airport security crowds
A crowded airport.

Breeze started selling tickets for its flights just six days before the first flight was scheduled to depart. The delay was due to the airline not having its air operator’s certificate, or AOC.

“The biggest concern that I had about the launch announcement is the very short window of time the airline has chosen to give itself between announcing that his flights are open for sale and its first flight,” Harteveldt said. “They will give themselves very little time to build up a base of bookings.”

The result may be poorer bookings than if the airline pushed back its launch since travelers are starting to book trips further and further out. Harteveldt suggested instead that the airline delay flights by a few weeks to really get the kinks out before the first passenger is welcomed onboard, as well as build a customer base.

Breeze did delay some route launches until later in the summer, which may give it more time to sell tickets.

Flight attendants that are also college students

flight attendant mask
An airline flight attendant.

Breeze’s plan to use college students enrolled in online courses with Utah Valley University has drawn ire from big labor, and Harteveldt isn’t a fan either.

“If you are a full-time student, you’ve got a lot of responsibilities and if you are a full-time flight attendant, you’ve got a lot of responsibilities,” Harteveldt said. The program, he says, could have unintended consequences like flight attendants that expedite an in-flight service so they can have time to study.

Breeze defended the program in a prior statement to Insider, saying it gives young people an opportunity to lower their education costs. A total of $6,000 is given in tuition reimbursement on top of a monthly $1,200 voucher, among other perks.

“If you’re a fully trained flight attendant, you’re a fully trained flight attendant,” Edmondson-Jones said. “It’s not like if you’re 18 years old, you can’t be a flight attendant.”

Harteveldt also says that Breeze may have missed an opportunity to get great talent from the pool of flight attendants that were furloughed during the pandemic, as rival Avelo did.

Lack of onboard consistency

A Breeze Airways plane.
A Breeze Airways plane.

Breeze will have two types of aircraft flying its first slate of routes, the Embraer E190 and Embraer E195. Both are near identical, with the E195 slightly longer than the E190, but will feature different onboard products.

Standard legroom on the E195 will be 31 inches while the E190 will offer 29.

“The core component of a brand promise is consistency,” Harteveldt said. “From the outset, Breeze is going to be confusing customers which, by the way, is not a nice thing to do.”

Edmondson-Jones responded by saying that the difference in the Embraer aircraft sizes and where the aircraft’s doors are placed determined the legroom.

But the lack of consistency extends outside the aircraft. Breeze will be bringing on the Airbus A220-300 later this year and will operate two distinct fleet types.

All ultra-low-cost airlines in the US stick to one fleet type, whether it be all-Boeing 737 family or all-Airbus A320 family aircraft. A single-fleet operation keeps pilot training and maintenance costs down, as well as maximizes efficiency in a pilot pool.

“Breeze is creating unnecessary complexity for itself by having a more complex fleet,” Harteveldt said.

Tech-focused but not offered onboard WiFi on its jets

Gogo in-flight WiFi
An airline passenger using in-flight WiFi.

Neeleman touted Breeze as a “tech company that also happens to fly airplanes,” but it’s Embraer aircraft are noticeably low-tech. In-flight WiFi, for example, won’t be offered on the aircraft.

“There are a growing number of consumers who expect WiFi to be available everywhere they go, including airplanes,” Harteveldt said. “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 onboard on the plane”

Breeze will offer streaming in-flight entertainment including television shows and a map feature. And the airline’s Airbus A220-300 fleet will offer WiFi as the aircraft will be performing longer flights.

But onboard WiFi goes beyond internet browsing and can have some cost-saving benefits for an airline. Harteveldt noted that WiFi can be used for fraud protection if the airline plans to offer in-flight purchasing, and it can be used for “smart aircraft” applications where the airline can monitor the performance of an aircraft’s systems in real-time.

What Harteveldt likes about the airline

Breeze Airways
A Breeze Airways plane.

“I like the fact that we have a new budget airline that’s entering the US that will inject fresh competition that will help compete with price and is hopefully going to provide very exciting jobs for a lot of people,” Harteveldt said. “More airline competition is needed in the US.”

Harteveldt is also a big fan of the Airbus A220-300 aircraft that Breeze will be flying later this year.

“The A220-300, in my opinion, is one of the best narrow-body airplanes that has been introduced because of the enormous utility it offers to its airline operators,” Harteveldt said, noting that the airline should’ve waited to start flights with the A220 over the Embraer jets.

The Airbus A220-300 will allow Breeze to fly to Hawaii, Europe, and even South America if the airline desires.

But in order to be an effective player in the airline industry, it has to survive and thrive, which Harteveldt says isn’t guaranteed, even for David Neeleman.

“Breeze absolutely will be able to attract some customers,” Harteveldt said “The question is, will they be differentiated enough to attract enough customers, and will they attract enough people to be profitable?”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The founder of JetBlue is finally launching his new airline this month with 39 routes and $39 fares – but it won’t be JetBlue 2.0

David Neeleman with Breeze Airways Embraer E190 aircraft
David Neeleman with a Breeze Airways Embraer E190 aircraft.

  • Breeze Airways is finally taking to the skies with its first flight scheduled for May 27.
  • The airline’s bases will be in Tampa, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; Norfolk, Virginia; and Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Flights will be mostly bare bones with Breeze charging extra for baggage and seat assignments.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

America has yet another brand new airline.

JetBlue founder David Neeleman has taken the wraps off of his fifth airline venture after more than a year of waiting since it was first announced. Breeze Airways will finally start flights on May 27 and aims to put a “seriously nice” and tech-focused spin on ultra-low-cost flying just in time for the summer travel season.

The first flight will depart from Tampa, Florida bound for Charleston, South Carolina, and continue on to Hartford, Connecticut. It’s the first of 39 routes that Breeze will launch between May 27 and July 22, connecting underserved cities throughout the US with non-stop flights to the places leisure travelers want to be.

Read More: JetBlue founder David Neeleman reveals how his new airline can succeed by flying weird routes for low prices

But if followers of Neeleman are expecting a 2021-reboot of JetBlue, they’ll be sadly mistaken. Breeze will operate under an ultra-low-cost business model where nearly everything from a seat assignment to checked baggage will cost extra. It’s slated to be almost the complete opposite of JetBlue.

Here’s what travelers can expect from Breeze.

A route network spanning from the Atlantic Ocean to San Antonio, Texas

Breeze Airways Embraer E190 aircraft
A Breeze Airways Embraer E190 aircraft.

Breeze plans to take advantage of the leisure travel boom in the US by connecting smaller, underserved cities with non-stop flights to vacation and tourist destinations.

The cities of Tampa, Florida; Norfolk, Virginia; and New Orleans, Louisiana will be the first four bases for the airline from which most of its flights will either start or end.

Here’s where Breeze is flying:

Between Tampa, Florida and:

  • Charleston, South Carolina starting May 27;
  • Louisville, Kentucky starting May 28;
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma starting June 4;
  • Norfolk, Virginia starting June 10;
  • Bentonville/Fayetteville, Arkansas starting June 17;
  • Akron/Canton, Ohio starting June 26;
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma starting July 1;
  • Columbus, Ohio starting July 3; and
  • Huntsville, Alabama starting July 22.
  • Richmond, Virginia starting July 22;

Between Charleston, South Carolina and:

  • Hartford, Connecticut starting May 27;
  • Tampa, Florida starting May 27;
  • Louisville, Kentucky starting May 28;
  • Norfolk, Virginia starting June 10;
  • Akron/Canton, Ohio starting July 8;
  • New Orleans starting July 8;
  • Columbus, Ohio starting July 8;
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania starting July 8;
  • Richmond, Virginia starting July 8;
  • Huntsville, Alabama starting July 15; and
  • Providence, Rhode Island starting July 22.

Between Norfolk, Virginia and:

  • Charleston, South Carolina starting June 10;
  • Tampa, Florida starting June 10;
  • Hartford, Connecticut starting July 15;
  • New Orleans, Louisiana starting July 22;
  • Columbus, Ohio starting July 22;
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania starting July 22; and
  • Providence, Rhode Island starting July 29.

Between New Orleans and:

  • Charleston, South Carolina starting July 8;
  • Louisville, Kentucky starting July 15;
  • Akron/Canton, Ohio starting July 15;
  • Huntsville, Alabama starting July 15.
  • Bentonville/Fayetteville, Arkansas starting July 15;
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma starting July 15;
  • Richmond, Virginia starting July 8;
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma starting July 8);
  • Norfolk, Virginia starting July 15; and
  • Columbus, Ohio starting July 16; and

Breeze will also fly between many of the cities it serves outside of its four main bases. Those routes include:

  • Between Bentonville/Fayetteville, Arkansas and San Antonio, Texas starting July 15;
  • Between San Antonio, Texas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma July 15;
  • Between Tulsa, Oklahoma and San Antonio, Texas starting July 15;
  • Between Hartford, Connecticut and Columbus, Ohio starting July 22;
  • Between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Hartford, Connecticut starting July 22; and
  • Between Providence, Rhode Island and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania starting July 29.

Don’t expect JetBlue levels of legroom

JetBlue Airways Airbus A220 Tour
JetBlue Airways’ first Airbus A220-300 aircraft.

Breeze plans to operate two types of aircraft this summer: the Embraer E190 and Embraer E195. Both are near-identical and will offer a lot of the same amenities but will differ in their seating arrangements.

The aircraft will only feature economy seats and will be split between standard legroom “nice” seats and extra-legroom “nicer” seats, which come at a premium.

Breeze’s smaller Embraer E190, which many JetBlue flyers will recognize, will carry 108 seats. Nice seats on the E190 will offer 29 inches of legroom, compared to JetBlue’s 32 inches, and nicer seats will offer between 33 and 39 inches of legroom.

The larger Embraer E195 aircraft will carry 118 seats and legroom at each will be greater. Nice seats on the aircraft offer 31 inches of legroom while nicer seats will offer between 34 and 39.

Seeking out the E195 aircraft won’t be easy as there are only three of those aircraft versus 13 E190s.

Navigating Breeze’s fee structure

baggage claim airport
Checked baggage fees are only $20 on Breeze.

Breeze plans to charge incredibly cheap fares for its flights, and that means there will be lots of fees to pay for extras.

Flyers will have to pay to bring a bag larger than a purse or backpack. The fees, however, are lower than most airlines charge at only $20, regardless of carrying on or checking a bag, but increase to $25 if the flight is longer than three hours.

If a bag is checked at the airport, it will incur a $50 fee. And another $50 fee will be charged if a bag is added by Breeze airport staff.

Securing an advance seat assignment will also incur a fee, with prices starting at $10. But there are no middle seats on Breeze’s Embraer aircraft so those that don’t pay up will either be assigned an aisle or window seat for free.

Families with children under 12 can also select advance seats for free.

Bringing a pet onboard will also incur a $75 fee.

Printing a boarding pass at the airport will incur a $3 fee per customer and a $9 fee per customer if helped by Breeze airport staff.

What won’t incur a fee, however, are changes and cancellations. Breeze fares are fully changeable and cancelable up to 15 minutes before departure.

Travelers that cancel a ticket will have up to 24 months to use its value.

Flight attendants will be degree-seeking college students

College student graduation
Many of Breeze’s flight attendants will also be earning their college degrees.

Breeze started a unique work-study to recruit its flight attendants that saw the airline partner with Utah Valley University and allow its online students to work as cabin crew. The degree-seeking students will work the airline’s flights by day and take online classes by night.

In return, the students-turned-cabin-crew will earn $6,000 in tuition reimbursement, a monthly stupid of $1,200, and only have to work for 15 days out of the month, among other benefits. What they won’t be given is a full-time job at Breeze at the end of their academic career, and will have to reapply for a full-time position or find work elsewhere.

But not all of Breeze’s cabin crew will be students. The airline opened up the program to non-student applicants after lower than expected recruitment numbers.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union, told Bloomberg that the program could pose safety issues due to the potential age of the applicants. Breeze’s minimum age for hiring flight attendants is 18 years old.

But the airline stood by its flight attendant training program that has been approved by the Department of Transportation, saying that all of its flight attendants will be trained and capable of performing the required duties.

“If you’re a fully trained flight attendant, you’re a fully trained flight attendant,” airline spokesperson Gareth Edmondson-Jones told Insider. “It’s not like if you’re 18 years old, you can’t be a flight attendant.”

Entertainment will be available through mobile devices

LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines
Breeze is offering in-flight entertainment through mobile devices.

Breeze aircraft will not feature the seatback screens for which Neeleman made JetBlue famous. But in-flight entertainment will still be offered through mobile devices, powered by Global Eagle.

On-demand television shows, games, and a real-time flight map will be offered. Live television will not be available.

More than 150 shows will be available to watch and content will be updated quarterly.

In-flight WiFi won’t be available on Breeze’s Embraer aircraft but the service will be offered in the fall on the airline’s Airbus A220 aircraft.

Premium snacks will be offered onboard

Kind
Kind bars and Utz pretzels will be offered onboard Breeze flights.

JetBlue is known for offering brand-name snacks and so will Breeze. Kind bars and Utz pretzels will both be served onboard but the airline hasn’t said whether they’ll be free of charge.

Breeze has also not given any information on whether a drink service will be offered.

Fares will be low, but not the lowest

Breeze Airways Embraer E195
Breeze’s lowest fares are $39 but they won’t stay that way.

Breeze is launching its first 39 routes with fares as low as $39. There’s no competition on 95 percent of Breeze’s routes so direct comparisons aren’t available but other ultra-low-cost carriers routinely offer flights for lower fares.

Frontier Airlines, for example, offers fares as low as $15 sometimes on its East Coast flights. Spirit Airlines similarly offers fares less than Breeze’s introductory rates.

And only a certain number of $39 fares will be available. Once they’re gone, fares will jump depending on how many seats have been sold.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Breeze is defending a plan to use college students as cabin crew after blowback from the US’ largest flight attendant union

Breeze Airways David Neeleman
Breeze Airways pilots with David Neeleman.

  • Breeze Airways’ plans to save money by hiring college students as carbon crew.
  • The US’ largest flight attendants union said the plan may result in safety issues as the students are inexperienced.
  • However, lower than expected recruitment numbers have forced the airline to open up regular positions.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

David Neeleman’s new startup, Breeze Airways, has ambitious plans to keep costs low when it launches flights this year – but one of its more unique initiatives is putting is receiving the ire of big labor.

Some flight attendants staffing the airline’s planes will be Utah Valley University college students hired through paid work-study programs. The strategy is unique for any modern US airline and is part of Breeze’s strategy to offer extremely low fares on leisure routes.

But students won’t be attending class in the morning and jetting off in the afternoon. Rather, only online students will be eligible for the program, as being a Breeze flight attendant requires a nomadic lifestyle it says is best suited to college students.

“Breeze is looking for ‘Seriously Nice’ current and future UVU Full Time, On-Line students, to work at the newest and nicest airline as a Flight Attendant!” the airline’s job posting reads.

The responsibilities might be more than college students would expect from a run-of-the-mill work-study program. Flight attendants are tasked, in part, with ensuring the safety and well-being of every passenger onboard and guiding them in the event of an emergency. These training programs for all airlines are regulated and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We expect you to welcome and accommodate Guests, mitigate high-stress situations, collaborate and problem solve with other Team Members, use good judgement, and just be…nice, all while taking on line classes and earning your degree at Utah Valley University!” the posting continues.

Breeze intended for all of its flight attendants to be degree-seeking students. But lower than expected recruitment numbers have required the airline to open up regular positions with no requirements of being a student, airline spokesperson Gareth Edmondson-Jones confirmed to Insider.

“We were getting some good results but we needed to attract more people,” Edmondson-Jones said. “This way, they have both options they can do a regular flight attendant role or they can do it earning a degree on the side.”

A regular position offers 70 guaranteed flight hours per month if candidates agree to a four-year contract, the full-time posting reads. Other than academic requirements, job postings for the two programs are nearly identical, including a minimum age requirement of 18 years. Notably, many other airlines also do not require college degrees to apply.

Read More: JetBlue founder David Neeleman reveals how his new airline can succeed by flying weird routes for low prices

America’s largest flight attendant union has pushed back against Breeze’s plan, citing potential safety issues from using “less experienced and mature” flight crews, Sara Nelson, president of Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union and one of the country’s most vocal labor advocates, told Bloomberg.

Nelson pointed to the cabin crew – with more than 100 years of experience combined – that helped save lives when US Airways flight 1549 made a forced landing in the Hudson River in 2009. While the minimum age of the college-enrolled flight attendants is 18, older applicants can apply through the college program if they enroll as a student.

Breeze maintains that any hired flight attendant, student or not, and will be trained to the required standards regardless of age.

“If you’re a fully trained flight attendant, you’re a fully trained flight attendant,” spokesperson Edmondson-Jones said. “It’s not like if you’re 18 years old, you can’t be a flight attendant.”

Another aspect of the program is also under fire from the flight attendants union. Once the students complete their studies at Utah Valley University, their employment at the airline comes to an end, and they’ll either have to reapply or find jobs elsewhere.

“The whole point of a work-study program is to get experience in a career field,” AFA President Nelson told Bloomberg. “This program turns that on its head. As soon as you get the experience, you’re no longer qualified.”

Tuition assistance for the students-turned-flight-attendants totals $6,000 per year. Additional perks include corporate housing, airport transportation, a monthly salary, and one paid round-trip ticket home per year.

The monthly salary is reported to be $1,200 for around half a month’s work.

Breeze plans to take flight in May after completing Federal Aviation Administration-mandated proving runs across the East Coast and Southeast. Flights will operate between secondary US cities with a focus on low-cost leisure flights on underserved air routes.

Read the original article on Business Insider

JetBlue’s CEO says people who wear masks outside while socially distanced are ‘morons’

Breeze Airways David Neeleman
David Neeleman with the pilots of his new airline, Breeze Airways.

JetBlue’s CEO David Neeleman has criticized the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including widespread mask-wearing, as a complete overreaction.

“I think people who wear masks outside when they’re social distanced are complete morons,” he told Bloomberg. Double-maskers bother Neeleman the most: “I just want to go up and shake them and go, ‘What the f— is wrong with you!,” he said.

It’s not the first time Neeleman has spoken in opposition to mask mandates and other pandemic measures like lockdowns. Last October, he tweeted: “I continue to believe that it is less safe to require everyone to wear ineffective cloth masks and gators which gives a false sense of security.”

Neeleman’s views underpin his desire to get the economy rolling after the airline industry took a massive hit due to restricted travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even during the widespread global disruption, Neeleman’s impatience led him to start his fifth airline, Breeze Airways, last December 2020.

Breeze was scheduled to launch flights in late-2020 but these were delayed due to the pandemic. The airline’s website now displays the message: “Welcome to Breeze Airways, a new airline scheduled for take-off in 2021!”

Breeze joins Neeleman’s other airlines Morris Air, WestJet, JetBlue Airways, and Azul Brazilian Airlines.

The new venture aims to provide a convenient, low-cost alternative to the dominant airlines, as previously reported by Insider.

Read the original article on Business Insider