I flew on JetBlue’s historic first trip to London and saw how low fares and great service will give competitors a run for their money

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

  • JetBlue Airways flew its first flight between New York and London on Wednesday.
  • The airline is using brand-new Airbus A321neoLR aircraft with new Mint business class seats and meal services in economy.
  • The flight was seamless and enjoyable, although there are a few kinks to be worked out.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
JetBlue Airways has finally landed in London.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

JetBlue flight 007 from New York to London, UK arrived at Heathrow Airport on Thursday morning, an event that proved unlikely just two weeks ago despite more than two years of planning.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

JetBlue first announced its transatlantic in April 2019. With planned flights from New York and Boston, the airline would be going into one of the most competitive realms in aviation: the skies above the North Atlantic.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Preparations included a brand-new Mint business class seat, meals in economy, ordering new Airbus A321neoLR aircraft, getting approval to use London’s Heathrow Airport, and earning certifications to fly the overwater routes, among others.

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

Though international travel all but came to a halt in 2020, CEO Robin Hayes kept the faith with a delayed late 2021 start that proved more and more realistic as vaccines became pervasive and Europe started reopening to Americans.

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

The planned start date of August 11, however, was in jeopardy until a surprise announcement by the UK to let in US visitors threw JetBlue into high gear, and paved the way for the first flight to commence.

Crossing the UK border - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

I flew on the very first JetBlue flight from New York to London. Here’s what it was like.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Insider paid a media rate to fly on the inaugural flight and back to New York

I arrived at JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport for the overnight crossing and saw one of the airline’s new rivals just across the airport tarmac.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

The New York-London air route is one of the most popular, busy, and lucrative in the world. I’d flown to London many times but never thought I’d fly JetBlue there.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Terminal 5 was quite busy but London flights have a special check-in area that was quite empty. Only one flight per day is operating to London until September 29 when the flight to London’s Gatwick Airport launches.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Check-in agents quickly checked my passport, vaccination card, COVID-19 test, and UK passenger locator form. The UK is quite lenient with pre-departure tests and only requires an antigen test within three days prior to departure.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Ticket in hand, I went straight to the security checkpoint where I was able to use TSA PreCheck. All told, it was one of the smoothest experiences I’ve had when traveling internationally during the pandemic and took no more than 10 minutes from walking in the door to clearing security.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

JetBlue’s home had been London-ized with Queen’s Guards in the atrium, stilt-walkers adorned with UK apparel, and images of the city’s landmarks.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

A massive Union Jack at the London gate also welcomed passengers heading to JetBlue’s new furthest destination on its new longest flight.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

CEO Robin Hayes was traveling on the flight, as well as former board member Joel Peterson and JetBlue founder and current Breeze Airways CEO David Neeleman.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Boarding began on time and in groups. Despite biometric gates available, gate agents checked each boarding pass and passport.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

The newest plane in JetBlue’s fleet, the Airbus A321neoLR, then awaited.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Mood lighting filled the cabin thanks to the Airbus Airspace cabin that also featured LED lights in the ceiling, reminiscent of a starry night.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

First up on the plane is the 24-seat Mint business class cabin. The first two seats are the larger “Mint Studio” seats that offer additional space at a premium.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

The remaining 22 seats are “Mint Suites” arranged in a 1-1 configuration with fully lie-flat seats and closable doors.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Economy and its 114 seats arranged in a standard 3-3 configuration then follow, where the bulk of the passengers were sitting.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

A total of 24 “even more space” seats, signified with orange headrests, offer 35 inches of legroom, as well as early boarding and priority security screening privileges.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Then 90 standard economy seats offer 32 inches of legroom.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

I arrived at my seat, 24A, and got settled for the crossing. While I wasn’t initially excited about flying across the Atlantic in a narrow-body plane, my fears were assuaged by the above-average legroom and wide seat.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Economy seats boast 18.4 inches of width and even as a larger traveler, I was able to sit comfortably without my body touching either armrest.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Atop each seat was a small amenity kit with socks, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and an eye mask. Blankets were also provided but pillows were not.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

We were all set for an on-time departure when thunderstorms delayed our pushback. But after more than two years of planning, suffering through the pandemic, and the UK dragging its feet on reopening, thunder and lightning was not going to stop this plane.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

We pushed back not even 10 minutes late and made our way towards Runway 22R for an ultimately on-time departure.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

The Airbus A321neo started up and immediately lived up to its promise of being quieter than its predecessors. While taxiing to the runway, I barely heard the engines and wouldn’t have known they were turned on if I wasn’t paying attention.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

“Flight attendants, prepare for takeoff, please,” our captain said, just before we blasted off into the night sky. Applause erupted inside the cabin as we ascended and started our turn with speed to England, just 9 days after it opened to American tourists.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

The cabin soon fell silent, though, and the engines continued their quiet drone despite propelling us to the upper altitudes. This would normally be the time when I would call it a night and get some sleep. But there were still meals to be enjoyed.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

JetBlue economy passengers can order their meals, courtesy of Dig, on their screens.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

On this flight, there was a choice of three main courses and three side dishes. It’s quite the offering for economy and I appreciated the opportunity to mix and match.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

The drink service started first with flight attendants starting from both ends of the cabin and meeting in the middle. Sitting in the middle of economy, my row was one of the last to be served.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Entirely complimentary on JetBlue’s transatlantic flights is wine, beer, and spirits.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

As is tradition for London flights, I had a gin and tonic.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

After drinks, flight attendants came through once more with meals. The two flight attendants started from the bookends of the cabin and worked their way towards the center.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

I chose the chicken with carrots and mac and cheese. All in all, it was one of the best economy meals that I’ve had in my years of flying.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

The main course was then followed by an ice cream sandwich. Needless to say, I was content for the rest of the flight, or at least until breakfast.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

In-flight entertainment was offered through seat-back screens offering high-definition content. The systems are personalized and great passengers by name.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

On offer was a wide variety of movies…

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Television shows…

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Games…

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Live television…

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

And a moving map.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

In-flight WiFi was also available from gate to gate and is complimentary when flying transatlantic. I noted that it wasn’t the most reliable but did the trick with sending text messages and using social media.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

In-seat power also helps keep devices charged on the crossing.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

After the meal, it was time for bed as it was just after midnight and we had around five hours to go. I unfurled the quite comfortable blanket that JetBlue left on every economy seat.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

It wasn’t until I felt the hand of a flight attendant on my shoulder that I woke up. It was time for breakfast and I had requested a wake-up call.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

On offer for the optimistic morning meal just 50 minutes before landing was fruit salad or hot chocolate bread, a European and personal favorite.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

At this point, we were just south of Ireland preparing to cross the Irish Sea to England. The seven hours had gone by in what felt like the blink of an eye.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

One last drink service then capped off the flight as we neared the UK capital.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

We soon arrived over London and thankfully weren’t forced to circle, as was nearly always the case when flying to the city before the pandemic.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Touchdown on Heathrow Airport’s Runway 27L marked the end of our journey and the inauguration of JetBlue’s 26th country and third continent served. We even arrived 40 minutes early.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Overall, it was an incredibly smooth flight and a great first showing for JetBlue’s newest route.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

The in-flight service certainly could’ve been quicker, especially given that meals were pre-ordered. We took off at 10:08 p.m. but didn’t wrap up the service until shortly after midnight.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

A greater emphasis should’ve also been placed on trash collection, which is a pet peeve of mine on international flights when trash builds quickly.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

However, my concerns with flying on a narrow-body aircraft across the Atlantic in economy were for naught.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

The aircraft was incredibly comfortable and quiet. I did not feel claustrophobic at all despite flying in a narrow-body aircraft for more than seven hours.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Of course, it helped that the middle seat in my row was open. But I attribute my positive attitude to the wide seat with a good amount of legroom.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

I’d chose JetBlue again for transatlantic travel in a heartbeat.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight
Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Private jet buyers are turning to Asia for glitzy aircraft as a shortage grips the US

A Gulfstream G550 private jet.
A Gulfstream G550 private jet.

  • Wealthy Americans are turning to Asia for private jets due to a shortage in the US.
  • Asia-based aircraft were considered less desirable due to the lack of private aviation infrastructure on the continent.
  • One firm, Jetcraft, is buying up aircraft and bringing them to the US to sell.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Private aviation has not been immune to the shortages plaguing nearly every industry.

America’s wealthy realized the value of flying private instead of flying commercial during the pandemic and began buying up private aircraft in anticipation of a return to travel. And just like in the housing market, a drop in inventory is driving prices up, and forcing buyers to look elsewhere for aircraft.

Jetcraft, an aircraft sales and acquisition firm, has been buying up private jets in Asia and bringing them to the US to accommodate increasing demand. Continued lockdowns in Asia, Jetcraft says, have made owners are more willing to sell.

The firm has already bought up four aircraft in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Indonesia to hopefully sell to US buyers. The US is by far the largest market worldwide for private jets, but Asia-Pacific is also growing, according to a report by Fortune Business Insights.

A Gulfstream G550 private jet.
A Gulfstream G550 private jet for sale by Jetcraft.

Private jets from Asia were once considered less desirable than US-owned aircraft but are now fetching a premium among the wealthy jet-set.

“There are challenges with Asia compared to the US,” Dan Kilkeary, Jetcraft’s senior vice president for sales in America, said. “They just don’t have the infrastructure like we have in the US to house the airplane.”

Getting buyers to Asia to see the aircraft is also costly and has proved difficult during the pandemic thanks to lingering travel restrictions.

Jetcraft, as a result, has been flying the aircraft to the US where they can be serviced by their manufacturers and be easily viewed by potential buyers. Two aircraft are already in the US at Gulfstream and Bombardier service facilities in Illinois and California, respectively.

Minor fixes including removing non-English placards, updating the in-flight entertainment system to English, or converting power outlets to 110v AC are often required. Kilkeary says a paint job – costing a few hundred thousand dollars – is often required for aircraft from Asia.

A Gulfstream G550 private jet.
A Gulfstream G550 private jet for sale by Jetcraft.

“The other thing that should give people assurances on airplanes coming out of almost any region is that the pre-buys now are extensive,” Kilkeary 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

Philip Rushton, president of international aircraft sales and acquisition consulting company Aviatrade, told Insider that his firm is selling some aircraft previously based in Asia for around 20% higher than normal pricing due to the shortage.

“Chinese buyers were once focused on buying brand-new aircraft from manufacturers complete with pricey extras, and paying much higher rates in what was known as a ‘China premium,'” Rushton said. “But these days, the flow of aircraft into China has expanded to include late model pre-owned aircraft as Asian business jet buyers are more cost-conscious and better informed.”

The result has been a sell-off of once-new aircraft with low utilization rates that are now finding their way to homes in America.

Rushton did acknowledge the potential differences compared to US standards and added that “expectations need to be managed” when dealing with US buyers and sellers in Asia. High sales prices can only be obtained if the aircraft has been maintained properly, has been equipped to US standards, and is correctly inspected, he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Frontier Airlines is mandating vaccines for employees and running promotions for vaccinated flyers. Except vaccinations aren’t really required for either.

frontier airlines
Frontier Airlines became the second US airline to require vaccinations for workers and is allowing them to opt-out through testing.

  • Frontier Airlines is requiring employees to be vaccinated and running promos for vaccinated flyers.
  • But workers can opt out through testing, and customers aren’t being asked to prove vaccination.
  • The move comes as more companies are aligning themselves with pro-vaccine policies.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Frontier Airlines is the latest company to incentivize vaccines for both employees and customers.

In the past week, the ultra-low-cost carrier unveiled two promotions aimed at vaccinated flyers and instituted a vaccine mandate for employees. That would put Frontier on the leading edge of airlines that are taking active measures to get more of the country vaccinated, joining United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines as the only other US airline with a vaccine mandate.

The only caveat is that vaccinations aren’t technically required for either the promotions or workers.

“A vaccination policy is a clear next step for the airline as it remains committed to the health and safety of all passengers and crew members,” Frontier said in a statement on Friday.

Employees, however, can opt out of mandatory vaccinations by submitting to “regular” COVID-19 testing.

Frontier’s policy differs from rival United Airlines’ that will only allow exemptions for religious or medical reasons, and its timing has the trimmings of a publicity stunt more so than genuine public health policy.

“The majority of our employees have already been vaccinated and our hope is that this step will increase that percentage,” spokesperson Zach Kramer said of the more than 5,300 Frontier workers directly employed by Frontier.

Frontier didn’t clarify which tests would be acceptable and how often tests would be allowed when asked by Insider, but did that say receiving the vaccine or undergoing testing would be a “condition of employment.”

The half-hearted approach to vaccine mandates can also be found in Frontier’s recent promotions. Companies have been using incentives to encourage vaccinations, including offering free products.

But the key requirement is proof of vaccination.

Frontier’s “Friends With Vaccines Fly Free” allows vaccinated members of the airline’s Discount Den subscription program to buy a ticket and get another free. The terms and conditions require customers to fly on certain days and within a certain time frame but it doesn’t actually mandate that purchasers be vaccinated, and Frontier isn’t likely asking for proof.

Another promotion gives flyers 10,000 bonus miles under the Frontier Miles frequent flyer program for every two flights they take. This program also relies on the honor system where flyers “agree” that they are vaccinated by signing up.

“With respect to the Friends With Vaccines Fly Free and 10K Bonus Miles offers, our goal is to highlight the importance of being vaccinated to protect each other and encourage people to get vaccinated, if they haven’t already done so,” Kramer added.

Frontier didn’t address whether vaccination cards would be checked by airline staff for those that booked tickets under either promotion, when asked by Insider.

Read More: Airline CEOs say it doesn’t matter how well they protect passengers from COVID-19 – travel demand won’t bounce back until the pandemic ends

Dr. Rupali Limaye, an associate scientist and director of behavioral and implementation science at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Insider that a vaccine mandate with testing opt-outs isn’t likely to sway the unvaccinated that have likely made their minds up about the vaccine.

“If they’re still not persuaded by Delta and looking at morbidity and mortality related to Delta, I don’t think they’re going to get [the vaccine],” Limaye said of the unvaccinated facing vaccine mandates with testing opt-outs. “I think that they would automatically opt for the testing option.”

The same logic can be applied to vaccine-based promotions that don’t actually require vaccinations.

While any mandate is better than nothing, Limaye believes that regular testing for workers should include multiple viral tests per week.

The unvaccinated workforce should also be wearing masks to prevent spreading the virus in case they contract it in between tests, according to Limaye. Many airport-based airline workers are already required to wear masks due to the federal mask mandate.

Vaccinated individuals can contract COVID-19 but the so-called breakthrough cases don’t often result in severe hospitalization or death.

Read the original article on Business Insider

United is the first US airline to require all employees be vaccinated against COVID-19

United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9
All US-based United employees will be vaccinated by November.

  • United Airlines is requiring all of its US-based employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • By October 25, all employees will need to receive a full dose of the vaccine or face “separation from the company.”
  • Rival airlines have opted against mandating vaccines for existing staff.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

United Airlines is requiring all US-based employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the first US carrier to do so for existing employees.

“This fall, every US-based United employee will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and upload their vaccination record to Flying Together,” the airline wrote in a memo to employees provided to Insider.

United employees will be required to show having received a full course of Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccination no later than October 25 if the drugs remain under emergency authorization through September 20. If the Food and Drug Administration formally approves a vaccine sooner, workers will have five weeks to get vaccinated from that date.

“One really clear fact has emerged, which is the best way to protect people from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated,” Josh Earnest, United’s chief communications officer, said in a media briefing.

Other airline chief executives have taken differing courses in ensuring a vaccinated workforce. Doug Parker, chief executive officer at American Airlines, told the New York Times that he preferred using “great incentives” to get employees vaccinated.

“Anyone who is vaccinated by August 31 at American Airlines gets one day of extra vacation in 2022,” Parker said. “They get a $50 gift card. And that, we think, is the right way to motivate people to get vaccinated, and we’re pushing that really hard.”

“We certainly encourage it everywhere we can, encourage it for our customers, and our employees, but we’re not putting mandates in place,” he said.

“We’re taking a decidedly different approach,” Earnest said of Parker’s comments, without directly naming the chief executive. “It will result in more people getting vaccinated. And more people getting vaccinated is good.”

Despite mandating the vaccine, United employees will still receive an additional day of pay for employees that meet the new vaccination requirement.

“It is crystal clear that a policy like this makes all of our employees safer,” Earnest said. Documentation will be required for United employees claiming religious and medical exemptions.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian has required new hires to be vaccinated against COVID-19 since May there is no requirement for current US-based employees.

“This is an important move to protect Delta’s people and customers, ensuring the airline can safely operate as demand returns and as it accelerates through recovery and into the future,” the airline said in a statement. “Delta will not be putting in place a company-wide mandate to require current employees to be vaccinated.”

Bastian stopped short at requiring vaccines for customers, citing the difficulty with potentially requiring a vaccine that hadn’t been fully authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

“It’s very difficult for us to come in and mandate a vaccine that isn’t even federally approved yet, the authorization hasn’t been final yet,” Bastian said on “Squawk Box.” “So stay tuned.”

“Over the last 16 months, [CEO] Scott [Kirby] has sent dozens of condolences letters to the family members of United employees who have died from COVID-19,” United said. “We’re determined to do everything we can to try to keep another United family from receiving that letter.”

In verifying the vaccine cards, United pointed to a sweepstakes it ran earlier this summer where flyers could submit their vaccine cards in a bid to win free flights, adding that it used technology and visual identification to spot fraudulent cards. “There are some things that we learned over the summer because of the sweepstakes and we will apply those lessons,” Earnest said,

Employees that do not adhere to the requirement will undergo “separation from the company,” Earnest said.

Passengers will also not be required to show proof of vaccination, with Earnest saying that kind of requirement would likely need to come from the government.

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

Read the original article on Business Insider

Spirit speaks out on its epic meltdown that saw hundreds of cancellations and says it’s trying to ‘reboot’ – but cancellations may continue

Spirit Airlines Airbus A320neo
Flying on a Spirit Airlines Airbus A320neo.

  • Spirit Airlines is aiming to reboot its network and slow cancellations over the next few days.
  • Hundreds of flights were canceled since Monday due to bad weather, staffing shortages, and system outages.
  • Airlines have struggled to recover from events such as bad weather due to pandemic downsizing of staff.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Spirit Airlines has entered its third day of excessive flight cancellations but says the end is in sight.

“We’re pleased to share that cancellations will start dropping tomorrow,” a Spirit spokesperson told Insider.

Hundreds of flights were canceled on Monday due to a poorly timed combination of bad weather, system outages, and staffing issues that rippled throughout the week. Spirit led the US in flight cancellations as of Wednesday morning with 343 cancellations, or half of its planned flying for the day, according to FlightAware.

“We’ve dealt with overlapping operational challenges including weather, system outages, and staffing shortages that caused widespread irregularities in our operation and impacted crew scheduling,” Spirit said in a statement to Insider. “These issues were exacerbated by the fact that we are in peak summer travel season with very high industry load factors and more limited options for Guest re-accommodations.”

Read More: Spirit Airlines’ low-cost model puts it in the perfect spot to be the big winner of the pandemic, a Deutsche Bank analyst says

Some airlines have been pushing their capabilities to their limits this summer to capture the new market of leisure flyers. But many haven’t been able to cope with the return of flyers combined with reduced staff on hand following pandemic downsizing, especially when bad weather strikes.

Spirit also suffered multiple systems outages that affected the airline’s ability to recover from Monday’s cancellations.

“This morning, there was another IT outage that led to the crew schedulers not being able to access the crew scheduling system for over an hour – meaning management was unable to make any scheduling changes or modifications,” the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said in a statement that Spirit confirmed.

Spirit and its pilot union, the Air Line Pilot’s Association, denied rumors of a pilot strike causing the cancellations.

American Airlines, which saw higher cancellations on Monday due to similar conditions, has recovered to only 98 cancellations as of Wednesday morning, or 3% of its flying for the day, according to FlightAware.

Spirit flight cancellations may have hit the high-water mark, however, as Spirit is planning to “reboot” its network and start fresh in the days to come.

“After working through yesterday’s proactive cancellations, we’ve implemented a more thorough reboot of the network, allowing us to reassign our crews more efficiently and restore the network faster,” Spirit said. “As a result, cancellation numbers will progressively drop in the days to come.”

“Spirit management has begun treating this irregular operations (IROP) as a hurricane recovery and strategically canceled flights around the system with the possibility of a system reset,” the flight attendant union wrote.

Spirit stressed that it is committed to returning to its pre-pandemic levels of on-time performance, one of the staples of its ultra-low-cost operation.

“We’re learning from this disruption and will get back to our high performance levels,” Spirit said.

Do you have a story to share about aviation or this Spirit Airlines incident? Are you a Spirit Airlines employee? Email this reporter at tpallini@insider.com.

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‘Stay tuned’: Delta CEO says he won’t require customers to be vaccinated without full FDA approval

Delta Airlines
Delta Air Lines won’t be checking vaccination cards for domestic flyers any time soon.

  • Delta Air Lines doesn’t plan to make vaccines mandatory for domestic flyers.
  • CEO Ed Bastian said it’s difficult to mandate vaccines given their emergency authorization status.
  • Airplane mask mandates and ventilation systems have been effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

One thing that Delta Air Lines flyers won’t need to pack is a vaccination card.

Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive officer, told CNBC on Tuesday that the airline does not currently plan to require proof of vaccination to fly within the US, citing both challenges with mandating vaccinations not fully authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and the effectiveness of existing safety features on airplanes.

“It’s very difficult for us to come in and mandate a vaccine that isn’t even federally approved yet, the authorization hasn’t been final yet,” Bastian said on”Squawk Box,” referring to the fact that Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still on emergency authorization. “So stay tuned.”

Delta requires new hires to be vaccinated and the majority of the airline’s workforce is vaccinated, according to Bastian.

“The vast majority of our customers are vaccinated, they’re in a clean environment, they’re fully masked,” Bastian said. “Our people, over 73% of our staff are fully vaccinated and that number is growing by the day.”

Some international destinations do require proof of vaccination to avoid quarantine but the only requirement when flying domestically has been to complete a health questionnaire – for most airlines – and wear a mask in airports and on airplanes.

Bastian’s final remark, “stay tuned,” hints that the airline may require a vaccine to travel domestically once they achieve full approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. Delta and other airlines had operated select “COVID-free” flights between the US and Europe where flyers are tested multiple times before and after a flight.

An increasing number of US businesses and localities are now requiring vaccines for some indoor activities. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday announced that restaurants, gyms, and performance venues would be required to show proof of vaccination. Gyms including SoulCycle and Equinox are also requiring vaccination for members.

Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary of Homeland Security for intergovernmental affairs under the Obama administration, penned an article for The Atlantic calling for the unvaccinated to be placed on “no-fly” lists.

“It will help limit the risk of transmission at destinations where unvaccinated people travel- and, by setting norms that restrict certain privileges to vaccinated people, will also help raise the stagnant vaccination rates that are keeping both the economy and society from fully recovering,” Kayyem wrote.

The unfortunately named “Delta” variant of the novel coronavirus has been largely responsible for increasing cases in the US. The former head of the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottleib, believes the Delta variant will peak in late September, as Insider’s Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce reported in July, at the tail end of the summer travel season.

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

Airlines for America, the trade organization representing many of the country’s largest airlines, didn’t take a position on requiring vaccines when reached for comment by Insider but cited multiple studies that show the current effectiveness of aircraft ventilation systems in stopping the spread of COVID-19 onboard airplanes.

“US airlines have leaned into science and research to prioritize the health and safety of all travelers and employees since the onset of the pandemic,” an Airlines for America spokesperson told Insider. “In addition to complying with all CDC guidelines and requirements, [Airlines for America] passenger carriers have implemented multiple layers of measures including face covering requirements, pre-departure health-acknowledgement forms, enhanced disinfection protocols and hospital-grade ventilation systems.”

“I don’t think putting that requirement into domestic travel is going to change much,” Bastian said of a vaccination requirement.

Read the original article on Business Insider

More than 700 Spirit and American flights have been canceled and even more are delayed due to bad weather and a reported lack of flight crews

spirit airlines
A Spirit Airlines aircraft landing.

  • Spirit Airlines and American Airlines have canceled hundreds of flights for Monday.
  • Bad weather and a reported lack of flight crews are to blame for yet another summer travel hiccup.
  • Airlines have an impaired ability to recover due to staffing cuts from the pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The summer of vaccinated travel strikes again.

Spirit Airlines and American Airlines have canceled 729 flights and counting as of Monday afternoon as bad weather and “operational challenges” plague cities across the American South.

According to the flight-tracking website FlightAware, a total of 275 Spirit flights have been canceled at the time of writing. It’s around 35% of the airline’s scheduled flights for Monday.

“We are experiencing operational challenges in some areas of our network,” Spirit wrote in a tweet. “Before going to the airport, check your email and current flight status”

An additional 159 – or 20% of Spirit’s Monday flying – have been marked as delayed, according to FlightAware.

Spirit’s main bases in Texas and Florida are the leading cause of the airline’s issues. Bad weather, including thunderstorms, has been pounding Florida and parts of Texas.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is leading the world in flight cancellations and delays, according to FlightAware, with 138 cancellations and 240 delayed flights affecting a total of 35% of the airport’s Monday flights.

Fort Lauderdale International Airport is further down on the list but still reporting 39 cancellations and 85 delays for departures. Orlando International Airport, another Spirit base, is reporting 37 cancellations and 129 delays for departures.

Spirit is asking inconvenienced passengers to use the live chat function on its website to get help with bookings.

“We’re working around the clock to get back on track in the wake of some travel disruptions over the weekend due to a series of weather and operational challenges,” a Spirit spokesperson told Insider. “We needed to make proactive cancellations to some flights across the network, but the majority of flights are still scheduled as planned.”

Spirit had been making strides in becoming a more punctual airline before the pandemic but its performance has suffered in recent months. For April, Spirit ranked 10th in a Department of Transportation ranking of US airlines. In May, it rose to 7th place.

American Airlines, which shares numerous bases with Spirit, has also canceled 454 flights that constitute just 15% of its Monday schedule. An additional 674 flights, or 22% of its schedule, were delayed.

American’s Southernmost hub at Miami International Airport is currently at 10 canceled flights and 118 delayed flights. South Florida is a gateway to South America and the Caribbean for both Spirit and American.

A list reviewed by CNBC showed that American canceled at least 30 flights due to a lack of flight crews.

Spirit was projected by analysts as among the first that should recover from the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to its focus on leisure travel. Its aircraft were among the first to be pulled from temporary storage facilities in the American Southwest.

Read More: Spirit Airlines’ low-cost model puts it in the perfect spot to be the big winner of the pandemic, a Deutsche Bank analyst says

But staffing shortages have been plaguing airlines since air travel began rebounding late last year. Airlines hastily parted with planes and pilots to slow the bleeding incurred by the pandemic and some are feeling the effects of “over-scheduling” this summer.

American Airlines kicked off what would be a busy summer travel season with hundreds of flight cancellations in June. Southwest Airlines had a similar incident and later admitted it too had underlying operational issues.

“While the rapid ramp up in June travel demand provided stability to our financial position, it has impacted our operations following a prolonged period of depressed demand due to the pandemic,” Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines’ chief executive officer, said in a second-quarter earnings statement. “Therefore, we are intensely focused on improving our operations as we restore our network to meet demand.”

United Airlines says that it has avoided such issues by working out an agreement with its pilot union to keep pilots trained and ready to fly.

American did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Some planes have hidden power outlets in the bathroom – here’s why

Frontier Airlines
A Frontier Airlines Airbus A320neo.

  • Some airlines have power outlets in the lavatories of their aircraft that can be used to charge devices.
  • I was able to charge my phone after it died mid-flight on a Frontier Airlines flight.
  • Airlines discourage flyers from using them to keep lavatories open for those that need to use them.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ultra-low-cost airlines are notorious for having no-frills, and Frontier Airlines is no different.

In-flight entertainment, in-seat power, and other perks do not come standard when fares are as low as $11, in some cases. And that’s a trade-off I’m more than fine with making because I can normally plan around it by bringing spare battery packs and pre-loading entertainment onto my phone.

That was until I forgot to bring my spare battery pack on a recent trip to Florida.

I was getting ready to fly from Miami to Newark when I noticed that my phone had around 15% battery. Even if I put it in airplane mode, I knew it wouldn’t last me long as I’d at least be listening to music on the otherwise entertainment-deprived flight.

My two-year-old iPhone 11, to its credit, lasted a good two hours before its inevitable death just before landing. But that meant I wouldn’t have a phone to use when we landed, which I needed to make arrangements to get home.

So, as soon as we landed, I went to the lavatory. I didn’t have to “go to the bathroom;” rather, I noticed during the flight that the lavatory had a standard power outlet and I wanted to see if it could give some juice for my phone.

Airplane lavatory power outlet
A power outlet in an airplane lavatory.

Since it was in the lavatory, I assumed it might be for an electric shaver or something like that. Nonetheless, I was sitting in the back of the plane and easily made my way to the lavatory while others were deplaning.

I know how long the deplaning process takes so I figured I could get a few percentage points of power. To my surprise, it worked and I left with enough power to get me home.

Read More: Spirit Airlines’ low-cost model puts it in the perfect spot to be the big winner of the pandemic, a Deutsche Bank analyst says

I first thought that this was specific to Frontier’s Airbus A320neo aircraft, the model on which I was flying since they’re the newest planes in the airline’s fleet. But a Frontier spokesperson told Insider that “many Frontier aircraft have an electrical outlet in the lavatories.”

There’s no specific reason why, and Frontier might have preferred not to have it, but it comes standard from Airbus. “This is not a feature we have expressly sought but rather a standard part of the lavatory design provided by the manufacturer,” a Frontier spokesperson told Insider.

Airplane lavatory power outlet
A power outlet in an airplane lavatory.

That said, Frontier stressed that passengers should not be spending more time than required in the airplane lavatory as others might be waiting to use it.

“We would not encourage customers to use the outlet to charge a mobile device, which could potentially result in a lavatory being occupied for an unnecessary amount of time and cause inconvenience to others,” the spokesperson said.

But for those that desperately need a charge, the outlet can work in a pinch. Just be mindful of others trying to use the lavatories as there is only a handful on any given plane.

Not all aircraft have this amenity, and more airlines are updating their fleets to include in-seat power.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The charter airline flying one of the world’s cheapest private jets is expanding to the West Coast. One-way flights start at $3,000.

VeriJet Cirrus Vision Jet
A VeriJet Cirrus Vision Jet.

  • VeriJet is expanding to the West Coast and Southwest with the Cirrus Vision Jet.
  • Flights cost $3,000 per hour with no repositioning fees if the flight is within 700 miles of Santa Maria, California.
  • A new jet card program also offers discounted rates with a 100-hour commitment.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

One of America’s newest charter airlines is expanding to the West Coast, and bringing the Cirrus Vision Jet with it.

Starting July 26, VeriJet is offering flights across the West Coast and American Southwest in the airline’s furthest venture outside of its home region of the Southeast.

A single flight hour in the Vision Jet is $3,000 plus tax, and VeriJet doesn’t charge reposition rates if the flight is within a 700-mile radius of Santa Maria, California. That means one-way flights on city pairs such as Los Angeles-Las Vegas, Phoenix-San Francisco, and San Diego, California-San Jose, California, will only cost as much as the flight time, with a minimum of one hour.

Founder and CEO Richard Kane told Insider that the geography of the West Coast is perfect for the Vision Jet since the aircraft thrives when flying at the lower altitudes common on the region’s most popular air routes. VeriJet can also use smaller airports such as Santa Monica Airport that are off-limits to larger jets.

The Vision Jet is ideal for single-pilot operations and can fly four adult passengers with a top range of around 1,300 nautical miles, as Insider found on a recent demonstration flight with VeriJet. Low-speed WiFi is available in-flight and Sirius XM Satellite Radio is also available for entertainment.

VeriJet Cirrus Vision Jet
A VeriJet Cirrus Vision Jet.

VeriJet’s aircraft also come with safety features like Garmin Safe Return where the plane will land itself at the push of a button in case of emergency. A parachute also comes standard on the Vision Jet in the event of an engine failure.

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

VeriJet is also launching a jet card program where the hourly rate is discounted to $2,500 per hour when 100 hours of flight time are prepaid for $250,000. Members also have access to a new “jet safari” program of curated itineraries in different regions.

Itineraries include trips to Canada to see Hudson Bay or the polar bears of Manitoba, Caribbean getaways to locales like Virgin Gorda in this British Virgin Islands, and a national park trip that includes sites like Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Yellowstone National Parks. Another opportunity includes a transatlantic crossing as VeriJet repositions its planes to Europe in advance of its debut on the continent.

Kane calls jet cardholders “founders” since they’ll be accompanied by board members on these trips, with whom they could share direct feedback about the company.

“It’s mostly about going out of the way places that you can’t get to on anything but a small turboprop or [a Vision Jet],” Kane said, “and then there’s spending time with the founders of the company so that you can mold it to what you want it to be.”

VeriJet Cirrus Vision Jet Demo Flight
VeriJet’s Cirrus Vision Jet.

VeriJet also just completed a redesign of its website, where customers can directly book flights without having to go through a broker. A mobile application is also on the way with VeriJet just waiting on Apply Pay functionality before it takes to the App Store.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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