A review of JetBlue Airways
|Summary: JetBlue offers a clear ticket policy, no overbooking, comfortable planes, lots of leg room, a TV for every seat, quality snacks. Unfortunately, they offer few destinations unless you live in either Boston or New York, and their frequent flyer program is not the best. Despite their problems, JetBlue is by far the best value in air travel, and I fly JetBlue whenever possible.|
Article created: July 1, 2007
Article by: Jeremiah Faith
JetBlue airways was founded as a low-cost airline in 1998. Contrary to the common low-cost airline model, JetBlue was determined to provide both low prices and conveniences often found only in first class such as leather seats, ample leg room, and a TV for every seat. JetBlue is not the cheapest airline operating in the US, but a combination of low prices and quality service makes JetBlue the best value in modern commercial airlines.
The Good the tickets
JetBlue offers a no-nonsense ticket. There aren't fourteen types of tickets, each with different policies. JetBlue offers one type of ticket: it's single-class, nonrefundable, you choose your seat when you buy the ticket, and your seat is guaranteed because they do not overbook. JetBlue focuses on selling direct flights, which means that you are unlikely to spend your entire day hopping from airport to airport (though increasingly they are allowing the purchase of these multi-stop tickets too). Although all JetBlue tickets are non-refundable, the cancellation fees are lower than those for non-refundable tickets at other US domestic carriers. As of this writing, the cancellation or change fee for a JetBlue flight is $25 for each flight (so changing an entire round trip will cost $50). Unlike most US carriers, JetBlue tickets are actually sold as one-way tickets (for most of the major US carriers, buying a round-trip is almost always cheaper than buying a one-way ticket). This feature makes it easy to make more complex scenarios like flying Boston -> New York -> Orlando -> Boston.
One of the ways JetBlue is able to keep their operating costs low is by only buying new airplanes (which require less maintenance) and by keeping the number of different airplane types in their fleet low (so they don't need a crew of mechanics to fix fifteen different types of airplanes). Initially JetBlue only operated A320 airplanes from Airbus. The A320 is generally regarded as the most comfortable airplane for domestic flights. They have the typical 3 seats - aisle - 3 seats configuration found in the 737.
JetBlue offers only one class of seating - comfortable. If you've never flown JetBlue, one of the first things you'll notice is how much leg room you have compared to other airlines. Sure the leather chair and the TV are nice, but the extra leg room is what makes flying JetBlue comfortable.
More recently JetBlue purchased and began operating a new type of aircraft - Embraer 190. These smaller planes allow them to provide direct flights to more destinations. I was a little worried when I heard JetBlue was buying smaller planes, as I'm not a big fan of being crammed into a small airplane. But I'm happy to say, that I actually prefer to fly in the Embraer 190 planes over the A320. The new planes seat 100 passengers as opposed to 150 on their large plane. But essentially all they've done on these littler planes is remove all of the middle seats. The plane feels pretty big inside, is at least as comfortable as the larger A320, and doesn't have the uncomfortable middle seat that everyone avoids.
One of the first things people notice on a JetBlue flight (and the reason many people fly JetBlue) is every seat has a TV on the back of the seat in front of them. You get an ample set of channels from Direct-TV (including ESPN, ESPN2, TLC, History Channel, and CNN). On long flights there are usually a couple movies to choose from. And one of the channels allows you to watch the progress of your airplane from your departure to your destination - a nice feature for people that like to know where they are. These audiovisual features are relatively common on international flights, but almost unheard of on domestic US flights. If you've never flown with such conveniences, they certainly will help pass the time. In my experience, the TVs don't really work until after takeoff, and if you encounter rough skies along the way, the TV reception does come and go a little. On the whole, the TVs work for the vast majority of most flights
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