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Jetblue Introduces A New Premium Class
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Travelers who highly value cheap travel options, such as cheap airplane tickets, cheap vacation packages, discount travel deals, discount hotel rooms, and cheap auto rentals, are often drawn to the cheap airfares offered by JetBlue. As of next summer it will start offering a premium brand called “Mint” on select routes.
The premium seating will only be available on flights between New York and San Francisco and New York and Los Angeles. The premium seats will feature lie flat seats, a tapas style menu, and customized (for men, women, and children) amenity kits. The introduction of the premium service from New York’s JFK to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) will take place on June 15, 2014.
JetBlue’s decided to introduce premium seats to attract premium fliers who are willing to pay more money for a more luxurious ride or to fly last minute, especially from New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco.
Currently there is a high stakes battle going on between U.S. airlines for this business. Over the last year airlines have kept introducing new amenities in an attempt to outdo their competition.
Experts believe that JetBlue’s introduction of a premium section on transcontinental routes is smart if it wants to gain a larger share of the fliers who are willing to pay the most expensive ticket prices to fly coast to coast. There is a risk however that by offering a specialized experience to passengers in the front of the plane that JetBlue’s populist image could be undermined.
JetBlue is very conscious of its image and while it wants to start offering a premium experience for a price, maintains that it will not be done at the expense of its current customers.
Industry wide premium paying fliers account for about 10 percent of passengers while generating 30 percent of revenue.
JetBlue is targeting first level elite people now flying on American or Delta who never get an upgrade. These customers contribute a lot of revenue, but do not get a lot of benefits.
Flights between New York and Los Angeles and New York and San Francisco are particularly profitable. Unlike many other domestic routes, most of the passengers who fill premium seats actually pay top dollar vs. gaining access through loyalty program upgrades.
Competition to fill premium sections on airlines is fierce.
Next year American Airlines will be the only U.S. airline to offer both first and business class cabins on transcontinental flights. Lie flat seats will be featured in both premium sections. The new three cabin jets will commence flying between JFK and LAX on January 7th and between JFK and San Francisco on March 6th.
United Airlines is upgrading its premium service fleet for transcontinental flights between New York and LAX and New York and San Francisco. Its premium seats will come with lie flat seating, speedier in flight Wi-Fi, and on demand entertainment in each seat. These upgrades should be completed by the end of this year.
Virgin America, a smaller airline known for offering quality service at cheaper prices, has offered a first class cabin since it started flying in August of 2007. To appeal to business travelers, it offers VIP concierges at JFK and LAX and opened its first airport lounge at LAX in 2012.
JetBlue claims that it will do for premium flying what it did for coach travel; namely offer high quality for less money.
JetBlue was founded in 1999, and has successfully distinguished itself from many of its peers by becoming the first U.S. airline to offer live TV and continuing to allow passengers to check their first bag for free and offering unlimited snacks. Most of its competitors are generating their profits by charging for checked bags, food, and other services.
JetBlue currently offers select seat upgrades for a price including its “even more space” seats which provide passengers extra legroom as well as the ability to board early.
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