JetBlue Will Announce Flights from NYC and Boston to London Beginning 2021, with Flights to Paris, Amsterdam and Dublin to Follow, although no firm dates as of yet. JetBlue has been hinting at London for some time, with CEO Robin Hayes, when asked back in 2018 his first choice destination that JetBlue would expand to, if there were no barriers, responding “London, hands down.” He elaborated on that, explaining that to be successful, JetBlue needed to serve London, as it was the largest destination (ex-Boston) that the airline doesn't currently serve.
Naturally, JetBlue Mint will be a key part of this strategy, as JetBlue doesn't just want to go head to head with Norwegian; it wants to take a piece of the current business class market, in the way that JetBlue has taken share from American Airlines, Delta and United on the lucrative transcon business class flights, e.g. NYC-LAX, NYC-SFO, BOS-LAX, BOS-SFO, BOS-SEA, etc.
Of course, in opening up new routes from NYC to London, JetBlue will be competing with more than the legacy U.S. airlines (American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines), including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, as well as low cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle. Norwegian and Delta both also fly from Boston to London; in fact, Delta's recent announcement that it would launch new nonstop flights from Boston to London Gatwick and from NYC JFK to London Gatwick in summer 2020 seems designed as a preemptive strike and threat to JetBlue announcing its new Boston and NYC nonstop flights to London, even though JetBlue won't manage to launch its routes until 2021.
New JetBlue Mint Seat
JetBlue Mint originally launched in 2014 on JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO routes, so the product is now 5 years old and ripe for a refresh. But more importantly, each JetBlue Mint cabin currently only offers 4 suites out of the total of 12 seats, so while it's certainly revolutionized U.S. transcontinental business class, the differences between the 4 suites and the non-suite seats in the other rows is far from ideal for maximizing business class revenue for European flights, especially as most business travelers travel solo on night flights from the U.S. to Europe and value privacy.
Instead, JetBlue will be flying A321LR aircraft, and be the launch airline for the new Thompson Aero Vantage Solo seat. Unlike the current JetBlue Mint layout, where rows 1, 3 and 5 are in a 2-2 configuration (so window seats don't have direct aisle access, unlike the aisle seats in these rows or the JetBlue Mint Suites in rows 2 and 4) the Thompson Aero Vantage Solo will be angled, providing direct aisle access for every flat bed seat, and the more consistent hard product needed to compete for transatlantic business class.
Seats will be near the window and angled towards the aisle. That potentially provides better sleep, as your head isn't right by the aisle, although it's more awkward to look out the window and you're more likely to see and notice flight attendants and other passengers in the aisles due to this seat orientation, unlike the Zodiac Cirrus seats in Cathay Pacific Business Class and EVA Business Class, where the seats are angled away from the aisle.
Thompson Aero is able to fit 16 of these seats into an A321LR aircraft:
Will JetBlue Finally Develop Lounges?
A key shortcoming of JetBlue Mint compared to Virgin Atlantic, Delta, and legacy carriers' business class is that JetBlue doesn't offer any lounge to use. I was told that for the JetBlue Mint roll out in the U.S., that was a sacrifice made in order to keep fares as low as possible, and that may be the same with transatlantic, but it's a detractor for a number of business class flyers who are used to having lounge access, especially for international business class travel.
I'll continue to update this post as we learn more details.
Would you fly JetBlue to London or other European destinations?
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