With the larger carriers such as American Airlines, Delta and United gradually losing a bit of popularity in the United States, a number of smaller, often regional, budget airlines have started competing for business across the nation. Low Cost airlines such as Virgin America, Southwest, Frontier and Spirit ply largely domestic routes, with a couple of added destinations in holiday hotspots like Latin America and the Caribbean. One of the most successful in recent years, trading on a mix of user-friendliness, cheap prices and reliability is JetBlue, located in New York City.
JetBlue was founded fairly recently in 1999 and, from modest beginnings, has grown to serve over 70 destinations in North America, with a robust fleet of 167 aircraft. Despite the low-cost service, JetBlue is listed by Skytrax as the best airline in America, and is the country’s only four-star carrier.
We took two return trips on JetBlue, travelling from Long Beach Airport in Los Angeles all the way up the West Coast to Seattle, a journey of around two and a half hours. Online check in, home printed boarding passes and no luggage to drop off at the counter meant that on arriving at the airport, less than an hour before take-off, we could make our way straight to security. Long Beach is a small airport, and the security line rarely takes more than 15 minutes to negotiate, though TSA full-body scanners are operational here.
Passengers walk across the tarmac to and up steps to board planes here, though thankfully Seattle offers modern jetways. Our planes for all of our flights were EMBRAER 190s, with one central aisle and two seats either side. Legroom tends to be far more generous than other low-cost airlines, with a minimum 32 inches in economy seats, and 38 inches at the front of the plane. Take offs were all on time, with our Long Beach flights leaving around ten minutes ahead of schedule. It appears such punctuality is not replicated across JetBlue’s entire network, however, with latest stats showing that only 64.9% of their flights arrive at destinations on time, far below the national average of 79%.
Once in the air, smiling cabin crew handed out complimentary soft drinks such as ginger ale or cranberry juice, tea and coffee as well as mixed nuts, savoury popcorn, Quaker multi-grain crisps or blue corn chips. Alcoholic drinks and mixers have to be paid for, however, and cabin crew typically only accept credit cards. If you require a bit of rest while flying, pillows and blankets are available to buy for only $7. Staff are incredibly professional and attentive, more so than would be expected from a domestic U.S. airline, so if you have any other issues do not hesitate to ask them.
6.8 inch personal entertainment systems are built into the back of head-rests, an extra touch that competing airlines in the United States frequently fail to offer. Movies are available to purchase at fairly inexpensive prices, while there are 36 free channels free to hop between, including NBC, CBS and National Geographic, ensuring you won’t get bored while in the air. Make sure to bring your own headphones however, or else you will be forced to purchase or rent from Jet Blue.
I would definitely recommend this airline to others, though, as with all low-cost and budget carriers, I would be wary about incurring extra surcharges, and make sure to contact the airline regarding baggage policies before hauling down numerous heavy bags to check in. Fortunately, Jet Blue have adopted a first checked bag free policy across their whole network, though additional bags will, as of writing, cost you at least $35 to check in. the airline does not yet offer the greatest range of connections, so is more used for point to point journeys, yet most major conurbations such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York are served. JetBlue currently flies over 637 million passengers a year, making it the 7th biggest airline in the country. Not bad for a company with just over a decade in the industry.Write a Review
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