Part of JetBlue’s charm (and brand) is that all passengers are equal. There’s never been a first class that ‘coach’ consumers are banned from entering, and no off-limits bathrooms.
But that’s all changing next summer on flights between New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles as the brand introduces its Mint “premium section” that will feature “lie-flat seats, its own tapas-style menu, and even little ‘suites’ with doors to give passengers privacy,” as well as “customized amenity kits,” USA Today reports. The first flight featuring such ammenities will take off from New York’s JFK airport on June 15, and head for the City of Angels.
“This is seismic because now, admittedly only on the transcontinental routes … JetBlue is saying some passengers are going to be more important than others,” Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst with Hudson Crossing, told the paper. “This move is not one that comes with guaranteed success, nor is it one that comes without risk to the brand. … There is a chance that some customers may look at this and say JetBlue is selling out.”[more]
JetBlue, of course, begs to differ. Its CEO, Dave Barger, tells the paper that it was losing travelers to competitors because it didn’t offer any kind of premium seating. Plus, those two routes have become serious battlegrounds between all the major airlines. American will be the first airline to have first- and business-class cabins on the route starting next year, and United is busy upgrading plans that will fly that route. “They’re enormously important routes on which we’re able to realize significant profits,” Virgin America spokesman Madhu Unnikrishnan told the paper.
JetBlue isn’t just saving the perks for the people in Mint, either. The airline will apparently introduce a self-service snack bar back in coach, as well as power outlets at every seat, an increase from 36 to 100 channels of live TV, and free WiFi across all of its aircraft, according to Conde Nast Traveler.
While the change in policy on JetBlue flights may peeve a few passengers, the Associated Press notes that airlines are really just catering to the wants and needs of passengers—with a fee, of course. Such extended offerings include “renting Apple iPads preloaded with movies, selling hot first class meals in coach and letting passengers pay to have an empty seat next to them” as well as not bothering with baggage claim and “having their luggage delivered directly to their home or office.”
At your service? You betcha.