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JetBlue to launch with Gatwick and Stansted flights

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US low-cost but semi-premium carrier JetBlue has been tight-lipped about its plans to launch a transatlantic service to London next year, but the cat is finally out of the bag!

According to slot allocations as spotted by Paxex.aero, the airline has been awarded two slot pairs at both Gatwick and Stansted.

JetBlue A321LR tail fin

The slot filing suggests that JetBlue will launch double daily flights between Stansted and Boston, whilst Gatwick will see a once-daily flight to New York JFK. It’s not clear what JetBlue intends to do with its other Gatwick slot pair.

It sounds like JetBlue is still hoping that it will be able to acquire some Heathrow slots before the flights launch in Q3 2021. With many airlines flying reduced schedules it may be easier than ever for JetBlue to do so. The question is whether it is worth doing this if there was little hope of getting permanent slots at the airport.

These will be JetBlue’s first European flights and will operate with a brand new Airbus A321LR. These are single aisle aircraft modified for Longer Range operations (hence the LR) and are capable of flying between Western Europe and the Eastern US. It is the same aircraft that Aer Lingus has bought and will use for its forthcoming Manchester-US flights.

Above is JetBlue’s first A321LR in the paintshop.

Whilst JetBlue is technically a low cost carrier, it is known for its ‘Mint’ transcontinental business class cabin offering lie-flat business class seats on flights between the East and West US coasts. Whilst we’ve never tried it, Mint has quite a cult following.

As part of its international launch, JetBlue is promising to “reimagine” Mint for transatlantic services, offering “premium service at a fraction of fares offered today”.

Comments (88)

  • Terence Henry Conlon says:

    Is there an App wallet that can collectively gather all of my points together and give me alerts when they are due to expire please? Any ideas?

  • AJA says:

    In the current economic climate I understand why Heathrow is ending the free bus travel. I wonder how many people are currently using the service , I think it must be used more by staff than passengers. Even for a family of 4 paying an extra £6 is a drop in the ocean compared to the extra cost of Covid tests. I feel sorry for staff losing the free travel concession though as that will just add to their travel costs and for them it’s a daily expense. Hard especially as they might also be suffering pay cuts as well.

    • Rhys says:

      It was pretty busy the other week when I used it (pre lockdown)! It seems to be used by a lot of staff.

      • 1ATL says:

        Virgin crew currently have free parking on the top level of T3 short stay. Hopefully other employees are making provision for their staff too. Assuming they drive and don’t rely on public transport.

    • Richmond_Surrey says:

      I see bus 423 from work window and it’s pretty empty most of the time. Car traffic around Heathrow area is lighter than usual, but there’s still a lot of cargo lorries and delivery vans.

    • Rob says:

      For clarity …. these are regular buses. The buses are going to keep going regardless. Most are just passing through Heathrow on the way between two other places.

      If no-one is using them, Heathrow isn’t paying much to subsidise the passengers on them!

      I also think a lot of people don’t realise that the hotel are free and touch in anyway. They will be charged for this because TfL assumes they are planning to get off outside the FTZ.

      • Howard says:

        Do heathrow pay per passenger, and if so how do they keep track?

        • Bob says:

          I believe heathrow pay per passenger.

          At least the driver press a button on its keyboard everytime a passenger get in the bus not using a oyster card.

    • insider says:

      kind of hilarious how in their expansion plans, Heathrow were making a big deal about extending bus routes and free bus travel for staff to prevent car journeys and save the environment, yet they ditch it the moment they realise it won’t be paid for by passengers!

      • Rhys says:

        Not exactly surprising – Heathrow is a business like any other. They need passengers to pay for these schemes!

    • The real John says:

      The only staff who would be affected by this are those who live right next to the free travel zone, otherwise they have to pay for the bus anyway. Or those who live more than 70 minutes away by bus, and need to change buses e.g. at the terminal to get to the cargo area, and work infrequently enough that a monthly or annual bus pass is not cheaper…

      • Nick says:

        No, because only TfL buses (east) have that pricing model. Westbound ones are under a totally different one, with fares that don’t allow connections. Worse still is anyone who connects from one of these companies to another (e.g. Slough-T5 on a non-TfL bus and the 490 to Cargo/T4). LOTS of staff will be affected. HAL don’t care as want to save cost.

  • Doug M says:

    I’ve only flown economy with them but I’m a bug fan of JetBlue, they just seem to get things right. Can they offer the service cheap enough and reliably enough to attract people from the safety of the big alliances, I hope so.

  • ChrisW says:

    I think JetBlues chances, especially from Gatwick will largely depend on whether Norwegian is still in business when they launch. Yes Mint will be a great product and give the legacy carriers a run for their money, but most of JetBlues passengers will be in economy, looking for a cheap fare to the US East Coast.

    Norwegian has a good reputation, brand recognition, solid product on their dreamliners etc. I can’t see JetBlue consistently offering the £149 one way fares to New York and Boston like Norwegian has for years.

    If Norwegian die, then it creates a nice gap for JetBlue.

    • Doug M says:

      Norwegian has already died, but another Norwegian followed right behind. This Norwegian did some financial skulduggery (OK, bankruptcy protection) in Ireland yesterday. But it seems unlikely it’ll come back as anything like it previously was, but who knows.

    • Nick_C says:

      Jet Blue has a good reputation and brand recognition stateside.

      They will offer onward connections to wide range of US and Caribbean destinations.

      The JB economy product is better than Norwegian and BA.

      Seat width in Economy: Norwegian 17.2″, JB 18″ (BA 17.5″)
      Seat pitch in Economy: Norwegian 31/32″, JB 33″ (on planes that have Mint), (BA 31″)

      Stansted is very convenient if you live in Herts/Beds/Cambs as well as Essex and E London. Although Stansted airport itself isn’t great, you wont be waiting 50 minutes to take off once on board.

      • Doug M says:

        You can’t take these measurements seriously. An A320 series is a bit wider than an B737, so you may get a fraction more space When airlines claim wider seats it’s either because the aisle is narrower, or they’ve measured in a favourable way to what they want. If two airlines are 3+3 on an A320 you’ll have the same amount of real space no matter what they say.

        • Nick_C says:

          I was comparing the seat width on the 787 – used by BA and Norwegian – to the seat width on the A321 used by JB.

          The 787 was designed for 8 seats across, but most airlines have squeezed in 9 across.

          The A321 is designed for 6 across.

          The A321 maximum cabin width is 370cm. Six [email protected] 46cm, plus 1 aisle @ 51cm uses 88% of the maximum cabin width.

          The 787 maximum cabin width is 549cm. Nine [email protected] 46cm, plus 2 aisles @ 51cm uses 94% of the maximum cabin width.

          There is clearly space for wider seats on an A321 than on a densely configured 787.

          • Doug M says:

            To be fair you never mentioned aircraft types. BA use multiple types transatlantically, with different configurations. The point remains that seat width as published is little more than a number. A comparison between a narrower tube like the A320 with a wider tube like the B787 needs to take account of the curve if the fuselage which impacts shoulder space in the window seats. One of the most restrictive things of the 9 across on the B787 is that the window seats were moved so close to the fuselage wall that they’re poor at shoulder width.
            I like JetBlue, but seat width numbers are not meaningful in any real sense.

          • Nick_C says:

            @Doug

            I didn’t think I needed to mention aircraft types on here. It is well known that Norwegian flew the 787 transatlantic. I used the BA 787 for a direct comparison. Jet Blue will be flying the A321.

            The maths speaks for itself, and is explained above. An A321 provides more width for 6 people than a 787 provides for 9. Putting it another way, The 787 maximum cabin width is 179cm wider than the A321. The extra aisle uses a minimum 50.8 cm, leaving 128.2 cm, or 50.48 inches for three extra seats.

            Therefore, while recognising that there is no standard way to measure seat width, I have no reason to disbelieve the data that states the seat on a JB 321 is wider than the seat on a Norwegian or BA 787.

            If you have data to prove otherwise, I would be interested to see it.

  • Doug M says:

    Scrapping the FTZ is beyond dumb. I understand that the money is important, but surely between TfL and the Airport they can agree something.
    Those US airports that would have hundreds of buses permanently circling for every hotel and car rental company, along with all the other terminal changes, car park access, airlines, please no.
    They should be expanding pod, not finding ways to add more buses.

    • The Streets says:

      I would be interested to see how much of a saving the free travel was for local staff. Surely they started their journey outside the FTZ and would have some kind of bus pass. If then it was really only benefiting those flying from Heathrow then I have no issue with it being removed

      • Josh says:

        I heard the 75% travel discounts for Heathrow staff are also being removed

      • Nick says:

        @thestreets those bus passes are discounted too, and have already been withdrawn from sale today, so they can’t even plan ahead with an annual pass.

  • Bradley Flack says:

    Does the end of the Free Travel Zone include the end of the free terminal train transfers too, or will these continue?

    • Doug M says:

      Those would surely have to remain.

      • Pete says:

        They remain, as do staff discounts on the HEx. Staff discounts on TfL Rail (Paddington to Heathrow) and GWR (to Reading) come to an end, though.

        • Nick says:

          Indeed. Staff who travel east on buses will likely have TfL bus passes/caps so shouldn’t be affected. Those who will are those who travel west (towards Slough, Staines, Windsor), which aren’t covered by TfL and where commercial passes are massively more expensive. Many of these buses will be withdrawn completely if Heathrow removes subsidy. Plus of course those using TfL/GWR trains – huge numbers do these and the discount is enough to encourage mode shift in many cases. This will lead to cost increases mainly for low paid staff and an increase in car journeys as people will switch back. Passengers travelling to hotels will be a small incidental effect, but annoying for those affected. Where it gets very interesting is trips to HAL’s offices at the Compass Centre… they don’t allow much visitor (or staff) parking as they say to get the free bus from a terminal. What now…?

          Free inter-terminal train travel will remain, as made clear in Rhys’s Twitter link.

  • Pawel says:

    Many staff go to Lhr by bicycle, tunnel is closed so they use Heathrow bicycle hub opposite mcDonalds on Bath road …and taking red bus….what now?
    I now also started using bicycle to get to work at LHR….now 3GBP per day for bus stating January

  • Rich says:

    Good luck to Jet Blue. Seems a hard sell though. Effectively they’re launching two outstations, with with their own catchment and market, each with a single route without giving passengers much choice of time, and without European connecting traffic.

    Why would I choose them, when I can have a dozen departures a day from LHR, with connections on an alliance?

    • ChrisBCN says:

      You are not the first today to look at this purely from the UK side – you also need to look at this from the US side.

      To the US traveller, there is a brand that they know of, flying to an airport called ‘London…’, and likely at a lower price. They don’t know or care about the things you mention. These will mostly be irregular travelers and value hunters.

      • Josh says:

        Are value hunters the ones who dress for a flight in a bikini top or swimming shorts?

      • Rich says:

        Very good points.I suppose the equivalent would be easyJet flying from Gatwick to ‘New York’ HPN or ISP. People would bite their hand off.

      • Nick_C says:

        Precisely. I’ve never understood why people choose their own country’s carrier, disregarding the alternatives. Even with codeshares, AA transatlantic flights mainly carry Americans, whereas BA mainly carry Brits. I’ve always chosen American for cash fares as I think they are a better airline than BA. Although BA is probably a better choice flying home. American tourists flying to the UK tend to stay up all night talking, while Brits think about the time difference and try to sleep. And of course EC261 covers you when flying home on BA.

        • The real John says:

          I imagine that most American tourists are just starting their holiday so they can sleep in the next day. Brits are going home and need to go to work possibly the same day

    • ChrisC says:

      Jet Blue has an extensive network in the US

      They also have a partnership with AA adding even more connections.

      Depending on price and departure time from LGW I could very well give them a go.

      LGW is 30 mins away for me. LHR 4 times that,

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