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JetBlue economy is looking good – low fares, free food and unlimited free wi-fi

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JetBlue will be shaking up the transatlantic market this Summer with flights from London Heathrow to New York JFK and Boston.

It has just revealed its economy “Core” flying experience and it is impressively ambitious.

Whilst we have previously called JetBlue a hybrid low-cost carrier thanks to its Mint business class cabin, this might actually be slightly unfair to the airline. In many ways it will offer a better economy experience than legacy carriers such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

JetBlue food drink wifi London Heathrow New York Boston

Norwegian taught us that a transatlantic low-cost carrier meant unbundling everything. The only thing included in your ticket was, well, your seat. Additional luggage, food, in-flight entertainment and more had to be paid for on top.

JetBlue is pursuing a completely different strategy. This week it outlined the service concept for its economy cabin, which it calls “Core”. In many ways it is a step up from the legacy airlines and bears no relation to the Norwegian model.

What is Core?

Core is JetBlue’s economy experience. There will be 114 economy seats on flights between London and the USA, 24 of which will offer extra legroom.

As a reminder, JetBlue will use brand-new Airbus A321LR aircraft – the LR stands for ‘Long Range’ and allows what would otherwise be a short haul aircraft traverse the Atlantic.

These are single-aisle aircraft as you can see below.

JetBlue transatlantic A321LR Core economy cabin 2

How much legroom will JetBlue have from London?

JetBlue is touting its new Core cabin offering as the most spacious economy seat flying transatlantic routes.

Core will feature 32″ of seat pitch as standard and approximately 35″ for its 24 “Even More Space” extra-legroom seats. For comparison, a British Airways 787 features a 31″ pitch in World Traveller.

Core will be spacious in other regards too. Thanks to the new Airspace cabin interior by Airbus, which improves sidewall sculpting, each Core seat will have a width of 18.4″.

This issubstantially better than British Airways, which offers a seat width of just 17″ on its 787s and 17.5″ on its A350s in World Traveller.

JetBlue transatlantic A321LR Core economy cabin

Free in-flight entertainment and wifi ….

JetBlue is making in-flight entertainment free too, which is not always the case with low-cost long-haul airlines.

A 10.1″ full HD seat-back screens will provide “an extensive library of seatback entertainment” including “hundreds of movies” as well as a number of live TV channels focussed on news and sports.

More importantly, JetBlue will also be offering free, unlimited high-speed wifi, even if you are seated in economy.

This is a big deal, given what established airlines charge. A 1 hour wifi package starts at £4.99 with British Airways, with full-flight packages as high as £23.99.

An economy food revolution

Innovation in economy dining has stagnated (arguably declined) in recent decades as legacy airlines try to cut costs to complete with low-cost carriers.

JetBlue will buck that trend as it offers a genuinely new and customisable dining experience for Core passengers – for free. This is new for JetBlue, which has previously charged for economy meals.

Whilst most airlines offer a choice of pasta or chicken with a tin-foil lid, JetBlue will let you choose your main course and sides from the in-flight entertainment screen:

“Customers will have the option to choose one of three main selections including a protein or vegetable that comes with a base, and two out of three hot and chilled side options.”

It’s a bit like an in-flight salad bar, albeit that the crew will be putting together the meals for you.

Dishes will be served in fully re-usable serving dishes – no tin foil trays or single use plastics here.

Whilst it isn’t dine-on-demand, it will allow you to pick and choose from a much greater selection. Typical mains include roasted chicken with brown rice and herbs or spiced aubergine with coconut cauliflower quinoa. Sides include mac and cheese and a mixed heirloom tomato salad.

It looks genuinely inviting:

JetBlue transatlantic Core economy dining

You’ll also get two full meals on a transatlantic flight. This is more than most airlines serve in economy on short transatlantic flights, where the second meal tends to be a pizza slice or light snack.

How will JetBlue achieve all this?

In many ways, JetBlue’s Core meal offering is closer to business class than it is to its competitors economy food. It looks like a seriously impressive offering both in quantity and quality.

The bigger question is how JetBlue hopes to deliver this. Will JetBlue overstock options in order to allow everyone a choice, or will you be stuck with whatever is left if you’re too slow with ordering?

It will also likely increase the work-load of cabin crew, who will have to prepare 114 individual meals based on passenger customisation. It’s hard to see how this won’t affect delivery times, although JetBlue will believe that it can pull it off.

Conclusion

Whilst we’ve previously called JetBlue a hybrid low-cost carrier, it may be more accurate to call it a low-cost, full-service airline given the promises it has made for its economy cabin.

Free, unlimited wifi, wider seats and more legroom as well as two customisable full meal services mean it is overtaking its transatlantic competitors when it comes to customer experience. If the price and schedule is right, you’d be crazy not to book JetBlue over other airlines.

(The schedule, of course, could be the sticking point. JetBlue will launch with just one daily flight on each route.)

It will be interesting to see how the incumbents react to JetBlue’s launch. A number of airlines, including United, have already announced ‘spoiler’ flights on JetBlue’s new routes in order to try and squash any threat it poses. To compete, they’ll have to up their economy experience too.

Comments (102)

  • ChrisC says:

    The key to this is the price – both in economy and Mint – as to how much business they can capture from other airlines.

    And an issue is that they aren’t known to a lot of people in the UK.

  • Tim says:

    ‘…If the price and schedule is right, you’d be crazy not to book JetBlue over other airlines’… there’s a bit more to it than that though. If you have status or are chasing status, for example. Or if you like a proper plane unless you are on the baby bird. Or if you like your flights to be without WiFi. The meals in economy look good, but the number of times I’ve dumped a ready made meal into a Staub dish and passed it off as my own to impress a female companion, and got away with it, and with the missus not finding out about either the ready made meal or what I put it into… will the food in JetBlue taste any better?

    • Tom says:

      Did she find out about the female companion?

    • ChrisC says:

      I get that some of those issues are important to you but In the scheme of things most people don’t have status and aren’t chasing it or points. There are a lot of people who don’t care about those sorts of things especially those once a year fliers who are more price sensitive.

      Most people have no clue what plane they are flying on.

      No one forces you to use wifi. Even BA has it these days!

      The food comes from a NY restaurant group called Dig which is apparently well regarded for its fresh and healthy but tasty offerings.

      • bafan says:

        Yes there’s one on 8th Ave near-ish Columbus Circle. Big customer bowl with chicken and veggies for around $10. Really tasty. When I finished work late I used to stop by on my walk home to prevent an Uber Eats order from McDonalds later on!

    • 1ATL says:

      Tim’s dope ready meal …. cringe!

    • Небоход says:

      If it’s possible for you to impress a female companion with your ready meal shenanigans, then I imagine it is quite possible for your missus is being marvelled by some guy’s impressive meat dish as well 😈

      • James says:

        Well, if she’s “the missus” then let’s hope she is. Good to see the old British unreconstructed male is alive and well with their ready meals and dismissive terms for their wives 🙄

  • Jonathan says:

    I flew on an Air Canada repatriation flight a few years back over the Atlantic. It was a single aisle tin can in the sky and very susceptible to turbulence unlike the bigger aircraft in the sky. Every gust or change of direction was very noticeable. This is a real long term problem they’ll need to factor in as I would rather pay a little extra for the comfort.

    • Relay says:

      Been over the Atlantic many times in a 757 (part of the territory flying from Manc)… and it wasn’t noticeably different to a 777 or 747. Perhaps you were unlucky with rough weather? I think the A321 will do just fine.

    • Nonsense Filter says:

      Of course susceptibility to turbulence is primarily a factor of wing loading. Considering you are talking about the duration of the cruise, which is likely to be above the troposphere, turbulence will only be caused by the jetstream or cat. As wing loading in an a321 is in the same rom as a350/a380/b777/787 your comment is incorrect.

  • Nick says:

    Anything that hopefully ‘forces’ the legacy carriers to up their oligopolistic product offerings is good in my book!

    • Jimbo says:

      Excellent point !

      My only worry on this can be answered by a question really … is the entertainment system touch screen? If it is, there’s no way I’m spending 7+ hours having the idiot behind me banging the touch screen, especially on an overnight flight. I experienced this too many times on United and Delta and swore never to travel Eco until they got rid of touch screen. Even having polite word with the gamer behind me on an overnight into U.K. got me a tirade of language as the holiday drink wanted to play cards on the screen rather than sleep and considered it her right to tap away all night with the reading light on while everyone else slept. That was my last miserable experience in United economy 8 years ago. I’d rather pay for flat bed thanks.

      • John says:

        Sit in the last row

      • Chris Heyes says:

        Jimbo But it is her right to tap away all night and have the reading light on !
        You could have asked to move seats, you would have probably got a steward/ess seat at the front

        • Lady London says:

          No it’s not her right. Not in any communal setting

          • Chris Heyes says:

            LL Sorry but your wrong, tell me how you could legally stop her, if it’s not her right
            I Would be very interested to know.
            Because it would annoy me just as much.
            Also I’m not polite to ask someone to switch their reading light off if it wasn’t their right to have it on

          • TGLoyalty says:

            There’s a clear lack of common courtesy when someone does this

            but it’s their screen and their light so it is their right

          • James says:

            I was asked by the attendant in F on a BA flight to SFO to fully close down my blind on a day flight as the chap in the middle row over the aisle to me apparently couldn’t sleep (even though he’d left the tv screen on and had moved back one from his actual seat for the flat bed). I pointed this out to her and that maybe he should move back to his actual seat but compromised by fully closing the nearest window and half closing the other. As we disembarked was given a bottle of GC for being asked and she implied she thought other chap was a bit of a knob 🙂

      • ADS says:

        I agree with Jimbo. Those screen stabbers can ruin a flight.

  • John says:

    I don’t think “low-cost” means anything any more. Norwegian offered free wifi on short haul. But in 2019 BA was always the cheapest airline for the short haul trips I took and fed me in lounges.

  • Phil G says:

    Jet Blue are better than most when flying within the US and would certainly look to book if the price is right

  • Erico1875 says:

    Pre pandemic. What were the average load factors trans Atlantic? Is there room for one or 2 more carriers?

  • Andrew says:

    And surely all this galley dished up food offering isn’t very covid-secure – single use plastic with foil lids is far safer.

    • AJA says:

      I don’t think they reuse the crockery on the same flight. I also don’t understand why food served in a throwaway container with foil lid is any more covid safe than food served on a washable plate covered with clingfilm.

    • Andrew says:

      Because they are putting together the dish to your spec in the galley, rather than prepared on the ground and in sealed containers for serving on board, therefore less Covid secure.

      • C says:

        I doubt they are replating- more likely just picking options A, B or C and compiling on to a tray. Pre-COVID, mains worked this way in BA Y, and starters and mains in J.

        I wonder if this has anything to do with smaller galleys on the A321–might actually be easier not to manipulate carts of trays pre-loaded with cold items, as most airlines do.

    • Nathan says:

      The ‘recent science’ points to covid transmission from non-aerosol sources as being very small indeed, magnitudes smaller than airborne. If you are genuinely worried about being in a covid secure environment, and you have every right to be, should you so wish, then one suspects the safest option would be to not board an aeroplane.
      ‘Stay in the hoose. Keep two alsatians apart.’

      • TGLoyalty says:

        +100

      • Andrew says:

        I totally agree, near zero risk. And I wouldn’t be flying economy anyway so of no concern to me. But with all the covid excuses businesses are offering up about what they can and can’t do for Covid security, it seemed a strange time to be introducing this. But I’m sure they must have thought about that and perhaps yes, just putting sealed boxes on a tray rather than plating up a bespoke salad etc.

        • Nick says:

          Oh for heaven’s sake, they’re not going to have a big bowl of salad which they spoon into everyone’s individual dishes and wash them up before the next course! The dishes will be prepared on the ground and put onto serving trays by the crew. And taken off for washing and reusing on a later flight.

          If you go into a restaurant, do you expect them to use a brand new plate for you, or can you take one that’s been used by a previous diner and washed? Is it any less ‘covid secure’ that way?

          This is a fantastic move. Far too much wasted packaging by legacy airlines, I really hope they watch and learn how it can be done. Just because flying is carbon intensive it doesn’t mean every aspect of it has to be.

          • Chas says:

            +1 +1 +1 👏👏👏

          • Sideshow Bob says:

            Totally agree. In Club World with BA they have china bowls and stainless steel cutlery and that’s no less Covid secure.

      • Jay says:

        My thought exactly – don’t fly !

      • AJA says:

        “Stay in the hoose. Keep two alsatians apart”. – that made me laugh out loud – thanks! 😀

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