October 21, 2013

T5 turns five

It seems like only yesterday we were turning out the lights at Terminal 6, our first home at JFK in preparation for our big move to Terminal 5. Moving one door down the street doesn’t seem like such a big deal until you remember we were operating flights at our busiest focus city throughout the entire process. We actually documented the delicate dance of details of our T5 transition in our very first blog posts.

As New York’s Hometown Airline, T5 was designed to make sure we put our best foot forward, and show off the pride we have for our home. We carried many elements of our city into T5. You may not know that the latticed cable work holding the digital ring high atop the Marketplace is a nod to the same elements on the Brooklyn Bridge, and that the grandstands in the Marketplace are meant to evoke the people-watching steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library.

The reviews of our new terminal were stellar, but we’ve never rested on our laurels, and have constantly looked for ways to improve the experience for our hometown customers and crewmembers. So today, in celebration of 5 great years, we present:

The Top Five at T5

Five of the coolest things we brought to JFK Terminal 5, and how we’re taking them into the next five years.

5. Partner Airlines and T5i

Sharing is caring, and whether you’re headed for Hawaii 5-0 or the Emerald Isle, connecting from JetBlue flights on to our partners at Hawaiian Airlines and Aer Lingus has never been easier. Welcoming our partner carriers to T5 been a great addition to the neighborhood!

It’s also getting even better! When our new expansion at T5 (we call it T5i) is complete in 2015, JetBlue customers will arrive and clear customs in our home terminal instead of Terminal 4. Connections on to other JetBlue flights will happen without needing to move between terminals, and we’ll be able to serve more international customers from partner carriers through T5 as well!

4. Tunes at T5

Even before we officially opened the doors at T5, live music was heard in the vaulted ceiling of our central marketplace with a launch party performance by Estelle. In 2009 we launched our Live From T5 concert series which features emerging artists like Icona Pop or Emeli Sandé and diverse power players like Taylor Swift, Goodie Mob, Phillip Phillips, and Robyn. These concerts are for our customers and aren’t open to the general public, so you may want to show up for your flight a little early, you never know who might be setting up on the grandstand!

Music has always been an important part of the T5 experience, and we always hear from customers how they love the set-list heard throughout the day. Now our customers will be able to get in on the act directly. We’ve partnered with Rockbot, an amazing service that will allow anyone traveling through T5 to view the current playlist – and vote on what they want to hear next! Look for the Rockbot kiosk at T5 to learn more, or grab the Rockbot app for iOS or Android before you get to the airport.

 

3. Sustainability

T5 opened with a focus on minimizing our impact. With natural lighting and airflow management to save energy (and costs) on power consumption, to using reclaimed cement for the gravel “ramp” areas. We’re continuing to look for  ways we can make a difference. This summer launched a program for composting food waste collected at T5 for use at a farm in the Hudson Valley, and next week we’ll host our first-ever greenmarket, creating a unique way for New York farmers to connect with those passing through the terminal. We’re even creating a new and improved pet-relief area with real grass and a fire hydrant (hey, everyone’s important!)


2. Airspace Lounge
Looking for free WiFi, plenty of outlets for charging, and a relaxing place to sit? We’ve got that throughout the entire terminal! – but for those customers looking for a little something more, like a business center with printer or scanner, or some plush chairs in a quiet environment, or maybe just a shower after a long shut-eye flight from the West Coast, the Airspace Lounge that recently opened near Gate 24 is a perfect haven.

Operated by Swissport, there’s no need for a secret handshake to enter this lounge, it’s open to any customer for use with entry fees starting at just $25. Sit back, relax and enjoy the oasis within the oasis of T5.

 

1. Concessions

We opened up T5 with an impressive (and award winning) selection of restaurants and concessions, and have spent the last few years listening to our customers and finding even more partners to make our customers’ experience on the ground as satisfying as their JetBlue experience in the air. With additions like Ben and Jerry’s, Baked by Melissa, WhereTraveler Books + More, or the numerous innovative shopping kiosks around the terminal, our customers are sure to be able to find just about anything they might want to grab before their flight.

Want more? We’re not done by any means! There are still a few regular store requests from our T5 customers and we hear you. We’re working on finalizing some plans for some other popular brands to join out T5 team delivering that great experience.

 

We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last five years at T5. We’ve grown from serving 46 destinations from JFK in 2008 to 62 destination so far this year. We’ve helped more than 50 million customers pass through our doors at T5, but we like we’ve always said, we’re only as good as our last flight, and at T5 it’s no different. Just watch what’s in store for the next 5, 10 years and beyond!

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July 11, 2013

Fly-Fi Update

As Summer hits its stride, we wanted to take a moment to give an update on a topic of great interest to our online audience: WiFi onboard!

Earlier this spring we announced some details on our upcoming service we’re calling Fly-Fi and we’re well on our way to bringing this innovative solution to our customers. Bringing faster internet connections than the other guys isn’t without it’s challenges though. If we want to have a better connection, we can’t just use the same technology, so we turned our eyes to the sky… about 22,000 miles up!

As the first U.S. airline to use Ka Band satellite technology to deliver high speed internet to our aircraft, it also falls to us to prove that the technology and equipment used to deliver it is safe, and have the FAA certify that the equipment is ready to be installed in additional aircraft. With safety as our number one value, we don’t take this responsibility lightly.

In June, we took one of our planes out of service and gave it an experimental designation so we could install the necessary equipment. Aside from the electrical work to be done throughout the cabin, there’s the small matter of outfitting the external equipment as well. It’s no small feat to install rotating, pivoting blades that constantly track the orbiting ViaSat-1!

After several ‘proving flights’ to test the air-worthiness of the added equipment and new radome (the bubble on top of our planes containing antennae), we were able take another flight to test the Fly-Fi system and any impact the signals may have on other aircraft systems or equipment. The tests were VERY thorough, we even tested the lavatory lights!

The most exciting tests were of the system itself though, and the team reporting back was thrilled with the results and download speeds they  were seeing. Needless to say, our excitement is high and we itching to start rolling it out, but there are a couple final steps to go.

One of a flurry of photos sent from the experimental aircraft using Fly-Fi

One of a flurry of photos sent from the experimental aircraft using Fly-Fi

With testing done, the experimental aircraft must now sit and wait for the FAA to review the documentation and data collected to issue a Supplemental Type Certificate that will allow us to return the plane to service, and begin the process of installing Fly-Fi on our fleet. We expect that process to take a bit of time, but once complete, we get to take to the air once again for final preparations. Once the plane is completely vetted, it’ll return to service, and we’ll be able to begin rolling out Fly-Fi to the rest of the fleet.

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December 18, 2012

Meet Diane, the Woman Behind “A Tale of Blue Cities”

After nine years with the airline, Diane Mahoney is currently a curriculum developer at JetBlue University in Orlando, Fla. where she creates the training materials to help welcome new crewmembers onboard.

You may have seen this face before!  Diane’s been on three network game shows in the past.  And who knows, maybe you’ll catch her on your TV screen again in the future!

Diane gets customers excited to fly, and it’s her job to spread her passion for flying with new JetBlue crewmembers. After holding various travel industry positions in the air and on the ground, Diane knows the ins and outs of the day-to-day airline business.

Read the first edition of A Tale of Blue Cities and stay tuned for the next up in January!

 

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September 18, 2012

Ka-Band: This Won’t Be Your Grandfather’s Wi-Fi

Robin Hayes, our Chief Commercial Officer, announced yesterday at the Low Cost Carrier conference in London that our intention is to launch our first Wi-Fi enabled aircraft in early 2013 and that we will have a free basic Wi-Fi service to start.

We know there already are many carriers out there with connectivity, but we also know something else: If our customers are impatient with our speed to market with a solution, they’re likely also frustrated with the level of service they’re getting on the other guys. If you have tried one of those other products, you know what we’re talking about. You’d never pay those kind of prices for that level of service on the ground, why would you take it in the air?

Rather than jump on the bandwagon of a product that can barely handle the usage needs of today’s travelers, we decided to look to where the demands are headed. With more people traveling with more gadgets (hello tablet users!), demanding faster speed connections, we’re willing to take the short term pain for long term gains. As an airline that take innovation to new heights, we believe that our inflight Wi-Fi should be heads and shoulders above the rest. We think it will be worth the wait.

As such, we partnered with Live TV and ViaSat to build something from the stratosphere down that, like all of our products and services, will provide the best possible customer experience. The Ka-band satellite we launched last October is the latest generation, with capacity equal to 100 last-generation Ku-band satellites. It’s smarter, newer, cheaper and better than anything on the market today for commercial aviation. We plan to make JetBlue the very first commercial airline to offer this product on board, at altitude!

Learn more about our agreement with ViaSat.

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March 23, 2012

Burlington Rocks Airport Award

Looks like JFK T5 isn’t the only terminal in our system to be recognized. Burlington International Airport has won an award for “airport with the most unique services” by Airport Revenue News (ARN). Each year, this monthly magazine runs an online contest that rates North America’s airports and airport retail operations. And while our customers enjoy the airport’s amenities, so do our crewmembers!

From the beautiful mountain views, to the wooden rocking chairs—for a cozy, homey feel—there is much to love about Burlington International. Just like T5, BTV aims to deliver standout services that exceed travelers’ expectations of traditional airport offerings. Massage chairs, free WiFi, and uniquely Vermont merchandise including Green Mountain Coffee, maple syrup, and clothing, are a few examples of what you can find.

Read more about Burlington’s award here.

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January 5, 2012

Unpacked: Business Partners

Welcome back to our fourth edition of Unpacked, where we demystify hot topics in the airline industry. This time around we’re going to peel back the layers of our workforce to explain how we work with business partners to keep our airline flying.

In addition to our 14,000 crewmembers that work on our reservations lines (most of whom work from home!), in-flight, at our airports and at our headquarters, we rely on business partners for a number of different services to ensure that our day-to-day operations run smoothly and that we provide the best possible customer experience.

All of the people you meet at New York’s JFK airport, our home base of operations, who greet you as you enter the building, check you in, collect your boarding pass at the gate, transport your checked bag (first bag always flies free!) to and from the plane, and maintain our aircraft (our airport, ground and technical operations crewmembers, respectively) are employed directly by JetBlue. At JFK, we work with business partners for our concessions (AKA, all of the great shops and restaurants you can take advantage of before or after your flight), fueling and deicing our aircraft, curbside baggage check-in, and a security company to help with everything from managing the ebb and flow of customer traffic to escorting celebrities (when we have our Live From T5 Concert Series). Of course, we also work closely with the TSA for security checkpoint staffing, the airports that we operate out of, and the local Port Authorities.

Our airport operations crewmembers in San José, Costa Rica

At other stations, particularly smaller ones like Bogotá, Colombia or San José, Costa Rica, where we have a limited number of daily flights, we also work with business partners to handle much of the customer experience, including staffing the ticketing counters, baggage handling. With these and all partners, we always make sure that anyone we’re joining forces with are a cultural fit for JetBlue and that we all share the same ethos; providing the best and safest experience, whether product or service, for our customers.

Airline interline agreements are another piece of the partnership puzzle. We’ve partnered with a growing list of some pretty fabulous airlines including Aer Lingus, American Airlines, Cape Air, El Al, Emirates, Icelandair, Jet Airways, LAN,  Lufthansa, Qatar, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, TAM, and Virgin Atlantic. These strategic alliances allow our customers to seamlessly connect from points across the JetBlue network to cities in every corner of the globe. We don’t fly to Tokyo, but a number of our partner airlines do, and entering into interline agreements allows us to help our customers get from point A to point Beirut.

A big part of success is not just in knowing what you do well, but in being able to identify what others do better. That’s why we’ve partnered with companies like American Express, Verizon, DIRECTV®,SiriusXM Radio®, ViaSat, and plenty of others to strengthen our infrastructure and to bring customers the very best in product and service offerings. We’re just not going to make a better cookie than Linden; that’s why we do the flying and leave the baking to them (same goes for all of our other tasty onboard snack options)!

Check out our earlier editions of Unpacked to learn all about Lightning Strikes, Diversions, and Turbulence, and stay tuned for the first Thursday of next month when we serve the next up!

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November 22, 2011

Preparing for a Busy Holiday Travel Weekend

Turkeys are defrosting, yams are baking, and folks are packing to make the journey to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family. Is JetBlue a part of your Thanksgiving plans? If so – thank you!

Here’s how the weekend is shaping up. Delays are possible, but as our Chief Operating Officer Rob says in this video to our crewmembers, our job is to get you to you where you need to go for the holidays and back.

Interesting factoids about our holiday operations:

  • We’ll be operating more than 3,500 flights between now and Sunday
  • We’re flying more than half a million people to their turkey destinations of choice
  • To ease congestion in the air, we’re taking advantage of the FAA’s Holiday Airspace Release Program (HARP) Tuesday through Sunday
  • We have spare aircraft dedicated to supporting the operation over the holidays
  • We’ve added flights for the holiday week to reduce potential travel delays and meet customer demand
  • Our Terminal 5 at JFK has a spacious check-in lobby and the largest single security checkpoint in America to ease your holiday travel experiences
  • You can bring your turkey and your pumpkin pie on JetBlue (so long as you can fit in under your seat or in the overhead), but mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce might not make it through TSA security. Visit TSA’s site for information about what holiday food you can travel with

Tips for navigating the holiday travel weekend :

And remember, your first checked bag flies free on JetBlue!

Leave your own holiday travel tips in the comments section below.

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November 12, 2010

Weekly Airline News Roundup – Security

Image courtesy of madaboutshanghai on Flickr

Security emerged as a major theme in the airline industry this week. Due in part to Veterans Day and the recent changes to the TSA screenings, safety and security seemed to be the dominant topic.

After the recent cargo bomb scare, the U.S. announced this week that it will hold a Senate panel hearing to discuss airline cargo safety. In the meantime, the U.S. has banned all large printer toner ink cartridges from flying. Watch out for a possible paperless epidemic! As another result, Emirates and Etihad airlines halted all cargo from Yemen.

The new TSA screening rules are causing a stir, with pilots banding together to protest, Sikhs speaking out against what they’re calling racial profiling, and the general public questioning whether the body scanners and pat-downs are a bit too invasive for an innocuous trip to see grandma in Florida.

Speaking of security breaches, who could forget the alarming (and somehow somewhat charming) tale of the Hong Kong man who disguised himself as an elderly Caucasian man to illegally enter Canadian ? The incident has sparked a debate about what security protocol could prevent future such brazen acts of false identity. In what was another frightening safety concern, a knife was found under a seat on a Delta flight to Japan. The Asia theme (and accompanying image) is completely coincidental.

Safety in the mechanical realm was also a big new topic this week, following the emergency return of a Qantas A380 flight, and the subsequent grounding of its entire A380 fleet, pending an investigation of a possible oil leak. Lufthansa is also changing one of its A380 engines, though says it’s not related to Qantas’ problems (they have different engines than Qantas). And Boeing this week had to halt 787 test flights after cabin smoke.

Conversely, Emirates this week restarted flying its double decker A380s to New York. In more optimistic news this week, the DOT announced this week that the tarmac delay rule has helped to significantly decrease overall airline delays (they don’t, though, mention cancellations as a result of the rule), Google is sponsoring free in-flight WiFi as a holiday treat, and US Airways is bringing back 500 furloughed pilots and flight attendants. Also good news this week is word that the FAA plans to restructure flight patterns to alleviate air traffic congestion by routing hundreds of flights over New Jersey (well, at least airlines may be happy, but New Jersey residents are pissed).

Not great for anyone, less the folks selling oil, reports this week show that fuel rose 7% in September. If only we could purchase electric planes!

In what we’ll call neutral news this week (could be good or bad depending on who you are), Mexicana Airlines, which declared bankruptcy and has since grounded all flights, says it hopes to make a return to the skies by the end of the year as a smaller airline. Latin American airlines Copa and Avianca-TACA are joining the Star Alliance, and the U.S. gave the green light on a joint venture between United, Continental and Japanese airline, ANA.

Virgin America, meanwhile, announced its first-ever quarterly profit this week, Delta may add a premium coach section, and American and Southwest are adding new markets. Aer Lingus’ operating profits rose a significant 35%, Republic Airways profits soar, and Southwest says its “no fees” campaign is working well.

Perhaps most exciting this week was news that Jake Pavelka, formerly of The Bachelor, is reaching for the stars, this time in a plane on his return to his job as a pilot.

This week was an eventful one for us at JetBlue. We celebrated the first birthday of our loyalty program TrueBlue, with lots of merriment and some awesome giveaways, welcomed new board member General Stanley McChrystal to our ranks, and held a Veterans Day event at our new home in the nation’s capital at Reagan National.

As always, safe travels and have a great weekend. Thanks for reading!

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April 6, 2010

Tuesday’s Travel Tips- Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia, ranked No. 6 in BusinessWeek’s “The Best Places to Start Over,” is the state’s capital and temporary home to the original Jamestown settlers back in 1609. The city is

Images courtesy of rvaphotodude on Flickr

Image courtesy of rvaphotodude on Flickr

also famous for hosting the Patrick HenryGive me liberty or give me death” speech in 1775, the catalyst that prompted the meeting of the Continental Congress and the subsequent birth of America’s constitution. Presently, the city supports varied industries, including tobacco, advertising agencies, some of the country’s largest law firms, as well as government institutions given its relative proximity to the nation’s capital. Inhabitants of Richmond now number 1.2 million and the Richmond International Airport sees more than three million travelers a year.

JetBlue just celebrated its four-year anniversary of jetting to Richmond, now serving this BlueCity nonstop from New York’s JFK, Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, and Orlando.

richmond2

Image courtesy of rvaphotodude on Flickr

The Richmond International Airport was one of the first in the country to offer free WiFi (and still does). The airport even has a Twitter page, which contains tons of great tips about where to dine and how to have a fine time. “Breakfast at Perly’s—best biscuits in town” per @khodonnell, “Have a monkey martini!” says @amyconcetta, Go to Strawberry Street Cafe, “known for bathtub salad bar,” says @KingJsQueenE. Also in the airport, be sure to check out Carousel #6 in the baggage claim area, which features art exhibits provided (and rotated periodically) by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Once you leave the airport, you shouldn’t go too far without stopping for some sweetness at Country’s Donuts. Just a hop, skip, and jump from the airport is also the Virginia Aviation Museum, a great stop for those that are aeronautically inclined.

Director of Marketing & Air Service Development/PIO for the Capital Region Airport Commission, Troy, suggests you visit the Edgar Allen Poe Museum (all the better to go when it’s dark and gloomy out, he says) and the equally spooky Hollywood Cemetery (don’t let the name fool you- there’s nothing glamorous or fake about this place!). Troy also suggests you read The Richmond Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau before you visit for a plethora of fun suggestions for what to know- and what to do- around town.

richmond3

Image courtesy of rvaphotodude on Flickr

E190 Captain Wendy says you’ll find good eats at Mexico, an authentic (and cozy) Mexican restaurant in the Stradford Hills area. Lead Maintenance Technician, Frank, points out that Richmond is the only metropolitan area in the country where level 3 rapids pass through. If you want to get the heart racing, try white-water rafting on the The James River. And to quench your thirst and appease your appetite, be sure to check out Capital’s Ale House in one of the three locations around town for good, local food and handcrafted beer; Mondays are Dollar Burger Night!

Shockoe Bottom is one of the oldest established neighborhoods in the United States, points out Captain Frank. Entirely worth your attention, this area is on the National Historic Register and is where the first Bill of Rights was signed by the Founding Fathers. Known as, “The Slip,” the neighborhood now boasts a conglomeration of nightclubs, shops, apartments, hotels, and restaurants with brick sidewalks amid renovated 19th Century warehouses and buildings. “It’s one of my favorite places to hang out and is loaded with history as is most of the city,” says Frank.

Just an hour’s drive from Richmond is historic Williamsburg, where you can watch a Civil War reenactment, or visit one of the many museums, among other, fun activities. Washington D.C. is less than two hours away, and Virginia Beach is a worthwhile side trip 100 miles from Richmond, if you’ve the chance. If you’re not in the area for summer fun in the sun, you can try to catch the 100 Miles of Lights, where holiday lights illuminate the trip from Richmond to Virginia Beach.

Do you have any great Richmond travel tips to share? Leave them in the comments below, or Tweet them using the hashtag #TTRIC.

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February 7, 2010

Weekly airline news roundup

Connectivity seems to be this week’s theme in airline news. The big switch to a new reservations system is our main news, with minimal coverage due to minimal hiccups (thankfully!). Southwest is getting connected with plans to offer WiFi on their planes over the next two years. Delta, meanwhile, officially pulled the plug on Northwest this week, connecting their reservations systems as one of the final steps in the merger.

While everyone was busy flipping switches, market reports for airline stock prices showed January closing at a loss, with fear of a slow return from the economic recession as the main cause. Another slow return became apparent this week as airlines pad their schedules to allow for increased on-time arrivals.

Many fights were not on time, or flying at all for that matter, this weekend, with massive storms that dumped upwards of two feet of snow on the mid-Atlantic region. Unrelated, Qantas is dumping the majority of their first class seats in efforts to redefine their model and maximize revenue. And Frontier is looking to maximize revenue by adding routes, including departures from Long Beach.

Pilot error, as cited by the Buffalo crash, has yielded findings about the lack of safety training on part of certain, other pilots and led to new investigations by the FAA into how to better improve safety by fining airlines that fail to meet set standards. Two U.S. mechanics are on trial beginning this week for the Concorde that crashed near ten years ago, and Skycaps across the country are suing for the right to earn tips for curbside checked baggage after a $2 fee imposed by American Airlines stomped on their ability to collect as such. American is simultaneously looking to train other workers to replace flight attendants that are threatening to strike.

As always, an eventful week in the airline industry! Happy Jetting!

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