I want to thank you for delivering Safety from the Ground Up. Your commitment during these challenging times is surpassing expectations and has led to some of our highest Customer satisfaction scores ever. This is a remarkable achievement given all the challenges thrown at us and how little we knew about the virus when this started.
I’m proud we led the industry in limiting the number of Customers on board to give everyone more space. While this helped reassure Customers of our commitment to their well-being when we were still trying to understand this virus, we have always been confident that the potential for transmission on the aircraft is extremely low. The cabin air system and hospital-grade HEPA filters make the aircraft safer than most other indoor environments, and our face coverings policy – the first among U.S. airlines – provides an additional layer of safety.
Now a growing number of studies from respected researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, IATA, and Airbus support this understanding. With the science validating the safety of the aircraft cabin, JetBlue will phase out seat blocks by early 2021:
- We previously announced plans to limit onboard capacity to 70% and no longer guarantee empty middle or adjacent seats for travel from October 15 through December 1.
- During the busy holiday season, from December 2 through January 7, 2021, we will limit onboard capacity to 85%, but specific seats will no longer be blocked and we will not guarantee empty middle or adjacent seats.
- Starting January 8, 2021, we’ll make all seats available for sale during the winter period when demand is typically lower and flights are often less full.
Letting Science Guide Us
Studies like the recent report from Harvard researchers confirm that the layers of protection we have in place make the aircraft as safe or substantially safer than other more common settings, like grocery shopping or indoor dining. The research shows that the advanced hospital-grade HEPA air filtration systems actually compensate for the reduced distance between Customers. In fact, the Department of Defense found the air in our cabins to be as safe or safer than the air in your own home or in a hospital operating room.
Giving Customers Flexibility
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve given Customers flexibility in their travel. With today’s update to our policy, we’ll do the right thing by offering flexibility for those who want to change their plans. Our current Back and Forth With Confidence program offers changes and cancellations with no fees for any travel dates. Customers who booked November 13 or before for travel on January 8 or later are eligible for a full refund to their original form of payment if requested by November 27.
Projecting Jobs & Our Financial Security
We’ve had two priorities since the start of this crisis – the first is the safety of our Crewmembers and Customers. The second is maintaining our financial security so we can preserve Crewmember jobs. When we started blocking middle seats, Crewmembers were quick to point out that it would not be financially sustainable over the long term. Since most other airlines have stopped blocking all middle seats, one of the most common questions we hear is what will our policy be? I’m pleased that our phased approach has offered a thoughtful path forward while giving us the time needed to understand the science and stay true to our #1 priority – safety.
Once again, thank you to all of you for making Safety from the Ground Up an integral part of the JetBlue experience. As we head into the holiday season, the best gift we can give each other is that of a healthy travel experience during these exceptionally difficult times. I know that we can deliver that together.
President & COO