April 12, 2012

A Day in the Life: Schedule Planning

Welcome to A Day in the Life, where we take you behind the scenes at JetBlue to learn more about the important jobs that work in concert together to run a major airline. This time, we visit with Jeff and Greg, Managers on our Schedule Planning team, one of the most complex jobs at JetBlue.

Ever wonder why your flight departs at 8:59 a.m. rather than 9 a.m., or when we make the decision to publish our schedule extensions so you can book that trip to Puerto Rico for next March? Greg and Jeff hold the key to those answers. They’re the guys behind the numbers and are responsible for scheduling our 750 daily flights.


When a new city or route is announced, Jeff, who leads JetBlue’s future scheduling team, steps in to ensure those flights make it from concept to reality. He works with just about every group at JetBlue, from Revenue Management and Route Planning to Maintenance, Airports and Crew Scheduling, to position those flights so that they’re at optimal times for our customers and crewmembers.

Jeff has to account for things like slots at some of the busier airports (where we can only fly a certain number of flights daily during designated times), ensuring our aircraft are passing through the right cities for overnight maintenance checks , all while balancing the commercial strategies and maximizing profitability – all key ingredients of a JetBlue schedule. He also works with our Revenue Management team to review how our flights performed the year prior to help determine how we will determine future scheduling (adding or removing flights). Jeff also works regularly with the FAA and other airlines to trade slots when needed.

We’re generally planning schedules for all our flights close to a year in advance, and work to fine tune them prior to publishing between seven and ten months out (that’s when you can purchase tickets).

Greg’s job comes into play with flights that are three months out; he leads JetBlue’s current schedules team. Greg also coordinates with just about every group at JetBlue, and often is the clearinghouse for all things scheduling that need to get tweaked before a schedule becomes final.

As it gets closer to the actual month of travel, he shares the schedules with key departments and coordinates the requests across our workgroups to adjust times as needed. He might get a request, for instance, from our Crew Scheduling team to push flights up or back just a couple of minutes to accommodate a crew that might be connecting to another flight. He might get a call from one of our BlueCities that a last minute runway construction project is planned for the evening or that an air show will close the airport for an hour. His job is to figure out how to re-time our flights around unforeseen events.

One of the charts that Greg works with, showing our daily departures for May

Of course, Greg and Jeff also take into consideration the optimal times for arrivals when it comes to things like helping our customers maximize their beach time and minimize wait time at customs (like not scheduling our flight to arrive at the same time as ten 777′s from Asia) if at all possible. At any given moment, they are juggling considerations from multiple  groups within JetBlue as well as the best interests of our customers.

One of the coolest parts of Greg and Jeff’s jobs is that they assign all of our flight numbers. In an ode to our history, Flight 1 remains our first scheduled flight from New York’s JFK to Fort Lauderdale. They also labeled one of our Boston to Las Vegas flights 777; one of our Washington D.C.-bound flights is 1600; and our Bogotá flight is named 1783 after the birth year of Simón Bolívar, who led Colombia to independence from Spain.

As we move into 2012 and beyond and introduce our new A321 fleet, as well as our A320neo aircraft and retrofitted winglets, a whole new layer of complexity will be added to Greg and Jeff’s plates. Aside from a growing number of aircraft and flights to schedule, which planes should be scheduled for our transcontinental flights versus the East Coast corridor?

The team jokes that they’ve often considered giving potential candidates a Sudoku puzzle as an interview test since airline scheduling is like a large ever-evolving puzzle. The job has so many moving pieces and requires consideration from almost every workgroup at JetBlue that only a person with agility and critical thinking skills can truly enjoy this kind of work. At its essence, developing an efficient schedule for 750 daily flights is a huge, complex puzzle!

Check out the previous editions of A Day In The Life and meet Loretta in Security, Chris in InflightMorgan in Social Media, Don in Air Traffic System Control, and Mike in Ground Operations, and stay tuned for the next edition!

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30 Comments on “A Day in the Life: Schedule Planning”

  • Posted by paul on April 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Find time in your schedule to bring back the AYCJ pass. That was the best.

  • Posted by Suzanne on April 12, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Well, Greg & Jeff – I guess I can complain directly to you! Flight 1264 used to depart Austin early enough to get into Boston around 10 p.m. Now it get’s in at 11:26! My family finds it very disturbing for me to get home so late and I still have to get up early and go to work the next day. I take this flight once a month. Change it back, please!

  • Posted by Cajun Boy on April 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Greg and Jeff…I would love if you guys would add more flights between MSY and JFK and more from MSY going to westward JetBlue destinations. PLEASE! :)

  • Posted by NatFan9 on April 12, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    I wanna join you guys when I grow up.

  • Posted by Cathy Crow on April 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I work in Ground Operations in BTV, and we would like to see a flight from BTV-BOS or a non-stop with RON from BTV-FLL. There are no airlines in Burlington that go to Boston. It would be a great connector as well.

  • Posted by Frank on April 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Greg and Jeff… Please consider changing the daily LAX-FLL flight to a morning departure. Overnight flights are undesirable for me. Also, please consider adding a daily LAX-IAD.

  • Posted by Ferdinand De jesus on April 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Why do you add some flight to Ponce, PR,(PSE), maybe to Fort Lauderdale at least twice à week or seasonal should be great. Wé need some other option in flight to south customers in PR.

  • Posted by Ferdinand De jesus on April 12, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Wé LOVE jetBlue and is the only airline Why operate in Ponce airportx so you should TAKE advantage and add other nonstop services. The nearest airport is San Juan (SJU) and is almost too hours away from Ponce. So think about it and hope receive good news in à nearest future. Thanks Best airlines ever

  • Posted by Mary Beth Crider on April 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Had the pleasure of my first JB flight (IAD to MCO) in March–would be great if you a) continued the direct flight during the winter months…and b) how about a direct flight IAD-ORD?? I don’t fly connecting flights, and in most cases, get stuck with an airline I don’t particularly like to fly.

  • Posted by Doug on April 12, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    JetBlue flies far too many redeyes. This isn’t your fault, as that decision was made early on. But for many cities that JetBlue serves, a customer has to arrive too late to do anything that day. Or conversely, be uncomfortable all night on a redeye to a hub. I’m sure it is difficult on your flight crews as well. Why doesn’t JetBlue add frequency when people most need to fly? Also, wouldn’t your crews be better rested (and live longer lives), if they worked more during regular hours?

  • Posted by A loyal JB customer on April 12, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    I would also LOVE to see the IAD-Florida flights return. DCA is terrible.

  • Posted by Monicajay on April 12, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    I’m with Cathy Crowe, BTV needs a non-stop to FLL once a day. So tired of connections that I have driven to ALB to take Southwest.

    You realize with the overflow from the Canadian market you will have no problem selling this especially since Direct Air out of Plattsburgh is out of the game.

  • Posted by JetBlue on April 13, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Schedule Planning doesn’t decide whether or not we fly between two cities. However, once that decision is made, this is the team that makes it happen and gets the new flights into the schedule. For more on how we choose new cities, check out our Unpacked column: http://blog.jetblue.com/index.php/2012/03/01/unpacked-how-we-choose-new-cities/

  • Posted by Brian on April 14, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Jeff and Greg…..thank you for your help with the SAN Curfew by scheduling early departures from BOS and JFK….VERY much appreciated!

  • Posted by Terrence on April 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    When building pairings it is my understanding that you prepare lines from the largest bases to the smallest. Can you not swap that and build from the smaller bases on up to the larger? It seems the trips are so exhausting with 4 legs, and long days. Can you prepare better, more productive trips for the smaller bases first?

  • Posted by Bob on April 19, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    777 isn’t JFK to LAS, it’s BOS to LAS.

  • Posted by JetBlue on April 20, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Ah, thanks Bob! We’ll correct!

  • Posted by Dario on April 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I would love to see a direct flight fro JFK to BOG or JFK to BAQ, love to see more flight to south america or maybe look into JFK to CTG it a beautiful vacation place in Colombia, Cartagena, this is where Sofia Vergara was discover. thank you

  • Posted by SJ on April 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    BOS to MBJ direct flights are great (even though they are seasonal…), but they don’t get in until 5PM. Far too late! The JFK direct flight gets in much earlier. Show Boston a little more love!!

  • Posted by Misty on May 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Gotta bring back the non-stop from IAD-MCO. My bf and I travel this flight round trip several times a year. We prefer Jetblue but do not wish to switch airports so we will be switching airlines. It seems on fb and other forums this topic is being ignored. Why is that. Its obvious from the available schedule that this has happened. Why not acknowledge it?

  • Posted by Dena on May 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Please bring back the non-stop from IAD to MCO…. why would you cancel that????

  • Posted by Suzanne McCarthy on June 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Please open up the rest of February 2013!!! It’s killing me. I can’t book the hotels etc until I’m sure of my flights, but REALLY don’t want to fly another airline simply because JetBlue is holding out on the rest of the month. For many families, these family trips are a BIG DEAL financially and it takes a lot of planning and saving. Please release the rest of February 2013!!! Please

  • Posted by Laura on June 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    I agree with Suzanne. I fly a route NYC-RSW very often. Jetblue competes with both United and Delta in this market and sometimes, I can’t wait (or don’t want to wait) for Jetblue to release its seats/schedule for fear of not finding an advantageous fare. So if one of the others (who release their schedules 11 months before) has a decent fare, I sometimes give them the preference rather than waiting for Jetblue….

  • Posted by Georgia on June 21, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Please, please bring back the DIRECT, non-stop flights between IAD & MCO!! We fly this several times a year, as does the rest of our family!!

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  • Posted by John on August 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Why have we discontinued FLL-IAD flights? I flew at least 6 rt times a year, and plane was always full/near full. I always enjoyed JB. Please bring these flights back.

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  • Posted by Wendi V on September 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    miss the non-stop flights between IAD-FLL yearound

  • Posted by N Colon on November 7, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Hi:

    love traveling with JetBlue.
    I Live in Ponce
    I travel 3 or 4 times a year to Florida.
    Please can you consider opening flights between Fort Lauderdale and Ponce
    thanks

  • Posted by Jim on December 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    No directs PittsburghJFK. Ouch. Don’t understand. Flights seem to be full. Off to LGA and Delta I guess.

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