Dear Crewmembers –
We’ve proven for the last two decades that a small airline with a big heart can be a force for good and keep up with what’s important to travelers.
Back in 2000, we launched a great low-fare experience with leather seats, 24 channels of live TV, name brand snacks and friendly service. Since then, we’ve upped the ante with 100+ channels, the most legroom in coach*, free Wi-Fi, and more destinations – all offered through three fare options that give Customers choices.
Now we have another chance to bring humanity to a travel category that sorely needs the JetBlue touch.
Since deregulation of the U.S. airline industry 40 years ago, the number of people who have access to air travel has climbed. Ultra-low-cost carriers and basic economy options created a big market for bare-bones fares, and internet comparison sites encouraged more people to shop solely on price. Highly price-conscious travelers voted with their wallets, showing they are willing to give up some of the experience for the lowest fare possible.
At JetBlue, we never liked the “no frills” approach. But with these competitors now offering basic economy on many routes we fly, Customer behavior suggests our success is at risk if we do not disrupt this market by lowering fares without sacrificing the experience.
Inspiring Humanity in a World of Basic Economy
Later next year, we’ll evolve our current fare options (Blue, Blue Plus, Blue Flex) to give Customers the choices they want. This will attract ultra-low-fare seekers to JetBlue, where we can take better care of them than other airlines do. We’ll have options for the many Customers who shop on experience and loyalty too.
We are being careful to limit operational impact and keep our mission of humanity front and center. It’s too early to share brand names and specific features, and the IT work is just starting, but here’s a preview:
Our new lower fare will be anything but basic, designed to help Customers save while still offering the full JetBlue experience – the most legroom in coach*, free inflight entertainment, free Fly-Fi internet, free snacks and soft drinks, no overselling of flights, carry-on bag and personal item included, and great service. Customers who opt for this fare will agree to some limits, which might include things like boarding order, seating and change/cancelation flexibility, but we will not make them feel like second-class citizens.
We will also broaden the appeal of our other fare tiers. For example, very few Customers today select Blue Flex. We can boost interest in that fare if we lower the price and focus on Customers who value speed in the airport and change/cancel flexibility (see Blue More below).
What won’t change: our values and culture. We will work together as a team to make sure every Customer, no matter what fare they purchase, gets the same warm and helpful JetBlue service they love.
We’ve all heard the horror stories from Customers about ultra-low-cost travel. JetBlue can do better for them. If we add a fare that saves Customers money but still delivers the JetBlue experience, I can’t imagine why a traveler shopping on price would ever choose another airline over us.
President & COO
*based on average fleet-wide seat pitch for U.S. airlines.