JetBlue Updates Website To Avoid Confusion With New American Airlines Partner

An American Airlines plane lands on the runway near a parked JetBlue plane at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport on July 16, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Joe Radl | Getty Images

JetBlue Airways’ next challenge, in partnership with American Airlines, is to make sure travelers know whose plane they will be flying.

JetBlue is updating its website to more clearly identify services on offer, such as free Wi-Fi and snacks, or Mint Business Class for co-branded flights, JetBlue President and COO Joanna Geraty said in an interview this week.

“Transparency removes confusion,” Geraghty said. “It makes people feel comfortable knowing what they are getting when they arrive, and it also allows us to talk about our great product offerings and allows American to talk about theirs.”

The New York-based airline rocked US airlines when it debuted in February 2000 by offering seatbacks with satellite TV, and has since offered its Mint Business Class at a lower price point than its competitors and with more legroom. than the competition. Competitors such as United Airlines are making multi-billion dollar investments to improve the customer experience.

In February, American and JetBlue launched the Northeast Alliance, a partnership that allows carriers to sell each other’s plane tickets and agree on timetables across the region.

Although JetBlue has grown rapidly in two decades, it remains small compared to the major network operators.

Airline executives say the deal helps them better compete with major rivals United and Delta Air Lines at the normally congested airports in Boston and New York.

But the services and aircraft are different for each airline. JetBlue offers free Wi-Fi, seat back screens and sells alcoholic beverages. American Airlines is selling Wi-Fi services and has suspended the sale of alcoholic beverages on domestic bus services due to a surge in unruly travelers this year. Some American Airlines aircraft have seat-back entertainment, although they generally offer free streaming content for passengers’ personal devices, as well as Apple TV + and Apple Music, which are not specifically listed on JetBlue’s website.

“It’s important for us to make sure customers know what they’re buying,” Geraghty said. The redesign will likely include items to show what each flight has to offer, she added, and will take months.

Brand protection

Enhancements to the JetBlue website demonstrate the difficulty of communicating service differences, even if airlines are selling flights to each other.

“It’s basically a marriage of convenience that has a price tag for the brand,” said Samuel Engel, senior vice president of aviation at the consulting firm ICF. “More experienced travelers know the difference. [in service]and less experienced travelers tend to be more price-oriented. “

Searching for flights on each airline’s websites for the routes covered by the agreement now displays flights in small print, whether they are operated by JetBlue or American.

Not all rates are available. American does not sell regular JetBlue economy tickets. An American Airlines spokesman said the Fort Worth-based airline plans to change that eventually, but selling it alongside its own product could confuse passengers.

JetBlue Economy Base fares do not allow travelers to bring their luggage bag with them, while US fares do. The carrier has also eased its major economic constraints.

Other differences: In the list of travel options on the JetBlue website, there is a link to “amenities offered” for its own flights, but not for American flights. American notes that Wi-Fi is available on JetBlue and American flights, but not that it’s free on JetBlue.

American said it plans to eventually customize its site to display more detailed service information. It recently revamped its website to provide seat maps for JetBlue and American and allow customers to access their bookings from any carrier.

This fall, it plans to provide elite frequent flyer benefits from every airline with such a status.

“Over the summer, we fixed some of the customer issues that we fixed,” said the spokeswoman.

The partnership is now under fire.

Six States Department of Justice and the District of Columbia sued carriers last month over the partnership, claiming it would violate antitrust laws and would lead to higher fares. The carriers deny the accusations and say the partnership has helped them increase the number of flights in the region.

“It represents a very viable third competitor for Delta and United in the northeast,” Geraghty said. “We are very confident in our position before the Ministry of Justice.” The Justice Department and the Department of Transportation did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

While JetBlue and American agree on timetables and routes to and from Boston and New York, they are not allowed to collaborate on fare or pricing information.

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