Back in 2019, as it announced its plan to start transatlantic flights, US carrier JetBlue (B6) introduced the term “disruptive”, referred to the way it would revolutionize the fare system on the US-UK market. Two years later, as the first venture of the airline outside North and Central America is about to begin (flights between New York Kennedy and London Heathrow will premiere on August 11), The Airline Guru has investigated to find out if that anticipated “disruption” is going to happen for real.
So, we browsed JetBlue’s website plus those of its competitors offering non-stop services on the New York-London market, including British Airways (BA), Virgin Atlantic (VS), American Airlines (AA), United Airlines (UA) and Delta Airlines (DL). In order to have a picture as “clean” as possible from the effects of the demand peaks of the summer season and by the remnants of the Covid-effect, the Guru examined the tariff system looking for return fares on a couple of weekdays at the half of October. And this is what we found out.
Travelling on JetBlue across the Atlantic is more convenient for those starting their trip in London. In fact, the lowest indicated fare from LHR to JFK stands at GBP229 (USD323) with the lowest from JFK to LHR fixed at just GBP94 (USD133), which makes for a total of GBP323 (USD456) in Blue Basic, which allows passengers to bring onboard a small hand baggage plus a personal item but requires them to pay for seat selection and for checked bags. Travelling from New York to London and back is far more expensive, as the lowest fare from JFK to LHR stands at USD202 (GBP143) with the lowest on the way back at USD394 (GBP279), which results in a total of USD596 (GBP421), always in Blue Basic.
A difference which makes it reasonable to think that JetBlue decided to “bet” on traffic originating mainly from the UK, at least in this embryonic phase of its transatlantic venture. As a matter of courtesy towards the newcomer, The Airline Guru used the US carrier’s lowest Economy return fare to make a comparison with what its competitors are able to offer, considering the same fare category, the same “direction” of the trip and the same period of the year (October 2021).
British Airways and American Airlines offer almost identical prices on the LHR-JFK/JFK-LHR rotation: BA’s LHR-JFK lowest indicated fare stands at GBP262 (USD370), with JFK-LHR starting from GBP127 (USD180), totalling GBP389 (550USD). AA’s grand total stands at GBP390 (USD551).
The two Oneworld and Atlantic partnership members have built a sort of a cartel with Virgin Atlantic and Delta Airlines, which also offer basic fares for the same round-trip from GBP389 (USD500), while United Airlines, which in the New York area flies to and from its Newark (EWR) hub, offers tickets from USD517 (GBP366), although its Basic Economy fare cannot be compared with JetBlue’s, as it does not include a carry-on bag, but simply a personal item (as if one crossed the Atlantic with just a backpack…).
So… all considered, someone could say that JetBlue will not revolutionize the fare system on the London-NY market, as Norwegian did a few years ago. But. that someone should consider that JetBlue, far from being a low-cost, is truly a full-service carrier, offering food, drinks, inflight entertainment and even free wi-fi, all included in its basic fare, which is 17% lower that the lowest fare offered by its competitors. So… all summoned, looks like rather revolutionary. (Photo header JetBlue)