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Earlier this year, JetBlue finally got the London Heathrow slots that it so desperately needs to give its new transatlantic routes the best possible chance of success, and today the airline finally put the routes from New York to Heathrow and Gatwick on sale. There’s good news for US travelers but it’s the UK-based travelers that will probably be cheering loudest.
JetBlue’s New York – Heathrow Route
JetBlue will launch its first-ever transatlantic service on 11 August 2021 when flight 7 will take off from New York JFK bound for London Heathrow. The route will be operated daily with the schedule currently looking like this:
B67 JFK 22:10 – 10:10+1 day LHR (Daily)
B620 LHR 18:10 – 21:43 JFK (Daily)
JetBlue’s base at JFK is in Terminal 5 while its new home at London Heathrow will be in Terminal 2 but it’s important to note that JetBlue’s rights to fly into and out of Heathrow are currently temporary and there’s no guarantee that this route is going to be around long-term. As JetBlue’s CEO Robin Hayes put it:
“Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world, and our initial schedule is made possible due to temporary slot availability from the past year. We continue to work with the slot coordinators and the U.S. and U.K. governments to identify long-term pathways to continue serving Heathrow, as we believe the public benefit from true competition into this market will be extremely meaningful.”
The new route between New York JFK and London Heathrow will be operated by JetBlue’s new A321LR aircraft which come fitted with new cabins designed especially for this aircraft.
JetBlue’s New York – Gatwick Route
JetBlue will add to its transatlantic offering on 29 September 2021 when it launches its route between New York JFK and London Gatwick. As things stand, this is what the schedule looks like:
B643 JFK 19:50 – 07:55 LGW (Daily)
B644 LGW 12:00 – 15:33 JFK (Daily)
JetBlue will be using Gatwick’s North Terminal (the home of easyJet) as its second London base.
The airline’s position at Gatwick looks a little more certain than its position at Heathrow with Robin Hayes confirming that JetBlue has “an incredible opportunity to secure long term slots in London’s second-largest airport” and, importantly, the flight times from Gatwick to New York are considerably more helpful to passengers wishing to connect on to somewhere else in the United States than the flight times out of Heathrow.
The new route between New York JFK and London Gatwick will also be operated by JetBlue’s new A321LR aircraft complete with new cabins designed especially for this aircraft.
JetBlue is known for being a disruptor in the markets it expands into (its effect on the US transcontinental market since it introduced its Mint Business Class product has been significant) and it’s looking to have the same effect on transatlantic travel.
Prices for travel originating in New York seem to be starting at around $550 roundtrip for Bue Basic fares, $700 for roundtrip Blue fares, $750 for roundtrip Blue Extra Fares, and $1,920 for roundtrip Mint Business Class fares:
Prices for travel originating in the UK are, for a limited time, spectacular.
Based on a few quick searches it looks like fares start at around £290 (~$405) roundtrip for Blue Basic fares, £390 (~$545) for roundtrip Blue fares, £440 (~$615) for roundtrip Blue Extra Fares, and £990 (~$1,385) for roundtrip Mint Business Class fares:
Note: All of the best fares that I have seen so far include a Saturday night stay.
Here’s what Robin Hayes had to say about pricing:
“The pandemic has opened doors to London’s two busiest airports, and we look forward to bringing customers low fares and great service at both Heathrow and Gatwick.”
“JFK-LHR, the single largest international air travel market from the US, has long suffered from outrageously high fares for far too long, especially in premium cabins. We’re ready to change that with a price point and experience that will impress even the most discerning transatlantic flyers.”
No one should be expecting the £990 roundtrip Mint fares (ex. London) to be a permanent feature, but they certainly help make JetBlue’s point that it wants to make a statement in the latest market that it’s entering. It will be interesting to see if or how airlines like British Airways, American, United, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic react to these fares. Will this trigger a fare war (hopefully!) or will the other major airlines sit back and wait to see how things pan out?
JetBlue has put its new routes between New York JFK and London on sale and it’s clearly looking to make a statement to UK flyers who may not know the airline as well as travelers on the other side of the pond. At under $2,000 for roundtrip Business Class travel between New York and London, the ex. USA fares from JetBlue aren’t amazing but they’re still pretty good (for one of the more expensive routes in the world). At under £1,000 for roundtrip Business Class travel between London and New York and London, the ex. UK fares are fantastic and well worth a speculative purchase (most UK-based travelers are still banned from flying to the US) for later in the year.
What do you think of the new routes, the flight timings, and the pricing?
There are different definitions of ‘speculative punt’, of course.
By your own admission, these fares won’t be permanent. Let’s assume that I am still not allowed to travel to the US in September but the flight is operating. B6 may allow me a free date change BUT the fare difference will be substantial.
True, it’s very possible that the fare difference will be substantial but no one would be forced to accept a fare increase – JetBlue would also allow passengers to get a refund in the form of a future travel credit (https://www.jetblue.com/travel-alerts). For some this will not be a good outcome (because they don’t really have any interest in flying with JetBlue other than when there’s an amazing fare available) while for others it’s an acceptable outcome. For the former group, a speculative punt would be a bad idea while for the latter group it wouldn’t be.
It’s also worth noting that the £990 RT fares are available into November and if issues with Covid-19 means that Biden/Johnson haven’t restarted TATL travel by then, JetBlue’s cancellation policy will be the least of our problems.
[…] few months ago, when JetBlue was offering some excellent Business Class fares on its new New York – London routes, I went against a long-term policy of mine and booked a trip through an online travel agency. […]
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