6 New Cost Cuts at JetBlue: Are They Even Trying to Be Just a Little Less Bad Than Competitors Anymore?

Last month I covered JetBlue’s ad campaign that alright isn’t good enough, trying to set themselves apart from other airlines.

The airline is beloved, though much of the credit they get is based on past efforts. JetBlue isn’t nearly as good as it once was, they even led last year’s checked bag fee increase. They’ve squeezed seats, just not as much as American, Delta, and United. And their Achilles heel is operational reliability,

  • They are generally in the bottom half of the industry in on time operations
  • They don’t interline with other domestic carriers, so when flights cancel you’re stuck waiting for another JetBlue flight which can even take days
  • They have even had historically higher rates of involuntary denied boarding than other carriers, even with a policy of not overbooking their cabins (this is because of changing aircraft, swapping to planes with fewer seats than they’ve sold).

And of course JetBlue can barely be said to have a loyalty program.

Seth Miller outlines several new cost-cutting measures that JetBlue is taking with catering and aircraft cleanliness.

  • Moving from Coke to Pepsi
  • Pouring water instead of giving out individual bottles
  • Reducing cleaning staff in Boston — one cleaner per plane instead of two, “focused on cleaning the lavatory.”
  • Stretching a load of onboard snacks from one roundtrip out to two (increasing the likelihood that they run out of certain items on the second trip)
  • Starting September 1 business class (‘Mint’) will eliminate who fruit snacks, the box that MilkBar cookies come in, and Raaka chocolates.
  • Replacing Bulleit bourbon and Grey Goose vodka with Jack Daniels and Titos in business class.

JetBlue still offers free inflight internet and their coach seats have a bit more legroom, but the multi-year quest to become merely ‘a little less bad’ than competitors continues apace.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Bummer. JetBlue was a good alt airline at one point, but it looks like they are well down the slippery slope to me-too mediocrity. With overlapping hubs in JFK and Boston, I imagine Delta will make market share gains against against JetBlue (at those hubs).

  2. @ Gary — I just wish they would hurry up and have their inevitable merger with Alaska. These two airlines would be way better if they combined.

  3. On United, they got rid of Godiva chocolates and warm chocolate chip cookies on transcons JFK/SFO and LAX. After that, they got rid of a meal prior to landing. This was business class. It went down hill from there. 🙁

  4. Big deal. The only significant change is pouring water out of bottles, instead of personal bottles. We’re not exactly talking about squeezing in seats or making bathrooms the size of a peanut like AA here.

  5. As a frequent New York traveler that regularly flies routes where my choice is Delta or JetBlue, it’s an easy decision to book JetBlue ( as a Mosaic). Sure.. .Delta business class is sweet, if you can book well in advance and get a decent fare but God forbid if you need to make a change.
    Now that American had abandoned JFK, I’ll suffer through Pepsi over Coke and won’t be crushed if the flight attendants run out of Terra Blue Chips.
    I’ll take ” even more space ” and ” no change fees ” over Delta’s ” use it or lose it ” fare scheme, any time.
    JetBlue’s “barely ” loyalty program ??? …. Shhhhhh .. it’s the hands down best in the short haul domestic market.

  6. Gary Id love to see you book an award round-trip on AA-DL-or UA NY-LA for 11,600 or 15,800 like I was able to do thus far this summer. I couldnt even get a 1 way on the Merry 3 for what I paid to fly r/t . Id take B6 anyday over any of the Merry3

    btw what you wrote about B6 could have been for WN as well

  7. As someone who prefers Pepsi, I can only hope they serve diet Mountain Dew on board. I agree that these are absolutely cost cuts, but JetBlue typically relies on traveling crew members to help tidy up the planes anyway. What I would want to see is if one cleaner can clean all the bathrooms in time.

  8. I prefer diet coke but these are pretty minor complaints. Who drinks cheap bourbon anyway? If it’s not single malt then why bother.

    The mileage program (and elite program) continue to be the weak spots. But relatively looking better as UA, DL and AA continue their downward devaluation spiral

  9. As a transportation marketing “guru,” the only major gaffe by Jet Blue is its failure not to appreciate the significance of marketing data identifying tastes. Coke is at least 3 times more popular than Pepsi.

    Jet Blue should learn that only a monopoly like Amtrak can discard Coke, when we all know how Pepsi literally buys the market to pump the data (which does not relate to taste preference).

  10. Wow – I literally had no idea that people actually gave a shit when it comes to Coke or Pepsi. I know people prefer one or the other generally, but when I’m out and a person orders one and they get a reply “We don’t have that, We carry XXX” they always say OK.. and it’s never an issue. It’s essentially sugar water…. (shrug)

    I stopped flying JetBlue completely, when they started charging for bags. Prior to that, I would usually take 4-5 flights a year on JetBlue. Now it just don’t make sense. I often check bags, two if my wife comes with me. When it’s 3 hours or less domestic – I’d rather get miles I can use for international travel, and save money on luggage (co-brand cards) then have what is now only a slightly better in-flight experience.

  11. I fly Jetblue all the time. Their biggest problem is that they don’t interline. They still have very friendly staff on the plane, and customer service that fixes things and gives you credit. Mint is amazing! Jetblue coach compared to AA-no comparison-free WIFI, bigger seat, way bigger bathroom, backscreen TV with free movie and other entertainment-easy choice!!

  12. Love JetBlue but they are dead to me now because no service from NYC to Washington. A combo with Alaska might help.

  13. I consider Tito’s an upgrade over Grey Goose. At best it is a personal preference but obviously your bias factors into you considering this a “downgrade”. Also, nice IMHO that they are supporting an American company over a French one.

    Gary – I have to admit you nit pick worse than an old hen.

  14. Ben Baldanza is on their board now. It was a matter of time before he started to destroy the company. This is what he did at Spirit before they finally kicked him out. Sad to see this happened at jetBlue. Although like you said, their operational reliability is a shame. I know whey they started out reliability and on time flights were very critical.

  15. Yeah, having Ben Baldanza on the Board pretty much means the wrecking ball is on its way towards the final destruction of anything remotely resembling a passenger centric focus.

    Not that there has been one since Dave Barger was forced out in 2015, but it’s hard to imagine that having Baldanza on board means improving things that matter to anyone but shareholders, with passengers be damned.

    It’ll be like watching a loved one fading into oblivion as this airline piles on ever more service and product degradations.

    32” row pitch vs the 34” that’s being eliminated hardly gives anyone that much reason to pick this airline over Delta (or most others) anymore…

    And the 35” pitch for most “Even More Space” rows in refurbed A320s is a far cry from the 38” pitch in most rows that it soon won’t be anymore!

  16. Though changes don’t really seem consequential.

    “And of course JetBlue can barely be said to have a loyalty program.”

    Back in the day it was really great. And also they did status matching, so you could get Mosaic for nada.

  17. Grey Goose to Tito’s is fine, Tito’s is actually pretty good. But the downgrade from Bulleit to Jack is quite big… not that drinks are what makes an airline good

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