JetBlue Founder’s New Airline Launches in 2020 and Won’t Have a Phone Number

Back in June word leaked that JetBlue founder Dave Neeleman is launching a new airline in the U.S.

He sold Morris Air to Southwest, was involved founding WestJet, and has stakes in Brazil’s Azul and Portugal’s Star Alliance carrier TAP. He has an order for 60 Airbus A220s (formerly the Bomnbardier C-Series), with options for 60 more.

Neeleman boasts his new airline will offer travel that is “twice as fast and for half the price” — in part from offering new non-stop routes so passengers avoid connections and in part because of low costs.

  • They’ll fly “hundreds of routes” and expects most will be routes not served non-stop today, including US to Europe and South America (such as Florida to Northern Brazil).

  • There will be no way to call customer service. Everything will be done by app.

    “You don’t have to speak to us,” Neeleman said. “You won’t be able to speak to us. You’ll be able to reach out to us and you’ll be able to chat with us and we’ll call you. You won’t be able to call us because everything will be functional.”

    He said the airline will use chat for initial customer contacts, and the agents will call the customers back to resolve issues.

  • Check-in will be on-line and mobile only. There will be no option to check in with an agent.

  • It doesn’t matter what name the airline goes by.

    “I could call this airline crap and people will love it because of the way I’m going to treat them,” Neeleman said.

Swiss International Air Lines new Bombardier CSeries passenger jet on display at Singapore Airshow, Copyright: prestonia / 123RF Stock Photo

Launch isn’t imminent, the first planes are expected in 2020, so it will be some time before we know what the carrier looks like. I don’t love how difficult it is to find answers to basic questions about what happens when things go wrong at Amazon, do not like online chat (it always takes longer than it should).

I wonder if air travel, which is often challenging because of air traffic congestion, security, weather, and mechanical issues might be different from Amazon and that marketing consultants suggesting these things to Neeleman may not understand what goes into the travel experience. Although given the experience he has in the industry he starts with a tremendous benefit of the doubt.

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, 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. Did he forget the meltdown at JetBlue while he was still running the airline (one of the reasons he run away to Brazil) back in February 2007 with worst delay and passenger stuck in the planes for hours on Valentine’s Day? He better come up with solid options how to handle that before going on “app” only customer service!

  2. The customer service center for the new airline will be solely staffed by JonNYC, who will use Twitter to tweet and twat everything, Customers can expect to receive harsh-toned tweets [personal attack removed -gl]

  3. I wonder if the more apt business model comparison is uber and not amazon. Seems like Neeleman wants to use tech to streamline the essentials and keep costs down. He’s probably foregoing an older market segment, but with the exception of lack of desirable gates and control over the security experience, seems like a ripe opportunity to improve the baseline experience.

  4. “I didn’t say I thought it was a bad idea”

    Read that phrase 10 times, each time emphasizing a different word. It highlights that even a simple sentence can have multiple meanings and it can be difficult to understand what is really important. Perhaps some conversations can be done more efficiently via phone and I completely agree that online chat seems to always take longer than expected.

  5. Looking forward to hearing more details, it would be nice to have an airline as disruptive to the legacy carriers as Uber was to the ….ummm….what do you call them again….oh yeah, taxis.

  6. I have a feeling that he is going to be wholly-dependent on subsidies from desperate 2nd-tier airports in order to launch this thing. I read before that he is going to fly mostly into airports where there isn’t even commercial service right now, like Fort Worth Meacham, Cleveland Burke, Gary Indiana, Columbus Rickenbacker, and other similar airports.

    Not sure if that’s a winning model though, since airlines have such huge fixed costs. You have to have sufficient scale. Oh well, more choice is a good thing.

  7. Slow clap for @wadacash – great example.

    Try calling the airline Trump Air, then see what happens.

  8. Lol Dave Neeleman keeps it interesting. I will be glad to see more competition in the U.S. market.

  9. Online chat seems convenient but I have typically encountered slow response times in the back and forth discussion. I once pressed an agent for why the slow replies and learned the agent was handling more than one chat at a time.

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