Logan to London: JetBlue’s newest UK flight touches down at Gatwick

Aug 5, 2022

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Adam Hunneyman was surprised as he approached gate C8 at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) Thursday evening. Already full of anticipation for his first overseas flight, he came around the corner to the sight of balloons, music and British flags.

“At first I wondered, are all international flights like this?” he said.

It turns out, he’d inadvertently booked a seat on a historic flight.

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Just after 6 a.m. local time Friday morning, Hunneyman and his fellow passengers – myself included – touched down in the United Kingdom after 6 hours and 12 minutes of flying aboard JetBlue Flight 2104. The landing, met by applause on board, put an exclamation point on JetBlue’s first-ever nonstop flight from Boston to London Gatwick Airport (LGW).

It also marked the latest foray by JetBlue across the Atlantic Ocean and a milestone in the New York-based carrier’s expansion into Europe.

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jetblue inaugural flight aircraft
JetBlue’s Airbus A321LR, which flies its transatlantic routes, sits at the gate in Boston ahead of the inaugural flight to London Gatwick Airport. (Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

A flight years in the making

While Hunneyman was caught off guard by the theatrics of Thursday evening’s inaugural flight from Logan to Gatwick, more attuned aviation enthusiasts know this a long-awaited route.

Back in May 2021, when JetBlue first announced the details of its service between New York and London, it was clear Boston would eventually serve the U.K., too. The question was when.

Amid the pandemic, delays in preparing the airline’s small, growing fleet of brand-new Airbus A321LR (long range) aircraft limited the service to nonstop flights out of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). The JFK to London inaugural flight flew late last summer.

robin hayes jetblue remarks
JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes gives remarks ahead of the Boston to London inaugural flight. (Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

The Boston to London launch got further pushed back earlier this summer amid more aircraft delivery delays, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes noted during gate-side remarks Thursday.

But now?

“We’re very, very happy,” Hayes said.

jetblue inaugural gatwick gate party
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Pomp and circumstance fit for the destination and occasion

Unlike some passengers who simply booked this flight because of its price or schedule, I approached the gate with full knowledge there would be a party of sorts.

I was therefore less surprised to find JetBlue staff dressed like Buckingham Palace guards ushering guests toward the boarding area with signaling sticks.

jetblue inaugural gatwick gate party
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

There were cardboard replicas of Big Ben and the Tower Bridge, a massive British flag, and music by the Beatles playing in the background.

That the giant letters signifying the evening’s destination — L-G-W — sat under a Dunkin’ Donuts sign seemed fitting given the coffee and doughnut chain’s prominence in Boston … not to mention the fact that JetBlue serves the brand’s coffee while in flight. (More on that in a moment.)

jetblue bos lgw gate party
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

There was no need to fill up on food before arriving at the gate. Refreshments included afternoon tea, bread pudding and an ice cream sundae bar.

Passengers could also stock up on pre-flight collectibles, including an inaugural flight commemorative bag tag.

Of course, looming in the background of the festivities, outside in the searing 97-degree heat, sat one of JetBlue’s four Airbus A321LR jets awaiting its first load of Boston-to-London passengers.

jetblue bos lgw gate party
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

About 5:30 p.m. – around an hour before the scheduled departure – airline, airport and regional leaders cut a ribbon signifying Flight 2904 was cleared for takeoff — symbolically, at least.

jetblue boston gatwick ribbon cutting
(Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)

Before it was time for wheels up, though, we had to see how things on board stacked up with the product JetBlue has rolled out on its only other comparable route.

jetblue bos lgw inaugural plane
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Checking out the cabin

Walking on board JetBlue’s Airbus A321LR bound for London, you instantly got the sense it was time to start winding down for the evening. With windows closed on this sweltering day, the soft blue glow of the lighting in the ceiling provided quite the contrast to the bright sunshine outside.

That this contrast might be a bit on the jarring side speaks to the hour at which this Boston-to-London flight departs. With departure set for just after 6:30 p.m. (and arrival in London scheduled for just after 6 a.m., all times local), you may have to contend with difficulties both getting shut-eye at such an early hour (by Eastern time zone standards), as well as the sizable gap between the early morning touchdown in London and hotel check-in time.

jetblue bos lgw inaugural plane
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

The soft lighting helps, though. So, too, do the lie-flat seats, pillow and amenity kits waiting for travelers who booked a Mint suite or studio. Just like on JetBlue’s service between New York and London, there are two dozen of them arranged in 1-1 configuration, each with sizable entertainment screens, storage and side tables.

It’s certainly JetBlue’s biggest step so far toward competing with larger carriers’ premium seating — and it shows in the pricing.

For instance, if you were to book this route for mid-October in Mint seating, a round trip goes for close to $4,000.

jetblue booking screenshot
(Screenshot from jetblue.com)

On the other hand, the cheapest rate in the main cabin – Blue Basic on that same itinerary — goes for $530. TPG paid $2,189 for my round trip, which included a seat in coach on board the inaugural flight.

jetblue booking screenshot
(Screenshot from jetblue.com)

In the main cabin, it’s a 3-3 configuration, which makes up the vast majority of the 114 total passengers this Airbus can carry.

jetblue bos lgw inaugural plane
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

On this night, those of us seated in coach received additional UK-themed souvenirs commemorating the inaugural flight, along with a rolled-up blanket and a silicon toiletries bag that included moisturizing lotion, lip balm, a mint and socks.

It also included the more customary eye mask and ear plugs.

As a kid, I always enjoyed flying JetBlue because of its entertainment screens with live television, even on the shortest domestic routes. The screens on this transatlantic route are an upgrade from JetBlue’s more legacy aircraft, with touchscreen capability and mobile phone pairing available.

jetblue bos lgw inaugural plane
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

The screen (which greeted me by name without me inputting any of my information while on board) is also how you’ll order your dinner – which, like on JetBlue’s New York to London route, is provided by New York-based Dig.

In flight

Having just mentioned food orders, I should note that this came first on this flight. The flight attendants asked all passengers to take care of their orders while we were still on the ground.

I was prompted to select one main dish (I chose the meatballs with brown rice; other choices were jerk chicken with coconut rice or smoky chili tofu with herb wild rice) along with two sides. For my sides, I selected cucumbers with vegan ranch dressing and macaroni and cheese.

jetblue bos lgw inaugural plane
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

We pushed back on schedule, but spent a bit of time on the ground at Logan. After 20 minutes of taxiing, the captain came on the intercom to say we would have to wait another 10 minutes or so. But that was tied to a rare piece of good news: The captain said the crew was anticipating such strong tailwinds that we’d get to Gatwick too early if we took off immediately.

Minutes later, though – at 7:06 p.m. — we took off. I saw it as an opportunity to crack open the shade and grab a quick photo of the view of the water you get when taking off or landing at Logan.

boston takeoff bos-lgw
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Almost immediately, the inflight internet service ramped up; it’s always free on JetBlue. I ran a quick speed test and it registered as “fine.” I’d agree it was “fine” – far better than what I’ve experienced on plenty of domestic flights, to be sure.

internet speed test
(Screenshot from Google.com)

About a half hour after takeoff, the first drink service began. JetBlue offers complimentary drinks even in the main cabin on its European flights, so I ordered a pre-dinner glass of white wine, which proved refreshing as the cabin began to cool down after sitting on the sweltering tarmac all afternoon. It was a crisp white with citrus notes, though I didn’t catch the brand.

jetblue inflight service
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

As we hit the Atlantic time zone and continued northeast, the sun set.

sunset over north atlantic
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

That seemed to be the cue for dinner.

Having had few appetizing meals in coach in my life, the spread from Dig was easily a win. I’d characterize each of my selections as “small plates.” I was impressed that all the dishes – even the macaroni and cheese – didn’t dry out too much, a frequent complaint when it comes to inflight meals.

jetblue inflight service
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

I will note that the flight attendants did not offer a second-round drink choice with dinner – the tray simply came with a bottle of water.

Dessert was an ice cream cookie “Chomp” sandwich.

jetblue inflight service
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

At this point, we were due south of Greenland, and until now, the soft blue lighting had remained on in the cabin. The crew eventually dimmed the lighting further as more passengers went to sleep. This lasted a couple of hours before the soft blue lighting — and then warmer lighting — returned as we began to get a glimpse of the sunrise. At this point we were approaching the coast of Ireland and it was around 5 a.m. London time, about five hours into the flight.

sunrise in ireland
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Breakfast included a choice of fruit or a chocolate croissant; I picked the latter.

jetblue inflight service
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Then came a final morning drink service, which included an option for Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

jetblue inflight service
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

If you’ve only flown into Heathrow previously, the approach to Gatwick (now in full daylight) included views not of skyscrapers, but of the English countryside.

bos lgw final descent gatwick
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Flight 2104 touched down at Gatwick at 6:18 a.m., nearly 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

On the ground, it was a 5- to 10-minute wait as ground crews got the gate ready.

on ground at gatwick
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Arriving in London

Having heard nightmares this summer about long wait times in nearly every facet of air travel in Europe, I’m pleased to report my trip through customs was the single easiest I’ve ever had anywhere, including with Global Entry in the U.S.

I did not have to wait for a single person ahead of me in line at passport control, where a quick scan of my passport prompted the gates to open up.

gatwick ticketing area
The ticketing area at London Gatwick Airport. (Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

From there, an airport tram ride took me to the Gatwick rail station, where I paid $25 for a ride on the Gatwick Express. Similar to the Heathrow Express, it’s a pricier but smoother ride from the airport to a key connection point in central London – in this case, Victoria Station, where you can transfer to the Tube or various other options.

While it is a longer ride than the Heathrow Express – about a half hour on this Friday morning – it couldn’t have been a more pleasant trip. There was barely anyone else in my car, and the ride was very quiet. The Gatwick Express could be a great option for getting to and from Gatwick if you fly this new London route.

A new era for JetBlue

Don’t count 15-year-old Nate Gustafson among the travelers who booked this trip to London without knowing its historic significance.

Wearing a shirt that warned he “may spontaneously talk about airplanes,” he showed up (with his parents in tow) precisely for the pomp and circumstance the occasion sparked.

passenger boards jetblue inaugural
15-year-old Nate Gustafson prepares to board the JetBlue flight to London. (Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

“I’ve always wanted to go on an inaugural flight,” he explained.

Even at a young age, he has high hopes for what the new JetBlue service could mean for New Englanders like his family from Worcester, Massachusetts.

“It brings prices down,” Gustafson predicted of nonstop London service.

Whether that turns out to be true is a trend worth watching, particularly given the proliferation of transatlantic service not just on JetBlue, but also on a growing list of low-cost carriers.

jetblue coach bos lgw
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

“Our customers now have a choice when they’re traveling to London, and we think that’s wonderful,” Massport Director of Aviation Edward Freni said during his remarks Thursday evening.

london red double decker buses
(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Of course, the new choices benefit more travelers than just those who use Logan Airport. The addition of this service now gives JetBlue London service from both Boston and New York.

In the meantime, though, JetBlue is in the process of setting a more immediate “first.” Its inaugural return flight from Gatwick to Logan is scheduled to land in Boston at 3:13 p.m. Friday.

Featured photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy.

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