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JetBlue is breaking the traditional mold for airlines once again. This time, it’s not an affordable top-flight premium product that is setting the carrier apart, but rather its new inflight beverage provider: Pepsi.
On Friday, the New York-based airline said it would be switching its inflight beverages from the industry-standard Coca-Cola products to Pepsi offerings. While this might seem like a subtle change, it puts JetBlue among only a handful of top airlines that don’t exclusively stock Coca-Cola soft drinks in their beverage carts worldwide.
A TPG investigation in January found that among more than 50 of the world’s biggest airlines, there are only a small number that serve primarily Pepsi products: Ryanair, Emirates, Pakistan International Airlines, and Wizz Air. Add to the list JetBlue, the sixth-largest US airline by passengers carried.
JetBlue says the switch to Pepsi is to bring “Customers exciting new product options they’ve asked for, while also fitting more offerings on to our carts, bringing sustainable benefits and controlling growing costs,” according to an email to inflight crew cited by Wandering Aramean. Starting June 3, JetBlue will begin serving Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Sierra Mist, Sierra Mist Zero Sugar, Bubbly Lime Sparkling Water, Canada Dry Seltzer, Canada Dry Tonic and Canada Dry Ginger Ale.
This is only the latest shift in the soda wars of the skies. As we reported in our January story, in the 1990s and early 2000s there was much more soft-drink competition among airlines. “In 1993, TWA announced it would switch from Coke to Pepsi, and two years later Air France did likewise, even wrapping one of its Concordes in Pepsi branding. In 2002, United joined Northwest Airlines and America West in serving the soft drink that called itself the choice of a new generation.”
In the past, flyers have not been pleased when airlines have made the switch from Coke to Pepsi. When United made the temporary change in 2002, “people were really upset,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and an active United flight attendant, said.
JetBlue claims its customers have been requesting Pepsi on board, so is this the beginning of a shift in the brand battle of Coke vs. Pepsi? Time (and frequent flyers) will decide.
Featured photo by Dong Wenjie / Getty Images.
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