JetBlue will begin flying to 2 London airports from Boston this summer
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London’s calling. Again.
New York-based JetBlue on Tuesday announced the details of its long-awaited service from Boston Logan Airport to London.
Flights will begin this summer to both Heathrow (LHR) and Gatwick (LGW) airports, CEO Robin Hayes said at a press conference at the airport.
Service to Gatwick launches July 19 while the Heathrow nonstops start Aug. 22.
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“[London is] simply the largest market out of Boston that we don’t serve,” Hayes added.
On the Gatwick route, JetBlue Flight 2104 will depart Boston and land in London at 6:35 a.m. the next morning, all times local. The return – JetBlue Flight 1926 – departs London at 12:15 p.m. for a scheduled arrival in Boston at 3:02 p.m.
The Heathrow-bound service from Boston will operate as JetBlue Flight 1620, departing at 6:32 p.m. with a scheduled arrival of 6:30 a.m., all times local. The return to Boston on JetBlue Flight 1621 is slated for an 8:25 a.m. departure and an arrival at 11:13 a.m.
Introductory fares on the routes begin at $499 round trip in JetBlue’s “core” economy product and at $1,949 round trip for its seats in its lie-flat Mint business-class cabin.
Even before Boston, London had been a long time coming for JetBlue.
The airline first announced its long-rumored transatlantic plans in April, 2019, at the time stating that it planned to launch service from New York-JFK and Boston in 2021. In May of last year, the airline said that it would fly from New York-JFK with daily service to both London Heathrow and London Gatwick — flights from JFK to London Heathrow were set in August, with flights to Gatwick beginning in September, although the airline reduced frequencies for the first few months as various pandemic-related border restrictions remained in place.
Boston service, however, was postponed to 2022, with the airline citing pandemic-related aircraft delivery delays.
The airline is bullish on the business opportunity presented by transatlantic travel, Hayes told TPG after Tuesday’s press conference, spurred by strong business on the initial New York-London routes.
“We thought that the majority of our point-of-sale would be the U.S., and that is the case, but our point-of-sale in the U.K. is actually higher than we expected at this point,” Hayes said.
Although most of the demand has been from leisure travelers and people visiting friends and relatives as both countries have reopened their borders, the airline is seeing business travel picking up on the route, especially in Mint business class, where Hayes said fares are often lower than similar nonstops.
“That gets people’s attention, since not every business traveler works for a big company with corporate fares,” he said.
One hinderence to growing the route, Hayes said, is the continuing requirement for passengers entering the U.S. to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours of departure.
“Some people don’t want to take the risk of traveling and getting caught with COVID and being stuck,” he said. “I think that’s what’s actually driving this strong domestic market.”
JetBlue’s on-board product to Boston
Service from Boston, like New York’s London flights, will be operated using JetBlue’s Airbus A321LR fleet, equipped with the airline’s top-of-the-line Mint Suites and Studios.
The 22 Mint Suites feature seats in a 1-1 Herringbone layout, with seats angled slightly in towards the aisle. Each suite is fully enclosed and has a sliding door that closes all the way, and features a 17-inch screen, plenty of storage spaces, and an integrated wireless phone charger. The two Mint Studios at the front of the cabin have a ton of extra space, two windows, a belted side seat (so a travel companion can come and chat, or so you can move around a bit), and a 22-inch screen. The Studios have a price premium over the Suite.
There are also 114 “Core” economy seats, 24 of which are “Even More Space” extra legroom seats.
All 114 seats feature adjustable headrests with what the airline describes as “shoulder-friendly sidewalls.” Core seats have 10.1-inch screens, USB and standard AC power ports, and organized seat pockets.
The airline offers a unique meal service in Core on the eastbound flights, partnering with New York-based Dig Inn to design a boutique “build-your-own” meal option. TPG staffers who’ve flown with the airline to London in Core seating — including this reporter — have been impressed.
In addition to London, JetBlue has its eyes set on destinations deeper into Europe. The airline has 13 of the even more extended range A321XLR in its order book, with the first scheduled for delivery at the end of 2024, and executives have repeatedly teased further-flung destinations.
“[The A321XLR] will give us greater access into central and Eastern Europe,” JetBlue president Joanna Geraghty told TPG in October.
“If you think about the range of the -321LR, think Western Europe, and think: where we do well tends to be overpriced markets where service is inferior. So longer-term, could it be Amsterdam, Paris, or Dublin? Those are some of the locations that I think the plane would do well from a range perspective,” she added at the time.
Featured image by David Slotnick/The Points Guy.
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