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JetBlue Gives You Less

by Lux Joseph 16. December 2014

Jetblue Airlines and Southwest airlines appear to be the only two US Carriers that still allow passengers to travel with one checked bag free of charge. For travelers, this is a luxury considering every other airline charges a fee for a checked bag and those rates van vary among carriers. But is Jetblue shifting their philosophy and joining the reins of their competitors by adding baggage fees to their products?
 
JetBlue Airways recently made the decision to charge for checked bags in the upcoming quarter after pressure from analysts advising them to align their fees with their competitors. When we asked our travel agent how he thinks this will affect passengers he stated, A lot of individuals still look to JetBlue and Southwest because of the first bag checked for free however, that is primarily your travelers who dont travel frequently. Most individuals who travel frequently have status with one or more of the airlines, or have a credit card that pays for the first checked bag to ultimately it will not affect them. The decision to charge for bag fees was not a single decision made by JetBlue Airways. This shift comes with other changes including fare structures, legroom in economy class, and plane configuration.
 
As mentioned earlier, these decisions were driven by a Wall Street viewpoint to increase the maximum revenue potential for JetBlue Airways. In regards to checked bags, JetBlue plans to introduce a fare structure that will be three tiered based on the number of bags the guest has. Similar to other airline programs, the higher fares offer more flexibility and increased number of frequent flier points to be earned. Just a small increase for the airline will drive approximately 65 million in additional revenue for 2015.
 
Along with the fare structure change, JetBlue is reconfiguring their airplanes to add additional seats. This is another attempt to add additional revenue to their sales portfolio. However, this will affect the customer experience with a decrease in seat pitch. JetBlues current seat pitch is 34.7 inches. However after the planes new configuration the seat pitch will decrease to 33.1. The average traveler may be disgruntled by this change, but JetBlue will still lead the industry with the largest seat pitch. On the A320s the increased number of seats will go to 165 whereas they could have increased it to 180. JetBlue believes in the customer experience, but also realizes its place in the industry. In the USA alone we have seen the number of major domestic carriers decrease year over year due to bankruptcy and mergers. JetBlue is attempting to find a medium between making the numbers profitable, and also meeting the needs of their customers.
 
When JetBlue Airways first introduced these changes, the first thought from consumers was negative, but that is because the change hasnt been fully processed by the traveler. They have decreased the seat pitch, but they are still ahead of all their competitors. They are beginning to charge for bags, but they still will have fares that include a first bag checked for free. JetBlue is leaving the decision up to the customer as to whether they add a fee to their flight or choose a fare in which it is included. These fares are scheduled to begin in early 2015.
 
Southwest will soon reign as the only USA carrier to include the first checked bag free of charge. While Southwest may see this as an opportunity to acquire a share of JetBlues customer’s who oppose the fee; it will be interesting to see if these changes actually shift customers to look at Southwest as their new carrier of choice. When travelers look for an airline ticket there are a variety of factors that are considered including fare cost, baggage fees, destinations, seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, etc. A small change like this may not mean a loss of business for JetBlue, but instead, additional revenue that was sitting on table.
 

 

Travel Expansion in Canada

by Lux Joseph 6. December 2013

Travel is changing each and every day. These changes range from new airline routings, new equipment, new hotels, updated airport terminals, travel advisories for certain destinations, new cruise lines, and new and improved frequent flier programs. Each of these changes can be viewed as transformations to not only the travel industry, but they also provide new and exciting opportunities for Commercial Medical Escorts. Our company works closely with a variety of different industries including healthcare, travel, transportation, customer service, and travel insurance. Changes in any of the industries can have an impact on CME and so it is important to keep up to date with these changes.

When traveling in/around Canada many people are familiar with Air Canada and Westjet; the two major players among airlines within Canada. However, recent news shows that a Vancouver-based trio is looking into launching a budget carrier within Canada. Budget carriers within the United States include Southwest, Air Tran Airways, Spirit, Allegiant and JetBlue.  Over the past three years the profit margins for JetBlue have continued on a positive track. When individuals, like this Vancouver-based trio, see other low cost carriers showing leading margins year after year in the USA, it provides insight for a program to be modeled after. This new competitor within Canada will not necessarily take business from the two major players, but provide a service that is not currently being capitalized upon: low cost, no frills flights. With that being said, West Jet is not going to just sit and watch it happen.

WestJet currently offers service across Canada, United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean. In the near future (Summer 2014) we can expect to see a daily flight between St. John’s Newfoundland and Dublin, Ireland. Currently WestJet does not offer any transatlantic routes, but this is just the beginning of that type of expansion. As with any new plan, expansion, improvement, or addition to a company, there is a process that takes place before launching something new. This process includes brainstorming, screening the idea, testing the concept, understanding the business analytics, conducting beta and marketability tests, technicalities and product development, commercialization, and post launch review and perfect pricing. The new routing will introduce the first nonstop service from St. John’s Newfoundland to Dublin, but it will also open up new routings to Dublin starting at other connection points within the WestJet service hubs. Should this service be successful, I believe we will see WestJet entering into our European markets including London, Frankfurt, Paris, and Madrid. Dublin was the first choice due to the airport authority offering incentives to attract new carriers like WestJet.

With new routings being introduced, carriers are also evaluating their current routes and determining if service should continue. Recently SouthWest has announced plans to discontinue service to Branson Airport, Key West International Airport, and Jackson-Evers International Airport. A date at which this will occur has not been determined, but Southwest states it will not affect travel within the next six months. American Airlines also recently discontinued service from New York JFK Airport to Tokyo Haneda International Airport on December 1, 2013. All of the services that are discontinued or canceled are done primarily because of limited profit on the routing. For American Airlines, they were allowed to only operate during restricted hours that limited their ability to offer connecting service to other Asia destinations. With all airlines, one canceled service, just opens up new opportunities for them to explore.

For each and every patient we transport home, we strive to find the most direct routing for the patient. Since we are working with commercial airlines, we are restricted to their availability and routings offered. Some flights are daily flights and other flights only operate on individual days. Our inside travel department provides us weekly updates with new information and this allows for only the most up to date travel information. The itinerary for a patient is very important to ensure a safe transfer home and delivering a variety of options to our clients allows flexibility and choice for the client.

Jetblue to Introduce Lie Flat Seats and Suites on Transcontinental Flights in 2014

by Lux Joseph 23. August 2013
When transporting patients around the world, we are continuously awaiting to see new routings, products, and classes of services provided by the airlines and their partners. Each and every patient has separate criteria for transport and depending on the needs of the patient we need to align the best routing available. We transport our patients in a business class/first class seats, but even when you look at premium classes of service there are different products. Some of these products and enhancements that we are particularly interested in include lie flat seating, angled lie flat, plane seating configuration, and direct routing availability. We are pleased to find out that JetBlue will be introducing lie flat seating in 2014 on their transcontinental flight on some of their most popular routings.
 
Currently some airlines that offer this product include Delta, American, and United. However, we are hoping that JetBlue entering into this market will introduce lower fares and more availability for this premium product. There are many patients that need to be transferred within the United States via air ambulance. However, many of these patients could be a candidate for a commercial stretcher service. Unfortunately no domestic airlines currently offer stretcher service, but these newly added premium products can offer an alternative for a patient who needs to lie flat during transport. To qualify for this the patient has to be able to sit up for takeoff and landing, but they will be able to remain in a stretcher position (lie flat) for the duration of the long haul flight across the United States. When our operations department is working with our travel department to secure the best routing for a patient availability of this product is currently limited and sells out very quickly. With Jetblue introducing this in the second quarter of 2014 we are looking forward to being able to provide additional options for our clients.
 
Jetblue is recognized across the travel industry as low cost American carrier. Other lost cost carriers include Southwest and Air Tran. What sets Jet Blue apart from the other lost cost carriers and the big players in the airline market are that it continues to conquer in areas of efficiency, customer satisfaction, and innovation. Many may view JetBlue as a carrier that is late to introducing this product, but when Jetblue delivers a product they make sure their product is top quality. Jetblue buys only new planes which tend to need less maintenance. This new product will be on the new Airbus A321. We can anticipate it starting with their nonstop routing from New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco. Jetblue will also be the one and only airline to offer individualized suites within their premium class of service. Jetblue states the configuration will be:
“The new lie-flat seat, created in a partnership with Northern Ireland-based Thompson Aero Seating, will be displayed in a unique 2-1 configuration. Rows 1, 3 and 5 will offer 2-by-2 seating, and rows 2 and 4 will offer private suites, with one seat on each side of the aisle.”
 
 
CME is looking forward to the additional service that JetBlue will be offering to travelers in 2014. This will increase the options for medical escorts. A patient traveling from overseas connecting through New York will be able to continue onto LAX or SFO with the same lie flat service and potentially at a lower fare than the competitors are currently offering.
 

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