JetBlue preps transcon premium product, eyes WiFi

By Jay Boehmer
JetBlue Airways plans to launch next year a premium product on transcontinental services connecting New York and Boston to San Francisco and the Los Angeles area, chief commercial officer Robin Hayes said Wednesday during a meeting with Wall Street analysts and media.

Details were scarce, but Hayes said the goal was to "wow" customers with both the product and its corresponding price point.

Hayes noted that the carrier has underperformed competitors on key transcontinental routes. In addition to missing a premium product, JetBlue's lack of Wi-Fi has been another competitive disadvantage, he said.

Now, JetBlue is addressing both. The carrier expects to launch this year its first WiFi-enabled aircraft in conjunction with its LiveTV subsidiary and ViaSat.

"We know from our customer research and feedback there are a lot of customers that fly us across the rest of our network but shop away from us on transcon," he said. "Why? Because we don't have a WiFi offering. Increasingly customers don't want to be disconnected."

Hayes has promised faster connection times and better bandwidth as well as another competitive differentiator: Basic WiFi connectivity will be free—at least at the onset.

Still, the carrier is dreaming up ways to monetize the product, and Hayes envisioned as possibilities advertising models or a requirement that travelers sign up for its TrueBlue loyalty program for access.

JetBlue likely would charge passengers who choose to consume higher levels of bandwidth by, for example, streaming Netflix movies in-flight, Hayes said.

Source: Business Travel News
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